I write this blog from the sacred valley in the heart of the Peruvian Andes. After 15 weeks in the saddle, the Global Wheeling America’s expedition has notched up 6193 carbon free km’s on human steam alone. Continuing to advocate the bicycle as a fantastic tool, this fortnight in particular makes a serious case for the humble machine as an alternative to motorised transport.
Surprising even myself with the sheer amount of landmarks and treasures that we (my trusty steed Little Ms. Sunshine & I) were able to navigate and add to the treasure chest of wonders that we have been so fortunate to see thus far on the expedition.
Still high up in the South American Andes in the city of La Paz, I waited with baited breath as a promised replacement back rim was en route from the city of Cochabamba to the local Sunday market in Al Alto. A few days of nail bighting anticipation and a bit worried about my fitness levels tapering off whilst waiting for the rim, I decided to put this human steam theory to the test on foot.
The Huayna Potosi snowcapped mountain peak towering at 6088m over the city of La Paz had been catching my eye for days. I decided to climb her. Already at an altitude of just under 4000m in La Paz I made my way to lower base camp at 4800m. From here it would all be on foot as myself and my local guide Mario packed our gear into backpacks and hiked up to high base camp at an altitude of 5130m.
Acclimatizing for the afternoon, we set off at one in the morning donning our ice climbing gear and headlamps as we slowly clawed our way through the dark abyss of night. Five hours of lung busting climbing we would reach the summit in time for sunrise and watch that big ball of fire start her shift for the day from a perch where I could almost touch the sky.
Using a completely different set of muscles I descended from Huayna Potosi a rather worked and knackered man. Pressed for time with just three days left on my Bolivian visa and still a couple of hundred km’s left to the Peruvian border. I would reach the Sunday market to find the replacement rim had not made the journey west and I would be forced to push on with a broken back wheel.
Reaching the border of Peru with hours left on my visa, I managed to navigate my way through without having to cough up any Gringo-Tax. I had reached the banks of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 3800m above sea level exhausted and somewhat relieved.
Peru, country number five on the expedition would bring with her a fierce storm with torrential rains that would welcome me with a bang. Flooding my tent, I woke on the banks of Lake Titicaca, well and truly reminded of the intense power of nature and just how vulnerable I was camping alone up here in the Andes.
Heading north through the mountains, navigating the towns of Puno and Ayiviri I would soon reach the heart of Inca country. This fascinating culture and its ruins dotted through the countryside would make for new surroundings and it would not be long before the idea of camping in one of the archeological sites would soon set in.
Pikillacta, a pre Inca site and home to the Wari civilization that bordered the famed sacred valley would be the site that scratched the itch. Arriving just before dark I managed to enter the site undetected and after some serious off road navigational skills and carrying my 50kg rig up and over some winding paths I managed to find a spot to pitch the tent for the night.
Sleeping alone in huge ancient, mystical ruins was a box I was determined to tick and I would certainly not be disappointed as I spent the night in awe of this majestic archeological site with not a soul for miles.
Now if that’s not a rather jam packed two weeks on two wheels then I don’t know what is… The expedition takes a bit of a detour as it snakes through the sacred valley in search of a few more ruins before tacking directly west in search of the Pacific coastline and warmer climes. The next blog will celebrate the crossing of the continent from east to west.
The information we have all been waiting for and the official CO2 reading after 15 weeks and 6193 carbon free km’s is a staggering 928.95 Kg’s of pollution saved !