Cycling days 174 to 180: Lima to Puquio
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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After getting sick for a couple days we decide to take it easy for the rest of our stay in Bolivia. Eat, sleep, watch TV…then more of eat, sleep, watch TV.
At 8am, we depart from La Paz by bus. The border crossing from Bolivia to Peru goes off without a hitch.
We arrive in Lima
Kevin flies back to the USA.
After 3 months of climbing a total of ten 6,000meter peaks in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, we are ready to resume cycling South. Yannick, Steve, and Shirley wake up at 5am and are ready to head out the door at 5:45am to beat the morning traffic out of Lima. We say goodbye to Steve’s parents, then make our way through the mist and towards the coast. Wow, we haven’t seent he ocean in a while! The riding is smooth and flat, allowing us to crank out 60km in the first 2-1/2 hours on the saddle. It feels good to be back on the bicycle! We don’t want to burn ourselves out on our first day though, so we try to slow ourselves down and take more breaks. Riding along the Pacific Ocean, we pass by many surf spots and the beach with the largest waves in Peru at 6-7meters in height. Little beach villages start popping up, nestled between large sand dunes, just off the Panamerican Highway. We stop in the city of Cerro Azul to buy a little food and fix a flat on Steve’s rear tire.
By 5pm, we start keeping an eye out for possible camping options. Soon, we pass by a ranch with a large, empty building that would make a great place to stay the night. Yannick goes to ask the Ranchero for permission to stay on his property and he quickly gives us the okay. We push our bikes down the rocky embankment along the highway, then throught he soft dirt and into our temporary home. Our legs, shoulders and backs are a little sore from today’s effort, but we are all very happy with the progress we’ve made. At 139km, Steve has broken his personal distance record…yeehaw!
Day 175 (9/9/11): 108km
We hit the road at 7am and ride up and down long, gradual hills as we continue down the coast. It’s nice riding with Steve because he can answer some of the questions we have about Peru, such as, "Do they ever paint over the political advertisements from the recent election?" and “What are those little shacks doing out in the middle of nowhere?”
As we approach Chincha, the autopista ends and becomes a 2-lane highway and our beautifully smooth shoulder becomes a bumpy mess full of sand and cracks. The traffic gets heavy as we ride through the city, but we are ecstatic when we see sighns advertising our favorite Peruvian supermarket, Plaza Vea. Yannick and Steve go in to buy lunch and some extra provisions. We make fresh sandwiches with lots of veggies…yumm! As we wrap up lunch, the sun finally comes out and it is strong! We peel off our layers, pull out the sunglasses and run back into the store to replenish our supply of sunscreen. When we return to the road, we enjoy the wind that is now keeping us cool.
At 5pm, we reach 100km and now allow ourselves to scout for a place to sleep. We find a nice farm with a row of trees that will provide shelter from the road. As we set up the tents, a guy on a motorcycle shows up.
Day 176 (9/10/11): 100km HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAPA!
We wake up at 6am after sleeping like babies – deep, restful sleep is a great reward for pushing hard on a bicycle all day.
Shortly after we resume pedaling, Shirley hears a strange, rhythmic rubbing sound. We stop to inspect the tire s and find that her rear tire is bulging and rubbing against the fender. The tire is barely worn out, but the inside is delaminating, just like the first one we had to throw out. So, so sad…the death of our 2nd Schwalbe tire! Good thing we carry a spare tire – too bad it isn’t Schwalbe though.
About 20km down the road, we stop for lunch in Guadalupe. It is now 1pm and if we continue at this rate, it will be hard for us to make 100km today. And if the big city coming up has our favorite supermarket, we’re doomed! As we pass through Ica, we see signs for the Plaza Vea…oh well, not every day is meant to be a 100km day :) We stop inside to buy some bread and 1 liter of ice cream. Yummm…ice cream! As Yannick and Shirley devour the ice cream, we notice the wind direction has changed in our favor. We are ecstatic and get back on the bikes so we can blast down the road. Aah, tailwind, how we have missed you so! Only 10km later, though, the wind does a 180⁰ and starts blasting in our faces again…and even more forceful than before. Baagh!
At about 4pm, we reach 75km for the day, meaning there’s a chance we can make 100km if we push. Steve is on a cycling high and is optimistic we can do it. At 5:30pm, we have only 10km left to make our goal. Now, the sun is weakening, the wind is strengthening, and our power is fading. Yannick and Steve take turns leading while the other two draft. Seven km left…5…3-1/2…1 left. We spot an okay place to stop for the night at exactly 100km…yes! We push our bikes off the road and into the sand to hide behind a dune/mine. It isn’t sheltered from the wind, but at least cars won’t see us easily from the road. It will have to do. We get sand blasted as we set up the tents and anchor them down. We eagerly climb inside to warm up. To save ourselves some trouble and to reduce the amount of sand we eat, we forego cooking and enjoy some sand-free sandwiches for dinner.
Day 177 (9/11/11): 97km
The wind dies down overnight and the fog moves in. When we wake up in the morning, visibility is low, so we take our time breaking camp to give the sun some time to burn off some of the fog. We are on the move at 7:45am, wearing our leg warmers and windbreakers to keep warm. By noon, the temperature reaches 40⁰C and we are chugging down our sun-warmed water quickly and trying to hide in the shade every chance we get. Some steep hills give us a hard time and we quickly become drenched in sweat. We stop for lunch between 12:30 and 2pm to let the hottest time of day pass, but the heat is still hard to bear. As we ride out of Palpa, a taxi with a family in it waves us down and gives us two bags of oranges. Only 10km later, we are overheating, so we duck into the shade to devour some of the oranges in an attempt to cool off…oh, it is so hot! Although we are still burning, we force ourselves to move on and hill after hill.
At 4pm, we arrive at the Nazca lines and welcome the break.
We take off in the relatively cooler weather at 5pm, but are still sweating from the heat and exercise. We pass by a dirt turnoff at 5:45pm and decide we should take it to find a place to sleep before we get too close to the next big city of Nazca. We aren’t hidden from view, but we figure 500m aay from the highway is good enough. The night is warm and windless, a nice change from last night.
Day 178 (9/12/11): 45km
We are just under 15km from Nazca, so we take our time this morning to enjoy the beautiful view from camp and to give the stores some time to open up efore we get to town. The riding is easy and we cover the distance quickly. At the edge of the city, we stop at a brand new gas station and find they have showers – we take care of de-stinking ourselves, so some laundry, and refill our stove fuel bottle with gasoline. It’s nice to cross things off our to-do list so early in the day.
After our half-day off, we leave Nazca and get off the PanAm Hwy and take the road to Cusco. Along the way, we pass by the largest sand dune in the world, standing over 2,000m tall. The road here has been recently repaved and there is hardly any traffic, making the ride more enjoyable. Although, it would be MUCH more enjoyable if the temperature weren’t 42⁰C! We spend the next few hours climbing the gradual slope, gaining a lot of elevation and making us hope that our effort will pay off tomorrow and the temperature will be cooler. About 30km later, we can see that the road keeps climbing and we haven’t pass by many campable places so far. Instead of pushing on, we opt to end the day early a little early, at 5:30pm, at the only flat area we’ve seen since starting up the hill.
We get an early start and keep climbing up hill. The weather is already warm and we are sweating…and it isn’t even 6:30am yet! The map shows a pueblo about 20km away, but when we get there, we find it has been abandoned. We worry a little bit about the amount of water we have, but we come across a restaurant and the owners fill all our bottles – he tells us there is a waterfall 5km, so not to worry. At km marker 50, we get to Nuevo Santiago and discover there is a giant spring, rather than a waterfall – very cool to be on a ridge in the desert and see so much water gushing into a reservoir.
The road tops out at an altitude of 4,330m just after Km70 and we are relieved we’ve reached the altiplano. A tailwind picks up and pushes us along. We pass through a vicuna reserve (graceful creatures look like a cross between a llama and a gazelle) and see over 500 of the wild animals.
At Km98, we go through a pass and start the downhill…yeah, baby! Along the way, we get to a toll station with alpacas (which look like midget llamas) herded into a fenced area. We stop here to fill up on water use the restrooms. The rest stop looks so clean, we ask if we can stay the night and they say okay. Yah, time rinse off, do some laundry, and make ourselves cozy.
Day 180 (9/14/11): 50...km to Puquio (half day)
We start the day by replacing Shirley's rear break cable that broke. The night was a little cold and we wake up to a chilly -3 degrees C....