Day 403/ Cajamarca – Aguas Calientes, Peru / 55 miles (Total 9540)
Give a dog a jean jacket and he gives you some raditude.
Today was exactly what I needed from the last few hard days. I woke up feeling back to myself, with a body excited to get back on the saddle. Once again, all it took was a good bike ride to shake off that funk that brought me down for a few days. It wasn’t the first time on this trip it happened, and it wont be the last time I’m guessing to hit a funk. The important thing is that I am rolling away with my head held high, with a new attitude to go with it.
The hill starts out of Cajamarca, but also the great views.
I packed up and rolled off to Marko and Anja’s hostal. We were on the road by 7:30 and heading towards a new town. It was just a few miles out-of-town when Marko stopped me and said there was a problem. He’s been having some pressure building up in his lower stomach and was afraid to bike on, due to the fact that there wasn’t a bigger town for 2-3 days. I didn’t want him to risk it, even though I was looking forward to their company. So, we head in different directions once again.
A few switchbacks to start the morning ride. Not bad at all though. Nice and mellow all the way up.
I uploaded some new music to the jukebox and the morning felt fresh and new. The locals were all smiles, waves and honking their horns. Wow, these Peruvians are some amazing people. The hills and switchbacks started and I was loving this morning ride. This is what I needed today. I was debating to turn off a side road through a little village called Jesus and pedal on some dirt. Tempting, but hearing a story of two bikers about a month ago getting arrested from the locals, thinking they were there to steal the children. That story changed my mind on the back roads today.
This guy pulled me over for some morning coffee, donuts, and then started to pray for me and for safe travels. I didn’t think any country could be more friendly than Colombia, I was wrong.
Late in the morning, I made the first summit after climbing 1,400 ft and my legs felt great. No break needed, I bombed the hill fast to the start of the next hill climb. That’s were I encountered one of the coolest truck drivers on the trip.
This truck driver was AMAZING! I was pedaling up another hill and at the last second grabbed onto the back of his truck for a free ride up. I saw him give me a thumbs up and we made it to the small summit in no time. A nice steep descent was ahead of me, so I let go and passed him fast. He gave out a friendly honk and smile as I passed him. About two miles later, another hill started and the truck driver was right behind me. He actually slowed down for me to grab onto again. There was a lot of sharp corners and some road work making it a little difficult, but he came up with some signals for me. One honk and he was slowing down. Two honks and he was speeding up. It turned into the funnest game. After 4 big hills the final descent into San Marcus started and I gave him a finale goodbye. Now that was fun!
A great ride down to San Marcus. Fast and full of switchbacks. It felt great to ride at full speed and not worry about rough roads or construction.
I met Matt at the Internet shop just as it was closing for the afternoon. A lot of the shops close between 1-3 pm around here. Matt and his wife live in the next town to San Markus. They bought a home and remodeled it for around $2,000. We talked for a while about the fundraiser and his work here as a Jehovah witness. A few minutes went by after we said goodbye and he came up behind me on his motorcycle. He handed me 50 soles ($15) to help out on the road. That’s about 5 nice dinners here. Thanks a million Matt, and I hope you and your wife accomplish everything you set out for here in Peru.
I thought about staying in San Marcus, so Marko and Anja could catch up to me the next day. I sat at the town center and contemplated the idea. It was only 12:30 and I was still bouncing with energy. I decided to push on knowing I still had one more summit to climb. Out of the town and the clouds disappeared, with the suns rays beating down. I took off my long sleeve shirt within minutes of climbing and the sweating started. I have been in the direct sun ever since Mexico, but the sun here is intense. Just to give you an idea, I rode with just a t-shirt for one hour and blisters started to form on my arm. Back to a long sleeve and gloves on to protect the skin.
Cacti standing 20 feet tall.
Some good views out of San Marus
A crazy looking door I liked
I stopped at a little tienda and asked if they had any fruit, and Juan jumped to help. He told me to sit down and wait as he ran off to his house. He brought back enough bananas to overfill my saddlebag. We chatted as I filled my face with lunch. He wished me good luck on my trip as I pedaled away.
Another old house that’s beyond the point of fixing.
After climbing a little over 4,000 feet I made it to the last summit, and the background had me off the bike. I sat down and took in the views with nothing but the present in mind. The silence of the mountains surrounded me, the air was crisp, and the sun was on my face. With my knees to my chest and my arms wrapped around them, time didn’t exist at that moment. That perfect moment.
As the descent to Aguas Calientes started the views opened up into this. Jaw dropping
The Mother Trucker and some mountains
Rubbernecking it all the way down the hill.
The mountain road dropped fast in elevation, and everything seemed to change. The air became thick with a sticky heat, the plants changed within a few thousand feet of descending, and the pesky bugs came out to play. This ride down wasn’t that enjoyable though. Construction filled every gap of the road, leaving me braking for the next few miles into the village I was aiming for.
I could describe Peru with two words – Road construction.
Whenever the sun peaked through the clouds, this mountain lite up
The start of the road tomorrow.
As I rolled into Aguas Calientes the wind started to whip and the bugs became more ferocious. There was free camping at the natural hot springs in town, so I checked it out. A nice area, but it was filled with younger kids getting their party on. Add the blood sucking gnats and I decided to check out the hostals. I was able to talk the lady down from 15 soles to 10 ($3.00) and decided this would be home tonight. Made up a plate of crackers, cheese, and strawberries to snack on throughout the night. Checked out the sunset and fell asleep early after a long days ride. Today’s ride rekindled my spirit and it feels great to be back to my normal self again.
Enjoying the sunset, but not the gnats. Pesky little SOB’s chewed me up good.
Saying goodnight from Aguas Calientes
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