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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Day 418 – Solitude

Day 418 / Catac – Camping, Peru / 20 miles (Total 9900)

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The late night security guard where we stayed the night

I stepped outside at 6:30, and said “WOW” out load from no clouds in the sky. Every snow peaked mountain was in clear view. Then I said “WOW” from the chill in the air. I ran back inside and put on another layer of clothing. It couldn’t have been more then 40 degrees out and my hands were numb within minutes of riding.

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Not a cloud in the sky and we hoped it stayed that way. Early morning WOW

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Looking back, while blowing hot air into my hands.

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Another snow capped mountain that stayed in view for hours. Love traveling by bike.

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Off the main road and heading towards Al Parque Nacional Hauscaran. Ready for my next adventure. This kind of view always put a smile on my face.

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Even the smaller mountains had a certain flair to them

We headed out on the road and today we were going to be going through the Al Parque Nacional Hauscaran. We loaded up on snacks and water, knowing that there wouldn’t be a town for at least 2 days. Also, we would be climbing the highest in altitude that any of us have done yet. A little nerve racking knowing we would be going up to 15,000 ft (ended up climbing a little over 16,000 ft) and there was going to be nothing around if someone gets extreme altitude sickness. It can be very dangerous being stuck up high in altitude and no way of getting down fast. At least I’m not going solo on this road.

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The start of the national park. The headwinds were strong, but we were excited to start the ride.

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The park employees rocking out to my tunes. Eminem is good in any country

We made it to our turn off and today was going to be a good challenge. The road was rough, the notorious Peruvian headwinds were in full effect and we were up to 12,000 ft in no time. We made it to the check in for the park and ended up paying $10 soles ($3.00). We sat around and took a long break, while the workers at the check in asked questions and poked around at our gear.

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The start of the adventure

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Small huts off the side of the road

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The German hippies

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Taking it all in

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This lady was walking four dogs that went crazy on us. She watched her dogs attack us, and didn’t do anything about it. We picked up some rocks and fought back, then she decided to say something. I asked her if I could take a photo and she charged one sole. Ya, right! I figured her dogs attacking us was good enough as payment, so I snapped this photo when she wasnt looking

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Cold water bubbling up from the ground

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We made it a few miles into the park when I heard Marko shouted out a curse word in German. We filtered our water back at the office and he forgot one of his water bags. He took off his saddlebags and headed back to get it.

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Waiting for Marko to return

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The mountains here are surreal

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Some of these plants are over 100 years old

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Some info on the surrounding plant life

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30 years old and sharp as a razor

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A house in the background to show the massive size of the mountains here

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The road ahead

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Marko pushing through the wind

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The local traffic

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A few switchbacks later in the day.No matter which way we rode, the wind was always in our face

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A rock ahead with a few Inca pictures

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We pushed on through the headwinds, rough roads and a few switchbacks. Around 13,000 ft and we were all feeling the effects of the thin air. Nothing serious, but enough to slow us down and having us take more breaks then normal. 14,500 ft we found a nice place to pull off the road and drag our bikes a few hundred feet behind a little shelter from the wind. We set up camp fast and within the next hour it was cold enough for all of us to retreat into our tents, and call it a night.

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Making camp at 14,575 ft.

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About as solitude as you can get

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Well… We had a few visitors throughout the night


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