First, Something I didn’t include in yesterdays post: the names of the towns we rode through over 65 miles. There were more, but these are just the ones on the cue sheet. Ocongate-Chacchimpa-Jullicuna-Kuchuhsi-Pampacamarca-Kcauri-Ccatcca-Urcos-Huaro-Tipon-Sayllas-Manco Capac-San Sebastian-Cusco.
Ccatcca. Ho do you even say that?
I think over 36 hours in Cusco I inhaled the equivalent of about six packs of cigarettes, so my throat is quite scratchy. Or I may be getting a cold. Cusco had one more zinger for us, trying to get out of town. Traffic was terrible, as the main road was under repair. Our route was uphill, on cobblestones with bumper to bumper busses, cars, taxis, moto-taxis, merging traffic, red lights, jaywalkers, pedestrians, dogs . . . Dogs are a major part of the road in Peru. Some barking, some chasing, but mostly just ordinary citizen dogs, strolling down the road, or laying by the side of the road, going about their business at 12,000 feet with no seeming relation to any humans. With the chasers, my strategy is to ride straight at them, be bigger and more aggressive. Seems to work,
I’ve had no dangerous incidents yet. Nonetheless, the dogs are pervasive everywhere in Peru, except in Lima, where I spent just a few hours in a part of town that would not have been out of place in any major world city.
But back to the road. On both sides of today’s summit was rich farmland, with well tended fields demarcated by stone walls, the produce planted in evenly plowed rows. There is a greater sense of prosperity, here around Cusco—the homes are brick with Spanish style tiled roofs and well kept yards. In Anta traffic was stopped dead by the weekly cattle market. After the anxiety of getting out of Cusco, today was an easy riding day: 45 miles, 2000 ft, and the climb was a steady 4%, capped by a 25 km descent; much gentle than yesterday’s, but still pretty amazing. And we got off the bike at 12:30 in the afternoon. The short days are dictated both by the terrain and by the availability of accommodations. Riding all the way to Abancay would be a brutal day.
Limatombo is a much bigger town than I saw four years ago, and I don’t think its all be built up since then. In 2012, the descent was in the rain, and there was no way to look around and see it; but now, I can report the town sits comfortably on both sides of the road, with orchards and fields beyond, up the hills. The busses stop every few minutes outside my window, streetside conversation abounds. It is full of flowering trees and other plantings—perhaps the fact that we are lower (8500 ft) has brought us out of the alpine and back to the tropics. Click here to see what I wrote about this day when I was here in 2012.
This is the sixth riding day; five to go, then a long day of travel to get home. Tonight I feel as though I’m reaching the end of my solo adventure cycling career—I miss Anne and Sophie, I miss dancing, I miss my comfortable and managed environment. While this trip is extraordinary, and I’m not the oldest guy on the tour (one fellow is 77), I will cede this world to others. One the one hand, I love the riding, the pace of experience on the bike, the difference from normal; on the other hand, the basic accommodations, the same food day after day, the same clothes that never get so clean in the hotel sink; and most importantly the alienation from the local communal life because of language is painful. I can order dinner, but I can’t by a decongestant in a botica (drugstore). These downsides seem more of a burden at 65 than they seemed at 61. Maybe I’m seeing the bad side because I have a cold now, despite mainlining Airborn every day. Maybe its just a reaction to the city. Big day tomorrow in any case!