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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #60 on: January 27, 2014, 03:00:52 pm »




Look this is tar, and I'm not a lover of the black stuff, but seriously.... This.....You have to agree this is a riding paradise  :ricky:

































After a long time we are forced to stop for road works.




They are moving a few car-sized boulders off the road ahead of us. It will take 45 minutes before they open the stop-and-go. So now you can see my pannier setup. Its not pretty I know, but it works great. You'll also notice that I am wearing my knee braces outside my pants. This relived a lot of pain on my leg I had on the first day. The constant pressure on it was too much.





We end up chatting with other people waiting and looking down the gorge beneath us. Its a long, long way down. Lots of joking about, talking about falling off the edge, the Dakar and other cool stuff. 





Its getting very hot standing around in our black gear...





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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #61 on: January 27, 2014, 03:03:39 pm »
Finally we are on the move and are first through. But then we have to negotiate the cars and trucks on the other side. Hairaising. Chapman's peak se moer.  :eek7:











I have some video of this, and will post later.



Took me a moment to realize there was a bike under all of that! They do this to stop the fuel losses in the sun apparently.






The paridise continues...























There is also more traffic on the road...






WHOOPSY!!!





Amazing, these truck drivers...  :eek7:  :eek7:  :eek7:


























After another 2 hours of riding we stop at this little place for a bite to eat.  It such a beautiful day, we ask if we could sit outside. They move tables, chairs,  and umbrella out for us.  Right there were some ladies de-cobbing maize meal, and they stopped their little operation and moved away so we could eat. Wow. We weren't expecting such a fuss, but there people are so keen to make us feel welcome.




The old guy's name is Javier, and he is very happy about the new asphalt road.




Javier tells me that its very hard to be a farmer out here, but the new road means more traffic, more tourists and travelers, and therefore his restaurant will do better. He does not have much but I can see he is content. He has good crop there under that blue tarpaulin.



The coke is cold and the fresh, fried trout with chopped onions, sweet potato and a healthy portion of mielies is just what we need for our last leg. Oh, dont forget the fruit juices...awesome fruit juices!



I ask Javier about that dry stone wall behind Daleen. He built it himself. Not a bit of cement in it. Its a work of art.

My leg is a bot sore now, but not as bad as the first day. Maybe I'm getting used to it. Regardless, I'm very thankful. This has been a really good day of riding.




We ride on after the lovely lunch. It cost us just S/.28.00, about $11.00. As the valley opens out the river joins others and suddenly gets bigger and deeper, and the engineering becomes more interesting. This is a Blondyn used to get guys out into the middle of the river to measure the flow rate and depth.




We sense we are getting closer to a bigger city. It doesn't take long before our little mountain road transforms into a normal one again.






At first I think this is a mining operation, and my heart breaks. But then I realize this actually the result of a new road being built up there. Incredible. Miners would never do this!!





We get to a place called Izcuchaca, which is where the worlds highest railway line ends,





and here it is.




If you have read the Tintin comic "Prisoners of the Sun" you will know about the railway line I am talking about. It goes up the Andes from Lima to La Oroya, Huancayo (our destination today), and ends in this place. On the way up the train has to reverse 27 times and goes through 80 tunnels. At its highest point at Ticlio it is in a tunnel at 4,800m above sea level. We will go past this point later in our trip, but first we are going to the Amazon jungle to the east.






For a moment I think of Dubrovnik. The water level is still low, near the end of the dry season.





We start to climb a series of switchbacks up over 4,200m altitude again.



Things become bleak again, but the sunshine is warm and even up here it not too cold.




Once up on the altiplano, the road becomes a long boring straight. We pass a group of 20 cyclists going the other way. Bloody crazy I tell you. No way you would get me doing that. This is biking country.

Finally, after another 2 hours we arrive in Huancayo.



Its a big city, with 380,000 residents thriving on mining and agriculture. It is on one of the conduit routes of food and supplies from the mighty Amazon to the east to Lima in the west.

The adventure is far from over as we dodge crazy drivers, trucks, busses and three wheeled moto taxi's wheeling about like angry wasps. You have to keep an eye on the surface too, often the manhole covers are broken or missing.





I risk a snap of the local military barracks. Check out the Inca warrior boys on the walls. Cool!





As we draw into the city, it becomes increasingly congested.





Tough making a living in this place as well, even if you have sweetest pineapples in the world,






but they are also the biggest.

Let me say something: If you ever come to Peru, try the fruit. The mangoes...the pineapples...the apples...the passion fruits...the exotic fruits...they are seriously, seriously awesome. It makes our fruit very uninteresting and bland in comparison. They have this fruit called a Chirimoya - a Custard Apple. It has a whitish, fleshy texture but tastes like custard. Its about the size of rugby player's clenched fist and green coloured, irregular in shape and knobbly. It looks decidedly dodgy, like something out of a Douglas Adams novel. Its kinda weird but amazing to eat at the same time. I need to get a photo of one. These all come from the jungle.

You'll also find Inca Cola in Peru. Loved by many, it tastes damn awful to me. I think many drink it only because it sounds cool and its the right thing to do in Peru if you're a nationalist. Its like paying your tv licence in South Africa. Yeah, I know, I didn't either.









Huancayo is located in Huancayo Province, of which it is also capital. Situated in the Mantaro Valley at an altitude of 3,271 meters, it belongs to the Quechua region. Gets pretty cold at night too! See the blankets.



We finally arrive at a hotel I stayed in a few years back. Classic Spanish architecture



We offload the bikes and make beers the first call of business in the "lounge". They don't have bars in the hotels here for some reason. But there is a butler guy. Kinda. He offers to get us drinks which is all we want.



I order the coldest Cusquena they have. "Right away senor, two Cusquena's with ice."
"What?"
"Two Cusquena's with ice, senor?"
"Oh no, don't you dare!...Just bring me two Cusquenas, por favor."  :rolleyes:
"Si, senor!"
 "And a limonda frozen for the Senora"
"Si senor."


We are quite tired and sore after 9 hours in the saddle. Okay not all of it was riding and we stopped often. Daleen drops one of her gloves and tries to pick it up.."Oh - my back!!"  :ImaPoser:



Meanwhile I'm focused on more important things.  :snorting:



How great is the taste of that first beer!?


We are both extremely satisfied after the truely awesome day. Without mishap and the smooth, flowing lines with a bit of dirt thrown in is a huge confidence booster after that tough first day. We are back! Tomorrow will be even better. 



The city of Huanacayo is the fifth most populous city of the country. It is the cultural and commercial center of the whole central Peruvian Andes area. Those shots are taken from our hotel window.







Down below there is also a cats choir in attendance, apparently.  :grin:



Its the first time I have seen so many cats in Peru. Its a dog country, and I always though Peruvian dogs eat cats, which is why there are hardly any, anywhere.

Honestly, we both agree the city is actually a horrible dump, but its a good place to stop in if you are travelling through the central Andes. The food in the hotel that night is dodgey, but the room is okay and not too dirty.




Tomorrow we plan to get onto some proper dirt. I have eyeballed a route that takes us off the beaten path over a 4,500m pass and down into a seldom visited jungle valley, which will eventually open out to a place celled La Merced, which is where we will stay. Its going to be a longer day than today, with a distance of over 300km, but this time almost all on dirt tracks.

Little do we know how long that day would really turn out to be...
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Offline Wooly Bugger

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #62 on: January 27, 2014, 03:49:41 pm »
awesome stuff Neill! Or is it Neil?
looks like the two of you are having a complete scream?!

so jealous, but very happy for you.

enjoy!

sub. again. still............. :biggrin:
 

Offline bungycool

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #63 on: January 27, 2014, 05:04:13 pm »
Ag Neil. Just when I was getting my head round the fact it was the right idea to pass on the awesome opportunity you posted earlier. Definitely on the bucket list.
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Offline westfrogger

Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #64 on: January 28, 2014, 02:25:42 pm »
 :laughing7:

Loving this. Hell, if I could I'd dunk it in my coffee (no. 5 for the day). Time for tea. Come on Neil, hurry will you, we need our fix.
 

Offline alanB

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #65 on: January 29, 2014, 08:17:58 pm »
Just found this RR now.

Its superb  :thumleft:

Your description of the "speak to the hand" approach of stopping all traffic in front of the cops to ramp the pavement had me weeping with laughter  :thumleft: 

Really well written and gripping.

Thanks!

Glad you came through it OK (so far), even though maybe you were a tad ambitious.  Your wife sounds like a really great woman by the way!
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #66 on: February 02, 2014, 11:23:47 pm »
awesome stuff Neill! Or is it Neil?
looks like the two of you are having a complete scream?!

so jealous, but very happy for you.

enjoy!

sub. again. still............. :biggrin:

Its Neil ;)

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Offline >>Thump°C

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #67 on: February 03, 2014, 07:55:04 pm »
awesome stuff Neill! Or is it Neil?
looks like the two of you are having a complete scream?!

so jealous, but very happy for you.

enjoy!

sub. again. still............. :biggrin:

Its Neil ;)


hehe, must we kneel before you carry on Neil?
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #68 on: February 04, 2014, 07:41:12 am »
We are getting into the routine of things waking up around 5 to be ready by 6 and today is no different.

Tying on the soft panniers is a bit of a mission, but we have had our fair share of losing stuff in the past.






We are in high spirits after yesterday and are looking forward to another awesome day of outstanding riding.




Here is the route looking to the north east. Travelling right to left, from Huancayo through Conception to Jauja the road is tarred, but after that there is 180km of dirt, crossing out of sight over the central Andes down to La Merced in the distance.





Of course we could keep straight on to Tarma (see the blue on the far left of the pic above) and down another canyon on tar, but that will not likely be as fun or challenging as our planned route. It would be too easy.  So instead we take the short cut as the crow flies on the map to La Merced, knowing it will take a longer in reality because these mountains are seriously huge and dirt road tend to be very slow going with staggering drop-offs on one side.

This route will climb from our start at 3,300m above sea level up to just over 4,500m above sea level and then drop down 3,700m into the Amazon basin. That's a total of nearly 5 kilometers in ascent or descent in just one day!! :ricky:

Here is a closer view of the descent off the top (also looking northeast).





Looking in the opposite direction. The point labelled Uchubamba looks to be about half way down.



Zooming in on Google earth shows nothing but hazy green jungle. It is one of those areas still not properly covered by satellite photo's, probably due to inclement weather every time a satellite is overhead. We know the road has a lot more switchbacks than shown! Anyway enough of the stats and theory, time for some riding!


The tarred section to Jauja (pronounced in Afrikaans like gau-ga) turns out to be a monotonous and boring stretch with a lot of traffic.






The only thing we have for entertainment are idiot drivers. We slow down to accommodate guys pulling in front of us, overtaking in stupid places, kids running into the road, and trucks doing u-turns on the highway. Nothing surprises us anymore. There is no point in getting irate about it like we did in Gauteng. Here it is way, way worse. Re-education of the masses is not going make one iota of a difference anyway. Our aim is just to try get to the end of it in one piece, a task that takes about two hours and leaves us feeling a little bit tired already.

We pull over just as we hit the dirt out of Jauja so I can make a scheduled call for work before we lose cell signal ::)  After this we will have no phones or contact with the outside world until we get to our hospedaje in la Merced.




We follow a road that I don't think has seen a grader in perhaps 10 years. Its rough and seems to consist of zinc plate and large stones which flick up and out from under our tyres. Soon enough we stop to wait for an excavator moving two huge rocks onto a truck as part of a bridge construction project. There is a lot of arm waving and instructions from the supervisors and I smile bemused as they get this earth moving job done. 




I miss the shot of the day so far as I put away my camera when an impatient taxi squeezes past on the left. At the same time the rock is dropped onto the back of the truck and almost rolls off the side onto the chancing driver in the car. Holy Moly that was close!! :eek: The irate traffic guard running, catches up to the taxi as he squeezes past us waiting there, and he hammers on the roof of the car with his fists and yells at the driver through a closed window. Non-plussed, the drivers looks over, smiles and drives away.


Not much further on we come across a fuel station and take the opportunity to top up. Never go past a fuel station if you think you might run short on petrol. We are given a fantastic welcome by the people there. Clearly gringos on big bikes are not common place in these parts.

This lady and her daughter walk up to us and ask us about our journey. Initially we are surprised by their forwardness, and being South African, we are naturally a little suspicious. But we quickly realize this is genuine curiosity.





"Where are you coming from?" they ask.
We tell them Lima, via Ayacucho. They are wowed by this. Even more so when they see a female rider!

They offer us some fresh granadillas and we graciously accept. It is so humbling that such poor people give away the little they have so easily.





There is a lesson in this for us all I think.  Sometime life catches us up so much in the big rat race in the cities - We are so busy looking at our I pads and our I phones - its all about me me and me, and we stop noticing what is going on around us altogether, and treat any kind of intrusion on our cocooned lives as an offence to our sensibilities. These people don't even this thing called the internet, neither do they really care. They are just delighted to have us visiting them, and I realize I was too quick to draw a wrong conclusion.

So we chat with them animatedly for a while. This old guy also explains how happy he is to to see us. He does not ask for money; he has no need for that.





Where are we going? To La Merced. Ah but there is another way that is easier. Yes, we reply. We are more interested in going to La Merced via Uchubamba rather than Tarma. Their faces brighten up and they welcome us telling us that it really beautiful there. We ask how far it is to Uchubamba and La Merced. He says "Oh its close, on your bikes just 2 hours, probably." We know this is grossly underestimated but we don't argue. He probably seldom goes there anyway. He does tell us the way to the next village, Molinas (Maize Mills), and gives us a few tips on the road conditions and where to turn. We thank him and with that we are off again.









The road quickly turns into a narrow, bouncy challenge with a lot of very fine dust which makes passing cars quite difficult.





Its about half an hour later and we arrive in Molinas the hard way. We have somehow missed the unmarked "desvio" and now have to  dodge some deep, unprotected holes in the road.





As we admire the little square ("Plaza las Armas") that is a feature of every Peruvian city, town and village. These are always the pride and joy of every municipality to the point that they are a status symbol of sorts. Some a very grandiose and colonial, while others are quite unpretentious and practical places to relax with one's family on a Saturday afternoon. As we putter past, this guy runs up to us and stops us. He also has a huge smile on his face.





He tells us he is the mayor and welcomes us as the first tourists to Molinas. His delight is contagious as he shakes our hands vigorously and then asks us permission for a photograph. He looks like he wants to tell someone else about us but there is no-one in sight. I guess that is why he wants the picture. Our presence there is certainly a big deal for him, so maybe we really are the first tourists on bikes there.




"Please enjoy your stay," he says, and we are once again overwhelmed. We move on, rolling higher and higher into the mountains, and the valley begins to narrow slowly and characteristically.









Check out the terracing going on, even here on these steep slopes. This is Inca-aged stuff.





We have this theory that the Inca people had a lot of time on their hands; so to keep them from getting bored, the Inca king set his people to terrace the whole countryside and to build stone walls everywhere.  ;D






I apologize about the picture quality, most of these were taken on the move with a wide angle lens and cropped. But to me, they capture the essence of our journey.









After a good hour or so of the most amazing winding dirt road, we arrive in another village where the single street is completely blocked by an excavator digging a 6 foot trench in the middle of the road. There is no diversion. To the left is a huge heap of dirt, so I look that the options to pass on the other side: Not enough space past that pole is my conclusion. Anyway, there is a deep drainage channel there, a slot and a worthy challenge for Graham Jarvis but not for us on loaded E-beemwes. When will we ever learn? ::) ;D

It crosses my mind that we will have to turn back here, but if you know me, and I am not to be outdone so easily.

I eventually decide the only way through is to ride up next to the excavator on the left, but once I am committed I realize it might have been a bit rash: There is a steep slope down to the left. I am now blocked by a big pile of earth in front and cannot get off my bike without falling over. 

Hmm.  :idea1: 

Now my only option is to cross in front under the bucket of this furiously working machine over to the drain side of the road. I notice the drain on the right is little bit shallower in front, filled with rocks and rubbish. There is also a couple of lengths of 4 inch plastic pipes strewn about. Meanwhile the excavator is still digging furiously away. I wave and yell and eventually convey my intentions to the operator. He does not shut it down but merely holds the bucket up in the air, dangling it really, and motions me to go through beneath it.

Oh shite.... :eek: If he drops it or slips his hand on the lever or something I will be dead. 'Dear Lord, just go for it', I say. It will be spectacular if I can pull this off, and spectacular if I can't. :laughing7:

I kick into first and pull gingerly beneath the bucket. It's a bit of a job to get the bike around the excavator but with some wheel spin its doable. The sphincter factor is now really high. I purse my lips and push on, hunching my head down instinctively. Then its a hard left turn onto and along and over the parallel pipes. The one moves about as I go over it, but I focus on not looking down and just gun it for the end hoping not to crash into the trench. Its wobbly as anything but somehow I make it with a quick foot out here and there. Not very graceful but I'm still delighted.

I leap off the bike and take this shot.




I walk back and take D's bike through for her, while she plays with the camera. Unfortunately the battery dies after that and we only have the 'mik en druk' camera with us now and my go pro.






D is happy about that me taking the bike through for her is not keen at all to ride this kind of thing. Neither am I really but we must get through. To my surprise I pull it off a second time. The construction guys are delighted and the operator comes over and offers me some dried maize in a packet. I tell him thanks but no thanks, but he insists. Little do I know how important this will be come later on.


This village is the last we see of people for quite some time. The road winds up into some really big mountains and the air becomes frigid despite the bright sunshine. Can you spot D? Awe inspiring riding.






Still climbing, we enter an areas of pampas -highveldt if you prefer- but way above the treeline.







The road becomes a series of tortuously tight switchbacks. D is battling a bit with these and goes around them slower and slower as her confidence wanes. Its happened to me too. No matter what you have learnt and know, when fear kicks in it starts to affect one's riding ability. Something that would normally easy becomes hard, and the prospect of bouncing down a steep mountainside can be really paralyzing. She stops and prays, gathering her wits.




I stop with her waiting patiently for her resolve to return. We have lots of time. We can afford to take it slow for a bit. Its high here, we are very close to the top, and the air is very thin. I am feeling horrible again and focus on taking long deep breaths. After while we ride on and within twenty minutes are nearing the top. There is yet another tight switchback and I stop, this time holding my breath as I watch D tackle it.






D takes it slowly and negotiates the turn successful. I'm delighted and proud of this simple achievement.





The top is not quite as impressive as I had imagined, but it is still beautiful.





A series of switchbacks starts our descent ahead of close to four kilometers. I'm hoping that D's confidence is growing after those last few switchbacks as we are going to need it for sure somewhere in front.

Author's side note* As I sit here now typing this I realize how much in cloud cuckoo land I must have been to continue. My leg was not great by any means and we should have capitalized on the previous day's success and built on that with another easy day to grow our self confidence. I should have taken the warning signs to heart but I did not. Overconfidence had won the day and we took a bit of a chance.  But isn't that what life is about - You know sometimes testing the limits? What I will say is if we had turned back at this point I am sure we would not have had such a big adventure as we did. Was it irresponsible? I can now say it probably was with 20/20 hindsight, but therein lies the rub. Pissies will never be heroes, and we would have just had a nice trip instead of an epic adventure, and it is the latter which we remember fondly, not so much the tourist trip, even though it was nice.


The road ahead does not look too bad after all!





Ha ha, fat chance.  :snorting:





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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #69 on: February 04, 2014, 07:56:11 am »
Aargh, the switchbacks go slower and slower as it becomes steeper and steeper, and they get tighter. There are lots of them.







Its only a matter of time before D's bike goes down. We stop and take stock. She is fine but it was unpleasant. Its the first time D has dropped the bike in a long time. Then again we have not been riding for ages before this trip either. We have a little bit to eat, after all its already 11h30 am. We read some Psalms together and pray.  Its really nice out there, with a cold breeze coming out of the canyon with the sun taking the edge off. We talk about all sorts of things, what we are seeing across the canyon up in the mountains, some llamas, and also about the deeper things in life and what God is doing in ours. We feel very close to one another and we draw comfort from that as well. After half an hour we feel better and continue.

At the very next corner, "BAM!" down the bike goes again. We grit our teeth as I stop, dismount and help her get it up again. D is fine but she is rattled. We get to the next switchback within 200m. She inches her way around it on her toes. Phew!! Now for the next one, which she does okay in 2nd gear, but she stops again. Whats wrong? It was scary for her. Very scary. I remind her of our prayers and that God is looking after us. She does not react. Maybe she did not hear; she seems to be focusing on the issues at hand. We press on past some magnificent boulders and then tackle more switchbacks.


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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #70 on: February 04, 2014, 08:25:44 am »
At the next switchback she stops. No. She cannot go on. "Okay," I say and I get off and ride her bike around the hairpin. There is another one 100m away so I ride that one too. Then I stop, dismount and walk back to get my bike. It starts to become a pattern. Ride 200m, stop, dismount, walk back, mount D's bike, ride it around the corner, stop & dismount, trudge back up to my bike and so on. Its can work up a sweat at the best of times, but I find it tremendously exhausting, definitely because of the altitude, but also probably because my leg is weak and sore. I work out I can walk 25 to 30 steps before I am completely out of breath. I'm amazed at how unfit I am.

D is very thankful, apologetic and frustrated at the same time as she walks past down the hill. I decide to be stoic about it, grin and bear it. There is no point in being frustrated I reason to myself. I realize it has been my decision to come here, despite her doubts mentioned a few times, and so I blame myself for where we are. The other day she was so strong for me, today I must be strong for her. I never stop believing in her, never stop hoping she will somehow build up the courage to do the next hairpin. Some of them are truly horrendous, sticking out almost into thin air with beating, unprotected vertical drops of over one hundred meters just past gravel laden edges. One or two have characteristic catholic shrines left by grieving relatives to mark the last moments and position of poor souls just before they fell to oblivion. Seeing this type of thing does nothing to improve the confidence.





Sometimes D steels herself and inches around a corner without assistance. I am delighted each time this happens and get filled with renewed hope. She does another one and then she stops again. I groan, she shakes her head sadly and we go through out little ritual. Each time I take a bit longer.  Slowly, after a more than an hour we have negotiated perhaps 30 or 40 of these damn hairpins and get to section where the road contours down for a bit. This bit is a welcome relief, broken on by four of five switchbacks most of which D somehow manages by inching it around on her toes. Well done girl, now lets keep going. hopefully it will get better from here.




We get to this little hamlet tucked away between mammoth, moss-covered boulders. Its stunning beauty and tranquility is somewhat lost on us a little bit by this stage, but I snap away with the camera and try to force my mind into appreciation mode. Keep positive, that's the ticket! There is not a soul to be seen anywhere. Its a strange feeling. Must be a seasonal farming hamlet.





« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 08:28:19 am by BlueBull2007 »
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #71 on: February 04, 2014, 09:11:03 am »
I tell D "It's going to get a bit easier from here." Shortly after that the road steepens up again and zigzags into a deeper section. Once again. Our lives have become a series of switchbacks. Sometimes it looks like this. Not too bad. Maybe 3 or 4 switchbacks to get down there...










when will it bloody end?? I tell myself at least those curves down there are gentle.






Try seven switchbacks. ::) But look! There is the bottom of the valley. After that it should be fine.   :deal:


Nope.  The road cuts around the corner into another massive canyon and it looks like this.






Now that might not look like much to you but believe me it was for us.






A one point we stop and both stare into the distance without seeing anything. This is taking ages and ages. We have the famous 1,000 yard stare that shell shocked troops are sometimes seen to get, or in our case exhausted riders facing a difficult situation. D's comes out of it first and suggests we go back.

What? Forget it. Do you know how many switchbacks we have done? We will have to do all those again, and then there are the ones on the other side as well, and the bloody excavator has probably completely closed the road up by now. No we have press on. It must get easier a bit further. D is the logical one at time like this and reasons that it could go on for a long time, much longer than we think. Its after 13h40 and I argue we will be nowhere by dark. Our only option is to press on.

So we do.





At last things level out and we come to a little village. Turns out its Urubamba. We are so happy! Then I think about it and realize that Google Earth is wrong, its higher up the gorge than indicated as we are at about 3,800m altitude still in clouds.





But the road is straight and easy. We cruise through the village, past fighting cocks and a group of kids playing football. Apart from one car we passed which was a service vehicle from "Luz de Sul" in Jauja to reconnect the power for the place we have seen no traffic. There are no cars anyway in the town, and there are no recent car tracks either. The way forward looks more like a wide cattle path.




The route is loose and stony and we stop again to take stock. We have a 'lively' discussion  whether to continue or return, now that the way forward seems even less traveled. I can't face the prospect of repeating perhaps 70 switchbacks in reverse, and feel that the worst is behind us. Look at the vegetation! We are dropping fast and will soon be in a wide open valley. Besides, look how gentle this bit really is....

« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 09:12:10 am by BlueBull2007 »
Rally nut. What could possibly go wrong?
Living the Rally Dream - Ride Report
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Offline Offshore

Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #72 on: February 04, 2014, 09:37:30 am »
Awesome Stuff, you are a great Author and Photographer. This Adventure has me on the Edge of my Seat, I am sure my Staff thinks I am watching Pornography at Work. ;) Keep it coming. I admire your Yster Vroutjie!
 

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #73 on: February 04, 2014, 09:54:30 am »
We leave the village and its quaintness behind us










The route is gentle for perhaps another two kilometers, and then we get a switchback and the road gradually steepens up. It becomes rocky as hell, the pictures do no justice.









As I walk back for my bike I can hear a big waterfall somewhere nearby. As it turns out we are entering a monster canyon well over 2,500m deep.






We wind down countless hairpins, some like this, most are a lot tighter. Its non-stop and getting quite funny- but we are not laughing. We both know its past the point of no return now. But the route is dropping fast at least. Its a pity we are taking so long to do it though. D tries every now and again and crashes the bike a lot. Fatigue is setting in big time for both of us. We have picked up the bike maybe 15 times by now, and we have been jumping off and on bikes for...well I don't remember how many times but it must have been a power factor more!

Just as we are wits end we come across this tributary, which blows us away and reminds us what a beautiful place this is. It transports us out of our misery for perhaps two minutes.  








This must be amazing to see in the rainy season.


Slowly, very slowly the bush becomes thicker and thicker.






The afternoon drags on. We are both wanting it to end but it is not. We get frustrated and stroppy, cursing the bikes. The emotions wash over us and we grit our teeth and battle on at other times. At one point after yet another crash we lie there for a while in the shade of a tree. The heat is now unbearable but at least we are still high enough not to be completely eaten alive by insects, but they have started. We are both so tired and feel like a sleep but this is impossible. I offer D some lunch. Biltong, dates and dried maize and river water. She is not interested in eating, she is really depressed now. I get agitated because I know she will need the food to sustain her in the coming hours. She is frustrated by her own inability to ride and puts herself down. I really battle to lift her spirits. But I cannot give up. If I give up, all will be lost. One of us has to stay positive so I force myself to try. I don't think I am doing very well at it.

I reflect on the route. Its not entry level by any means but not overly technical either. This is over D's level for sure though on this 240kg piece of BMW. The front wheel is only 19" and that makes it a bit more tricky. She can just touch the ground with her toes which means as soon as the bike is more than 5 degrees over she will go down. Its simply too much bike for her in this environment. I resolve there and then that this must addressed in future.  She is so disheartened by now on this mountain she wants to give up riding altogether. We are not in a happy place at all. I blame myself for getting her into this mess. We have to come to terms that we are in a process, a season of hardship and there is no way out but through it. Its mid afternoon. In the tropics dusk comes really fast, and lasts about 20 minutes. In these mountains it can be quicker than that. I estimate we have 2.5 tops 3 hours to go.

It dawns on me that it is likely we are going to be stuck out here in the Amazon with no tent unless we get to a better road soon....It cant be that far, surely. Crap, then I remember I did not even pack any matches. We may well epic tonight. We cannot stop.  We have to get to civilization somehow.

I jump up and get us into action again. D tries. She tries so hard. We ride for a while and my hope comes back. Then she looses it on a rocky, loose corner and I have to pull the bike off her. Her leg is sore but she has not broken anything - thank the Lord for these mercies!

Its getting brutal now. We are just going to have to try and keep going, no matter what.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 09:55:20 am by BlueBull2007 »
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Living the Rally Dream - Ride Report
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Offline >>Thump°C

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #74 on: February 04, 2014, 10:01:32 am »
Awesome Stuff, you are a great Author and Photographer. This Adventure has me on the Edge of my Seat, I am sure my Staff thinks I am watching Pornography at Work. ;) Keep it coming. I admire your Yster Vroutjie!
For sure
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Offline Crossed-up

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #75 on: February 04, 2014, 11:08:59 am »
You have us in awe and suspense!  What next for our intrepid adventurers?
 

Offline westfrogger

Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #76 on: February 04, 2014, 06:41:58 pm »
"It was an epic report to follow. I was almost out of coffee, and my fingers ached from hitting refresh. Just then it occurred to me ... the F5 had finally worn away completely on the button. I needed a new keyboard, and I was still hundreds of miles from the end of the story. But pissies can't be heroes, so I just press the blank key between F4 and F6 ..."

 :loll:

Fine writing my good man, and enjoying the pictures too. Will be riding those very roads one day.  :thumleft:
 

Offline Wooly Bugger

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #77 on: February 05, 2014, 07:47:17 am »
truly inspiring!
 

Offline Heimer

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #78 on: February 05, 2014, 05:42:43 pm »
I am loving this report.

Matriek getuigskrif 1979: ........... is 'n vriendelike seun met volop selfvertroue. Hy tree soms vreemd op. Die skool se beste wense vergesel hom.
 

Offline Karoo Rider

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Re: From the Andes to the Amazon
« Reply #79 on: February 05, 2014, 06:48:56 pm »
 :sip: