Huancavellica to Huaraz: El Silencio Continuado
After 10 days relaxing in Huaraz the weather finally lifts to reveal stunning views of the surrounding Cordeillera Blanca. It seems Peru’s rainy season isn’t conducive to far reaching views. Cloud lingers low down in the valley as we are treated to a series of dull overcast days, and afternoon rain reimisicent of an English winters day.
Looking back on many of the photos in this post I am forced to reflect on just how lucky I have been with the weather over the past months riding. South bound cyclists Paul and Sam will probably agree having abandoned their Peru Great Divide attempt early on due to clawing mud and none existent views.
Picking up where I left off in my last post, I arrive in the town of Huancavellica weak and run down, a recurring stomach problem which has troubled me since Bolivia once again flares up making for a tough few days riding as the passes keep on coming, some would say unrelentingly.
Taking time to rest up and a set of antibiotics run their course, I am once again reunited with Flo the Flying Frenchman whom I last rode with in Patagonia. After a couple of weeks riding solo through remote villages it is nice to once again have some company for the road ahead.
Taking things easy we leave the bustle of Huancavellica and climb over Abra Llamorgo descending deep down, as the valley slowly constricts.
Arriving in the small town of Jersualen, ruddy faced Elmer and his friend come to check us out as we wait for dinner to be served courtesy of the local village shop, which doubles as restaurant.
Accomdation for the evening; a stable. Mud floors and modern technology make for a happy Frenchman.
My needs are a little more basic. More dirt squiggles, please.
Fat tyres bend the minds of the local children in every village. Acombambilla is no different, quizzically looking to find the motor which powers my bike.
Cancha; slowly toasted corn. An Andean staple found as a side to Ceviche or a tasty snack which our new found compadres seem to love.
As we reach the top of Abra Turpo the sun begins to cast long shadows and a cold wind begins to bite.
As false summit after false summit taunts us.
Caught out by a storm the following day rain quickly turns to snow, as we find ourselves riding in to a blizzard and take sanctuary in a small estancia. Fed tea and biscuits we slowly warm up before setting up camp in a cattle shed. Snow coating all the surrounding hills.
By morning we awaken to brilliant blue skies which quickly melt any snow. Punta Pumacocha our target. Seemingly one of the steepest passes we have climbed we grunt our way to the top. Our reward, jaw dropping views.
“So you must be Leah“â€¦.my opening gambit as we encounter a lone female cyclist at the bottom of the descent. Its a small community and I had already been put in touch with Leah via Cherry. Brimming with energy, I am yet to meet any other cyclist travelling with 3 trout in their panniers.
Down to Laros, as the road winds around the valley walls. Sheep pens and terraces far below as we slowly descend down to the valley floor.
Before we once again climb back up again following a river and a series of waterfalls through the touristy villages of Vitis and Huancaya.
Each twist and turn ever more absorbing as we head toward Vilca.
Eventually the road runs out in Tanta and we follow a short singletrack stretch. Prime Pugsley territory, switching between sandy trails and boggy marsh.
Dull skies offer occasional glimpses of the high mountains outside Tanta.
Rather predictably the sun shines down again in the morning. After drying our clothes, glaciers loom large as we ride Punta Ushayca.
Another sneak peak of the high mountains.
Before another of those Andean valleys.
A lunch of trout awaits as we descend down to a trout farm, before joining the dreaded Carretera Central one of the main arteries in Peru connecting Lima and the Amazon. For 25kms we are honked at, and treated to some truly awful driving. A reminder of why I love dirt roads so much and what a joy the previous 3 weeks riding have been.
Letting out a sigh of relief as we turn off the Carretera Central, things go all Scottish on us.
The windows may not be intact, but the roof is. Home for the evening.
The Clickstand on breakfast duties.
Out there somewhere on a mining road. Bodega Gimena.
Blue lake below Abra Rapaz.
Switchbacks and mining trucks.
U Shaped Valleys.
Take us to Cajatamba. Plans to detour in to the Cordeillera Huayhuash are shelved as I struggle with a bad back. The crossing of each pass demanding a lie down to release a slowly seizing back.
Following the rainbow, we look for a pot of gold.
A 2800m descent takes us deep down to sticky altitudes we have not experienced for months on end.
Small villages with green fields on the opposite side of the valley, high above the valley floor.
Post election propaganda still lingers.
29 is dead. Long live the fat bike. At least thats the message in Llapa Viejo, an eerily deserted village each door padlocked. The owners seemingly moving en mass to create a new village.
Over a month tubeless turns to tubes. I seemingly limp along fixing a puncture almost daily as we approach Huaraz.
A special thanks has to go to the creators of this route, the Pikes on Bikes.
Not only is this route a marvel in dirt road touring deserving of a classic status, the sheer time and effort put in to the production of the route notes and supporting files is humbling.