This belated blog comes to you from the metropolis of Lima on the Pacific coast of the Latin American continent. After 19 tumultuous weeks in the saddle the expedition descends out of the Andes. Reaching the small Pacific coastal town of Paracas and marking the crossing of the continent from east to west on human steam.
After the frustrations of being at the mercy of the Peruvian postal system as customs held my parcel over the festive period. I rolled out of the mountainous city of Cusco and pushed west with my cargo in tow a few hundred km’s behind schedule. The 12 km climb out of a rain drenched Cusco at 3250m above sea level, a reminder that even a week out of the saddle has dire consequences as my lungs battled through the mountains once more.
Little did I know at this stage that the roads to Lima a mere 1150 km’s of them through mountains and desert would be some of the toughest of my life and yet most beautiful. Dropping down 50 km’s to a humble altitude in Andean terms of 1900m, this jaw dropping descent had me excited and nervous simultaneously as the inevitable and well known laws of nature clearly state what goes up must come down and vice versa in this neck of the woods.
It would be a two day 61km climb out of that picturesque valley and one that would push the boundaries both physically and mentally as I broke through pain thresholds I never knew existed. Reaching the top for only a brief moment as the unforgiving Andes dropped me 40 km’s down the other side through the town of Abancay to yet another low lying valley.
I would follow my new found companion a river for 200km’s and 3 solid days upstream as I tried to gradually claw back some altitude. A 15 km climb at the end of day three delivered me back to an altitude well over 4000m above sea level with snowcapped peaks in the distance and hail storms for company. Winding through the village of Negro Mayo at 4500m above sea level and the towns of Puquio and Chalhuanca as I clawed my way west through the mountains.
The final push up and over the last big pass near the national park of Pampa Galeras and I would be rewarded with a 68 km descent down into the desert that harbours the town of Nazca and its famed lines. The contrast between the two quite something to wrap your head around as you pedal from one world into another.
Reaching the small coastal village of Paracas marked the official crossing of South America from east to west solo on a bicycle and I now had a new partner and nemesis. The Pacific would keep me company on the long hot days heading north to the capital city of Lima as I battled a persistent northerly wind that seemed to never cease nor abate.
Rolling into the 9 million strong monster that is Lima would take some navigating as I once again battled buses and taxis, rapidly being engulfed by this huge Latin beast. A world far removed from the Andes, Lima however sporting decent spare parts and an opportunity to get back on track mechanically before pushing further north in search of the next border and the ever nearing equator.
After 19 and a bit weeks we have a CO2 reading that is now exceeding a ton and starting to reach rather worrying heights. The expedition continues to soldier forward in the attempt to advocate this fantastic humble machine as a powerful and viable tool in the battle against climate change and with stats like this who can argue?
After 7590 carbon free km’s the amount of pollution saved as a result of travelling on human steam is sitting at 1137.95 kg’s !