I promised Ash I'd post a few updates from the road in Peru over the next few months. I've been meaning to come back here for a while now to explore the vast network of dirt roads and trails, many unmapped, that criss-cross this part of the Andes. Purely by chance I was able to link up with an old riding buddy here for a few days which was super.
Climbing out of the 'burbs of Arequipa in southern Peru. The city sits at an altitude of 2300m, this track is just the beginning of one of many relentless 'mega-climbs' all the way to a somewhat breathless 4500m.
Arequipa: New tyres look rubbish... too clean. i'm riding my Surly ECR (on the right) which is a simply awesome dirt road touring bike but with 29+ wheels it's a big bike which can make travel with it on airlines and buses a little awkward at times. I use it at home for trail riding but with a low BB and essentially touring geometry it's a compromise. My friend, Cass, brought his Surly Ogre. It's a bit more versatile and can be used with standard 29er wheels or set up, as here, with 27.5+ wheels. The smaller wheelsize makes packing it easier but still with the benefits of plus-size tyres. As with the ECR it's bristling with braze-ons for carrying stuff. It is also a handy trail bike. (by the way, Ash can get Surly stuff in the shop :-)
There is a terrific global community around 'adventure cycling'. I met Cass all the way back in 2003 riding through Ladakh. Check out bikepacking.com for more inspiration from his keyboard and his awesome cycling flavoured instagram at https://www.instagram.com/whileoutriding/
It's a long, hard climb gaining some 2000m in altitude around the flanks of Nevado Chachani (6057m) with fine views of Volcan El Misti (5822m).
A bitterly cold, windswept campspot high on the puna at around 4500m altitude. It's getting dark around 6pm here at the moment. By 8pm everything is pretty much frozen solid...
.. it is hard work but when the terrain looks like this so very worth the effort...!
Anyway, that's enough for this evening, hopefully a little bit of inspiration to get out and do more on your bike than the usual 'local loop'. More soon! In the meantime there are more words and pics over on my own blog here.
P.s. Just as an aside... as far as route finding goes Google Earth is a terrific resource for finding 'interesting' lesser travelled routes to explore. ridewithgps.com is another superb resource. Wifi is readily available in most towns around the world these days. It makes life very much easier when researching roads to travel although in mny respects I do rather miss the sense of adventure that comes with the 'suck it and see' approach, navigating village to village based on directions from the locals.
Wintertime with short days and often rubbish weather can make it difficult to find inspiration for new rides and two-wheeled adventures. With spring apparently now in full bloom however, and a perfect weather forecast for riding pointing our wheels somewhere new seemed like a good idea. We figured our favourite coastal places would be busy with tourist traffic, what with it being Easter .. and sunny, so instead we put together a rather wonderful day out up to the 'roof of Cornwall', if you like, at Brown Willy combining a mixture of tracks, trails and virtually traffic free backroads. As far as route planning and finding goes we were lucky to be blessed with a riding buddy with a phenomenal knowledge of the backroads of mid-Cornwall. That combined with a bit of map-based pre-planning took us on a wonderful day out of 85 miles taking in all the best that inland Cornwall has to offer from sheltered wooded valleys, flower-studded trails, and chilly, windswept open moorland. Because I'm an idiot I forgot to have my GPS record the route so I'm unable to share a track for you to download, however should you want to ride this way then the route options are endless so all you really need to do is get an OS map out and draw yourself a likely looking route and go for it.
For our ride fatter-tyred touring bikes were perfect, tyres around 40-45c roll well on asphalt but offer tons and grip and comfort on the dirt sections. I rode my Surly Cross Check, Ash was riding a lovely 'vintage' (i guess 35+ years old qualifies) Concorde touring bike with a highly covetable 8spd Mk1 XTR drivetrain fitted, and Mark was riding his Surly Straggler.. the disc braked cousin to my Cross Check.
Some pictures follow by way of inspiration for you. Hopefully you've had an equally excellent Easter on two wheels!
Spring very much in evidence in the sheltered valleys. Warm sunshine too :-)
Approaching the moors the cloud thickened and the temperature dropped in the cool northwest wind. When I look at pictures like this I always find it incredible just what a green landscape Cornwall is blessed with. Having cycled through deserts all over the world returning to green and lush Cornwall is always a real treat.
Bodmin Moor isn't very high, only something like between 350-420m above sea level, it still feels like quite a climb up onto the moor however, and as with any ride in Cornwall it is very easy to accumulate thousands of metres of vertical ascent without even a mountain in sight. The hills are one of the things that makes riding here in the west special. Embrace rather than avoid them and they will reward :-)
Empty moorland singletrack roads, a perfect alternative to the holiday weekend coastal honeypots.
Approaching our goal for the day. Slightly fatter rubber just perfect for being able to explore pretty much anywhere.
It's been a long time since I cycled on the moor. Back in my racing days (not that long ago really) one of my favourite long training rides would take me all the way up the north coast to Boscastle before heading inland across the top of Bodmin Moor and then all the way back down the south coast. Well in excess of 200km I used to really enjoy it. Travelling a little more slowly on my touring bike with time to really soak up the countryside and a stove + packed lunch on board brings a very different flavour of satisfaction. One that doesn't involve feeling utterly destroyed by the end :-)
Brew on. I have a Carradice Pendle bag on my Cross Check. It's just the right size for a down jacket (it was chilly in the wind on the moor), packed lunch, a cake (of course), alcohol stove + pot, and my camera. It looks appropriately retro too and the Carradice canvas bags weather beautifully, in a way that modern synthetics simply cannot, they're waterproof too in case you were wondering... (we have some in the shop if you're interested.. ;-)
Leaving the moor, heading back south to the sunshine!
That vintage Concorde with a lovely Nitto 'cockpit'. Nitto stuff (bars, stems, seatposts, racks, and more) is very much a favourite of ours, pleasingly retro, highly functional and just a little bit unusual. It's available to order through the shop.