• Peru – Central Contemplations

    Posted by Loren on April 12, 2011

    With our camping stove problem sorted, we exited Huaraz about the same time as we would normally be looking for a camping site. With plenty of snow covered peaks reaching over 6000m, high mountain passes, and lakes covered in white foam, there was certainly plenty to keep us entertained. Three hours after the arduous task of packing our bikes, we were unpacking them in a rock surrounded paddock, scrapped out of the side of a mountain. Tents erected, ground tested to ensure we hadn’t set up on a slope that would result in sliding off the sleeping mattress halfway through the night, a scrumptious dinner was cooked on the newly fixed camping stove, and we were lulled to sleep with the sound of an Andean river fighting it’s way to the sea.

    A good campsite is hidden from the road, out of the wind and near a river. This campsite had all three, except perhaps the river didn’t have to be down the bottom of a very steep incline. Forget bootcamp, the latest fitness fad is mountain goat impersonations. A bottle of oxygen would have been nice on my return, however, I had to settle with a spinning head and gasping for whatever air I could find. Hyperventilation avoided, the warming rays of the sun finally beam down on us and we spread out tents across bushes trying to eliminate the smell of mildew. All dry, packed, successfully navigated down the steep, cow paddied hill, we break camp three hours after waking up. A new record for slowness to be sure.

    On days like today, it is funny to think of way back in California when we hit our first section of curving road. If practice makes perfect, then the amount of curves on the way to Huanuco should make us neigh on close to perfect. The fact we made it without falling to a fiery death proves we are at least getting pretty good at it by now. The majority of the day was spent riding beside a wide, fast flowing river, which let me tell you, is how you want to spend most of your days. Huanuco is far less memorable, however, prividing the essential hot shower, a tummy full of food, and 97 octane fuel.

    The only thing better than a good days ride, is backing it up with another. That is exactly what happened as we made our way to Huancayo. Varied terrain covering green valleys, mountain passes, water soaked villages, arid mining districts and the largest rock (singular) slide I have ever seen, managed to take up the rest of the day. My only suggest for the day would be to the construction workers painting a bridge just outside of Hunacayo. Fellas, next time when spray painting the bridge use a shelter device so you don’t spray ever car and motorcycle that passes. Just a thought that pops to my mind ever moment of the day as I stare through my paint splattered visor.

    Once in the Peruvian sierra, there is no direct route in any direction. Our overall route is south but certainly doesn’t mean we are always heading south. The rain in the last 6 months is putting an even greater dampener on our progress. We are often found retracing our tracks when we find a road that is marked on our map hasn’t been passable for months due to a mudslide returning a road back to the earth. Overall progress might be slow, but the riding and scenery is phenomenal. Speed would certainly increased if the road maintenance crew spent a little less time on meticulously extracting weeds from a drainage ditch, when 10km away the entire road is covered with a layer of slipper clay. I would especially have appreciated such maintenance on the particular instance that I started the corner on my bike, and finished it on my side. Huge kudos to Rev’It (my riding gear) for not a single injury. It took 18,000kms for our first on-road accident. It also took 18,002kms before our first puncture. A thorn in Murray’s front tire was responsible for the next 2 hours of fun in the rain. When it rains, it really does pour.

    Expectations of a day on the pavement were quickly dispersed, and happily so, as we began our ascent in the mud to our new record of 4901m. Memories are made of this, as are the two ladies in village at 4600m, sitting outside, yakking and knitting. We hopefully provided some talk for the next while, as with the lack of anything else happening, I have no idea what they would have been talking about. Perhaps the just release iPad2. We have been caused to think many times on this trip of how one person’s definition of normality is completely removed from another’s. Certainly gives us food for thought for the many remaining hours of perfect riding. Happy and exhausted, we lift our bikes onto their stands at a hotel in Ayacucho and with our backs red from a hot, powerful shower, we head out in search of dinner in this thoroughly pleasant town. Just another day on the bike in Peru.

2 Comments | Leave a Reply

  1. Sue Sparks on April 13, 2011 at 12:18 am

    What amazing photos you are creating a bit of interest amongst the locals.the ice melting must bring a lot of water down the mountains? I am confused I heard Murray was in Australia and here he is in Peru!

    • Loren on April 15, 2011 at 12:47 am

      No ice melting here, just good old fashion rain. Murray is in Australia, I am just really behind on the blog! There is one more to go where he makes an appearance.