(July 11 – written by Dave) (posted on 14/7 due to being off the grid for the last 4 days)
Night was pretty quiet in the spa hotel, except for someone pounding on the door at 1:30 – we think that they were looking for a room – we did not offer to share. We started early riding with Philipp and Kathrin.
We were on the dirt almost right out of the hotel and it went on for a good 55k. Unfortunately for us on our loaded touring bikes, these dirt roads had a bunch of really steep sections and they were super bumpy in places. This meant some pushing and perhaps some under the breath cursing. Our bikes are just too heavy for the rough stuff. 55k of dirt made for a very long day. I figure we lose a couple KPH pace going up dirt and at least 10 KPH going down – it is hard work and progress is slow.
We had lunch in Angasmarca after getting over a really steep pass with a bone-jarring downhill. We had contemplated stopping here but we arrived before 11AM and it seemed too early. Plus we had the two young and enthusiastic Germans to keep up with. Philipp was so keen that on the really steep bits he would ride up, park his bike and run back to give whoever was pushing and extra push, running behind. Nancy got the most pushes but no one was exempt (Senior editor’s note – I owe Philipp and Kathrin several Sublime chocolate bars for their help in getting up over some of these ugly steep bits).
We took a shortcut from Angasmarca to Mollepata and it seemed to be a good idea. We are sure that it was shorter than the main road (the 3N) but it had some crazy steep pitches – even Philipp pushed along this section. And the 3N was not paved here anyway so bumps would have been bumps regardless. At Mollepata we reached paved roads and were very happy, doubly happy as the rest of the ride to camp was down hill.
And what a downhill it was. We had 14k of Disneyland loopy, crazy switchbacks that took us all the way down to the Tablachaca River. I’m not sure who designed this road but they must have had a good laugh in the design studio as they mapped it all out. It was very steep, there was no guardrail and going over the edge at any point would have been very painful. And just to throw your perspective off, on the opposite side of the canyon, there was an equally crazy set of switchbacks going back up the other side of the mountain. You had to really concentrate keeping your eyes just on the road ahead of you – one false move and major biff, never to be seen again.
Thankfully the switchbacks on the other side of the hill were reserved for tomorrow’s ride. Today we rode 1k downriver past the start of the climb to a nice riverside camp site that we shared with Philipp and Kathrin. All of us, yes even super keen Philipp, were pretty tired, arriving at camp at 5PM. We had a wonderful dinner watching the last of the sun scrape the tops of the mountains, followed by a pretty good show from the stars of the Milky Way. Camp lights were out early in the tents – each of us quietly considering tomorrow’s switchback riddle and dealing sore legs from today’s bumpy travels.