Lima to 10kms south of Supe (field off Pan-American Highway)
Distance: 112 miles
Av speed: 13.8 mph
Moving time: 8 hours
Trip time: 12 hours 33
With much of yesterday spent cycling downhill, today was the first major challenge in this week-long battle. To make matters that little bit harder we didn’t end up leaving Lima until 1030am as Jim needed to fix his bike and the hotel had a buffet breakfast…
After already spending three weeks in Peru you would think that we had finally become accustomed to the Peruvian way of driving but the cycle out of Lima far surpassed anything we have experienced thus far. Perhaps it was the sticky heat or the fact that there were traffic lights literally everywhere, but the drivers in Lima are an extremely angry bunch and we saw a few new misses in just the space of half an hour. Having to shout over the cacophony of horns we eventually worked out how to get out of the endless web of one-way roads and were on to the even busier Pan-American highway that will take us all the way to Ecuador.
We definitely haven’t missed cycling on the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway and the lorries, being from Peru and not Chile, were definitely noisier and smellier. The one trade-off in Chile though was that it was relatively easy to churn out the miles on long flat roads with huge lorries constantly giving us a mini lift as they went past. This time round, however, it was far from the case as we were continued the Peruvian pattern of up and down for one mile stretches.
The uneven terrain, combined with our slow start out of Lima and the sticky heat, meant we had only cycled 50 miles by the time the sun had set, meaning a long and painful stint deep into the night. One extremely painful bottom (Roo’s) and the relentless up and down all meant we had to dig about as deep as we have all trip throughout an evening we can hopefully erase from our memories one day. By midnight the odometer had reached 112 and we could finally stop, finding a noisy spot 100m from the road, relieved the day was over. Perhaps we have bitten off a bit more than we can chew, with this extra 12 miles making life that bit harder for our bodies that haven’t had a rest since Cusco. BUT, Two down five to go!!!
Field camp spot to River camp Casma
Distance: 118 miles
Av speed: 13.4 mph
Moving time: 8h42
Trip time: 13h18
Waking up this morning was one of those days when we had to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be doing this trip, how far we have come, how close we are to the finish, and the huge difference the money we have raised will make to our four charities. Waking up in a smelly field to the sound of lorries is never that nice, plus our bodies are just a bit spent and we would LOVE a lie in or to get into the tent a bit earlier.
However, as this trip has affirmed to us on so many occasions the highs are only just around the corner and luckily today there were several small moments that put smiles on our faces. Our first treat of the day came not long in after Roo had stopped to apply some more butt cream. To our right were rows and rows of fruits we had never seen before but on inspection were actually huge passion fruits that tasted delicious. After stuffing our faces, and filling our bags to the brim we were back on the road settling in for the long stretch when we saw a food stall on our hard shoulder in the distance. Both thinking it was a strange place to be selling food we then caught up with it and realised it was a man peddling his produce to the nearest town. As we bought practically everything on his bike, he told us he was doing a daily 20km cycle to Paramonga, a huge distance with that much loaded on the front of a bike and again making us realise how lucky we are.
Fuelled up we then began the long slog through the sand dunes and a stretch with no towns for 60km, something we had overlooked and we ended up having to ration our water during midday heat – very stupid and something we definitely won’t be doing again. Finally, we made it to a village and stopped to buy some water when we got chatting to a watermelon seller who loved everything about England, the Beatles, Big Ben, Diana, and he even knew about Brexit! Whilst we were chatting, he insisted on chopping up half a watermelon and giving it to us free of charge despite our protests, and this awesome act of kindness went a long way to spur us on for the evening ahead. Once again, we saw a perfect sunset over the Pacific before beginning the final 30 miles in the dark. This would have been fine but the road headed in land meaning a 10 mile climb uphill that we really weren’t expecting. Eventually we hit the 112 mile mark but decided to push on as we had no water, finding a quiet spot on the banks of the river Casma just south of the town that bears the same name.
asleep by 10 o’clock!
Casma to Trujillo
Distance: 118 miles
Average speed: 12.8 mph
Moving time: 9h10
Door to door: 13h18
Today was another long slog in-land from the coast as the road climbed up for 2 miles then down for 2 for much of the day. On top of this we can definitely feel we are getting closer to the equator with the temperature reaching 35 degrees Celsius. Nothing much to report except it is amazing how far you can go with two gripping audiobooks (Jim – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Roo – The Count of Montecristo) and a slight tailwind. We also met some amazingly kind people in Chimbote, a Port town that reeked of fish where a nice old couple cooked us fish soup and deep-fried fish.
Again, we dug deep into the night, deciding to push on to Trujillo as the thought of a cold room and a shower versus another sticky night in the tent by the main road was too appealing!
DAY ONE HUNDRED
Trujillo to mosquito breeding ground south of Mocupe
Distance: 112 miles
Av speed: 13 mph
Moving time: 8 h 31
Door to door: 13 h 12
As Jim needed WIFI to download the next Harry Potter (!) we treated ourselves to breakfast in the old town of Trujillo, one of the earliest Spanish settlements, ‘founded’ by Diego de Almagro in 1534 and named after Pizarro’s home city in Spain. It really was fascinating and, with the streets deserted in the early morning, felt like stepping back in time 400 years. With the clock quickly catching up on us we then were back on the road, battling the heat and for Roo a first proper saddle sore that no amount of chamois cream could make better!
Enjoying our first ice cream of the day we realised today was day 100! Amazing how quickly time has flown and how big a journey we have been on, how much we have changed, since those first tentative pedal strokes from Ushuaia. Finding it hard to qualify and quantify everything we ploughed on, again deep into the night through more hilly and deserted landscape, finally finding a spot at the end of a dirt track off the main road.
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND ONE
Mocupe to restaurant halfway between Chiclayo and Piura
Distance: 99.75 miles
Av speed: 12.9 mph
Moving time: 7 h 39
Door to door: 13 h 18
After five days of cycling 112 miles a day it was a miracle that we were both up at 430, although the hordes of mosquitos outside our tent would probably have been enough to wake our dear friend Josh Congdon out of his deepest of slumbers. We have never seen so many mosquitos and will never forget the torture we had to endure when nature called as soon as we woke up.
Extremely relieved to be back on the road we had a productive morning before stopping in another awesome Spanish town called Chiclayo. After a filling breakfast things were looking really good and maybe we wouldn’t be cycling in the dark for a change until another Cotton trademark and a bad puncture that ended up taking a long time to fix. While we waited for the tyre to hopefully reseal itself, Roo did some research about the next leg of the journey from Morrope to Piura. To our horror we came across a number of cycling blogs that mentioned this stretch of road and the armed gangs operating on it. One mentioned a cyclist who was robbed at gunpoint last year and another who had a police escort take them through much of the route. As with much of the trip we would have rather just not known but it made for a few stressful hours riding in the dark, thinking that every car or motorbike that slowed down to overtake us was actually going to rob us! A police car did eventually stop us and tell us to pull over at the next road side restaurant and sleep there – we don’t think they wanted to deal with the paperwork of two gringos who had been robbed. Unfortunately, this meant we didn’t quite make our target, but at least we could sleep peacefully in the back yard of the restaurant with the knowledge that we wouldn’t be robbed at gun point!
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWO
Restaurant to Lobitos
Distance: 144 miles
Av speed: 13.5 mph
Moving time: 10 h 39
Door to door: 14 h 30
Our final day of having to cycle 112 miles a day and the prospect of a rest day to follow! Not wanting to spend our day off on the side of the road in a desert meant that we actually had to go a bit further, deciding that it was worth the effort to spend our day off on the coast. This meant a PB 145 miles was necessary in order to arrive in the surfing village of Lobitos where we had a hotel waiting for us. In truth it wasn’t too bad, we are now so used to just getting on with it and have found listening to podcasts and audiobooks so useful that you don’t even realise you’ve been cycling without stopping for three hours.
That being said the final 30 miles did become a real struggle, as the road condition deteriorated and switched to one lane, meaning cars were coming dangerously close to us. Then came some nasty headwinds and the final 10kms being on a washboard dirt track, a real kick in the teeth after 12 hours cycling! It was undoubtably one of the best feelings of the trip so far when we finally touched down on the sandy Lobitos beach welcomed by the sound of the crashing waves, a clean bed and a much needed shower. We are both extremely happy and proud to have ticked off another huge week, riding 808 miles in just seven days, nearly the length of the UK – something we never thought we would be able to do or would even have to do.
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND THREE
Rest Day Lobitos
Pure bliss at finally being able to have a lie in and a full day to recover after two huge weeks battling the Andes and a further week cycling for 12 hours a day. We couldn’t have picked a better spot either as we had a long sandy beach to ourselves and could take our first ever dips in the Pacific Ocean! After spending the whole day sleeping on the beach and trying our best to get rid of our shocking tan lines, we then spent the evening planning the days ahead. For the first time in the trip we have had to work out exactly when we will finish, so Roo’s parents and Claire know when to book their flights. The end has always felt so far off, yet we have now had to set the finish date of the 3rd June, meaning we will have 25 days to cycle 1,689 miles, giving us a few days extra in case anything goes wrong and appreciating everything we have heard regarding Ecuador and Colombia’s hilly roads. Off we go then for one final push!!