14/15th May 2017
Well, first post, lets start with the most recent before I forget. I stumbled upon a guided tour of Peru while looking for experiences of solo cycling holidays in Patagonia, turned out to be a lucky stumble.
Provided by Saddle Skeddadle and partner Amazonas Explorer, it was a 14 day supported guided tour through the best singletrack trails to be found in the Sacred Valley, finished off with a trip to Machu Picchu. Graded as a 4-5 on difficulty and skill required, I was immediately itching to get back on a mountain bike after 8 months of lycra and road miles in Rio. Although road riding in Rio is arguably just as extreme as mountain biking!
Won’t go into too much detail of the ‘real’ day 1, but I arrived on the 14th, and met out guide, Carlos Salazar and driver Percey. Pair of heros. The day was just phaffing about and getting acclimatised, met brothers Chris and Jon at the hotel and went to explore Cusco for the day. Carlos shown us the main points of interest, and causing a few light headed moments trying to get up some stairs to get to the view point of the city, followed by some awesome local food at The Inka Grill. The rest of the day consisted of walking, tourist shop hopping, pizza and beers and meeting Karl the 4th in our group who arrived later at night.
Looking out over Cusco
Day 1, of riding, started out meeting Dennis at breakfast, the fifth and final person of the group. Coca tea all round to get the red blood cells going, and scrambled eggs! Carlos and Percey met us later, and we went to to pick up the bikes from Amazonas Explorers office. Mostly Specalised, Scott and to my delight some old Kona Stinky’s. I went for a Specalized that fit me well, but had Sram brakes, which was a disappointment but everything else looked good. Swapped the brake lever over to UK style to avoid any over the bar moments and gave everything a check over. While picking up up the bikes we would meet our other guide Joey ‘Charlie’, and our cook Sammy who would join us. Joey came equiped with a full DH bike, I did not envy pedalling that on the uphills rides in the next few days…
Bundled in the van and drove up to the top of the first run, in the Sasquaywaman (Sexy Woman!) Nature park about 20minutes out of Cusco. Warmed up on a 20min road ride from the main car park to the area where cycling is permitted. Wasn’t too out of breath, the coca tea was certainly helping with the altitude, but it didn’t help me get to sleep last night (Hint – Don’t take more than 3 leaves, and don’t take it before going bed!). Took it easy on the first run down, trail was a nice mix of rocks, jumps, drops, natural berms and wild dogs. As the trail started to get more technical, 3 of the guys started to get a little out of thier experience zone, struggled a bit. Dennis had a proper over the bars moment in the woods, few cuts, bruises, a ripped jacket and a trip to the hospital to check out his hand. But thankfully nothing broken, and didn’t deter anyone from the trip and pushed on.
Got to the bottom, back in the van for a snickers and Inka Corn, then back up to the top for some lunch. The second run was much better, came down in about 40minutes, compared to the 2 hours of the first one, much less phaff and waiting going on. Trail felt amazing, and taking much more speed, and feeling confidence growing on the bike. Although my GoPro didn’t have any charge to record it, which was disappointing.
Cycled back to base, dropped the bikes off, dropped Dennis off at the hospital, and cleaned up at the hotel.
Chilled out evening again with a couple of Cusqueñas at the Norton pub and food at the Mistura Plaza Grill, with some Chicha Morada, a local juice made from purple corn. An easy first day, but nice to get a little accustomed to the bike and altitude, certainly excited to get into some real trails.
Don’t worry, I remembered to take more pictures as the trip went on!