In the morning Ccoyabamba is living a pollo (chicken) day. It looks like all the restaurants are closed and instead there is a big event with chickens being everywhere. I did not ask but probably it is for some fund-raising. Without any restaurants it seems that my only option is to get caldo de pollo (chicken broth soup). Not that I don't like it, it is good. But calories are calories.
I start the ride very leisurely -- I have about 1500 meters of descent into the valley before me. As this is on an unpaved road it takes a bit time until I finally reach the lowpoint (i.e., only 2570m of altitude) inside a canyon. The road is curvy and with every switchback (and there are lots of them) I get a new perspective.
After the fun descent I now have to climb until the end of the day (and then some more). While not completely devoid of cars, the traffic is reasonable and the hard the work is really rewarding as I slowly climb along a deep and pretty valley. There is only one thing to complain and that is the heat. Even though I am almost at 3000 meters it is getting quite hot when the sun is blazing continuously on and there is no shadow to hide behind.
At 3100m with and unexpected side-road I call it a lunch. I sit down on rocks and enjoy the views while munching on my, guess what, pollo lunch :-) Afterwards it doesn't take too long and I slowly climb out of the valley. I give it the last view and set on with a new scenery. To make sure I won't die of dehydratation I stop in a small village of Ccoipa and ask locals for water. As a bonus I also get to taste something like home-brewed burčiak (this, if you are non-Slovak speaker) .
I push a bit more and in Paccaritambo I call it a day. I could go a bit further but by the looks of it finding a reasonable campsite could be a bit of a problem.
Did I mention that in Paccaritambo they have a very good restaurant? No? Then now you know! Otherwise the morning starts cloudy which is frankly a bit of relief because it isn't too hot. I still have about 60km with 1000m of ascent to Cusco and I don't know whether I can manage it today so I leave it on the progress. This turns out to be a good idea as just a few kilometers into the climb I am meeting a local asking me whether I am visiting some (inca) ruins. I mean, what? Ruins? Here? I quickly learn that the road to the ruins isn't actually a much of a detour. So I turn into a small backroad and anjoy a bit of a downhill.
Not a long time after that and I am "parking" my bike in a small settlement next to the ruins. From there it is a short hike uphill and I end up in Maukallaqta archeological site.
Not seeing any ruins on my trip so far this seems to be a decently impressive sight. I am actually surprised that the whole place is completely deserted (apart from one local man which probably part-time works on keeping the thing nice and clean).
After sightseeing I finish the downhill ride on a super-dusty road just so that I can climb the lost altitude back. Not a long afterwards I end up in a small village of Yaurisque. Considering the current time and the fact that I still have a lot of climb to do I decide to not push for Cusco today and just relax a bit here. I settle in a hospedaje and set exploring the selection of the few local shops. Unfortunately, finding an open restaurant proves to be an impossible task so I have to cook my dinner.
I have before me the last 700m of climb and total of 30km to Cusco. In other words, a relatively easy day. As soon as I get out of Yaurisque I am surprised by paving. Which means a lot faster progress than I expected. In almost no time I finish the climb and have lunch at the top.
The real speed is on the downhill though. The last time I enjoyed fast downhill was just before La Paz so I am riding like crazy. And braking even crazier -- in past few days I realized my front and mainly back brake pads are basically gone. To avoid grinding the rear ones to the dust I thus end up braking mostly with the front brake.
After the fast descent I am navigating through the maze of Cusco roads and trying to figure out where roughly is the city center. When thinking that it should be near enough I settle on the first hostal I can find. Quite expensive but I doubt that I can quickly find something much cheaper.
In the afternoon I am visiting a bike shop to do all the fixes. The shop turns out to be pretty close and is run by a very nice guy. The first thing to fix is a broken spoke -- by a pure chance I found it in front of the hostel when I was parking my bike. In any case I was really surprised as it is only about a thousand kilometers since they replaced my rim in La Paz. Apart from the rim I need to get a new tire. Unfortunately, they don't have exactly the width I want so I try my luck tomorrow with some other some. In the meantime I am getting new brake pads and a new back disc -- while the mechanic tried to straighten the wobbly disc he suggested that it is a good idea to replace it because apparently it is quite worn out. Figuring out that new disc is better than trying to live with a wobbly worn-out monstrosity till Colombia, I agree with the change (and when on it, let's do the front disc as well.) Next is the time for a new chain. As usual, my 9-speed 12-36 teeth sprocket is not available which further reinforces my wish to change the chains frequently in order to keep the sprocket alive until Colombia. The last thing I am getting is a bike stand. Yeah, I no longer need to find things I can lean the bike on. Although first I need to slightly adjust it -- based on my experience with a previous stand I am visiting a shop which solders an iron reinforcment bar on it.
July 20 (Cusco)
I spend the day trying to sort out a lot of things. First of all I check out another bike shop until to find them closed (Peruvians seem to be quite lazy in the mornings). When I return a bit later the shop is already open but they don't have the tire I want. After failing to get exactly what I want I settle on a slightly narrower tire and continue my day routine with getting tons of postcards. I also have to do a call to my insurance company so that they can help me sort out my stomach trouble (even though the major problems I had in/after Juliaca disappeared I still need from time to time expressly find a bush to jump behind). Next is figuring out trips. I did not come to Cusco just to laze around. Instead, I want to visit (of course) Machu Picchu and possibly do some trekking. Salkantay trek is my preliminary plan. When I get to a travel agency my Salkantay trek idea goes away as quickly as they say the price. Even Machu Picchu is quite expensive. On the other hand, there is this daily trek to the "Rainbow mountain" which seems to be in a reasonable cost category. As I already heard a bit about it, I just sign up for tomorrow.
On the culinary front of things I hope that Cusco will provide a bit more change into my diet. This proves true when I find a nice supermarket. My breakfasts and dinners for the next few cycling days are dramatically improving. Unfortunately, this cannot be much said about lunches -- it seems that Peruvians simple do not have patés. Still, I will get some jamón and packaged queso before I leave the city.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|July 17, 2017||46.9||1.16||22.0|
|July 18, 2017||28.2||0.52||19.9|
|July 19, 2017||34.0||0.68||18.2|
The next table is only for cycling activity.