Thursday Limatombo-Abancay, 114 Km, 2165m climbing (although the guys with Garmins got closer to 2400), 6:30 ride time. The next days ride was much harder. We began the day descending 2000 ft, including some flood damaged gravel portions of the road, then climbed and descended 700 ft over about 10k, then climbed 6400 ft over 60K, then descended 4000 ft over the last 35K into town. The roads are great. Well engineered and constructed, Good pavement, good shoulder, not very much traffic, gentle grades (mostly in the 4-5 percent range, and generally people give you a wide berth. Most traffic is trucks, buses #2, public minivans 3rd, and very few private cars. And there are a lot of dogs here in Peru. Maybe one out of ten chase. Lon sticks a rock under his cycling shorts to throw at the offenders. One of our riders did get bitten today, fortunately by a vaccinated dog. The climb topped out at 13,100 ft. and was shallow enough that I could spin up, in 30 x 25 mostly, although I was in the 28 for the last couple thousand feet.
What is it like to climb for five hours straight? It starts as a managed effort: by the end, you are grateful for what your body allows you to do. I was very controlled in the first 50K or so; by the time I approached the lunch stop, 8K from the summit, I was barely hanging on. And there still was 8K to go! The lunch, at a little roadside restaurant was typical of the lunches we’ll eat on the tour–chicken soup with rice. Although the facilities are primitive the Plates are clean and the food is fine. The 45 minute break was restorative, and, despite heavy legs was able to get the the summit. Of course from the top the view was glorious (unfortunately the high mountains were in the clouds) and the descent amazing; lots of pedaling and very little braking. Kind of a shock to come into dirty, bustling Abancay after such a dramatic day on the road. We had a bit of an adventure finding the Ozi Wasi hotel but it all got figured out.

This Valley, at about 9,000 ft, is about halfway up the climb. The support van is actually parked at our rest stop at the trees in the middle of the photo. Try to imagine agriculture extending out to the left and up to the treeline across from me and up to the right. Huge countryside.

Clara, the tour manager, and her son Manuel, Nayda, Arecely’s mother and tour cook, and Roland, the driver, at the lunch stop. More about Arecely later.

Alessandra, Peruvian National Road Race Champion and protege of Lon, coming into lunch at 12,000 ft. She grew up and lives in Iquitos, in the Amazon. Is that a smile or a grimace?

Kitchen facilities at the roadside restaurant where we ate lunch.

Switchbacks swirling down to infinity. This is about a third of the way down the descent; Abancay is in a meadow about a thousand feet above the valley floor in the distance.

Day Two