Category Archives: Ryan Wilson
Once Upon a Time in the Bolivian West – Ryan Wilson

Once Upon a Time in the Bolivian West
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After spending a year riding the constantly undulating roads in the Cordilleras of Perú and Bolivia, it was time to switch it up just a bit and head out for the altiplano of Bolivia’s volcano-laden western region. This is the area where most cycle tourists head when passing through Bolivia and it’s also the place where the country really earns its reputation of vast open spaces with an endless array of sandy/corrugated roads, and other-worldly landscapes. (more…)

Jan 10, 2018 30 comments
12 Pieces Of Gear I Wouldn’t Go Without In The Andes – Ryan Wilson

12 Pieces Of Gear I Wouldn’t Go Without In The Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

In a little over a year’s worth of time on the road in the Andes, I’ve had the chance to really put my gear through some serious torture. Luckily, the vast majority of it has stood the test of time, but there are some pieces that have really stood out as items I’ll have in my setup for a long time to come. Obviously, some of this comes down to personal preference and the type of riding you’re doing, so it’s not one-size-fits-all, but the majority of these would work well with just about any type of bikepacking/touring… (more…)

Dec 13, 2017 63 comments
The Endless Fiesta in Bolivia’s Kimsa Cruz – Ryan Wilson

The Endless Fiesta in Bolivia’s Kimsa Cruz
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

The best part about riding in the Andes of Perú and Bolivia is that finding a great route is about as simple as pointing to a couple of interesting looking spots on the map and connecting the dots.  Chances are good that you’ll end up on a rollercoaster of dirt roads through quiet valleys and over dramatic mountain passes.

While it’s fun to follow the tracks of fellow cyclists that have sought out these remote roads and trails previously, if I see a chance to head through an area with little to no info readily available, there’s definitely an extra element of intrigue.  Is there water?  Anywhere to find food along the way?  Is there actually a bridge over that giant river?  After all, the mystery of what lies around the next bend or over the next pass is what keeps me wanting to turn those pedals. (more…)

Oct 24, 2017 18 comments
Out of the Bolivian Yungas and into the Cordillera – Ryan Wilson

Out of the Bolivian Yungas and into the Cordillera
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After plunging into the depths of the Bolivian Yungas, your brain likes to trick you into overlooking the relatively low altitude ups and downs of this area, while focusing in on the inevitable slog back to the thin air of the high mountains. But these Yungas roads have a way of telling you right away that just because you’re not at 16,000ft anymore doesn’t mean you’re getting away unscathed here. What the Yungas lacks in pure altitude, it easily makes up for in relentlessly steep, hot, and dusty roads that zig and zag across the rippled terrain. Make no mistake, the challenge here definitely stacks up with just about anything else in the area. (more…)

Sep 19, 2017 32 comments
Taking the “Death Road” to the Edge of the Bolivian Jungle – Ryan Wilson

Taking the “Death Road” to the Edge of the Bolivian Jungle
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Coming into Bolivia, it’s hard to know what to expect. Where Peru’s reputation is pretty much all happy people, ancient ruins, and fluffy alpacas, the stories you hear about Bolivia prior to visiting are a bit more of a mixed bag. Some are very positive, but one thing repeated pretty often (other than how bad the food is) is that outsiders aren’t quite as popular with the locals. Rather than the welcome party you get in nearly every village in the Peruvian Andes when you roll in on two wheels, the Boliviano response is a bit more tepid… At least that’s the reputation. (more…)

Aug 14, 2017 52 comments
A Goodbye to Perú Through the Ausangate – Ryan Wilson

A Goodbye to Perú Through the Ausangate
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

For my final stretch through Perú (for now), I jumped onto the instant-classic route that Cass Gilbert and Michael Dammer founded one year prior (http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/tres-cordilleras-boliva-peru/), with a few tweaks. The highlight of this area is unquestionably the circuit around the 6,384m aka 20,945ft wall of rock and ice known as Apu Ausangate. The majority of which is pure backcountry single track through seemingly endless glacial peaks and pristine lagunas. (more…)

Jul 6, 2017 20 comments
Bikepacking Peru’s Valle de los Volcanes – Ryan Wilson

Bikepacking Peru’s Valle de los Volcanes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After dealing with a dead Garmin and a bricked iPhone (my only GPS devices) for a while during my last stint in Perú, I decided to put the trip on hold for a few months and head back to the States. It was a nice break to sort a few things out, skip a little bit of Peru’s rainy season, and take it easy for the holidays. (more…)

May 9, 2017 39 comments
Gearing up for Life on the Bike: Camera and Tech – Ryan Wilson

Packing for an open-ended bike tour through remote areas of developing countries can be a bit intimidating. You don’t want to get there and realize you’re missing something crucial that you’re going to have trouble finding locally, but you don’t want to overpack and feel required to haul a bunch of stuff that you don’t really need.

With that in mind, I wanted to start a series of posts discussing my personal gear setup and some of the things I’ve learned in my first 7 months of living on the bike in South America. First up I’ll dive into my electronics setup and touch on the question I get asked most frequently… “what camera are you using?” (more…)

Feb 28, 2017 31 comments
Traversing the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu – Ryan Wilson

Traversing the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

By far the number one thing people bring up when they find out you’re going to Peru is Machu Picchu. In fact, that’s probably the response at least 95% of the time. To be fair, prior to stumbling upon photos of the Cordillera Blanca on Google Earth one day, Machu Picchu was always the first thing that came to my mind as well, so it’s a hard thing to fault. (more…)

Feb 23, 2017 56 comments
A Sudden Shift of Seasons in the Peruvian Andes – Ryan Wilson

A Sudden Shift of Seasons in the Peruvian Andes
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Continued from “Taking the Scenic Route to Peru’s Great Divide

It happens without notice in the Andes. One day it’s mostly clear skies as far back as you can remember, then one good thunderstorm rolls in and with it seems to come the daily barrage of rain, hail, and snow. This marks the true beginning of the “shoulder season”, nestled in the southern hemisphere’s spring. For me, this timed out exactly on the first day of starting this section of the Peruvian Divide, following a quick re-supply detour to Lima*.

*As a side note regarding life in Peru… the majority of people here do not own cars. This is especially true in the quiet areas that are the most interesting for riding. As a result, many of the villages have small vans (called colectivos) coming and going at least once or twice per day toward the larger towns, and they’re typically only the equivalent of a few bucks even for a trip that lasts a few hours. This is quite helpful if you want to check out a bigger city that is a ways off-route and have a chance to pick up a few things that might be tough to come by in small villages. It’s also helpful if you’re running low on dinero and need to find an ATM, which can occasionally be tough to locate in remote areas. With the divide route intersecting the main road toward Lima, it was a perfect opportunity for a trip to the city. (more…)

Jan 23, 2017 20 comments