Still plugging away…

Just a brief post from a wet, muddy, sloshy – but beautiful – Peru.

I’m still travelling the (back) roads with Kurt, plugging away at the most almighty medley of high mountain passes I’ve encountered in some time. Altitudes have been almost touching 5000m… with grades at over ten per cent. We’ve had it all. Rain, sleet, hail… even blue skies.

Thanks Pikes on Bikes (undisputed masters of mining roads) for concocting this incredible route, via Google Earth. Do check out their excellent blog post and ogle at the ridiculous elevation profile of this ride.

Next stop Huancavelica. Only a half dozen passes to go…

The beautiful, stark mining roads of Peru's high Andes.

The beautiful, stark mining roads of Peru’s high Andes. Unbelievably remote. Unbelievable riding.

Scratching at the heavens.

Scratching at the heavens. (that’s over 16,000 ft in old money)

Zig Zag. And repeat.

Zig Zag. And repeat.

Like Utah. 4500m.

Red rocks, just like Utah. At 4500m.

4600m. This tin shack, owned by two shepherd girls, was our 5* accommodation for the night.

This tin shack, owned by two shepherd girls, provided our 5* accommodation for the night. And was I glad to be out of the rain/hail/sleet/snow…

Battle Pug.

Kurt’s Battle Pug.

And the Ogre, with a little mud...

And my Ogre, with a little mud…

We have had some sunshine too...

We have had some sunshine too…

Even if many of the descents have been like this...

Even if many of the descents have been engulfed in mist like this…

With a little of this.

… revealing, when clouds sifted, plenty of drama like this.

Mangas, as seen from our barebones dorm room. 5 blankets each kept us warm that night.

Mangas, as seen from our barebones dorm room. 5 blankets each kept us warm that night.

5 blankets each kept us warm that night.

Coffee and cake in hand, makes a happy man.

The real heart of the Peruvian Sierra.

The real heart of the Peruvian Sierra.

Barely a car to be seen: these have been all but traffic free routes...

Barely a motorised vehicle to be seen: these dirt roads have been all but traffic free…

Yep. We've certainly seen a lot more fluffy alpacas than cars...

… with a pleasing ratio of fluffy-eared alpacas to cars…

Toil... and ye shall be rewarded...

Toil… and ye shall be rewarded…

Oyon:

There’s no internet in Cajatambo, but there is in Oyon. Fight with the kids to get a seat in a cramped booth.

As well as doubles with bathrooms, El Minero (by the football pitch) has more basic rooms – 25 Sol for 2. It also has the perk that you can use its reasonably fast wifi – the only place in town, from what we could see.

 

12 thoughts on “Still plugging away…

  1. Steve Jones

    Fantastic scenery. Wish i was there.
    Had my eye on a Salsa Mukluk for this kind of terrain, since Kurt’s riding fat and appears to be surviving the battle, any thoughts on that?

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      I’ll ask Kurt to chip in… but as far as I can see, he seems delighted with his Pugs and fat tyres. Certainly, they descend rocky terrain together like scorched monkeys, while I’m bouncing around behind. Loads of extra comfort too – just keep your pump handy for psi tweaking. For an extended trip, arranging to have spare tyres sent out is obviously an issue, but at least there’s plenty of 26×2.5in downhill tyres to hand (in Peru, at least), that you could fit in a pinch.

      On the Pugs at least, mud clearance is on the tight side, and Kurt did grumble (once) about the extra wheel/tyre weight during on one of our monster passes – but to be honest, I think that was the 10.5% average gradient at neigh on 5000m… I should add that Kurt is an especially strong rider, so I’m not sure any bike would really slow him down in any other conditions…

      Reply
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  3. Neil

    Great photos as always – you’re doing a way better job of documenting the storms and rain! Aren’t you getting any sun in the mornings?! We didn’t for a while last week, but mostly have…
    Good news is the few days before Huancavelica were on good, non muddy, surfaces. And there are lots of good bakeries in town. Turn R out of La Portada hotel, go 1 block, stuff your face.
    We’re only a day from the paving now…
    Suerte!

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      We have been getting some sun in the morning. At times it’s been brief, but always appreciated. This said, today was ace. Sun most of the day for the fantastic singletrack treat. And no rain on the climb to Laraos in the afternoon. Yeeha! (yesterday, on the other hand, was monsoon conditions en route to Tanta).

      Must say, am much looking forward to Huancavelica…

      Reply
      1. Cass Gilbert Post author

        Our main issue initially has been a joint refusal to peel ourselves out of the sleeping bags for crack of dawn departures. We’re learning though…. been setting the alarm at 5am for the last few days…

        Reply
  4. Batman

    I have been a friend of Dirt Kurt since he was 3 years old. Cass, I really like you website. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photographs of this epic journey, keep them coming. Happy trails to you both.

    Reply
  5. Neil Hannum

    Cass,

    Thanks for the pictures – Also, I did read your trip with Jeremy on the Co. Trail outside of Durango, thanks for the sweet words.

    Neil

    Reply

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