August 29 Tomorrow is a rest day so I plan to spend some time in an internet cafe catching up and posting some photos from along the way. You may see the route if you go to findmespot.com and click on SPOT ADVENTURES. Type in The Andes Race. Select either the map or the satellite view. There may also be photos posted on the bike-dreams.com site and an update on rankings.
Stage 21 August 26 We reached the entrance to the Huascaran National Park. Views of the Cordillera Blanca are spectacular. We are at about 4300 m in an alpine biome. Here is the highest peak in Peru rising to 6768 m. The glaciers provide water for irrigation and hydroelectric to areas below. These glaciers are retreating at a very rapid rate and all of them may be gone within the coming decades.
This by far is my favorite bushcamp due to quiet remote setting.
Stage 22 We continue to climb through the Park and pass many endemic species of a plant only found here and in Bolivia at an altitude above 3200 m known as the Puya raimondi. This endangered plant only flowers once after about 40 years and then dies. It reaches a height of 10 m!
We climbed to 4827 m dropped and then pedalled up to the highest altitude I have ever reached on a bicycle which was 4883 m. The temperatures dropped and it snowed. I was chilled to the core and could not tell whether my fingers were on the brakes when I began to descend without looking at my hands. In about 30 km I dropped to 3500 m to the next bushcamp along a river. I put up my tent and nested in my down sleeping quilt. Finally warm.
Each day brings serious climbs and descents. We are passing through areas where few go including other Peruvians. The villages are very basic. I am definitely the gringo here on my 10 speed mountain bike speeding at times along rough dirt roads.
Stage 23 No timing on the route today. Just before finishing at our bushcamp today a few of us stopped to purchase cervazas from a small shop in a village. It seemed that the whole village gathered around to see cyclists which they never see. One of the things I like about the route is that we are passing through areas that other tourists never see. See photos when I am able to post them.
Stage 24 August 29 We climb from our bushcamp. I find that initially I am gasping for oxygen most mornings. Fortunately after about 15 km I manage to get that under control and continue to push on.
The climb was a challenge as we continued to pass through small villages perched on the side of mountains. Sometimes there is a futbol game or a celebration of some sort. Otherwise there are always the dogs which warn of my arrival.
As I climbed to almost 4000 m it began to rain. Actually it was a freezing rain. This time I was prepared and stopped to put on my rain jacket and pants. We were warned by the organizers that the descent was very steep and dangerous. With rain and hairpin blind curves this was even more pronounced. I dropped to 1896 m in 50 km from a bone chilling mountain pass to a warm sunny city Huanuco. What contrast. A few of us were ahead of the support truck so I missed out on lunch. The driver caught up with me and offered me some bread and a banana. The dogs continued to either attack or totally ignore me. I wonder why some are so aggressive and others barely blink an eye. This was the longest descent I have ever experienced on a bicycle. I think of it as the longest descent.
Her in Huanuco is a very busy noisy city. I am looking forward to tomorrow when we climb back into the high mountains on quiet roads.