Mancora to Cusco – How big are your mountains?

Its finally here! im going to try and catch up on the blogging in the next few weeks in order to shorten the distance between my actual location and where i am on the internet so stay tuned.

In this edition we search for Jesus, get stuck down rivers, say good bye to legends and start a new family

In my last post i was hanging out in the small coastal town with a good mix of hippies surfers and laneways that smelt like piss. Carlos and I spent 2 weeks here chilling and catching up with a good friend. But it was time to drag ourselves away and get back on the bikes – Here’s how it went

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I think it was a sign that we weren’t ready to get on the bikes just yet… we wanted to take a bus back up into the mountains but as we turned up to the station we found that our bus had broken down and we would have to spend another day in paradise

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The bus was finally fixed and we were back in the mountains. Next on the list was Carlos’ bike so we started scouring the bike shops for new rims

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I still remember getting my stitching badge as a cub scout. Just paid for itself

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The next morning we were back on the bike for the first time in over two weeks. the plan was to head south through the guts of the Andes. Peru is where they start getting BIG. Ive been doing some searching on this trip but with these directions how hard could it be to find?

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So it was settled, we would try and find Jesus and cleanse our souls

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By lunch there was still no sign of him – But this stuff is a pretty good substitue

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Sacrificial Guinea Pig

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We searched all day for Jesus but to no avail. It would have been nice to meet him but maybe somethings are better stumbled upon rather than looked for

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like this – a sign with Carlos’ name on it

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and this – a sign of an unfortunately name town

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despite the name Shitabamba was a pretty cool town and we found out how to keep your house dry when it rains – This guy would form it

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This guy would shape it

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This guy would place it

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and voila. Tiles’r’Us

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We ended up getting a little lost that evening trying to cut through a back road and got caught in a heavy down pour. But this lady was a legend – took us in fed us and gave us shelter while the rain passed. Those are guinea pigs keeping warm and waiting to be eaten under the kitchen bench

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the rain passed but the lady was adamant we rest and spend the night in her yard

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The next morning we were up early. A big pass and a little human

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reaching the summit

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Things were cold up here. here is the go-to material for keeping warm around here – Alpaca herding

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Things starting to warm up on the other side

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and it was a long way down still

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Still going down. with the story of Peru on the otherside. Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down….

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I had heard along the grapevine the there was a way of cheating the system and instead of going up, down, up, down for the next few days you can take a slight detour along the river

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but you gotta do the rock thing. Carlos opted for the mountain and i took the river for a few days

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The information i had been given was pretty vague so if anyone reading this is cycling here take the right turn before this gate

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The day before we were talking with the locals and we were getting mixed descriptions about the track. the majority saying that it wasn’t passable and i was starting to believe them

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I was half a day in by now and didnt want to turn back

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The first of the river crossings

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One of the toughest days. After more than an hour of lugging my bags and bike across the river i spent another 2 hours pushing along the sandy river bed

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I ended up finding the trail again but heavy rains had washed big sections away

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The second crossing. waist deep. was tough lugging the bike and bags over my head against the current and scrambling over the rocks under the water

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I heard i would bump into locals panning for gold in the river. but all i found was this ramshackle of a settlement

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The end in sight

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I kissed the pavement and was treated to 40km of down hill rolling

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Coming off the river trail placed me at the start of the Canyon del Plato – 100+ km of winding roads carved through stone

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but i was pooped so pulled off for the night

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The next day was a bit of rush and i needed to put in a big day to catch back up with Carlos for a hike we had planned. Everything turned grey, passing forgotten monuments of past miners

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HUARAZ AND THE CORDELLERA BLANCA

I made it out of the river trail and through the Canyon del Plato. Its often the hardest times on the road that make for the best times. I was pretty stoked with the past weeks ride and even more stoked to have made it to the Cordellera Blanca (the White Range)  where i would catch up with Carlos again. The Cordillera Blanca is the second highest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas and is famous for its hiking and climbing routes. Carlitos and I had planned to do a day hike to Laguna 69, a popular and pretty laid-back trek with a pretty nice reward at the end.

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Trail friends

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getting lost

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found it

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mooo

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Laguna 69

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there’s a face in there somwhere

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Carlitos taking it in

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heading home

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After a couple of days hanging our and relaxing in Huaraz it was time for Carlos to hit the road. His schedule is tighter than mine as he wanted to get as far south as he could before Christmas. We had a funny morning saying good-bye but i had a feeling i would see him again further down the road.

CROSSING THE MOUNTAIN I was a little bit nervous about this next leg. The plan was to climb for three days up and over the Cordellera Blanca. The route has 3 passes at 4800m in elevation which was higher than i had climbed before, and i was now going solo. But i heard plenty of other cyclist taking this route so i drank a green tea and got over it.

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thar she blows

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Altitude making it tough even on the flats

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but it this was preeetty coool

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love the grades in Peru. Its home to some of the biggest climbs but they know how to lessen the blow by adding a few twists and turns

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Cave full of rock art.

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After struggling all day with the altitude i had only managed to make it 40 kms in and decided to tackle the climb again in the morning. One of my favorite camp spots

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The next morning pushing up to the summit

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wiiild horses

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My first time being snowed on!

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starting to freak out right about now

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All my clothes on and still the coldest i had ever felt. stopping every few hundred meters blow some warmth into my hands

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I find a some shelter in an old lady’s barn and she gets a fire going to try and defrost my extremities. after her demonized dogs tried to rip me from my bike

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After all the ups and downs of the past few weeks i was completley exhausted. I got word from Carlos that he had made it to Cusco and caught up with Kasia and Francisca whom we met in Mancora weeks before. So i jumped on a bus and headed for the warmth of the big city

BIG CITY LIGHTS

Arriving in Cusco was a huge contrast to the previous weeks spent in the mountains. I was looking forward to a good rest and meeting some other cyclist i had been in contact with for a while. I stayed at a hostel that has got a pretty good rep within the cycling community and when i arrived the place was full with them. over 10 cyclist in one spot. i ended up staying for over a week. Hanging out an checking out town. It was sad to say goodbye to Carlos here but he had to keep pushing south. Until next time Carlitos!

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Them blue eyes

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SHOTS!

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Cheese for days – this stuff has become a regular addition to the saddle bags

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The new family: Mateo, A Doctor of Biomedical Engeneering; James, One of the original X-Games BMX riders and Barbra a marketing guru who as it happens rode with Brendan moths ago in Colombia. Carlos was on a tight plan to make it back to Colombia for Christmas, it was sad to say goodbye to a good friend after almost 2 moths sharing experiences together but a new road family was about to start….

So that’s it until next time. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks as i will be catching up on the blog!

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Up next….getting out of Peru and getting salty in Bolivia with some rad humans

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