Day 421-424 / A close call, bus ride, and a day off

Day 421-424 / Chavinillo – Huanuco – Huancayo, Peru / 220 miles (Total 10,240)

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A $5.00 room. Living like a king I tell ya

Today, was going to be a good day. We knew what was ahead of us, and we were looking forward to it. We started the morning off with a slow 10 mile hill climb and made it to the summit in a few hours. We were all smiles knowing what was coming next. 35 miles of twisty, downhill road, that would shoot us all the way into Huanoca. The only thing that would slow us down today would be tight switchbacks, sheep in the road, and the crazy drivers here.

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This view was hiding from us for most of the morning, then an opening appeared. Love those moments

I did have the closes encounter to death on this trip today. I came around a corner and a vehicle was coming in the opposite direction. He wasnt even paying attention and was slowly drifting into my side of the road. With a steep cliff to my right, all’s I could do was hang on and see what happened. I was going too fast to slow down and at the last second he looked up and finally pulled the car away from me. Only a few inches away, I could see the whites in his eyes. I have not had to us sign language for a long time on the road, but I flew a little bird his way. It gave me a good enough scare to slow down the rest of the 10 miles into town, with my heart beating the entire time. These people need drivers training here.

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You can’t have a days ride without a few dog attacks. Well, how about over 50 in one day! Today was seriously out of hand with the blood thirsty dogs. I kept count for one hour on the attacks and I stopped counting at 20. It’s a real pain in the butt when your speeding around a corner and 3-4 dogs decide to chase you down. Today almost gave me a little sense of pride in my riding. When I started this trip, I still felt like a rookie. Now, I can kick a dog upside the head (sorry, sometimes it’s a must. It’s either that, or spend a few trips to the hospital getting shots), while avoiding pot holes, crazy drivers, and speeding around a switchback all at once. I swear these dogs are Satan’s little helpers here.

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Someones pimp ride

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The camera still showing signs of the puddle drop

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The top of the summit. All smiles

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Downhill we go

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We made it to the bottom and the heat kicked in

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One of the loudest cities I have ever visited.

We made it into Huanuco early in the afternoon and spent some time finding a hotel. Finally found one within our budget and started to make plans for the next few days. From Huanuco we would jump on a bus to Huancayo to skip out on some boring riding. Take a day off there, then slowly make our way to Cusco to visit the famous Machu Pichu. For the next few weeks I will be hitching a few rides to get caught up on scheduled.

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Waiting for the bus to load up

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A not so good photo of our bikes stacked up in the bus

Our bus didn’t leave till 10:00 at night and we were all a little skeptical on how the bus ride would be. We had the entire back of the bus to our self’s, the seats were comfy, and the entire ride was quiet! We were shocked at how great the $9 bus ride was. The bus arrived into Huancayo around 6 am and we scrambled to find a hotel. There was no shortage of hotels/hostels, with 3-4 on a block, but every one was full. We searched for 2 hours straight with no luck. Anja was very sick at this point and looked like she was going to collapse. We finally found a hotel with one room available, so I told them to take it. I searched high and low with only 3 hours of sleep. I must have asked around 40 hotels and was getting frustrated. I was just about to leave town when I checked one more. I saw a room key hanging up in the office, dropped my bike on the sidewalk, and ran into the office cutting off a man.I was able to score the last room and could finally relax in the comfort of my own space. Spent the next day getting everything I needed done, and rested the body.


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Day 420 – 10k Milestone

Day 420 /  Huallanca – Chavinillo, Peru / 55 miles (Total 10,020)

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A downhill road started right out of town.

10,000 miles and 14 months of touring. Have I changed since the first day I left? I think so. A few more white hairs and a greater appreciation for each day of life. Do I miss home? For sure. I miss my family, friends, and my girlfriend. I miss a refrigerator filled with food and flushing toilet paper. The bad days are tough on the road, but the good days make up for them ten fold. I may never get a chance for a ride like this. This just may be a ride of a life time, and I take in each day as if is my last.

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And mornings don’t get much better then this. What a treat this morning was. The sounds of birds echoed throughout the tight valley. We followed this river all morning. 20 miles downhill!!!

As the months are winding down now, and only a few remain. I look back at where this all started and the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. It’s a great goal of mine to ride 15,000 miles to the tip of South America. But, it’s even a greater feeling coming closer to the $100,000 for cancer research. Two giant goals wrapped into one adventure. Whenever I open the E-mail and see another donation given, I think back to how this started. Family and friends supporting this idea. A stranger (now a great friend) named Tammy donating so much of her time to help, and people I have never met sending donations and words of support. I will never consider Pedaling for Pennies “my fundraiser”. It’s a combination of all of you. So, once again, thank you!

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We took a nice break in La Union with coffee and bread with cheese. A .60 cent breakfast. Well, I went back 3 more times for the good bread.

To all the people around my age (cough 40 cough) reading this blog. When we were kids growing up the word cancer never existed. As we grew into our teenage years our grandparents were diagnosed and passed away. In our 20’s, our parents were diagnosed and left us too soon. Now, we are seeing our own kids fighting this terrible disease. I have heard great stories on the road of survival and sad stories of baby’s passing away from cancer. I have made great friends from Alaska to Peru through Pedaling for Pennies. This fundraiser has taught me one great thing though… When people come together, we can make a change. Only two countries left and three short months to Ushuaia, I hope you can help out.

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Downtown La Union

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Eventually our downhill road turned into uphill and another break was needed. We thought we would sneaky and head to the plaza in town to have a little privacy. Ya right, not in Peru. I saw what was coming and parked my bike away from the plaza as Marko and Anja were swarmed with kids. Usually when I take out the camera it’s great for kid repellent. They see the camera and run. These kids were fearless. Eventually they found me and started to poke around at my bike, pushing buttons on my Gps turning it off, and pawing at my bags. “Adios, you little monster”, I told them. And they waved goodbye.

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I wonder if Marko and Anja still want kids after this. Not by the look of this photo. Our kid encounters just began today

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A few more descents were in our day, then it was mostly uphill all day

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Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I get excited seeing muddy roads. I geared down for this corner, and well, it was a lot deeper then I thought. I came to a complete stop and had to stand up and pedal to get out of this sloppy mess.

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Marko getting dirty fixing Anja’s broken chain. I’m always around for an action photo when things go wrong. They gotta love me by now.

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N Americans would have a cow if they saw this (Wah-haha, have a cow). Sides of beef out in the sun for most the day im guessing, collecting some rays and fly’s.

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Mommy’s little helper

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Sweeping the dust off a dirt road

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An old faded out road sign

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Pretty tired by this point, but still pushing on

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A local making it up her driveway. One tough climb

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A house with their own personal waterfall

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A baby sheep that was too cute to pass up

By late afternoon we were completely shot from a hard days ride. Our nerves were shot from the normal crazy drivers and blowing horns. We wanted some peace and quiet when we got into town, and that wouldn’t happen. As we got closer to our destination, I think we were all ready to snap. Cars riding our asses, laying on their horns. Kids running beside us screaming GRINGO,GRINGO, GRINGO,GRINO!!! Well, you get the point. It felt like someone was going to get slapped, and well, someone did. I was pedaling beside Marko when this kid pushed his limits a little to far. He was screaming GRINGO as loud as he could, then tried to steal some clothing off of Marko’s bike. Marko slapped that kids hand so hard, that it sent the kid into shock I think. I really couldn’t  help myself, but laugh out loud at the kid. We made it into the weird little town and word spread fast, gringos were in town. The sleeping situations were not the best here and we were talking about what to do next. As we were talking the locals circled around us, as if they were part of the conversation. We finally got a good price on a better hostel in town and packed our gear into a tight little room. I was beat and feel asleep by 8:00 that night.


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Day 419 – 16,000 ft up

Day 419 / Camping – Huallanca, Peru / 35 miles (Total 9965)

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I always wondered how I would sleep up at 14,500 ft in elevation. I was sleeping great, till the gust of winds kicked in late at night. My tent was leaning sideways the entire night. It was freezing cold out, but I was snuggled into my sleeping bag wearing my birthday suit. Things got kinda cold when I had to go outside during the night when nature called though. Chilly on some parts. All packed up early and ready for another day.

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The wind never let up over night, and our morning ride was bitter cold. Headwinds of course. Three layers of clothing on, and lots of climbing to do today. This morning was a good challenge on the two wheels. Hill climbs, headwinds and thin air kept my legs burning all morning. Here’s a teeth chattering selfie.

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A fast running bird that was zig-zagging in front of me

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I left a few minutes before Marko and Anja, so I could warm up a bit. The first mile of the morning is always the hardest.

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The dog situation in Peru is a little dodgy. I love them to death, but they will draw blood at any given minute. It seems the higher the elevation, the crazier they get. I have stopped throwing warning shots with rocks now, and go for the butt. Sometimes that doesn’t even effect them. Little nerve raking when 3-4 are surrounding you. I threw a rock at a dog the other day, and he just ran off and chased it. They are dumb here

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Perfect

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Did I mention it was cold out?

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I have heard that “life is just a figment of your imagination”. I like my imagination

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Over 15,000 ft up now, and mountains still towering over us.

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Money shot! Been waiting for a ride like this for sometime now

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Horses grazing in half-frozen ponds

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Anja pushing ahead, while Marko and I try to put the cameras down

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Around 15500 ft now. Only a handful of cars have passed us in two days now. The only sound in the air is my heavy breathing and rubber tires rolling through the dirt.

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A red river with green background

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Pushing up to 16,000 ft now. Getting closer to snow peaked mountains

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It felt like work to pull out the camera by the time we came close to the summit. That will bite me in the butt later

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We finally thought we made it to the summit and the reward was waiting for us. We didn’t know that we would be riding up and down around 16,000 ft for the next hour.

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Marko was just a little dot as I pushed up the last hill of the day

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And I thought the views couldn’t get any better. This view was amazing

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One more

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We made it to the final climb of the day!!! Well worth the effort

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This will be the last photo of the day. My hands felt heavy and numb while I pulled out the camera and…..Plop, right down in the mud puddle is where it dropped. We made it to the main road where the asphalt was waiting for us. A 20 mile downhill ride into town, and a hostel was waiting for us. I put the camera in a bag of rice and crossed my fingers the trick worked. I think we all went to bed pretty early this night.


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