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(115) Heading for the hills

September 1, 2015


Reaching  the coast had done me the world of good. Climbing so many mountains and being shaken to bits on the roads had taken so much out of me and yet I was off in to the hills again. It was the change and the rest that had done me so much good and although it was a short break I was ready to go again. 

Monday 6th July

Having had a almost two days off by the sea had left me feeling totally energised and the thought of heading back into the mountains was great, well you know the feeling of being in a comfy bed that’s the perfect temperature, then looking over to see a fully loaded bike that I needed to ride back up into the mountains. Luckily for me I love the mountains and I hoped I would have a tail wind to pay me back for fighting a headwind for the previous four days riding to the coast. I also hoped I would gently follow the river up the valley as it showed on the map but knowing how maps can be mis- leading I set off out of town via the sea front to get my last look of the bay and hit the road. Apart from taking a couple wrong streets because I was using my internal very tired navigation system I found the right road and started to head east, I think. IMGP6011

It doesn’t look like a nice place to go but I was pleased I did


Feeling ok I got my head down and soon reached the turn off and started to follow the river up stream. IMGP6015

There is something nice about cycling towards a huge mountain

Apart from the undulations from time to time the road gradually climbed towards a dam. As I approached it I saw a cyclist coming the other way. I shouted out but there was no response, so I called again then he saw me. He stopped but he didn’t seem to interested in chatting. After a few questions I assumed life on the road had done something to him or I had woken him from some sort off dream state. I wished him luck and hoped I didn’t appear that way to others. I climbed to the dam and enjoyed the nice flat road around it assisted by a nice tailwind.

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I reached the town at the end of the lake and being midday I stopped for some dinner. With fish and rice on the menu although I think I was ripped off I set off again having already covered 45 miles.

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Looking at the map I thought if I could get past Chilete then I could easily get the Cajamarca in two and a half days. With the wind helping me along a very steady climb I was making amazing progress and with the odd down hill to rest the legs I was feeling amazing. By 3 pm I had reached the town and so stopped for an ice cream and a drink. I sat next to a guy who ended up being drunk which wasn’t a great but it was good for the rest. P1020191

As the sun started to set the colours started to come out of the rocks

Still with 3 hours left I set off again still with a nice almost unnoticeable climb apart from the odd bit but by the time It was 4.45pm I had covered 75 miles. As I continued east I passed a restaurant where I figured it would be a good place to eat and get a little water to save time when I camp. With a much better prices for fish and rice I set off to look for a good camp spot. With the sun now low I tried to look for places but with no luck I just rode on and kept looking.  Passing a few villages I thought about asking if I could camp in their garden but with that requires extra energy and knew something would turn up. With the sun set and now losing light fast I past a garage with an old road rising above it. I asked if I could camp behind the garage and the lady was more then happy. I pushed my bike up the road until it levelled off and pitched my tent with views up and down the valley. It had been an amazing day feeling great on my bike and managing to cover 86 miles and climbing 1,900 metres. Tomorrow would be a different day with lots of hairpin bends and the start of the climb proper. for now though I needed to rest and just hope I sleep well

Tuesday 7th July

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My camp for the night

With no fly sheet on the tent I was woken by the morning light well before the sun came up. Grabbing my eye mask I managed to enjoy a bit of a lay in before the sun started to warm me. The silver fly I had sawn on the inner was now reflecting the sun keeping me cool and in the shade taking away the glare. It was 8.45am when I put the kettle on and something I was looking forward to. I hadn’t had a good cup of coffee for ages and with two mini packs of cookies I was going to enjoy it. With the two packs of cookies being all I had to eat I packed up and while I was in a nice spot decided now would be a good time to change the chain. With it being well overdue and making a noise I set about swooping it over. With a broken spring on my chain tensioner I had a go at fixing it then cleaned everything that would come in contact with the chain and fitted the new one. This took about an hour and so by the time I was packed and on the road it was around 10.15am and already getting hot.

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The road ahead as it made its way up to San Juan to the right and heading to Catamarca to the left

Wanting to get to the first village of San Juan I started to climb but it was hot and I felt tired from the day before. With a big climb ahead and with only 39 miles to Cajamarca I knew I would still be in for a long day. Apart from the odd steep climb the road was good and the gradient was steady. It seemed to take ages to get to San Juan and I was hungry, really hungry and with nothing to eat I dug through my panniers to find the old energy bar I had kept for times like these. Not really getting anything from it, I grabbed a packet of Tang which I had brought from Chile 2 years ago and is a bright orange powder you mix with water to make a squash. I had often seen kids in Africa use it as a kind of sherbet and lick it from the palms of their hands. Apart from making my eyes water from the strength and making my hands look like I had weird type yellow jaundice it just made me thirsty. With little water I pushed on slowly and finally reached the town where I stopped for food. This was great as it was spaghetti bolognese with a piece of chicken and potato which made a nice change from chicken and rice. It was just what I needed but knew it wasn’t enough. I set off an hour later and still with about 20 miles to go I got my head down and ticked off the miles. P1020197

Now a 1000 metres above the valley below


With it still so hot I kept stopping to cool and found I was still hungry. Knowing I had a tin of tuna in my bag I opened it and finished with a few sweets that I had. Seeing the trucks on the hillside I knew I still had a way to go but as the time passed I got higher finally reaching the pass of Abra Gavilan 3,215mts around 4.30pm.

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Abra Gavilan 3,215mts

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Cajamarca down in the valley ahead

Not really knowing what height Cajamarca was it was a nice surprise to ride around the corner to see it much lower and far off in the distance. As I came around the back of the mountain the wind was brutal and cold but I knew I would be going down hill and only in the wind for short stretches.P1020200

It felt really strange riding next to this convoy of tuktuk’s

By 5.30 I had reached the city and followed the hundreds of tuk tuks in to town and it wasn’t long before I found the central plaza. With a bit of looking and asking around I found a hostel and was soon checked in. I couldn’t believe I had made it to here in two days from the coast after covering 125 miles and 3,700 metres of climbing. I was tired from it but I knew I could now rest. I think I deserve a day off and a nice steak.

Wednesday 8th July

With a day off I knew it wouldn’t be quite as straight forward as just site seeing as I needed to find the Cruze del Sur bus company to collect my bag that I had posted on from Huaraz. After making a few enquiries I jumped in a tuktuk and headed across the city. After 20 minutes I arrived and was reunited with my heavy bag. I headed back in the same tuktuk trying to think again what it was I didn’t really need. I reached the hotel and wondered why it was so heavy. I went through all my things and each thing on its own weighted next to nothing but when combined was incredible. Once I had sorted through my things and not really throwing anything away, I set about planning for the road ahead and looked for the best option which really there was only one. It was good to get an idea of where I’d be and when and I knew Ecuador would be as hard as Peru but I was fit although now I was about to add another 10kg of luggage on top of what I was already carrying. Not wanting to waste the day I headed out to look around town.P1020202

 

It was a beautiful town with more wooden balconies then I could count and some incredible churches. It was great to have a day off and look around but in some ways it was hard. Looking around was nice but not as fun on my own. I had also done some calculations on dividing up the distance to Alaska into months left and realised I was getting behind. I knew I couldn’t go any faster and I didn’t want to rush through countries but the pressure to keep going was starting to override the desire to stop and take time off to rest. the one factor that was on my side was that once i had left Columbia the landscape would get less hilly allowing me to cover greater distances. I wanted this trip to be about the journey and not the destination.

Thursday 9th July

Wanting to get on the road early was the plan but that extra ten minutes in bed was so nice. With another bag to carry and everything redistributed in my panniers I wondered how I had fit it all in before and this after I have already sent stuff home. Managing to get everything packed and out the door by 9am was good but I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Now 10kg heavier plus food my bike felt like a tank. I made my way through the streets and stopped to check the route with a security guard who pointed me in the wrong direction. Not wanting to upset him I headed off and once out of sight I circled and headed in the right direction double checking with a policeman I was reading the right way.P1020205

Climbing up above the town 

With the road already climbing I knew I would be in for a long climb and with Cajamarca pretty much in a bowl I knew there wouldn’t be any way round it. The day started off nice but as I climbed the clouds moved in making it a grey and dreary day. As I reached the start of a mining area I spotted a restaurant to get lunch. This seemed to be a good place to stop as there seemed to be a lot of miners that used it.

Most the scenery was amazing but on a day like today I just kept peddling aiming for the top. After 17 miles of constant uphill I reached the top at 3,667mts and descended into a huge mine and through a tunnel under a road that linked one side of the mine to another with massive mining trucks moving back and forth with tons of material. IMGP6032

These trucks would fill both lanes of a duel carriageway 

Looking from a distance though these trucks looked more like a kids playground as the mountain was slowly being taken down and the valuable material taken away. After dropping through the mine for about four miles the road began to climb again. With a moorland type landscape where the hills seemed to roll on with no sign of the summit and I knew I was in for another long climb.IMGP6034

Looking back toward the mine and the coloured Cake that is the waste piled high

Feeling happy I had stopped and eaten I continued to climb as the clouds got darker and more threatening. With convoy after convoy of trucks serving the mines I reached the pass at 3,889 metres and started to descend.

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Close to the top looking back at the darkening skys

Looking at the map I knew it wouldn’t last long as the rivers were running the wrong way meaning only one thing a climb. Dropping to 3,667 the road turned northwest and again climbed.

IMGP6043heading to the top 

It had felt like I had been climbing all day and I felt tired. Spotting the pass ahead with clouds pushing there way up the valley I knew I needed to get over to stay dry. With a few rain spots I reached the pass of Abre Coimolache at 3,955 and started the descent past the next huge mine. IMGP6044

This sign was spot on for height 

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View from the other side of the pass with the light fading

Not sure weather I would make it to town I put my jacket on and started to look for a camp spot. With little water I would need to stop to collect some but with the road dropping off towards the town and with an hour to get there I decided to go for it.

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Passing the colourful mining town of Hualgayoc

The road continued to go from paved to unpaved but being down hill it didn’t matter. Passing landslide after landslide it was incredible to see how much had slipped down the mountain.


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This landslide had covered half the highway leaving just one lane


As I got lower the surrounding rock turned white which indicated limestone. And soon passed many quarry’s that were crushing it to be spread in the fields. As the sun dropped behind the mountain the clouds started to move up through the valley making the last few miles into the town a bit harder to see.

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With the GPS guiding me in I dropped deeper into the town and down a really steep street. I stopped at the bottom where I was approached by a couple guys who were so friendly. Soon having about twenty people around me all very polite I explained what I was doing they were so kind and pointed me in the right direction for a hostel. Having done so much climbing and covered such a distance I was tired and so was pleased to find a hostel. With the stove heating water for a cupper and the spot tracker working I had a quick shower and enjoy a nice cupper before heading out for dinner. P1020231

One of the amazing topiary bushes 

The town looked amazing with bunting in all the streets and an amazing square with some incredible topiary. Wanting to get another good day in tomorrow I knew I couldn’t have a late one but it was nice to stop. As I headed to bed then heard the first of what was a huge fire work display and a band.P1020216

This is a guy dressed in a costume with fireworks attached and running at people

Unable to settle I thought I would head out and see what all the noise was about. Coming up the street very slowly was a parade carrying a new model of the Virgin Marry. P1020217The parade would stop at each junction and a firework display would commence and quite a dodgy one at that. With bamboo frames with spinning wheels and the odd fire work flying off into the crowd and kids running through the sparks for fun was mad to watch but a lot of fun.P1020223

The tall bamboo firework frame that was wired up with hundreds of fireworks

Once the doll had been delivered to the church the parade stopped and everyone went home. I was pleased I headed out to watch and made my short stay much more fun.

Friday 10th July

With the sun lighting the room and hardly able to open my eyes I stayed in bed to finish my dream. I don’t know why I did all I was doing was fitting windows with Steve and he wanted to get it finished. Once I had finished helping him I was free to wake up and pack my things. Trying to get out the door by 9am was achievable even with the stove on the roof making hot water for coffee. With all my bags downstairs and my bike out on the street being loaded I got chatting to the shop owner next door and a security guard. By the time I had finished explaining what I was doing there were about ten people around me. They were all so friendly and polite and so leaving later then usual didn’t worry me.P1020232
With a new road half way through being finished up to the summit I wound my way slowly climbing. Covering so many miles over the last week each day was starting to blur into one with a climb then a descent then another climb all with pretty much the same scenery.P1020236

Climbing up above Bambamarca

 

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Passing the lime quarry 

Reaching the summit of Abra Samanguy at 3,215mts by mid day felt good although it wasn’t a big one I still had to climb around 800 metres to get to it. With the descent broken up by large sections being either ripped up or relaid the descent was slower then usual.P1020240

I reached the town of Chota by 1pm and in time for dinner. It was good to stop although what’s known as the menu which is soup that often has a chickens foot in it, followed by rice and another piece of chicken was starting to wear thin. I set off about 45 minutes later thinking I had a climb out of the town only to find it followed the river down stream to another river that headed west to the coast. P1020247

I tried to get a good picture of these beautiful Saffron Finches

It was amazing descending and felt like the opposite from yesterday where all I seemed to do was climb. As I dropped the more the landscape became greener and there were a lot more landslides. After dropping to just under 1,700 metres I reached the town of Chohabamba where I picked up a few snacks and asked if I had a big climb ahead to which she said no. I then asked how high the next town was and she said 3,000 metres and it’s very cold. I then asked if it was asphalt or ripio and she said asphalt. As I left the town I looked up to see the road ahead and dust coming off the trucks coming down the mountain. Not only did I have at least a 1,300 metre climb but on ripio.P1020251

Although her information was wrong before I left she gave me a bottle of water which I though was really nice of her although I had brought all her supply of biscuits. Being 3pm I had 3 hours to get as high as I could and so set off. With the wind now on my back it felt good being pushed up a hill rather then stopped coming down and it kept the midges off me. The climb was nice although it was ripio in some places it was incredible.IMGP6071

In places the road was as smooth as glass

I passed countless trucks all working on the road and slowly gained height. Stopping to grab a snack I noticed my new bottle of water had fallen off and with little on board I needed to get more. With the clouds moving in I knew I could have made it to the town but knowing how quickly I was getting through money by paying for hostels and meals out I wanted to camp.IMGP6072

Making my way up the pass as the sun slowly got lower the other side

With the sun pretty much on the verge of setting I saw a house and got some water. I asked if they minded me camping in the field and were more then happy. I was pleased how far I had got and where I had camped but with black clouds moving in I just hoped it didn’t rain. It was a nice temperature where I was meaning I should get a good nights sleep ready for the rest of the climb tomorrow.

Saturday 11th July

Hearing the rain on the tent and being on a dirt road meant I was going to get wet and muddy. Feeling tired from the day before I stayed in bed listening to the rain until it stopped. I took the opportunity to have breakfast while I waited and cleared the tent. IMGP6073

Packing to a cold damp and misty day

By the time I was packed and back up on the road it was 9.45am. With the cloud coming up from the valley it was obscuring any views and getting me wet as a result. After saying each day was starting to look like another I thought it was natures way of saying well if it all looks the same I won’t show it to you then. With road works everywhere clearing landslides while trying to build the road I came to a guy stopping everyone from passing. After waiting ten minutes we were allowed to continue and soon the cars were far ahead leaving me back in the mist. As I climbed higher I passed a load of huge rocks in the road with blue wires coming out of each one and were all connected. Releasing they were wired to be blown up I quickly peddled on and arrived out of the mist to see a rather worried looking guy on a radio. After hearing him shouting on the radio I turned the corner to hear an almighty explosion that made me jump feeling pleased I was still in one peice I climbed higher with the thick fog clearing. I reached the summit then dropped a little before the road continued through a flat valley before climbing to the town of Curtivo.

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Reaching the edge of the clouds as I neared the summit

By this point it was midday and a good time to grab some lunch. I stopped to buy a bag of sweets when I was again asked what I was doing. They were again all very nice but with time getting on I said my goodbyes and went and found a restaurant. With a hog roast on offer I was so pleased at the change and it was amazing. Saving some back for my tea I set off and what I had been told was a descent needed up being a really steep climb. IMGP6079

With the sun out it was hot work and hard work. After I reached another summit I rounded the corner to descend to the start of the next and  then rain. I put my jacket on hoping it would pass but it only got harder. IMGP6082

As the rain fell the mud just got worse

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With a new road being built the fresh cutting into the rock was stunning

With the rain came the mud and lots of it. With the road being ripped apart by diggers and trucks meant the surface of the road turned to a thick slurry.

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It was so hard riding in such thick and deep mud

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In some places it got quite dodgy with so many landslides and shear drop offs

It was hard to grip with the steepness of the climb but with no where to stop and shelter I just kept going. After reaching the summit I stopped to look at the map which seemed like it was all down hill to the road meaning it should be a lot easier.

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With sections of dry weather between the rain I did get a break from the mud even stopping to clean my bike from a small waterfall.  After dropping through a few villages and with the amount of rain they must had along with clearing a lot of landslides the mud began and so did the rain.

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By the time I was just a few miles from the highway me and my bike and everything attached was caked in thick clay mud. I stopped by the river and spent about an hour pulling mud from everywhere removing my panniers and washing my bike.

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Everything was covered


It was so sticky it took ages to get the worst of it off. By the time I had finished it was getting dark and all I could hope for is to get to the junction. After another half an hour I reached the highway and asked for a hostel. With a really basic one just metres from where I was. All I wanted was a shower a bed and food. Still having the the leftovers from dinner I pulled it out to find it was also all covered in mud and so I opted for the amazingly tasty and boring chicken and rice yey. It was however food and I had a bed thats if I could get the key to work in the padlock. Tomorrow I had 30 ish miles to cover on Tarmac which should mean a short day then a day off before the final assault to the border. I couldn’t believe I was almost there and I was back on tarmac.

Sunday  12th July

After a night of battling with the elusive mozzie then getting fed up with not getting any sleep. I got up to move the bed to one side so I could pitch the tent and get a good nights sleep.IMGP6100

Now thats better

I of course woke up tired but it didn’t matter to much as only had around 30 miles to ride until Jaén and 20 of those miles followed the river down stream. I set off and at first the road dropped then began to climb the fall as I rode next to an ever growing river. The river was huge with a pale brown colour from the amount of earth it was carrying. Being so low meant the temperature was high and the the humidity was even higher making it almost hard to breath. As the road moved away from the river I could barely hear from all the insects.

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The beautiful orange Dryas Lulia alcionea

There were butterfly’s everywhere and they were stunning. I stopped to take a picture then another one would appear.

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As I followed the river a huge blue butterfly flew next to me. I couldn’t believe how massive it was and yet it flew effortlessly against a headwind which made me think I can’t complain against the headwind if a butterfly can fly against it.

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The huge blue Morpho menelaus

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I loved their way of getting drinks to the top deck

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I found this poor butterfly on the road this will give you an idea of size

I reached the junction around 1pm and stopped for lunch before turning northwest on a road I was told was flat. After a 7 mile climb on a flat road managing to gain 400 metres on a flat hill I reached the pass and could see the town of Jaén about four miles away with a storm about to hit the town.

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looking down towards the town hoping I would make it in time

I had a quick ice cream in the sun as I watched huge vultures soaring on the thermals then started the descent. It was a great ride into town racing the tuktuk’s and soon reaching the centre. Within minutes the heavens opened and it started to rain. After looking for a hostel with wifi I finally found one and got my bike in the room. With a day off tomorrow I had a well needed shower and lay in the bed listening to the torrential rain and the claps of thunder feeling pleased I had made it and was now relaxed. Once the rain had stopped I headed out for food and cut my hair. It always felt good to stop but the towns all looked the same with all the same food and I wanted a change. No more chicken brasa

Monday 13th July

I had a lay in and worked on my blog delaying my look around the town. I wasn’t to bothered about doing so but I needed to get out and make the effort. It was a nice day with a hot sun making me head straight for the ice-cream parlour. I looked around and I don’t think i’ve ever seen so many people eating ice creams, even the policemen on traffic duty had an ice lolly. Looking at my map I was getting even closer to leaving Peru and I needed a change. It would also be the end of another country and give me the feeling of moving north. I needed motivation and climbing hill after hill and arriving in the same looking towns was starting to feel more like a tread mill then fun. With the rest of the day to relax wash my clothes and clean my bike in the hotel shower I checked my things to make sure I had what I needed to move on tomorrow.

Tuesday 14th July

After a late night finishing off a few chores ended up making me tired for the morning. I not only woke late but the cash machine wouldn’t work outside the hostel so I ended up having to walk into town. By the time I got back to the hostel it was now almost 11am and I knew I had a long way to get to San Ignacio. I doubted I would make it that far and thought I would need to camp. I sorted the last things in my room and tried to speak to Sharon’s parents and luckily they were in. It was so amazing speaking to them and knowing I would probably camp meant I now didn’t need to rush. With dolly my bike all shiny I carried her down stairs and started to load her. It was at point a guy asked me for money which to be fair Dolly was looking pretty shiney but I think the guy was trying it on. I set off out of town heading northeast and dropping down to the river before I turned more north to head up stream. With 68 miles to go to get to the town I found I was making good progress as I was heading down hill but thought it would climb a lot following the river up steam.

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Another river heading to the Amazon

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When I did reach a huge river the climbs were slight broken up with the odd down hill and a very slight breeze. It was hot going but I was covering the miles and by lunch time I had already covered 25 and thought I might make the town after all. Deciding to give chicken a miss I enjoyed the beef and rice and set off as soon as I had finished. Knowing it got dark at 6.17pm and normally averaging 10mph I needed to keep above 14mph to make up the miles.

IMGP6152 Following the river was amazing with rice paddy fields all in different stages of maturity and so giving off different shades of green on their curved terraces.

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Getting ready to sew
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The crop

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And the harvest


It was fascinating passing each farm and seeing the different shapes as they moulded to the landscape. Pushing on was good but my chain was now starting to slip but unusually only when I didn’t put much pressure on the peddles. I had a quick look hoping I had solved it but with it continuing to slip I knew I needed to stop at some point and get the spanner out but this would take time to adjust the chain and the brakes.P1020286

Making up the distance I could see a left turn on the map that went away from the river and I knew it must be a climb. Reaching the turn at 5pm with 10 miles left was good but there sure enough the road rose up out of the valley. It was a nice gradient but annoying my chain was slipping. With the breeze now gone I was now being swarmed my midges and mozzies and with my speed now down to 5mph I knew I would arrive in town well after dark. Needing to keep the pressure on the peddles meant I was climbing faster then normal but was also taking a lot out of me. It had been so hot and the sweet was pouring off me taking all the energy I had.

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Still smiling even after pouring with sweat

I’d already drank both bottles of water and was now down to the last of the water in the bag and I was low on energy. I knew I had chocolate in my pannier but it would take time to get and if I just dug in a bit more I would soon be in town. After climbing just under a 1,000metres I reached the summit with 2 miles to go.

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 The town of San Ingnacio lit up in the valley below

Seeing the town lit up below I stopped at a small shop for a coke then descended through the streets and reached the centre. I found a hostel with a room that was more like a prison cell with a steel door but it had a bed and thats all I needed. I headed out for dinner and dawned on me that this would be the last night in Peru and I would be in a new country tomorrow. After seeing just how many hills were in Peru I couldn’t believe I had made it through. After all the chicken de brasa I had eaten I decided Not to treat myself to another being my last night and went for a Chinese instead. It was amazing.

Wednesday 15th July

After a really tough day yesterday I was tired but knew I needed to get to the border as early as I could so to get far enough out the other side to be safe. I had my breakfast and got on the road by about 9am but wished I’d left earlier.IMGP6164

Ready to leave

If I hadn’t had to adjust my chain I would have but it was something I had to try. Leaving the town I started the climb and found something was still slipping. P1020296
 Realising it couldn’t be the chain I knew it had to be inside the hub. I did however have some gears that didn’t slip so tried to stay in them as much as possible. As I climbed out of the town I kept passing young lads dressed up. There would be three of them every 3 miles or so and wearing running shoes. IMGP6167

The jungle was getting thicker the closer I got to the border

After about 2 hours of riding I reached a summit and started to defend where I met a French cyclist coming the other way.

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He had started from Quito about three weeks before and was planning on cycling and walking and using the busses in between. It was great to meet him, chat and just to see another cyclist. After a few more climbs I descended into Namballe where there seemed to be a festival on. I stopped for lunch when I heard a load bang that made me jump then three tough guys went sprinting past with a load of other people. I took it that the race was a relay from the first town. While I ate my lunch several huge bangs went off each time making me jump to the amusement of two guys who seemed to be immune. Once i’d had enough of being made to jump out of my skin and eaten I set off again towards the border which was about 2 miles away.

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These two reminded me of the cows in southern Africa 

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Another beautiful butterfly

Once there I found a Colombian and a Brazilian waiting for the immigration to open. With it being 2 pm and it not opening until 3 I decided it would be a good time to service the hub and see if an oil change would make any difference. Having an hour was great to get it done but didn’t leave me much time to get away the other side. looking at where we were and how friendly and relaxed everyone was it seemed pretty safe with hardly anyone around. Shortly after 3pm the guard arrived and started to stamp each person in or out. It wasn’t long before I was stamped out of Peru and ready to enter Ecuador. As I went to leave a guy arrived on a bike coming from Ecuador.IMGP6173

Crossing the bridge into country number 28 Ecuador

He told me how amazing the country was and that I would need to push for a long time up the hill has it was so steep. He was the second person to tell me that and so I thought I would try and get up it today. I thanked him and crossed the bridge and stamped into Ecuador. I changed my money into U.S. Dollars and was again told I had a monster of a climb and I would never get up it and should camp. With the sun losing its heat it was a perfect time to climb and I did with out any problems. Apart from a ten metre section on a corner that was really steep with gravel it was fine but then I did have what felt like a million Peruvian passes at altitude under my belt and yes it was steep but nothing worse then I’d done before.IMGP6177

Looking down to the border after just a couple miles

After climbing about 800 metres the road reached the top and dropped as steeply down the other side.P1020305
It really felt like I was in the jungle which was strange as I had only been in the country for 4 miles and yet the sound of the insects increased, there were more birds and everything was so much greener. The mountains although not huge were steep and jagged and it looked like this would be the theme for Ecuador. It looked hard and it was already but it also looked exciting I just hoped I could sort out the problem with my Rohloff with not to much hassle.

IMGP6180With the jungle so thick I was finding it hard to find somewhere to camp so I decided to ask in the next village.

After a couple more miles I arrived in a small village and while picking up a few snacks I asked if there was somewhere to camp. Pointing down the road to a huge shed with a basketball court and a football field he said I could camp anywhere and that it was very safe. I made my way down the road and started to set up camp. With a cloudy sky I decided to camp undercover and was joined by a few young kids. IMGP6186

Making myself comfy undercover

They were lovely and great company. I showed them how I lite the stove and shared my sweets as I waited for the kettle to boil. I was pleased I had made it to this village and felt relaxed I was finally in Ecuador.

Leaving Peru and entering another country felt amazing but Peru had been kind to me. Before entering the country I had heard stories of being robbed at gun point, stones being thrown and people shouting gringo aggressively which made me nervous but I was only met with welcome smiles and kindness. The people of Peru had been so friendly and I trusted them. The history of Peru hasn’t been as colourful in the past but I got a real sense of pride with the country doing well for itself and them having trust in their government. Having Amanda join me at lake Titicaca made the start of the country so much more fun and meeting up with Manu had pushed me on. Having so many mountains to get over was really tough and had taken its toll on both mind and body but I loved it. There was a massive amount of Peru I hadn’t seen and would need another year to fit it all in but I had seen a lot most travellers would never venture. Peru made me smile a lot with a lot of large signs with sexy half dressed ladies offering a car wash only to look in and see Pablo and Jose with full moustaches sat in their oily boiler suits waiting for a customer. Deciding not have my bike washed after all I would ride on disappointed at the false advertising. 

 The one thing I wished the most in Peru was that someone would just say Tim in a second there will be a loud bang from shots fired/fireworks for  celebrations or warn me that a dog was about to run out of no where and make me jump . I had so much adrenaline pumped through my body I think I left Peru a nervous wreck. Peru is somewhere I would love to return to and see more temples and visit more of the areas I had missed. With the country having three climates (Ocean, Mountains and rainforest there was a huge amount I hadn’t seen but I loved what I did. The one thing I wouldn’t miss is the chicken brasa with rice and a soup starter and with the speed they grow chickens and their crops its no wonder there were so many pharmacies. It felt strange leaving another country without Sharon but knew she would have loved it as well and thats all I could hope for. I will always try and hold the same open mind, positivity and smile as she did and enjoy what lay ahead. I knew I lost something massive in my life but yet I had gained so much. The mind seems to forget the pain after exercise and yet the bad things that happen in our lives we hold on to. This journey has been good for me to try and learn from my body and forget the mental pain and remember what is good in our lives because if we think about it there is a lot.

Having started the country on tarmac roads was nice and the thought of leaving them for tough steep dirt roads wasn’t a nice thought but after a few miles my pace changed to the environment and the scenery trebled in its beauty. Heres an example think about a motorway and what you can see, then a highway, then a country lane and finally a farm track and you’ll get an idea how things change. Speed was no longer important and people disappeared. It was only me and the nature and although I was tired and thin I loved it!!

Thanks for reading xx

27 Peru

Total distance cycled: 2,290miles / 3,685km – running total: 23,908 mls/38,468 km

Total altitude gain: 57,941 metres – running total: 351,981metres

Altitude gain per mile: 25.30 metres

Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina

7,760 miles/ 12,486km  total alt gain 158,196 metres

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sara permalink
    September 1, 2015 12:31 pm

    The butterflies are beautiful and somewhat lighter than Dolly in a headwind. Incredible photos as always and good to hear you are taking a few more rest days. Enjoy the journey we are all with you in spirit if not riding beside you or in my case behind. Enjoy Ecuador. Lots of love xxxx

  2. Rob Smith permalink
    September 1, 2015 5:43 pm

    Brilliant stuff again! Good skills.

  3. RAFAEL permalink
    September 2, 2015 10:22 pm

    Tim, great picture of you !!!
    sweat, a little tiredness, but at the end happiness.
    It remind me to the XIX century, when england explorers discovered Nilo source in Africa

  4. Mum and Dad Pitts permalink
    September 3, 2015 6:55 pm

    Congratulations on country no 28. Super photos especially the one of you Tim with the butterflies coming a close second !!! You really are an incredible person and we love you very much. Love from Martin and Wendy XXXX

  5. September 14, 2015 9:45 pm

    Note to self: avoid large rocks with blue wires! Great photos Tim – Beautiful butterflies, ugly mud. Love your attitude to conquering those mountains. We’ve been told that folk in Colombia and Ecuador are super friendly, so we’re looking forward to your updates. R*

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