Day 86 (January 9, 2013)
Huanchaco, Peru to Huaraz, Peru
Day's Ride: 236
I was talking with Jdowns back in El Salvador one night, he commented on the
ironic choice of my user name for advrider: ulyses. It should be spelled
Ulysses, but that was already taken when I registered. In any event, Ulysses is
the Latin name for Odysseus, the central figure of Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus was
plagued by misfortune for nearly ten years on his journeys, and sometimes I
wonder if a little bit of his bad luck has worn off on me.
Huanchaco, the ride south continued to be desert. The only interesting thing
before taking the turn off into the mountains ended up being the fuel
percent octane gasohol, NITRO Version! Even though it cost over six dollars a
gallon, I figured I would give it a try and see if my bike suddenly developed
the ability to fly. I was sorely disappointed.
Just north of Chimbote, we
stopped to consult the map and decide which route we wanted to take to get up
into the Cordillera Blanca. Al and a few other people had recommended it, as
well as Canon del Pato (Canyon of the Duck) as being excellent rides. There were
several options, all of them containing un-paved sections, so we chose the route
with the lowest elevation as the gasohol made our already elevation weary
machines run even worse.
Little did we know that we had accidental (and
fortuitously) chosen the Canon del Pato route! After turning of the Panamerican
Highway, we rode for a ways before the blacktop ended and the fun
landscape was severe, sun blasted desert with magnificent scorched mountains
towering on either side of the canyon. The scenery was incredible!
were several small villages along the route; most were composed of two or three
run down mud brick houses, but one contained a picturesque little
road was beautiful! Well graded, smooth gravel with numerous small bridges and
canyon became so narrow and steep that there was hardly any room for the road;
at some points there was no room for the road and crudely blasted tunnels were
bored straight through the bones of the mountain.
the towering stone was simply undercut to allow room for the
the tunnels began to come at a dizzying rate as the road climbed further into
rapid transition between glaring desert sunlight and the inky blackness of
subterranean shadow often left us blinded and I nearly ate it a few times while
charging madly through the tunnels at high speed. As ever, "faster and more
dangerous" was the motto of the day.
the canyon broadened out for a while. We stopped to take some pictures at one of
the more picturesque tunnels.
three thousand foot high scree fields soon became the order of the
really wanted to be dropped off at the top and then go "screeing" all the way to
the bottom. Soon the road begin climbing the face of the canyon through
throughout the switchbacks were several lengthy, narrow tunnels. A sign
preceding each tunnel entrance ordered that you honk your horn to warn traffic
traveling in the opposite direction that you were entering. Despite the
warnings, we still almost got pinched by a few massive trucks.
the road topped out at the head of the valley that parallels the Cordillera
Blanca, and the pavement resumed.
long the massive glacier capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca began to appear
on our left.
stopping to take few pictures of the mountains I was turning around to get back
on the road when disaster struck. Or, to be more accurate, a small white station
I had looked behind me to make sure that the road was clear, then
looked forward and began to cross the road. As I eased out the clutch and begin
moving, a small white car came flying over the rise in the road to my left. The
driver saw me and slammed on his breaks just as I saw him and slammed on the
throttle. As the hood of his car slammed into the back of my bike, I had another
very lucid thought, similar to the "El Pescador" incident, in which I knew that
I was about to die.
Luckily, I had sped up en ought that I was mostly in
the other lane and his car smashed into the rear right Pelican case on my bike.
The impact flipped me and the bike around in a 180 degree arc and sent us both
sliding down the pavement. As I was sliding on my elbow and my back down the
pavement, I thanked god that I was wearing the hard plastic armor that I had
bough in Medellin.
As soon as I came to a halt, I sprang up and jumped
out of the road. Once again I did a frantic pat down to assess the damage to my
body. Nothing. I had a small scratch on my back from the metal clasp of the
suspenders that I use to hold up my riding pants, but that was it.
immediately ran over to my bike, and, with the help of bubbletron, got it
upright and moved onto the side of the road. At first glance there seemed to be
no damage to the bike other than a scuffed up Pelican case and a twisted luggage
rack. I started the bike up for a minute and it ran fine.
bike off, I went to investigate the car and driver that had hit me. Luckily, the
driver had been able to slow down enough that only the hood of the car was a
little dented in; but there was no damage to the radiator or bumper. You can see
the two lines on each side of the dent where my Pelican case slid up his
having bought the mandatory insurance at the Peruvian border, I was anxious to
get everything sorted out and make myself scarce before the Police showed up.
Figuring that I would be held at fault regardless of my culpability, I decided
to pay the guy off an make a run for it. We talked it over and I ended up giving
Before I left, I asked him if he would sign my gas tank,
something that I had wanted to the Captiain of "El Pescador" to do but had never
been able to achieve.
some warning from the locals that the cops would be here soon and that we should
vanish, I jumped back on my bike and rode hard for about 30 miles until we got
to a gas station outside of Huaraz. Jumping off the bike, I did a more thorough
self assessment and realized that I was totally fine and that the bike was
looking/running okay as well.
We got into town and I got a room for 20
Soles at a hiking/mountaineering hostel called "Jo's Place". Then, we
immediately went out into town, and, as per tradition when tragedy strikes, I
ate a few dinners and downed about four beers.
there is an American expat in town who runs a micro brewery and I was able to
enjoy the best Pale Ale of the entire trip. The restaurant even gave me a beer
"para llevar", or "to go". In essence, a road beer. Salud!