Mountain Biking in the Andes!
Several people have asked me what I most enjoyed in Peru. That's a hard question! Should I tell them about the beauty of the landscape and the diverse ecosystems? The kindness of the people we met? The engineering marvels produced by the Incas? The lovely textiles we saw all around us?
But for sheer exhilaration, nothing beat the afternoon we went mountain biking!
In Ollantaytambo, the small village in "The Sacred Valley" where we spent several days, we found KB Tours, a company which offers all sorts of adventures from rafting to horseback riding to trekking. The folks we dealt with were fantastic, and the prices were good.
Our driver and our guide loaded the three bikes. To the right of the car you can see a couple of "moto-taxis," vehicles that consist of a motorcycle with a back seat for passengers.
As we drove more than an hour up the mountainside, we passed by Inca and pre-Inca ruins.
|Do you see all those layers of terraces? There are something like 80 levels!|
The scenery was not the only fascinating thing on the way up the mountain. At one point we came upon a Quecha family who had been traveling on a motorcycle. Dad, mom, baby, and child. Unfortunately, around a curve, their transportation had slipped out from under them. No one was injured, but the man of the family was unable to get the motorcycle upright again without aid. Our driver and guide immediately hopped out and helped put the family back on the road again. As a way of saying thanks, the mother filled our driver's shirt with boiled potatoes which he brought back to our car. Up to this point, Kristen and I had been fairly careful of what we ingested, but, what the heck. We ate some potatoes, and they were good! (Sorry - no pics of the family. That just seemed inappropriate.)
Further up the mountain we passed Patacancha, a weavers' village. And because it was Friday, the road from this point on was filled with children heading further uphill. They'd been at school all week, but now were returning to their even more remote homes for the weekend. Come Monday, they'd make a two hour trek back down the mountain for another week of school. Some of the kids had bikes, but no one was riding uphill.
|Tired school kids heading home for the weekend|
Alpacas grazed in fields in the mountain valleys. The elevation here was almost 4200m or nearly 14,000 ft.
And then we came down! For the most part, we stayed on the rocky, steep road. But at a couple of places, our guide, by then feeling more confident about the cycling abilities of his middle-aged guest and her daughter, took us off the road onto mountain paths, or, to use mountain bike parlance, single track. These were paths used by the locals, and we met men leading horses, children playing, and others. I'm pretty sure a broad grin lit up my face the entire descent. I love biking, but this ride was unlike anything I've ever done!
|This picture doesn't really capture the steepness. I guess you'll have to take my word for it. |
We dropped nearly 5000 feet in about an hour and a quarter, so it was pretty rapid.