Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 126 (156km): The perfect day for a F8GS?

The morning started with an epic ascent up the mountain. It was switchback after switchback. The higher we climbed the more dramatic the view down to the river at the bottom. We could even see the road we had taken yesterday across the way.
Making our way up
The road from yesterday
It wasn't long before we arrived in Pallasca where we stocked up on some gas and food. I had a nice chat with one of the ladies in the plaza. She commented that it was so nice to see a Gringita in the Sierra. I'm glad to be of service.
Checking out the goods for sale in Pallasca
Getting some 90 octane gas in Pallasca

From there the road just kept getting better and better. Amazing views and fun roads with a bit of everything: smooth dirt, rocky, mud... We barely saw any other traffic too, and really that's the best part! We crossed several tiny rivers and then one real river crossing. Again we encountered lots of mud throughout the day but it didn't give us much trouble. Except for one section where I hit the side of the rut and went down. 
On the way to Cabana
I had some issues in the mud. I guess I wasn't looking up
My bike taking a bath in the river
And La Gringa too

And then unexpectedly the road turned to pavement. We didn't know that was going to happen. We got to Cabana and filled up on gas. You have to love Peru. Even in the middle of the highlands they accept USD at a reasonable exchange rate. We stopped for a lunchtime snack and entertained the locals with our presence. A little girl was so excited when Alberto gave her our card.
Filling up in Cabana
Stopping for a snack in the Plaza

There was a tiny bit more dirt but after Tauca the road was fully paved all the way. And oh boy... oh boy, what a road it was. From Tauca down was the best hour of driving we have ever experienced. It was switchback after switchback, snaking turn after snaking turn. Nicely paved and we never saw a single other vehicle. We had the whole road to ourselves and fully took advantage (it's fun using the other lane to set-up corners). The scenery was good and the driving was even better. A MUST-DO for anyone in the area. 
And that was near the bottom!
Alberto giving his tires a workout
There was still an opportunity to have a little fun exploring
Once we got down to the bottom, where there was a river, the temperature was pretty warm and the scenery had changed to desert. There was some interesting rock formations and there were a few cool tunnels to drive through. The road followed the river and the only negative was 3 bridges we had to cross before reaching Chuquicara. The first bridge happened so fast I didn't have time to really think about it. It was a scary experience. 
At the bottom; the fun was over
The bridge was constructed with 3 boards parallel to the direction of travel for each tire track and then big timbers perpendicular to the direction of traffic for the base. This is pretty common practice and no big deal normally, but these bridges were in disrepair with large gaps. Poor construction combined with really gusty wind on the bridges is not a fun experience. When we reached the second bridge I didn't want to go across. Yesterday I dropped my bike on a bridge because of wind and with these bridges there was nowhere to fall but down into the river. We walked my bike across, a much safer option. Alberto tried going through the middle but some of the gaps were pretty big and he said the wind was blowing him around. On the third and last bridge we walked both bikes over together. It just wasn't worth the risk. 
The dangerous bridge
We started out on the famous Canon del Pato road. This was the first time since hitting the dirt 4 days ago that we had encountered traffic traveling in our direction (who put these other cars in our way?). The road was pretty rough, washboard sections and big rocks. There was also a lot of traffic by our standards. We made it through the first tunnel, and first bridge (note: better construction than the paved road) before finding a place to camp for the night.
Posing for a photo at the first tunnel

I guess the wind picks up in the evenings because it was crazy windy in the canyon. Our tent normally takes 5 min to put up but it took us over an hour wrestling with the wind. It was crazy. It was so windy we hid inside and ate our delicious guacamole dinner hoping the tent wouldn't blow away.
We finally got the tent up, using our bikes to block the wind
Today had everything, great dirt, amazing scenery and kick-ass twisties. What more could an F800GS rider ask for? 
To celebrate we had a gourmet dinner of fresh guacamole!

1 comment:

  1. nice spoon fork knife!! i have the same one!