From the Inca Road to the World´s Highest Road
Friday, September 29, 2006
*Click on the pictures below to make them bigger*
I´m now just 400 miles away from Cuzco and have rolled back down to 10,000 feet in elevation after cycling the highest continuous road in the world...100 miles at over 13,000 feet.
My cycling buddy, Tom and I have added another rider to our clan. Meet David, a really fast former track star and rock climbing outdoor guy who is riding from Ecuador to somewhere in Northeren Argentina.
Here are some preview shots from way uptown during our ride to Ayuccucho last week:
That altitude is in meters not feet. 15,570 feet, this was actually one of the lower passes of the route.
David, when he was actually cycling slow enough for me to catch him and take a picture.
David and Tom rockin´a bridge at 14,000 feet.
The high Pampas lakes en route to Ayacucho.
Views like these were pretty standard on this route.
AHHHHHHHHH. Nothing like a surprise hot springs in the back yard of an indigenous family´s house to warm us up on the last day of our high road to Ayucucho!
Stay tuned for updates from my last 400 miles to Cuzco!!!!
The Inca Road is a 14,000 mile network of trails that connected the Inca Empire from as far north as Quito, Ecuador to Santiago, Chile in the south. Almost all of the trails converge at the Inca capital of Cuzco...which happens to be where I´m heading in a very back door, dirt road, indirect fashion.
The trails were used by the Incas for the communication of messages in a relay, Pony Express manner. The messangers were called Chasqui runners and they could cover as much as 242 km (150 miles) per day. Along these roads there are thousand of ruins in the form of cities, inns, military supply points and food stores--all were created to support the messangers who traveled these roads.
I´ve been traveling along a major artery of this road for the past three weeks and it´s been pretty freakin´cool. Once again, I´m glad that I´ve traveling on a bicycle at a pace that allows me to truly appreciate this road.
*Click on image below to enlarge it*
Thus far, the road has taken me to huge high altitude lakes like this:
High alti-plano centers that served to track the seasons via the suns path through the sky and it´s alignment on July 25th, directly through the 6 major doors traversing the city center:
Major cities built to govern states within the kingdom:
The road itself, along military and supply outposts that provided food and water from a sacred spring-fed lake:
I´m back on the road after over 1 month of being off the bike. During the past 30+ days, I´ve hiked countless miles through the Cordillera, climbed a few really tall mountains, flown home for my best friend´s wedding in Seattle, had a blast with my friends, girlfriend, and family, got stuck in Seattle because of Hurricane Ernesto, and then traveled for over 50 hours from Seattle to a village 10,000 feet high in the Andes to start cycling again.
The bummer about this rest break was that I lost my acclimatization to the high altitude passes of the Andes. For the first week back on the bike, nausea and indigestion were my constant companions. Begging kids throwing rocks, gringo chants, chasing dogs, and warnings of eminant attacks by armed banditos from the local police served as a pretty strong ¨re-entry¨ slap in the face. It´s amazing how quickly I got soft while hanging back in Seattle.
During my return home, I also lost my pack of riding companions who I have pedaled with since the border of Ecuador and Peru...3 to the road ahead and one to a Peruana love interest. Fortunately, a mountain biker from Colorado named Tom turned up the day after I landed in Lima. Together, we are going to cycle the most difficult section of the trip together, from Huaraz to Cuzco--home of the world´s highest drivable pass and the highest continuous section of road in the world, 100 miles at over 13,000 feet.
So meet Tom...(below), you will probably be hearing a lot about him in my next trip update.
For over a year I´ve dreamt about this route to Cuzco and it has not let me down so far. The road is incredibly beautiful and everyday has been an adventure.
Stay tuned for another trip update when I get closer to Cuzco.