I was excited to be going to Peru but also quite nervous. Some of the cycling routes we had planned would take us up to 4800m in altitude and I had no idea if I would be able to ride at those heights. It would also take us off the road and into some of the more remote areas of Peru. It sounded great in theory, but I was imagining all the worst case scenarios. You know the usual: death, robberies, injuries etc. The kind of things that plague any anxious mind whether it is mountain biking in Peru or popping to the shops in Birmingham.
After cycling in Peru for a month I can confirm I was worrying about the wrong things. It’s not dangerous and people are kind and friendly. Actually what I should have been worrying about was the weather and the subsequent weathering of my face! When we got back to Cusco after cycling around Ausangate, I looked in the mirror for the first time in a week and was shocked. Had a blood vessel popped in my eye? Does altitude do that? I looked about 5 years older and I had only been out for 6 days! Brilliant. When I get home I’m going to have aged 10 years in 6 months. It’s basically the opposite of Neverland.
I can handle being wet and cold but I can’t handle this rapid aging!
I’m joking obviously. I can’t handle being wet and cold either. And it turns out the weather puts a dampener on your mood as well as your face!
One minute you’re having the time of your life, chasing Alpaca down a grassy hill in glorious sunshine, the next it is hammering it down with snow and you have to sit in a freezing mountain hut for 48 hours because your tent is going to blow away.
I suppose that’s what you get when you camp next to a glacier! But despite the inevitable ups, downs and crazy mountain weather, it is an incredible place to explore on a bicycle. Yes the altitude makes it harder but the pain is rewarded with incredible views and a sense of accomplishment for actually managing to get up there – even if it takes ages and you are pushing for most of it!
I suppose I’ll end up looking older but who cares really, it’s going to happen anyway. Hopefully I’ll have a few stories to tell at the end of it!