I could hear the rain slow to a trickle on the metal roof as I peered toward the mountains from the window of the hospedaje I’d found refuge in the night before. I leaned way over to not smack my head on the door frame that couldn’t have stood higher than five feet.
Rocks slid from above, along a loose slope, showering the dirt road in front of me with a fresh layer. While treacherous in the rain, the locals warned that even an early afternoon breeze was enough to turn this road into a nightmare of falling debris. “Keep your ears and eyes open at all times,” a man in the nearby town of Huambo said as he made a motion imitating someone frantically pedaling a bike as fast as they could spin their legs.
After a few easy days back in Arequipa, I was excited to hit the road again. Maybe not so excited for the long and familiar climb out of the traffic of the city, but it was between me and the Valle del Colca, so I tried to keep my eyes on the prize…
After some indecision over where I’d go following my tour through Southern Turkey, I landed back on familiar territory. I’d originally planned to head for Ecuador or the Western Wildlands route in the US, but once my plans got pushed later into the year, I decided that a trip back to Southern Peru would be more enjoyable than trudging through Ecuador’s rainy season or dealing with the seemingly constant fires in the western US. Plus I’d get a chance to see if the months of Duolingo to shake off my rusty Spanish would pay off in any meaningful way.
AUZANGATE is the third Shared Territory film, which debuted this week. We recently caught up with Director, Justin Balog, for a brief Q&A about the project, which you can find below, along with a link to the beautiful film and incredible gallery of images from photographer Ian Matteson.
Take the Andes, a mountain range that stretches for an impossibly long 7,200km down the West Coast of South America. Chuck in 32,000m of climbing, crazy gravel sections, remote towns and villages, altitudes of nearly 5000m, huge canyons, glaciers and some of the best views on the planet, and you have a heady cocktail of elements that make up the craziest ultra-cycling race in the world. BikingMan Peru – The Inca Divide.
Out of their element and a lot higher in elevation, a couple of Whistler mountain bikers take on Peru’s mighty Vinicunca, aka Rainbow Mountain.
Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
When most people think “I’d like to take on my first bikepacking trip,” they don’t think of going to the Peruvian Andes. Well, most people aren’t my friend Ben Johnson. Ben’s a filmmaker and a storyteller, and once an idea gets into his head, it’s hard to shake him of it.
Ben had long been following Ryan Wilson’s work here on the site, and lusted to pedal in the high mountains of Peru. With another film project taking Ben down to Lima, the flights were paid for, and the idea of this side trip and a passion project was sparked.
Lots of people ask Stephanie and me for advice about bike traveling and we’re happy to help. Ben came to us with an ambitious plan, a short timeline to get a bike built, and enthusiasm through the roof. He needed help.
I had recently transitioned away from full-time work to focus on creative projects: the right place and the right time to help Ben get set up for his adventure in the Andes. I’m happy to present the film here, and will get into the details of the bike build below.
The Peru Divide is an incredibly scenic route in the Andes. In this video, CyclingAbout takes it on. For more information on the route and other resources, check out the YouTube page!
Sand Traps and Mishaps in the Argentine Puna
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
There are few things in this world that excite me more than a faint checkered line on a map, meandering through wide open spaces. As I’ve come to find out over the previous month, Northern Argentina has quite the collection of them. While my completionist tendencies want to pull me in all directions, down every last trail, there are really more than one could ever explore in just one trip. Often these tracks are meticulously sculpted into a bone-shattering washboard. If not, they’re plunging you through pits of ankle-deep sand. Either way, they’re always filling your eyes with sights unlike any other in the world.
Here on the Radavist, we often see bikepacking coverage from Peru, but what’s it like to shred the trails without 30 lbs worth of camping shit strapped to your bike?
The poster for the tour, designed by @horizonlines is available at the screenings
Tonight’s premiere of El Silencio: Cycling the Peruvian Andes at Golden Saddle was excellent. The visuals, story, and cast of characters are as memorable as the scenery. Seeing these vignettes in video is an exceptional experience, especially after seeing so much of Ryan Wilson’s photography work from the area over the years.
Do not miss this film as it tours the West Coast of the US. Future screenings are on the way, along with an eventual web-release.
Here’s the press-release from Tumbleweed Bikes:
“Cycling the Peruvian Andes, a Jay Ritchey Film. El Silencio brings the viewer along through the highs and lows of four cyclists as they traverse the mountainous Peru Divide bikepacking route, and was filmed entirely by bike. Joining the tour are: Jay Ritchey, filmmaker; Daniel Molloy, owner of Tumbleweed Bicycle Company, and Pepper Cook, adventure cyclist. A Q&A session will be held following the film for those interested in learning more about bicycle travel, bicycle design, and more. We hope you will join us!”
Tour dates and tickets listed below:
● May 5, Ventura, CA: Ventura Bike Hub
● May 8, Oakland, CA: Luckyduck Bicycle Cafe
● May 9, Fairfax, CA: Marin Museum of Bicycling
● May 11, Portland, OR: Velo Cult
● May 15, Seattle, WA: Swift Industries @ The Rhino Room
This video by Jay Bird Films and Tumbleweed Bikes is coming soon. If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see the feature-length at GSC. Check out the flyer below and read more about this video at Tumbleweed.
“Every new trail you travel on or off the beaten path brings uncertainty. Riding bikes in a place like this forces you to pay attention to the terrain, listen closely to suggestions on how to move through it. Instead of success and failure you became to think in terms of adaptation and forward motion.”
Lorraine Blancher explores the mountain bike trails on the border of Argentina and Chile, known as the Atacama.
I think Ryan Wilson has done an excellent job documenting Peru through his beautiful galleries and now, we have this video to whet our appetite as well.
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.
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.
An Unexpected Glimpse into Peruvian Culture
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
EDITOR’S WARNING: This gallery contains content that may offend the lovers of fluffy animals. There are slides in the gallery which give you plenty of warning to turn back. Keep in mind, this is part of the Peruvian culture, so please maintain an open mind.
My final stretch on the Peruvian Divide Route started like much of the rest. Incredibly quiet roads lined with as much spectacular scenery and as many furry friends as one can possibly handle. Bobbing and weaving between storms (without much success), and drifting in and out of the occasional small village filled with welcoming locals.
As far as bikepacking/dirt touring routes go, I can’t really think of a more complete experience. Where the Cordillera Blanca to the north wins on pure scenery, the Divide easily wins on way-off-the-beaten-path dirt road riding (if that is your thing). This makes for easier wild camping, and even more interesting interactions with locals who simply don’t see tourists around with any kind of frequency.