Day 167 – Miraflores, PE – Huacachina, PE

Day 167 – Miraflores, PE – Huacachina, PE      02/04/11      Mileage: 221

After a quick breakfast I packed the bike and rolled south down the Pan American towards Pisco. It was a pleasant if somewhat boring rip down the pavement, that is until excitement came knocking on my door. I was riding down the right lane and had just passed a truck a few moments before. From behind me I heard screeching tires and as I looked over my left shoulder I saw a car sideways in the left lane skidding out of control. I wailed the brakes with a squeal coming from my own rear wheel, only to see the car careen into and across my lane and over the embankment! I pulled over onto the shoulder a fair ways up the road just in case it caught fire. (Don’t ask me why I know what a safe distance from a burning car is….trust me I know, right Tracy!)  The truck that was behind had pulled over as well and the truck driver was half way down the embankment when I started running back to the car. We helped the driver and passenger up to the road and miraculously aside from the woman being in hysterics (and rightfully so) and the driver having a cut on his forearm, they appeared to be OK.

I took this picture as I was running back to the car. The guy in the red shirt is the truck driver and you can just see the driver in the white shirt crawling out of the car.

The woman in black was the passenger.

The driver went back to retrieve some of his things. The left wheel is totally jacked which could of happened in the crash, but could have been the cause of it if he broke a tie rod or ball joint.

To say that they were lucky is very much understating the fact. Hell, I was shaking a bit myself because had I not gotten on the brakes hard myself they would have side swiped me for sure and taken me out too. Did I say the Pan American was boring? Scratch that. Back on the bike I continued south and pulled off in Pisco for some lunch, and of course, a Pisco Sour. I can’t say that I drink them at home, but when in Rome, right?

Road food?

Continuing south towards Ica I had read that there is a little oasis in the desert just to the west called Huacachina. It was about the right time to stop for the night so I decided to check it out. I rolled into what was once an oasis for sure, and may have still been after some development, but honestly the place as a whole was kind of run down. That being said there were some nice hotels and I found a comfortable room at the Huacachinero.

After settling in I hiked up to the top of the sand dune behind the hotel and was treated to some great views of the Huacachina, the dunes and a nice sunset.

The two big activities were dune boarding (snowboarding on the sand dunes) and dune buggy rides. I didn’t have time for either unfortunately as it was already dark and I was pulling out early tomorrow. Got to leave something for next time!

So after a dip in the pool, some wifi, dinner and a few beers with some of the other guests…I packed it in.

Day 164-166 – Miraflores, PE

Day 164-166 – Miraflores, PE      02/01-03/11       Mileage: 0

I spent the last three days running errands, getting a haircut, laundry, working on the blog and giving the KLR some much needed TLC. I’ve been riding mostly dirt for the last 10 days through southern Ecuador and northern Peru and in the last few days especially the bike has really taken a pounding. I changed the oil and filter, changed both front and rear brake pads, adjusted the chain, cleaned the air filter and a few other odd and ends.

NOW I feel like I’m back in civilization…a Starbucks!

Next time I’m taking this rig. You don’t have to pack light and local parts are always available!!  🙂

Wednesday night I met some fellow bikers and (ADV’ers) who have been stranded here in Lima with two dead bikes.

Alberto (aka – betitolara)and Naomi (aka – svensmanager) started from their home near Vancouver, Canada on their new BMW F800’s who’s engines both essentially self destructed north of Lima. Bad gas is suspected, but nobody can say for sure yet. They’ve been working with the local BMW dealer, their Canadian dealer and BMW in Germany to get their bikes fixed, and BMW Canada finally came through for them and is going to pick up the tab for repairing the bikes. That is great news for them! I hope they are back on the road soon so perhaps we can share some miles down the road.

Day 163 – Lima, PE to Miraflores, PE

Day 163 – Lima, PE to Miraflores, PE      01/31/11     Mileage: 26

This morning I worked on the blog and got caught up on my email. At noon I went to go watch the changing of the guard at the Government Palace which was pretty cool.

After that I packed up and relocated to Miraflores which is a nice section of Lima south of the downtown.

Along the way I stopped in at Barbacci Motors…a great shop if you need any gear or parts in Lima.

 I dropped anchor at the Hitchhikers hostal and then went to run some errands. I brought dinner back to the hostal and worked on the blog before calling it a night.

Day 162 – Recuay, PE to Lima, PE

Day 162 – Recuay, PE to Lima, PE      01/30/11      Mileage 234

This morning I had the bike packed and was on the road by 8:15. Just south of Catac I pulled off for gas and went to pay with the 50 sole bill I got from Andrzej the day before, and sure enough, the attendant said it was fake and refused it. Damn! Oh well, I’ll get rid of it somehow. Back on the bike the road continued up and over the pass and it was a nice canyon carver all the way down to the coast.

I hung a right on the Pan Americana and continued rolling south for Lima. I passed two cops on the opposite side of the road and they were frantically waving me over. Shit! They had a car, but I decided to just pretend they were waving at someone else and kept going. Well, soon I could see the flashing lights coming up behind me…damn. So I pulled over and Abbott and Costello started in on their good cop bad cop routine.

Bad cop said it was a 500 sole ticket that I would have to pay in Lima. Good cop said, because I was a tourist and they didn’t want to inconvenience me, I could pay them 250 soles right now! So there it was, a bribe is what they were after. I of course have cash squirreled away, but I said that I didn’t have that much and that all I has was 50 soles…which was of course the counterfeit 50 sole bill in my dummy wallet! So, I took out the fake 50, folded it over and handed it to good cop. Bad cop practically through my (expired) license back at me and after a quick half-assed lecture on the dangers of speeding, they said I could go. Well, I didn’t wait around for them to realize it was a counterfeit bill, so I thumbed the starter and rolled out of there. I was laughing in my helmet for the next 10 miles thinking of those two bozos going to pay for a nice steak dinner with their spoils only to be told it was a fake 50 sole bill. That was worth every (fake) cent. AMF! The rest of the road to Lima was over rolling sandy desert scenery and it was an interesting change from the mountains.

I made my way to center Lima and found a room 3 blocks from the Plaza de Armes. They let me park the bike in the lobby, and after a shower I went out to explore the city center.

The Plaza de Armas is spectacular and the Moorish influenced Spanish architecture is really cool.

At night I had a dinner (trout ceviche) at nice restaurant just off the Plaza.

Day 161 – Huaraz, PE to Recuay, PE

Day 161 – Huaraz, PE to Recuay, PE     01/29/11     Mileage: 115

It had rained all night and was still raining this morning as I packed the bike. I rolled out of town south towards Catac to catch the road to the ruins in Chavin. Along the way out of the corner of my eye I saw 2 adventure bikes getting gas. I wheeled around and went back to say hello. Andrzej and Jacek are from Poland and had shipped their bikes to Buenos Aires 2 months ago and are riding north to Cartagena. They were heading for Chavin as well so the 3 of us rode together.

Me and Andrzej…

Andrzej and Jacek’s bikes…a Yamaha Tenere and a Honda Africa Twin…two bikes the US never got.

The road from Catac to Chavin was paved some time ago, but it looks like all maintenance has been abandoned. The road has completely deteriorated to dirt in spots and where it hasn’t were bike eating holes. These kinds of roads are worse than all dirt, as the pavement potholes create deep sharp edge holes that are hell on the bike, suspension and will certainly give you a pinch flat if you hit one at speed. Arriving at the Chavin ruins is kind of underwhelming honestly, but we hired a guide and the tour was interesting nonetheless.

Arriving at Chavin…

Inside the main temple…

I’m not sure Chavin was worth the 4 hour round trip down that shit road, but it was nice to ride and swap war stories with Andrzej and Jacek over lunch. Luckily they spoke pretty good english, because the only Polish word I know is kielbasa.The restaurant didn’t have much change, so I paid the bill and Andrzej gave me a 50 sole bill….the problem was he had 2 50 sole bills and he knew one of them was counterfeit…but we couldn’t tell which one. I just picked one thinking if it was such a good fake I could still use it. So after lunch we said adios and they headed north for the Cordillera, and we south for the coast. Unfortunately, not only was it pouring now, but I had to backtrack down that shit road and by the time I got back to Catac, I was soaked, cold and miserable. It was also too late to make a run to the coast so I got a room in the tiny town of Recuay.

There was only one place to stay in town, so that decision was easy. My room cost 15 soles, or about 5 dollars…and certainly I got what I paid for! 😉

My hosts for the night….very graciouse and accommodating people.

The building was so old it seems it was built for the local indigenous people who are short in stature. The ceiling in my room was maybe 5’10” as I had only an inch or two of clearance being 5’8″ myself. The door was only 5′, so I had to duck to get in or out of my room…which didn’t lock.

The view from my room…

The bathroom was down the hall and was, umm, rough.

It’s all good though, and it sure beats pitching a tent in the rain…

Day 160 – San Luis, PE to Huaraz, PE

Day 160 – San Luis, PE to Huaraz, PE      01/28/11      Mileage: 94

It rained all night and was still raining in the morning which was not what had hoped for. It meant the road would be even worse than yesterday and the odds on getting to see the high peaks slim. There was no use in delaying the inevitable, so I packed the bike and wallowed down the road in the rain. The road was a mess and one guy I stopped to ask for directions didn’t even think the road over the pass was even open…..oh grand. Well I sure as shit wasn’t going back, so I continued on and hoped for the best. After a while the rain stopped, but the damage to the road had been done.

The nice little mountain town of Santa Catalina…

The reprieve from the rain soon ended and the air was getting colder and thinner with every passing mile. Crossing 15,000 feet high, the rain turned to sleet and then to….snow!

Damn…where the hell are my skis! The road topped out at 16,080 feet and there was a foot of fresh snow on the ground.

 Luckily a few other vehicles had cleared two tire tracks so I at least could see where I was going.

The road continued to snake its way down from the pass to the high alpine valley below where I stopped to rest and to take it all in.

The rest of the ride was nice roll down to the lower valley and the town of Huaraz where I got a room and some dinner. Tomorrow it’s off to tour the ruins of Chavin.

Parting shot: It didn’t occur to me until I downloaded my pictures that the only picture I took of the town of Huaraz was this one…not sure what that means?

Day 159 – Caraz, PE to San Luis, PE

Day 159 – Caraz, PE to San Luis, PE      01/27/11      Mileage: 91

I wanted to get an early start today, but my laundry that was supposed to be ready by 8 wasn’t ready until 10. Bollix. The weather was also not cooperating, as it was it was overcast in the valley and the clouds were low on the mountains obscuring the high peaks…and it looked like rain up there too.

The easy thing to do would have been to just ride the pavement right down the valley to Huaraz…maybe stop off at the hot springs for a soak. But, that wouldn’t be the adventurous thing to do now would it….sometimes you have to play the hand your dealt. So, with that it was up into the mountains in the hopes that the weather would improve and I would get at least a glimpse of the highest peaks in the Cordillera Blanca…and Peru.

The weather continued to look bleak, but I pressed on higher up the pass.

Looking back across the valley at the Cordillera Negra

Looking up at the Cordillera Blanca

I came into a nice high alpine valley and the cloud cover was only 1 or 2 hundred feet above the valley floor.

As I climbed higher the clouds broke a bit and I got a few fleeting looks at the glaciers, but the highest peaks were still obscured.

Looking down at the countless switchbacks…

The road up the pass topped out at 15,462 feet…higher than any mountains in Colorado!!

 The rain started on the other side of the pass and the mud was slippery but manageable.

I was still hoping for a break in the weather…as my planned route would take me back across the Cordillera on the way to Huaraz…so I had one more shot. The rain and muddy road made for a slow go, and combined with my late start, I soon realized I would have just barely enough daylight to make it to Huaraz…so long as I kept rolling. Soon after making that calculation, I happened on a stranded local biker on the side of the road. He had broken his chain and was SOL…as the nearest town is 20 miles back…and almost all up hill. With my time/distance calculation fresh in my head, the writing was on the wall. If I stop and help…I won’t make it to Huaraz…if I pass by…I will anger the karma gods!

Shit…well, I always have my tent as a last resort I guess…so I pulled over. I dug out my chain breaker and one of my spare master links and set about fixing his chain. My spare 520 O-ring master link wasn’t going to work on the small non-O-ring chain, so I reused the pin that I had pressed out to pin the chain together.

We used a piece of rebar and a rock to peen over the head of the pin as best we could. Not pretty, and I doubt it will last, but it will at least get him rolling again. Good deed for the day done and karma gods appeased, I continued up the pass. Soon the roads turned to thick sloppy mud slicker than anything I’ve ridden before. I almost laid the bike down at least a dozen times, and on the 13th I did. Both tires slid out from under me and I was left straddling the bike on it’s side. Of course it was in front of a group of houses and I became the evening entertainment. I didn’t have the presence of mind for a picture…too bad…it would have been a good shot. The mud was so slick I could barely stand up let alone hoist the bike…but somehow I wrestled the bike back upright. I continued on for several more miles until the tiny town of San Luis came into view. Holeluhyah….I just hope this 2 horse town has a hotel…and lucky for me it did.

It even had secure parking…if not a toilet seat.

I grabbed “dinner” from the local bodega…bag of chips, warm yogurt(might have to use that toilet after all), crackers and juice. It ain’t Tavern on the Green, but after a day like today it’s 5 star dining.