Section 4, Part 1: Gringo Trail


Day 48: Lima to Pucasano, 58k

We welcomed 5 new sectional riders to the tour today. TDA welcomed them with a flat beach lined route with a tail wind, and a hotel for camp…Lucky MFers!

We convoyed out of the busy streets of Lima, traffic was not horrible but we did have to jump on the 8 lane divide highway. I am not sure if I will ever get used to riding on the freeway.

After 28k on the highway we were routed off towards a sideroad along the beach. The road was smaller and a little rough but we went through small fishing villages with bohemian surf habitants.

IMG_2630We decided to stop to remove jackets and noticed a very nice coffee shop, of course we stopped for a delicious cup.

The smaller road went on for about 15k, passing through several small towns with brief views of the ocean. Eventually we did have to merge back onto the highway for several kilometers until we reached Pucasano.

After the small incline over sandy dunes we had a beautiful view of the ocean and village. Our camp was at a village hospejade.  Very cozy multiple story home with a beautiful patio over looking the harbor. fullsizeoutput_634After showers and settling in our room, it was only 11 am. Bruce and I headed down to the beach to pick up beers. We ended up sitting at a restaurant patio with a revolving collection of fellow riders.

One main attraction of the village is a boat ride on the other side of the harbor to view the rugged shoreline that is inhabited by sea lions, penguins, and many other birds. fullsizeoutput_60fWe enjoyed the choppy boat ride along the beautiful turquoise waters. I am ecstatic that I did get to see several penguins in their natural habitat.

 

 

 

Day 49: Pucasano to Cerra Azul, 118k

We back tracked thorough town to catch the PanAm highway again. We had some what of a tailwind along with downhill elevation which made for some excellent speed. The highway was lined with helado (ice cream) stands. They were all owned by the same people and had a intergalactic theme with a friendly alien as the mascot. There had to be at least 50 of the stands within 10k. Since is was 7 am none of the stands were open. The areas south of Lima have been more sophisticated with luxury beach communities scattered along the way.

After 50k we turned off the highway for the remainder of the day! We passed through a few small towns that did not have much going on but they were quiet and barely any traffic. We turned onto a dirt road at 60k and began a gentle climb for 15k gaining about 600m of elevation. IMG_2652The road was quiet and ran through the desert, I did not see another person, except Bruce until I made it to lunch. It was glorious! I actually started to appreciate the desert. We passed another lomas. I did not go into the park but was able to enjoy green mountains from afar.

The road was a mix of dirt, sand, old cracked tarmac, and large rocks. I had to stop and walk my bike a few times, I am not comfortable with riding through thick sand. IMG_6897After 75k and lunch we began the 15k descent down the other side through more gravel and sand. At points it became very difficult with large rocks and deep sand everywhere. The road crossed through dry river beds and was difficult to find at points. IMG_2654A few times I had to stop and make sure I was on the right path, luckily other riders had already been through and I was able to look for bike tire marks. I couldn’t help revealing in the solitude when I stopped to look around.

At 90k we slowly started to enter back into civilization, farms and small villages in the desert. It was refreshing to see greenery everywhere. I am looking forward to get back into the mountains.

Our camp was in another ocean side town popular with surfers. IMG_2655After showering and unpacking we walked into town for a snack and saw several surfers packing up for the day. I would really like to come back to the Peruvian coast in the summer to really experience the surf culture.

There was a Little People Circus in town and we went at 8pm, after our bedtime but it is Friday night. A few fellow riders and guides joined us. Like good time conscious Americans we arrived at 7:45 anticipating the show to start at 8pm sharp. We splurged for the expensive seats a couple rows from the stage. After 8:15 the locals started slowly trickling through the doors, turns out we were on South American time. Around 8:45 we asked if the show would be starting soon and the guy said in 10 minutes. We were becoming frustrated that we would be losing sleep but waited until the start. Finally around 9 pm the music and lights began and three little people in matching outfits came out and danced half heartedly to a song. Two of the three looked absolutely miserable to be there, I felt bad for them. After their song an average sized woman came on stage and did a contortion act on a suspended hula hoop, swinging out over the crowd.  This would not pass regulations in the US. She was actually very good! Next was a average sized man dressed as a clown. He did some audience participation and comedy. He would fall and “hurt himself” and would come to me to kiss it to make it better.IMG_8900 Then he grabbed Bruce, and 3 other guys from our group to go on stage. It was the highlight of the show and worth every penny. Each of the guys were instructed to dance like him, The whole tent, which had swelled to over 100 people, were in stitches over they guys’ lack of dance moves. After their time on stage a few acts followed; another “contortionist” who did backbends on a table, a unicycle juggler who kept dropping things and falling of his bike, and then the MC and the clown did a painfully long comedy sketch that we had no idea what was going on. At the intermission at 10pm we decided to duck out and go to bed. It was not the best circus and the little people were only paraded out in the beginning rather than being part of the act, I am still glad we went.

Day 50: Cerral Azul to Paracas, 110k-ish

The more morning started with Bruce and I being exhausted from not sleeping much the night before. We just wanted to get this day over with.  As we started our ride a drizzle had started and did not let up for a couple of hours. The fog was thick and we could not see more than 20 meters ahead. We approached some rolling climbs and I had no clue how long or steep they were do to lack of visibility. After 20k Bruce said he wants to catch the bus into camp when it passed. I agreed to join him because we were drenched and getting cold, it was only 12C/53F. We rode through the usually of the past few weeks; desert, farm lands, beach towns, and beach side chicken farms. However, today we noticed that a few of the farms looked like deserted beach towns that must have been destroyed by earthquakes or tsunamis years before. Around 47k the bus finally arrived and there were a could of riders already on, so it took some maneuvering to get our bikes on the bus. Lunch was set up only 4 k from where we were which was about 20k earlier than had been planned. The route was changed slightly, but we did not care because we had called it quits for the day. Standing at lunch made us very cold, the rain did not let up and the wind picked up a bit. We had about 60 k to camp and I the 5 riders that hoped on the bus were freezing. When we arrived at camp/hotel the chef said my lips were blue, my hands were white and purple. I had not realized I was that cold.

We helped unload the bus and Bruce paid for a room because it had hot showers. After rinsing the road grime off I was still cold in the shower. I put on every warm article of clothing I had and laid in my sleeping bag. After sleeping for almost two much needed hours I went outside into the sunshine that had finally arrived.

IMG_0031Bruce and I decided to walk into town to grab a snack and explore. We were blown away by the upscale resort village that was on the water. So many tourists and high end hotels. I really have no idea what the draw to this area is over the other beach towns. We sat a beachside bar for craft beers and snacks. Another couple on the tour joined us. The great conversation and sunshine made this day turn into a great afternoon.

 

 

Day 51: Paracas to Santiago Ica, 93k

Yesterday was the last day at the beach, today we head inland for pretty much the remainder of the trip. A short day with a steady, gentle incline today. IMG_8936 2The day started with sunshine which we have not had in a few weeks. However, the winds were brutal. Bruce and I ended up pace lining with another woman on the tour which made the headwinds somewhat bearable. Traffic was heavier with lots of trucks, specifically several semis with wide loads transporting pieces to windmills. We ended up leap frogging with them throughout the day. After lunch we rode through the city of Ica, a complete shit show of traffic. We were close to being hit several times. Small taxis would ride on the berm to pass traffic then stop abruptly to merge back onto the road. Peruvians have been very pleasant and friendly, but as soon as you put one in a car in a city, they lose any respect for anyone.

Our camp for the night was at a road side camp with a pool and cock fighting ring. We were amused and disturbed by the ring, and learned the in Peru it is still legal. Once we arrived at camp our tour director informed us that there would be a cock fight from 6pm-9pm. I have been in South America long enough to know that nothing starts or ends on time. IMG_5095 As the day progressed the ten year old son of the camp owners told the tour director that the fight was a championship final with 16 fights and it may not end until after midnight. Awesome. The director managed to find a truck stop hotel a few kilometers down the road to give riders an option rather than camping with the loud drunken noise and dying roosters. Bruce and I opted for the hotel, which ended up being right on the busy highway, and kind of gross. But very clean. I am over nasty hotels right now. I’m ready to be back in the mountains and camp every night in solitude. We did see the first cock fight before leaving for the hotel. The handlers spent about 20 minutes prepping the cocks and wrapping a metal talon onto the foot of the roosters while soothing it. I was baffled that someone could care for an animal then subject it to cruel death. The fight was anticlimactic and lasted only a few minutes. I do not see the entertainment in this event. Surprisingly, there were many young guys in their 20’s attending and participating. I had assumed it was a dying sport, not in Peru. I am glad we left before the shenanigans got too intense.

Day 52: Santiago Ica to Nazca, 126k

Riding into a rest day. I woke up for the third day in a row with a wicked sore throat, so I decided to ride the bus today so I could have ample rest before we begin climbing into the Andes again. Bruce left camp a earlier than usual and hammered hard all day so he could get to the the hotel to rest. IMG_9875When the bus made it to the lunch spot, Bruce arrived not long after. There was a 5k long climb heading into lunch, the highway was carved in the mountain and once at the top you could see the road curve all the way down, it looked like a lot of fun to ride. And we had sprawling views for the first time in a few weeks. I feel like epic views are worth the ride and give you something to work towards.

After lunch we road past the Nasca Lines, ancient figures drawn in the rocks and sand. IMG_7472They are massive and apparently can be seen from space. There is still lots of desert but at least the mountains are more prominent in the near horizon and there is some vegetation in places.

The town of Nasca does not seem to have a lot to offer, but our hotel is very nice with a relaxing pool area with ample lounge chairs.  Tomorrow we’ll go on a plane to view the lines from the air.

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