Huancavelica to Huaraz: Peruvian Goodness

As I while away a bit of time before heading back out on the Peru Divide, I find myself staying up late watching Hardrock 100 and Bob Graham videos, reading about Dave Chamberlain’s “Huge Run” exploits in Sidetracked, Googling prams, and enjoying some of Peru's more vintage moments; a momentary mental break from the efforts at hand.

Didier, the Peruvian Pass Crusher, makes short time of Peru Divide sections three and four and catches me in Huancavelica just before I'm ready to shove off again.  

We wind our way north, stretching our legs on the initial passes.

Acobambilla's canyon engulfs us at days end. 

Peruvian skies off of Paso Don Mario mix it up and lend interest after days and days of blue sky riding.

Turning the corner after a gentle afternoon spin up a quite valley on day three brings us face to face with Punta Pumacocha's first wall.  Grinder. 

What Pumacocha taketh on the front side, she giveth on the backside. Sublime

Admittedly a nearly 2000 m drop into Laraos leaves me a tinge grumpy as I've become a bit of a +4000 m spoiled brat.

But such grumpiness is short lived as we momentarily bottom out and begin a steady climb up through one series of crystal clear interlocking lagunas after another on the way towards Huancaya.

The wide stuff gives way to a short but fun stretch of single track tracing the edge of a lush valley on the outskirts of Vilca. 

Afternoon moody skies

and distant glaciated peaks lead us up towards Abra Suijo

before dropping us through another huge, sun soaked Peruvian valley on the backside.

One of the unlucky.

Without a doubt the bedbug debacle was the bleakest period of this trip, but a close second was the 25 km stretch of Carretera Central breaking up an otherwise sublime run of Peruvian dirt squiggles.  The finger came out with insane frequency as trucks double passed each other towards us on the shoulderless two-lane road connecting Lima to the Amazon.

We breath a collective sigh of relief as we escape the madness and wind our way up an over Abra Sungrar deeper into the quiet folds of Peru.

The following day brings a late afternoon climb up and over Abra Mio and down into a deeply shadowed Tolkein-esque valley.

After a frozen fingered morning, we heat up with some time on Abra Chucopampa before dropping into Parquin.  Salvador and Ardel serve us up almuerzo while showing us the signatures of Divide cyclists who have passed through and stayed with them. They are a super friendly couple that especially enjoyed some magical Steripening before we head back out.

A morning wincher the following day brings us up through a canyon to the base of Abra Rapaz, which piles on another stack on Andean switchbacks to get us up and over 4900 m.

A 'happy hour' of more swithbacks tilting in the opposite direction

take us drown into Oyon to enjoy some later afternoon soccer and yet another Peruvian street packed / music all-night festival.

In the morning we battle nippy street dogs before jamming the Rohloff back into its Divide 'home' of 1 and inching up and over Punta Chanca and Punta Pacomayo.

Welcome to another huge Peruvian mind-stretchingly remote valley.

In elevation profile, the Peru Divide looks like a horrendous EKG with one upward spike after another and an occasional malicious downward spike erasing the previous days efforts in the blink of an eye.  From Cajatambo we drop from the sky to the sweaty low point of just under 1400 m; one BB7 brake pad frying hairpin turn after another and the first time the sweat soaked t-shirt has appeared since the Yungas.

Sorry Mike, your bus didn't fair too well in the intervening years...

After a touch more than two weeks of clicking off countless +4000m passes, we a gifted a gentle ascent up to the last bump before the fun comes to an end in Conococha.  Dirt gives way to white line as we reel off the last 80k into Huaraz and immediately into a Cafe Andino french press full of real coffee.


Again, thanks to Neil and Harriet of Andesbybike for the effort involved in putting this route together.