Stage 34 of 109 Chincheros to Andahuayles, Day 45 of 142
|Description||Distance in km||Dirt km||Climb in m||EFI|
Missed distance 282km, 3.5 stages, all in Peru
Four of us woke up in our hostal room around 6:15 and got ready for breakfast. Martin was finally feeling better and able to ride which was great. I ate a good breakfast and we started riding just after 8am. The ride was funny – not a single bit of level or downhill for the first 19km. We climbed from 2800m to 3750m smoothly and steadily, with no break at all. The temp was pretty cold – I could just barely stand shorts and short sleeves. The last couple of km were a pain – the same body position for 1:45 makes for a sore butt. On top, lunch was set up inside some kind of customs hut. It was a normal lunch but it was not even 10am. I only could eat one small burrito and a couple of pieces of pineapple. It was pretty cold and everyone was adding lots of clothes.
We had two choices here: the vans were going on the paved road to Andahuayles which started out with a climb to 4200m. That didn’t sound too appetizing to me and only two people I think ended up riding that way. The rest of us headed down a rough dirt/rock road. I waited for Tom and we rode the whole thing together which was great. It was drizzling a little on top but very soon, that stopped and it got warmer and nicer and nicer. The road was pretty damn rough but these bikes of ours are so damn amazing that it seemed to not matter. Pretty soon we found ourselves stopping time and time again to take photos. The DEEP canyons and giant mountains everywhere, with cultivation on impossible slopes, roads in impossible places – were just great. We kept going down, through some tiny and seemingly super-remote villages, and all the people we passed seemed friendly. Tom had brought some candies and gave some to a few kids as we passed.
After many km of this I was starting to think this was the best stage so far of the whole tour. And it kept getting better! The views were always changing and the scale so immense it was like riding in the Himalayas. We caught up to a few other riders who were likewise entranced and stopping often. We rode in a larger group for a while, down some amazing steep switchbacks.
We had some food, reduced clothes, then we hit our low point, around 2700m, and started climbing again. Tom and I just blasted up and it felt easy. We did have a few bad dog encounters – one time I was leading and three came at me, fast and mean. I just blazed ahead, really fast down the rocky rough road but the dogs kept pace barking like maniacs. Tom and Wim stopped to see how I would fare and then I had to slow for a turn and feared the worst. But it was so bumpy it seemed like they couldn’t get close enough to bite and soon they stopped chasing. Heart rate was high.
We had to climb back up to 3200m, then some more descending, still very bumpy. We just went at a safe and sane speed and after starting another climb, had less than 10km to go. The last 5km or so was paved which was nice. We got to the town of Talavera, 5km from the end, and Tom was bonking. We stopped at the square and he bought a pretty amazing amount of pastries and coke for the equivalent of 3 euro. He was so happy! We sat at the town square eating and just loving the moment. Some other riders came by and Wim decided to finish with us. We had to navigate a construction zone then had a few more dog attacks (scary ones), then finally made it to Andahuayles. Andrew showed me later where one bit his shoe leaving a hole all the way through. I kicked at one, full extension of the leg, just missing its nose and for once, it worked. The hotel was just off the main road and in a minute we were reliving the ride with the others, eating delicious hot soup. What a day! I shook Rob’s hand and told him it was the best. How he ever found these routes and then had the balls to take a large tour group like this over them is beyond me but I am so grateful.
Better still, we have a rest day tomorrow! Although our shower is not even close to warm. Minor downer on a majorly fun day. Quote from Andrew: “A hot shower is a core deliverable for a hotel.” Also there was at least one injury I heard about – requiring stitches but presumably nowhere near as bad as the epic Huanuco descent (stage 24). Speaking of that, we heard from Holland that Karin won’t be able to rejoin us after her shoulder surgery. Her recovery period will be too long. But her 23 year old son may take her place. Marc recovered from stage 24 and has been riding with us for the last few stages although the inside of his mouth still is not all happy. He sure has a great attitude. My scabs from stage 24 are busy falling off these days.
Around 6:30 ten of us went out for dinner and ended up splitting into two groups of five. Our group ended up in a nice, warm, good-smelling local restaurant. I was hoping for tallarin con langostino but it turned out not today. So a veggie pizza. Not eating beef and chicken makes Peru difficult. It was a nice relaxed dinner but we did’t get back until the late hour of 9. Time for sleep!
[Update in the morning: Yvonne’s knee required 10 stitches, inside and out. She was very happy with the medical care at the hospital here in Andahuayles – the bill was only 70 soles ($21). She’ll be off the bike to Cusco but should be ok to go to Machu Picchu. And our shower now emits steaming hot water, so all is good.]