The last stretch to Abancay brings in climbs, amazing scenery, fast descent on a pavement and an additional bonus of an unfixable tire puncture.
The potatoes strike back! At least, in my breakfast which apart from them also includes a boiled egg. Full of energy I thus launch into a headfirst attack on 800m climb to 4200. The views are decent with hilly mountains covered by golden grass and green bushes. This slowly transitions into a more golden pampa-like scenery at the top of the pass.
With the climb done I now enjoy a damn slow descent to Coillurqui. This is because the road has a noticable problems in the quality department. With my hands hurting from the braking madness I am happy to reach Coillurqui which is bigger than I imagined it. I find a hospedaje at the main square and proceed to fill my stomach. In the evening I am stopped by a bus driver who says he saw me yesterday at Cotabambas.
When getting out of hospedaje in the morning the main square is bustling with people. Apparently they are setting up a market. Unfortunately, even marked can't address my jamón deficiency and thus I am left with (overly sweet) marmelade for the lunch.
The day starts with a long descent of 900m during which the temperature shoots up. I end up crossing a river on a bridge and subsequently dealing with steep 300m high climb. A brief respite of 100m downhill and the road ends up going along a river. Here I decide to take lunch in a bit of a shade. Despite the shade and my presence by a river my butter thermometer registers "almost liquid" temperature reading. Chocolate cookies aren't much better.
With lunch done I resume my climbing which will last for the whole rest of the day. The road pretty much all the way goes along or above Rio Sarconta in a decent-sized valley. This changes a bit at the end when the valley becomes rocky canyon and the road finally gives up on following it and climbs on one side.
I am in a bit of a tricky situation here as I would like to find some camping spot but there are human settlements around. And there is no good space anyway. I am rescued from my camping problem when in small village named Pichibamba I ask for a hospedaje. Obviously, they don't have one here (the village being only a few houses anyway) but they offer me to stay in a communal building. I even get a matress on a floor and while there isn't any restaurant around a lady from the (probably only) shop agrees to cook for me. In the meantime I am taken by her son on a touristy adventure of visiting nearby cave. The cave isn't very long but it is very high and quite impressive. There is only one problem -- the access "trail" isn't exactly best fit for my old shoes.
Because yesterday I wasn't very fast due to heat today I am left 50 km ride with 1100m of ascent. Fortunately, my planned destination Lambrama is big enough to guarantee a hospedaje and I thus can afford to ride until sunset.
Despite the pressing need to start early I somehow manage to delay my departure while getting unexpected breakfast (I am practically forced to eat despite already having my standard breakfast). With my move away from tropical parts of Peru into drier mountains the morning clouds disapper (though I can see them hovering in the next valley).
It takes me quite long to reach the pass but the rewards is beautiful lagoons. I can even spot some flamingos. With the late pass-checkpoint time I do not hesitate much (ok, I do. The place is just a perfect camping spot) and launch into the descent. This is slow at first but over the time the road gets better and allows more reasonable speeds. For the last 6 kilometers I even get to ride an old paved road (which is a bit surprising as this is only a narrow single-lane road). The pavement however saves me from some trouble as by now the time is really ticking. In fact, I am reaching Lambrama with the sunset (and because I am in a valley the Sun didin't really shine for me for the last hour or so which was thus quite cold).
In the morning it looks like my throat problems are getting back. Not wanting to rely on the modern medecine too much I am making a total contraption of a potion I call "KR-limón-onion" (KR limón is a popular soda here in Peru).
Lambrama is quite warm even in the morning. This isn't such a great news as my plan is to descend further 1000 meters before I can take on the final climb to Abancay. Fortunately, the descent is very fast being on a paved road. It first goes inside a nice valley.
A bit of climb before the valley joins another and I can already see the river which is a lowpoint for today. However, here I am winning a full jackpot. As I zoom by on the pavement I suddenly have a feeling that my back wheel is floating over the surface. Sure enough normally hard tire is now totally soft. I must have caught the puncture back up when I was taking a picture and drove a bit off the road to have better views. In the meantime I collected a nice set of spikey plant bombs.
So I end up fixing the puncture, getting the rear wheel back and ... getting it off the bike again because it is still leaking. I find another two holes, fix them and try to continue. But the damn thing is still leaking (though slower by now). It takes a few pressurizing stops until I finally reach the junction with the main road and a gas station a bit further. There I get an access to water so I can find the leaks. Another two holes. This brings the total to 5 punctures in one event! Unfortunately, the fifth hole is just impossible to fix. I kind of run out of patches and the last one just doesn't want to stick correctly (the hole is too close to an extruded seam). I try to do it a few times but it just doesn't work.
By now you surely ask if I don't have a spare tube. Sure, I do. In fact, two of them. But here is the problem -- so far I used Presta valves but my spares are of a car type (Presta is somehow impossible to buy in Peru). Nothing wrong here except for one fact that I overlooked -- car valves are thicker in diameter than Presta. You can guess my level of surprise when I took a new tube, tried to put it through the hole in the rim and ... it did not fit.
With all my attempts to fix the puncture failed I try to do some hotfixing using a tape and get to finish the 15km with 200m of uphill to Abancay. On flat sections I ride the bike, on uphill I push it to remove the load from the wheel. And about every 5-10 minutes I pump in the air to keep me going. As this becomes less and less fun (and also becomes more and more clear that I won't be able to get to Abancay before sunset) I try to hitchhike cars with one hand pushing the bike and other holding the thumbs up sign. To my amusement Peruvian drivers are either dicks (ok, this is probably true anyway given how they drive) or they are too confused about a cyclist pushing bike and trying to hitchhike at the same time. By some miracle I am saved about 8 kilometers before Abancay. A moto-taxi (e.g., three-wheeler) stops just a bit before me and the driver goes for a chicha drink. I use the chance to load my bike and the ride can start.
In Abancay the taxi driver gets me off just next to a busy bike shop. It takes a bit of a time to get the attention but in the end I end up with big drilled holes in my rims and a new tube as well (of course, they did not have Presta type).
August 5 (Abancay)
My program for Abancay is quite busy. In the morning I am visiting Cruz del Sur to get my shipped things but there is nobody at the counter (Peruvian sense of opening hours is sometimes quite weird). I anyway forgot my passport (which is needed to get the package) so I switch my attention to another desperate need - laundry. I find one lavanderia just as they are opening it and deposit my clothes there. Back to the hostel for the passport and then Cruz del Sur. This time I have my package.
Next I need to change the chain. On the current one I have only about 360km but the next shipping segment is over 1000km so I want to change it now and use the rest of the current one later. Being in a big town also means getting food supplies, working on all "need-Internet" things (e.g., geotagging photos, processing GPS tracks, updating blog, etc.), preparing plan for the next few days (and printing it) and more. Basically, an average super-busy non-cycling day. On top of this, I am finishing writing postcards and sending a whopping batch of 30 of them. It costs me a little fortune!
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|Aug. 1, 2017||42.0||0.80||25.3|
|Aug. 2, 2017||43.0||1.14||27.5|
|Aug. 3, 2017||61.2||1.31||17.3|
|Aug. 4, 2017||44.5||0.39||22.9|
The next table is only for cycling activity.