Peru Great Divide continues with some stunning lagoon views. And not so stunning views of black clouds chasing me. In the end everything turns out fine though.
In the morning I am saying goodbye to my second bike stand as it is bent beyond repair. It looks like these weaklings just cannot handle behemoth of a bike :-) Next, when I want to visit the nice restaurant from yesterday I find out it is closed. Fortunately, it opens by the time I am ready to leave.
From Casapalca I have the last few kilometers on the terrible Carretera Central. From there I turn off into a dirt road leading to Abra Antacassa/Sungrar. To my surprise, the road features a bit of big-truck traffic, probably some mining vehicles. Otherwise, the ascent is gentle as I spin towards the top with music blasting into my ears overlooking a rather nice valley.
Top of Abra Antacassa opens quite some views. Many of which I am not thrilled about -- not, I am not talking about the beautiful mountains all around. I am talking about suspiciously dark clouds on a direct course towards me. As top of the pass isn't exactly the best place to meet an incoming storm I skip my lunch plan and instead force my way downhill with the best speed I can manage.
Down from the pass in a valley I already hear lightning playing around the top. This is, however, when the riding gets more difficult. The road is continuously flattening until I find myself just a few kilometers from Marcapomacocha, my tip for the night. From here a real race starts though -- there is a bit of an uphill to Marcapomacocha and the clouds are getting dangerously close. In fact, about a kilometer before the village the storm's vanguard reaches me. Fortunately, this is only a bit of hail. The real storm starts only when I am in the village safely hiding below a balcony. A true hail madness starts with water and ice creating a noticable white cover over the main square. Fortunately, by this time I am housed within a basic but cozy hospedaje municipal.
Sticking my head out of the window in the morning could not have revealed a more stunning change of weather. With bright blue sky the mountains around glitter with a tiny touch of snow. Energized with the sight I load my bike and start pedalling along Marcapomacocha lake. The road leads me to a big wall which signifies that there is another dam just a bit uphill.
The road then continues towards a very nice karst mountains and overlooks a smaller lake, eventually reaching another big lagoon and a little settlement of Yantac. On the way I am meeting a man that claims I am chasing another 4 cyclists who passed through here yesterday or so. I am quite puzzled by this -- if it was 2 then it would be my friends Jeremy and Madeleine. But four? Anyway, a bit after Yantac comes my favourite part overlooking a rather dramatic looking huge mountain. The road then starts climbing to Abra Alpamarca, first part going around some aquaducts. By now I am really stunned by how much aquaducts are present here in a middle of nowhere. My unsaid question is later answered when I learn that this whole business of big water dams, aquaducts and tunnels has only one purpose -- supplying water to Lima metropolitana.
Just before Abra Alpamarca the weather situation changes rather dramatically. I am again chased by heavy dark clouds. Not wanting to get into yesterday's downpour I quickly get a bit down from the pass and then find a quick camping spot just when it starts snowing a bit. However, it turns out that history won't repeat. The rain/hail doesn't really get strong and eventually dies completely. By now I am too lazy to move on though.
I start the day by a short descent on the main road which is apparently under construction -- they are making it wider and possibly even plan to pave it. Then, on a top of a small pass I see a totally perplexing "restaurante" sign. Restaurant? Here, in the middle of nowhere? Well, yes. Although the restaurant is probably a bit too strong classification, you can get some basic food, gaseosas, and sweets so I take a break there.
On the subsequent descent I miss a turnoff. I realize this about a (horizontal) kilometer downhill so there is no shortage of swearwords. Returning back I find the correct road which features one of the very few truly flat sections of the road as it goes around a water channel.
But flat part doesn't last forever. I quickly find it's end (more precisely, the beginning) where I need to ford a stream before I can take on the climb leading to Punta Fierro Cruz. As the name suggests (note: fierro=hierro), the views gets progressively more iron in them. And a beautiful green lagoon as well.
Hard climb done I am totally happy to know that from now it is going to be only descent. The road first switchbacks until I reach laguna Chungar -- another big water dam -- where it is time for a late lunch. From there I take a shortcut downhill to Vichyacocha. The road isn't on my map but I made a satellite-view research beforehand so everything should be good. Just a bit into downhill I am chatting with local to learn that two cyclists passed around Chungar today. I guess I am gaining on Jeremy and Madeleine.
The shortcut from Chungar to the main road is steep. Actually, a lot steeper than I expected. On the way I am surprised to meet a cyclist going up. Poor soul he is pushing the (relatively light) bike on a section which I thought is one of the less steeper. I am quite glad I choose the right direction to ride this section.
With the final 15%+ downhill section I end up on the main road. Here I hit a lowpoint and have to start climbing again to Vichaycocha. I arrive to the village a bit sooner than my standard end-of-day cutoff but I decide to stay anyway -- the prospects of camping along the road which snakes through a steep valley aren't too great.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|Sept. 6, 2017
|Sept. 7, 2017
|Sept. 8, 2017
The next table is only for cycling activity.