So the adventure has begun, and it didn´t take long for the tone of the trip to be set. After meeting Lisa in Heathrow, a short flight later we were in Newark waiting for the bags to come out. The problem was, only my bags and bike came out.  With not much that we could do we just made our flight to Lima, and  I was that person that they called out on the speakers to get to the gate immediately.

Arriving late into Lima we tried to sort out the baggage problem but knew they´d be a few days behind us. The next day we headed into the maze that is Lima, getting a few scary taxi´s along the way. Going to a few different areas before we ended up in the old town. We got back to the hotel and after some strained Spanish later, it was clear that the bike wasn´t coming this evening.

The following day we were promised the bike by 12 so we hung around only to be dissapointed again. So we headed out to the Jockey Plaza Mall which was like mini America. Some more strained Spanish later and the hotel and ourselves phoning Continental we were told the bike was on its way. After a well deserved bottle of wine we both fell asleep that evening when we were finally woken at 3am with the bike and bags all intact. Finally!

With everything now here we quickly assembled the bikes and got out on the road for our first day, suprised at how wobbly the bikes were with all the weight on. It was clear that we weren´t going anywhere fast as the road out of Lima was one of the scariest we´d ever been on so a mix of cycling and walking for the first 10km through the 6 lane road/market/zoo.

Lisa on the main road out of Lima

The road gradually got quieter as we got further out of town, but one thing was clear, the road was going up, slowly but steadily. For the 55km we did, we climbed up 1200m.  The next day was no different, just more and more climbing, but this time throw in some scary dogs and tunnels to the mix. On the third day we were starting to question how much more the road could climb but when passed 3000m, then 4000m we really didn´t know how much more it could go up, it just kept endlessly snaking up and up. We were starting to really flag when we met two motorbikers who wanted our pictured and who promised the top was just around the corner, luckily they were right. 3 days of relentless climbing we finally reached the top, 4818m later.

What most of the climb was like

At the top!

On the other side the temperature dropped and we headed into Morocoha for the night, a mining town with no elegance or luxury. We had dinner with the miners and a 3 course meal for 5 Sol before we spent the night in a horrible hotel.

Luckily all that climbing meant that all day we headed downhill and got 35km done by 1130 in La Oroya where we picked up lunch. A nice gradient after La Oroya meant the miles flew by and we decided to push it to Jujga. At the junction for Jujga we decided to head on the road rather than turn off. This turned out to be a huge mistake which resulted in us having to turn around and do another 10km back to Jujga, but luckily we founda really nice hotel some 126km later. Although at this point we realised that we´d lost the map which was a bit fustrating.

More downhill lay ahead and another 40km by lunchtime the following day meant we got to Huancayo fairly quickly. Once we managed to escape Huancayo the road starting to climb again. There was a checkpoint on the road with no one going through but we were flagged straight through. We through nothing of it at the time but we started to wonder why no traffic was coming down this road. 20km in and when we stated to look for somewhere to stay we started to notice rocks on the road. Locals started saying ´no pase´to us but they seemed to think bikes would be fine. The amount of rocks on the road just continued to increase and covered the road for about 20km. In the middle we squeezed through the parked lorries and were allowed through the blockade by the police, cheered by the people on he other side. We finally found a ´hotel´ on the other side, which was essentially a shed, but regardless we were relieved.

Luckily for us we had stopped for the night above a huge descent which had been covered in rocks from what looked like a landslide/earthquake. By the end out hands were killing us from being on the brakes hard for so long. We managed to do 25km by breakfast in izcucho where the road turned for the worse. A dirt track replaced the tarmac which started to take its toll on us and the bikes. When we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, the first bike casuality happened. The thread on the seat post holding lisa´s seat on had gone. We really didn´t know what to do, we tried to bodge it for it didn´t work. I cycled aheadto the next village which was just around the corner and asked if there was a mechanic. They said there was one in 15km so things were not looking good. I cycled back and had just enough time to tell Lisa the bad news before the guys I´d asked turned up in their car with a random selection of screws, bolts and tools determined to fix it. Luckily for us they succeeded and we were eternally greateful.

Lisa descending the rocky road

The gravel road continued for 150km over the next two days where we stayed in two more sheds before we finally hit the tarmac again in Huanta. So relieved we managed to find a nice place to stay and a pizza restaurant where 2 family sized pizzas were on the cards. We also managed to clean the bikes which were covered in dust. The next day we did a half day to Ayacucho where we planned our first rest day. Now here we´ve both been pretty ill, but we´re glad we´re here and not in a shed on the dirt track.

The scenic route

So far we´ve had such a random time but it´s been absoultely beautful. We´ve done 600km so far and we´ve got a lot more ahead of us…

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As many of you know, I’ve been offered a job on a graduate scheme starting in September. With this in place it means I can go away travelling with something to come back to, so along with Lisa who is in a similar position, we’ve decided to go on an epic trip to fill the time.

The plan is to cycle coast-to-coast across South America, starting in Lima, Peru, and finishing in Buenos Aries, Argentina, a mere 5000km apart. The route will take in the Andes, the Bolivian Altiplano and the Argentinian Grasslands over a 2.5 month period. Something along the lines of the route shown below:

The kit has all been bought, the panniers fitted and the legs are in some sort of shape. Although due to some terrible weather in Edinburgh, not as much training has been done as I would have liked. Below is the bike I’m taking before being kitted out.

My trusty steed

While I’m away I’ll be able to reply to e-mails though not straight away, I am not taking a phone. Check here for updates, otherwise, see you in September!