When a person gets the opportunity to travel, they generally are super stoked on the chance to see new places, meet new people and experience new things. But when the opportunity presents itself to board an airplane with a fully packed bike bag, a person gets even more giddy. And the excitement of the unimaginable is just way too much for a guy to handle.
So when a guy gets the chance to pack up his bike, fly to a country on the southern side of the equator, meet some truly amazing people, eat some of the best food ever, experience some incredible culture and of course ride your bike on trails that make a person so stoked to be riding, that tears of pure joy are welling up. You're trying not to blink, trying to hide your weakness. But hey who cares, you are loving life at the moment. Let's share the joy...
As the bags were being packed for this incredible journey, the excitement was overwhelming. There was only one thing that was rattling around in my seemingly one track mind, "Oh ya! We are going to be riding our bikes in Peru!"
The day of the flight came. All that I can remember is standing in line at the airport, sitting on the airplane, and then landing in Lima, Peru, with the biggest smile plastered all over my face. Anticipating what was about to take place with only one known fact, the riding will be awesome. For me this journey would take shape when I was about to meet the whole group for the first time, and not knowing who to expect, or what kind of fun we were about to get into was all part of the excitement.
Day one was nice and easy... setup your bike, meet the guides, have a rad lunch with the crew, get shown around the city of Lima on our way to our first ride in Peru. Who knew that riding some old dried up river beds, in a Peruvian dessert, with mountains all around could be so much fun. What a great start to this trip. We were all thinking of how awesome it was to be riding our bikes, knowing that back in BC, Canada where we all hale from (well a couple were from Alberta, but they wish they were from BC) had snow on the trails. Riding bikes is awesome!
The views were ALL TIME!
Day two. Oh man, who ever thought that you could be shuttled up to 12,500 feet, where the local mountain village had electricity, ride down to the ocean side and stick your feet in the pacific? That in itself sounds really good, but just imagine 20 km of amazingly fun, steep, loose, technical downhill, with the odd climb put in for good measure, to 30km of fast rolling, dried up river bed, to feet in the pacific and beverage of choice. This is a true story and to top that all off we had some of the best ceviche ever!
Day three was a transfer day, we went from the ocean and the city of Lima to the 11,000 foot high city of Cusco. Here we built our bikes, and were pleasantly shown a super fun little trail right in the city. As we were riding along the hillsides of the city of Cusco, getting all the views you could ever imagine, all we could say once again was we are riding our bikes in Peru. We finished the ride with a super fun urban section with stair gaps to die for. With everyone super happy with the day we'd just had, our guide showed us this little restaurant that might be a good place to eat dinner. And good it was, man can words really describe how good food can be? Not sure, but trust us it was so good and to top it off a local band came out to play with local dancers and everything. My goodness this place rocks. Yet again another day with great friends, great food, and of course great trails.
Day four, for some reason or another our amazing guide decided that it would be a climb day and climb we did. Well at 13,000 feet, on our second day at this elevation, five stairs seems difficult, so you can imagine that climbing our bikes might be a bit of struggle. All worth it though, the fun rolling mountain sides of Cusco really need to have more time spent on them. The trail networks are endless and for all you training buffs out there, it would be an amazing place to spend some time training for the race season. This day was full of short climbs to short descents, to a very fun four man downhill race on single track, double track into the city. There may have been a couple close calls on the final little race, but we will be the only ones who know. All that can be said is watch out for flag ladies and dump trucks. Another fun day in the books. Could this trip get any better?
Day five started with a small drive to the Sacred Valley. This would be the sight seeing day. Starting at some old ruins, riding through the vast farm lands of the Sacred Valley with the huge mountains in the background on all sides of the view. If you are a mountain person this is a day of riding with your mouth open in amazement. The 5,000m plus glaciers around you can have that effect on a person. As the day went by things only got better. How you might ask? Well the trail day ended with a fun, fast downhill that we were able to ride a couple times. The first time for the lines to be learned, the second to rip it up. Unfortunately at the end of the second lap we had a small miss hap, but all was good and riding continued. The shower and drinks were a nice welcom at the end of this day. Sometimes playing hard requires some down time and bed felt oh so good on this night in the small mountain town of Ollantaytambo. Oh ya, and the food was incredible too on this night, mmm burritos!
Day six was a scheduled off day, with a few of us choosing to take the journey to the infamous Machu Picchu. Unfortunately the train ride comes early in the morning, but was amazing for the sunrise views along the way and the meeting of more really cool people. It is awesome to meet new people from all over the world and converse about each other's travels. It is amazing how stoked you can get by seeing a few photos and how the imagination starts planning your next journey. Patagonia looks pretty darn cool, but hey we were on our way to Machu Picchu, a wonder of the modern world. We were all amazed by this place, the Incas were truly a marvel of ingenuity. Their stone work was incredible, and the thought that went into everything they constructed was truly amazing and to think that it was done so long ago. Being here for some reason, made me think - "what place in the world has had the most photos taken of it?" Kind of weird, but that went through my mind a few times. Having some time to hike around, we able to see the sights and get a good grasp on this must see destination. So this day, even though no riding was done by most of the group was a good, good day and is a must for any traveler.
Day seven - the day of the goods. If you are a downhiller on a little bike this is a day to remember. Our original itinerary had to be changed due to the fact that the original trail was closed because of a washed out access road. We are not sure if we should be thankful or not, but the trail we rode was one to remember and one that might be the reason for my personal quick return to the country of Peru. We were able to ride the trail that they have used for the Mega Avalanche, now known as the Inca Avalanche. The trek up is a picturesque mountain pass, winding its way to the top. Here we started at 14,500 feet with some fast, high speed, pedally fun. Thankfully we were able ride this a couple of times in order to get a good grasp of the trail and all of its features. Another day where we were all saying, we are riding our bikes in Peru. This trip just keeps getting better and better.
Day eight, again starting at 14,500 feet. This trip is a mountain lover's dream, but this time we had a view of Veronica in the background, a 5,000m mountain, that truly is amazing. The trail had something big to live up to with a starting view like that and it did not disappoint. Some more amazing mountain side single track through the grazing lands of the mountain animals to a creek gully with rock lines that a downhiller dreams of. At the end of this trail we were all very content with the riding that had taken place today. The bus ride back to Cusco was a quiet one as the group was starting to feel the effects of 9 days of travel and good time, but the guide was not done yet, stopping by a local animal sanctuary we were able to get right close and personal with a Condor, Puma and few other cool animals. We hopped back in the bus and headed out only to stop again at the top of the mountain pass with a stellar view of the Cusco city valley. Apparently we were not done riding and not knowing of the sheer joy we were about to enter, we got our gear on and started down towards the city. This was one of the most fun trails ever! Some natural rolling, open terrain with some really cool blind hippers, along with some good size road gaps and a rock line in the middle that, when you hit blind at full speed behind someone, is the best rock line, double drop that can be had. Long story short with this trail, it was so good we climbed up to it the next day without a guide, just because we could. And yes it was so worth it.
On the final day we hit the airport, flew out and the riding was all over. It seemed to happen just that fast as well.
There you have it, this was our time on the bikes, which really ended up to be more amazing than we could have ever imagined. I really have to say that it was the best trip I have ever done, and I do not think words can do this trip justice, well mine anyways.
Just like every trip there are many people to be thanked for their hard work and preparation. This one starts with the whole group that let me join them even though they did not know me, thank you very much. Thanks to Sacred Rides and Inka Adventures, for an awesome trip, from the planned rides to the food and hotels, good times all around. Our head guide Miguel was awesome, he is an amazing chef and he is even a good spanish teacher. Without this guy the trip just would not have been the same. Thanks buddy. And of course Russo and Giovanni, the other guides for the trip that put up with our antics along the way.
After all that still only one phrase comes to mind that can be said.
We Were Riding Our Bikes In Peru!
When In Doubt... Pin It Out!
Special thanks to the companies that have supported me in my endeavors on my bike:www.specialized.com www.freshair.ca www.blackfootdirect.com www.gamutusa.com