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Offline BlueBull2007

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Peruvian Andes (Updated again)
« on: November 03, 2008, 04:15:34 am »
This is the trip I have been waiting months and months for.  :wav:

The trip that sets the scene for our next couple of years in PerĆŗ.  One of riding at altitude on roads that have seldom, if ever been done before on DS bikes.  :deal:

I leave Lima on Wednesday morning. Itā??s a typically misty morning, the cold sea breeze mixing with the warmer land air and the smog of more than two million vehicles. Still its drawing close to summer now, so the mist is thinner, and the sun makes a meek appearance.




The traffic is mostly against me, everyone trying to get into town for a days work. My job requires me to travel to work at Cerro de Pasco, a mining town some 300km away and at altitude of 4,300m. What a great excuse to go riding and get paid for it! :evil6:

At a traffic light I have the chance to glance at a taxi driver going the other way. He looks depressed, heĀ“s stuck in heavy traffic.  On the other hand, I feel fabulous. :ricky:




This is what we have to contend with, even going in the opposite direction to peak hour traffic.



Everyone jostles and shoves, there is no regard for lanes, lines or the timid driver, never mind bikers. ItĀ“s eat or be eaten, make sure youĀ“re seen, take the gap and above all leave yourself an escape route.:eek:


We live to the east of the city, so its not long before IĀ“m out of the worst. I also leave the mist behind.




I see another biker on his ā??workhorseā? in front of me. 

An unwritten kinship is mutually felt and we exchange waves and smiles before I speed on.





Stopping to get some empanadas (Cornish pies), I see this poor old lady trying to catch a bus. No one will stop to pick her up because they think she wonĀ“t pay. I wave one down and bundle her on before the driver realizes what is going on.
 



A little later at the fuel station I come across another one of these work bikes. Seems you can transport anything and anyone on them!




The main road inland connecting Lima with the Amazon from is called the Carretera Central, and is a fairly congested tarred single lane highway.




The curves are amazing, but the buses, trucks and maniac drivers make it a very hazardous route in general. I prefer the smaller tracks and dirt roads, so I plan to run the Antigua Carretera Central, which is the old dirt road running parallel in the adjacent valley.

In Chosica, the last big town out of Lima, I come across the first of a series of hydropower stations.





Water is channeled along a system of canals and tunnels from the main river far upstream and dropped down huge pipes into the turbines. ItĀ“s pretty impressive engineering and a really clean way to produce power for the city.
I turn off in Chosica, this is the view of where I have come from.



The road is now smaller, with little hamlets and houses dotted along both sides.





The road leads me on, and I canĀ“t wait to see what is around the next corner.




Apart from Santa Eulalia, there are smaller villages which also have little ā??plaza de armasā? or  main squares and church. The bigger places have cathedrals.





They are always neat and generally well kept, no matter how small and poor the village may be. People here are very proud of their heritage, itĀ“s refreshing.

I meet Enrico, who nearly dives off his bike to talk to me. I think his bike has character.




He likes mine, can I sell it? I tell him itĀ“s not for sale. He tells me about his sister up the road who is really beautiful, I should meet her and her friend.  :3some: I tell him IĀ“m flattered but I have a long journey to make and anyway IĀ“m taken (pointing at ring on finger).  8)


The road on quickly narrows and big potholes and the gravel section begins. IĀ“m enjoying myself immensely.




I ride for another fifteen minutes and reach the end of the tarred section. The route to the right invites me into the base of the valley, but the way to the top of the pass is left and up the side of the mountain.




The road really starts to climb fast, and as I look back I am struck by the green valley floor against the harsh desert landscape. The drop off is tremendous.





The condition of the road is not bad, with a bit of bull dust here and there, and numerous river crossings over small bridges mostly.





A bit later, I look back the other way.




I am reminded that this little single lane track leaves little room for error. You can see the road continuing on the next hill.





Around the corner these three watch me with detached bemusement. They donĀ“t wave back. Is he going to slip on those rocks?




I make it through easily and climb up the mountain above the village. The drop-off once again become staggering.

The road continues in the this fashion, and cuts above a very deep gorge perhaps 20m wide.




 After a while the route opens out into another huge valley.
]


A short tunnel provides a break from the exposure.




The formations in the cliffs above the road are equally impressive.




I try not to think of the huge drop below. This is what it looks like the other way:



ChapmanĀ“s peak se moer!

I a bit further on I look up the valley, I think I see something crossing the over the river in the distance.




As I get closer, I realize it is a road bridge!





I have to see this! I race along, forgetting the awesome drop and the possibility of meeting oncoming traffic. it is a slight disappointment because I donĀ“t get a sense of the height when I on it.:






Perhaps my perception of height has been seared... :biggrin:

The road ahead continues up the valley, with the river climbing fast again to regain the higher elevation of the road.





Itā??s a beautiful day, and I canĀ“t get enough of this place, so I take a shot looking back at the bridge.






As I get higher and higher, the potato farms





 are gradually replaced by trout farms. The river is full of wild trout as well.




The track ahead has deteriorated slightly, and becomes little bit more technical with rocks strewn about.


The gradient remains the same: 4%. I take my hat off to the engineers who built this road. A snapshot of my altitude shows me I am only half way to the topā?¦




You can see the temperature on my bikeĀ“s computer is 19 degrees, it a little cooler than lower down but still plenty hot for this kind of riding.

I come across a group of school kids on a trout fishing outing with their teacher. I have to give this little blighter a go. He loves it and presses the hotter loud and long much to the delight of the others.




The higher I go the smaller the trees get. One of the hardiest trees here is of course the Australian gum tree. CanĀ“t go anywhere without seeing these trees somewhere. Over here they use them extensively for firewood & charcoal which makes for dodgy, exploding  braais :xxbah: They alsouse them for building purposes apparently!!?  :eek7:






The track is still not to bad and I am able to speed up on some twisties for a while.





I get to a place called Barbar Blanca (white beard) which is a hydropower plant and coffer dam for feeding other hydro plants lower down.





Most of the water does not go down the valley but into huge pipes and tunnels under the mountains.

Upstream there is a lot more water, and the road also get more tricky with bigger rocks and sections awash with water and deep mud.




I see quite a bit of abandoned terracing of the steep slopes here and there, done by the IncaĀ“s.





« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 03:41:05 am by BlueBull2007 »
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2008, 04:27:03 am »






The track gets wilder and wilder, and riding becomes more technical.





The weather is also changing fast, the temperature is down to 6 degrees, so I slip on my rain jacket and continue.





Itā??s a bit surreal to meet people up here, but you do come across them from time to time. Itā??s a wonder how they manage above 3900m.





The climb continues up a broader valley now, glaciated into a smooth shape many years ago.








The rough track lures me on. IĀ“m totally addicted by the hundreds of turns, and the bike climbs easily over the rocky ground. IĀ“m so happy with my 800, its really performing well.





I stop for a drink and to full up my water bottle. I am short of breath, but I feel fine apart from that.





The mosses and lichens that grow up here are really something. The grass is also different, its high altitude grass, and the ground is soggy underfoot.





The view is nothing short of spectacular, and I can see some old circular ruins that look like the ones at Suikerbosrand south of Johberg.




Cataracts tumble down piles of collapsed boulders to join the roaring river below.





I turn right up another frost shattered valley that almost looks man made. Huge talus slopes of rock.




Near the top is this glacial lake.




But itĀ“s not the top the road continues upwards....  :eek7:




and reveals another lake. ItĀ“s incredible. IĀ“m overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and my mind buzzes from the lack of oxygen, making it a surreal experience.




Its not easy keeping the bike on the road, one mistake and I could be in the freezing water 30m below,
.



Around the corner I see a different coloured lake:




The weather really gives this place atmosphere, like its alive, and benevolent, and its always changing character.








Im at 4,400m now and the road is still going up. I see the snow line not far above me.





Today is a good day: ItĀ“s quite normal that all of this is white at this time of year. The funny thing is the snow melts very quickly too. This is landscape of change. Nothing is too unusual here. Rain, snow, hail, sleet, sunshine and mist are the order of the day, sometimes all occur on some day. But there is always wind.

I navigate past a fifth and sixth lake, itĀ“s extremely remote and inhospitable.













(To the voice of David Attenborough): Even here,ā?¦there is LIFE:








The road twists and curves a torturous route towards the top of the pass.




The top is signaled by the presence of rock cairns. 4,878m.







But my ride does not stop here. I still have over 180km to go. I come around the corner and see this:




The road gets slimy and slippery. New challenges!




ItĀ“s sleeting hard now, I let it sting my face with my visor up: I dont care, IĀ“m enjoying the visual feast too much. :drif:



Eventually I stop, meeting up with my work associate Julio, so I take the opportunity to change into something dry and put on my wet weather gear. I put on a brave disposition in the 3 degree weather.




I look up and see a peak through a gap in the clouds. ThatĀ“s about 5,900m high, although it doesnā??t look that high from here.





Its hailing and Julio retreats to the warmth of his car, shaking his head at me.






The weather turns really REALLY foul as it normally does at this time of day up here. :sad2:



Itā??s a real battle to see the roadā?¦ I feel rotten, itĀ“s altitude sickness kicking in. Yellow spots and stars appear in front of my eyes, I have a severe headache now and nausea washes over me in waves. The road ahead is perilous. IĀ“m  not sure if IĀ“m going to make it.

This photo shows more than I can actually see.









To be continued  :ricky: /ā?¦.

If you would like to see further different pics in the another version of the report, go here while you wait for the update:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=402175

« Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 05:13:12 am by BlueBull2007 »
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Offline Plothond

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2008, 06:36:42 am »
You really have a lekker place to ride

Enjoying this and waiting for the balance  :thumleft:
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Offline rubiblue

Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2008, 06:48:18 am »
Nice Change of scenery, sweet mountain passes...
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Offline topbox

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2008, 07:22:18 am »
that altitude sickness is real shitty, in LaPaz coming from sea level i couldnt breathe, the most severe headache and walking was hard work.
But what nice people !
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Offline letsgofishing

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2008, 07:43:10 am »
What an awesome place to ride! Great pics Bloubul - can't wait for the rest!
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Offline JonW

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2008, 08:16:30 am »
Awesome report and stunning pictures.

I wish I could get paid for doing that.

Great stuff.
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Offline Matroos (aka JJred)

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 12:58:19 pm »
Jeez BB that is fantastic!!

Now I can understand your frustation for waiting for your bike such a long time...

That riding looks spectacular, keep'm coming
 

Offline Hentie @ Riders

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2008, 01:30:01 pm »
Nice :thumleft:

Offline Aquatic

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2008, 01:30:55 pm »
Very Nice!!!
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Offline cloudgazer

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2008, 01:41:22 pm »
Holy crap, thats cool.

Would love to visit South America.

Looking forward to the next installment.
 

Offline MrBig

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2008, 02:04:52 pm »
Wow, that's just fantastic!
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Offline buzzlightyear

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2008, 03:08:53 pm »
Fantastic! 8)

This looks like the bridge leads into a gorilla's mouth
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Offline Carlos

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2008, 03:37:06 pm »
I love those rocky river beds...amazing

Offline Malibu

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2008, 04:24:46 pm »
WOW!

What else to say.....  :drif:
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Offline popipants

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2008, 04:37:03 pm »
dammm, that looks like an awesome place to ride!!!!!
 :drif: :drif: :drif: :drif: :drif: :drif: :drif:


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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2008, 04:51:43 pm »
Great stuff BB... Empanadas are blerry lekka!
 

Offline kejago

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2008, 06:12:31 pm »
Blimsem! :eek: Thumleft:
 

Offline JO GSA

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2008, 06:39:08 pm »
Nice BB...ek wil dit ook gaan ry,,,,,,
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Offline BMWPE

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Re: Touring the Peruvian Andes
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2008, 06:50:04 pm »
Stunning  :thumleft:
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