(August 27 – written by Dave)
Today we rode our last big pass for a while. Or at least we think we did. You never really know what the road ahead will hold. We had a 40k climb right from the start but we only had to go up about 800 metres in that 40k so like yesterday, this was an easy pass compared to those further north. We also had a slight tailwind so that had to have helped.
It was nice and sunny this morning but not super warm. Tine and Philipp rode in shorts and short-sleeves but we were a little more rugged up. We had put sunscreen on our arms and legs with hopes of shedding layers at some point but that time never came as it never got overly warm all day.
The top of the pass was higher than we thought it would be. We only knew that for sure because there were a couple of summit signs with elevation marked on them. We were excited to find signs to celebrate at for a change. The climb from our side had some high peaks but there wasn’t much snow on them and they weren’t super jagged. The mountains on the other side of the pass were much more dramatic and had more snow. We think this led the folks who got off the tour bus coming up that side to get so excited about seeing us. From their side it really looked like a hard climb – we had one of those “rockstar” moments and got our photos taken again.
The ride down the other side of the pass was a ripper. We only went down about 300 metres but the tailwind really pushed us along at a rapid clip. We had 30k to ride to reach Santa Rosa, our planned lunch stop and made it in barely more than hour. On this side of the pass there were some very threatening dark clouds and some rain about. We got a few drops but mostly just skirted everything and stayed dry – lucky.
When we reached Santa Rosa, guess what – yes, they were having a festival/parade in the Plaza de Armas. We got to watch the show while we enjoyed our lunch, all the while keeping an eye on the rain clouds. We had in the back of our minds that we could bail on the day at Santa Rosa if the rains really came down but they never came. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t have to stay there, given our past experience of staying in towns with festivals going on. We put on a few more layers and headed out, with fingers cross.
On the way out of town we happened to run into an amazing family on two tandem bikes and a trailer. The parents Valerie and Chirstophe, and their kids Lalie (age 10), Esteban (age 8) and Naia (age 2) are riding their bikes all over the world. You can read more about then at www.velovefamily.com. They rode the route we are planning from Santiago, Chile and we traded notes about the road ahead. They were all so happy to be out on their bikes – it really lifted all of our spirits just to spend a random 20 minutes on the side of the road with them.
We had about 41k to ride to reach Ayaviri but we were still all a bit worried about the rain. We still had a tailwind so we just put our heads down and got stuck into it. Somehow, we managed to find a little pocket of clear skies and ploughed on with hardly a worry. We made mostly good time until the road turned more westwardly and our tailwind became a bit of a crosswind. The last 15k to town was much harder but the dark clouds around our little window of sunshine kept us more than motivated.
Tine had found a cheese factory to stop at about 10k from town and it was just where it was supposed to be. Funny place. It would seem that not many people stop as there no cars and in addition, no one attending the open shop. We eventually found someone to help us and had a nice yogurt, plus we got some for tomorrow morning. Fresh natural yogurt is hard to find here in Peru. Those pesky dark rain clouds were closing in around our pocket of sunshine and the side wind was pretty strong now but we managed to ride the last 10k without getting wet.
Ayaviri is an odd town. There are lots of hospedajes and lots of chicken restaurants but nothing overly fancy or in the “upmarket” category. We settled into the Hostal Samary eventually after checking a couple other places. It is OK for a night, which is all we plan on spending here. It is really cold tonight and trying rain a bit. We hope that it clears by morning and maybe the wind and road direction will be in better alignment. We have another 95k to ride tomorrow but it is almost completely flat – just like our last couple hours today – we could get used flat for a while, it’s a nice change.