There's no bad ripio, there's just bad speeds.

'Ripio' or dirt roads are the one topic that always makes its way into conversation with every cyclist or driver that we meet. Everyone wants the latest update on the conditions ahead, 'Is it badly corrugated?'; 'Are the rocks big?'; 'How bad is the dust?'; 'Is there much volcanic grit in it?; 'Is there much traffic?'; 'Are their any road works?'; 'Are there any asphalt sections?'.

We're beginning to realise that the conversation is a pointless one. Everybody has a different perspective:

People with two wheel trailers hate pot holes, car drivers know nothing about the road however well meaning they are, cyclists in a hurry hate it all, and people going North think each new day's road is worse than yesterday's. If you are tired or hungry it's all terrible, or if you expected a flat road and got a climb instead it's definitely a bad surface! Sometimes we meet people who have flown in to an area and just started, they think it's all hell and look shell-shocked.

We've just started trundling along, it's a bit like bumbling. The road is what it is. If it's bad we go slow, but every really bad bit gets better, in the same way that the smooth asphalt eventually finishes. We're very lucky because we don't have a timetable, we don't have to be anywhere on a particular day, we can just ride until we're bored of it, or we see a great view.

Why should the road surface even matter?

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