León (Colombia)
riding from Miami, USA to Ushuaia, Argentina
joe-1024On 15 July 2013, five days before we set out from Rio de Janeiro, Medellín native León began his own journey through the Americas. As a licence plate strapped to his rear mudguard reveals, he’s riding from Florida to Patagonia, and with 14,000km already on the clock, he’s moving faster than us – our odometer stood at just over 11,600km when we met, 80km south of the Peru-Ecuador border. Riding a Koga Miyata World Traveller that he’s nicknamed ‘La Andariega’ (‘The Wanderer’, more or less), León speaks English with the casual, confident inflection of a man who’s spent plenty of time in the United States; we don’t know if he has or not, but he visited relatives in Georgia and Oklahoma on his way through from Miami. He’s planning to take the coast road through Peru, but we tried to talk him into spending some time in the mountains. He might do it, too; after all, as he’s happy to point out, ‘I ain’t in no hurry.’ Click here to connect with him on Facebook.
5km north of Tambo Grande, 20, Peru
26 May 2014

 


 

Luciano & Sol (Argentina)
riding from Santiago, Chile to (they hope) somewhere in Mexico
lucianosol-1024Our glimpse into the frantic life of angel-patient host Lucho at the Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo continued with the apparently unannounced arrival of two more cyclists, barely a couple of hours after Dominik and Peter had left. Although they hail from Córdoba, the only large Argentine city we didn’t visit during our time in the country, Luciano and Sol (‘like the sun’) started their ride in Santiago, following the coast road north before cutting inland to Cusco. With their 60-day Peruvian visas soon to expire, the mellow, slightly aloof pair had skipped forward from Lima to Trujillo by bus. They’re planning to cross the border into Ecuador on the coast, near Tumbes, then carry on towards an as-yet-undecided destination in Mexico.
Trujillo, 13, Peru
24 May 2014

 


 

Dominik & Peter (Germany)
Dominik riding from Bucaramanga, Colombia to Buenos Aires, Argentina; Peter riding from Cuenca, Ecuador to Lima, Peru
dominikpeter-1024With Lucho away at a race in Jaén, it was left to us to open the door of his Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo to Dominik (left) and Peter. Like us, they’d chosen to skip the reputedly dangerous stretch of Panamerican Highway between Piura and Trujillo by taking a bus; unlike us, they’re heading south. The first rider we’ve met (other than ourselves) to include Buenos Aires in his itinerary, Dominik’s in for the long haul; his friend and fellow Bavarian Peter is joining him for a stretch in Ecuador and Peru, including a week’s trekking in the Cordillera Blanca. German-speakers can read more at Dominik’s website, osmokack.de. If you’re among them, perhaps you can clear up the mystery of its domain name; when we queried it, Dominik laughed, looked faintly embarrassed and then mumbled that the joke was difficult to explain in English.
Trujillo, 13, Peru
23 May 2014

 


 

Victor (Spain)
riding south through South America
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Luís Ramírez d’Angelo, known to all as Lucho, has been hosting cyclists for nearly 30 years at a capacious building in central Trujillo. There are now a number of similar enterprises – casas de ciclistas, as they’re known – around Latin America. However, Lucho’s place was the first, and is a must-visit for any cicloturista who passes through northern Peru. Indeed, Lucho himself has become something of a legend on the cycle-touring circuit. Quite aside from letting people stay at his place, stories are legion of his kindness and generosity, with him offering everything from safety escorts through dodgy areas to major mechanical assistance.

victorFrom 50-years-and-still-going touring hero Heinz Stücke to our friends Paddy and Laura, every one of the 2,000-plus visitors to Lucho’s casa de ciclistas has signed his guest register. (Ruth had the quirky honour of being the first whose visitor number, 2014, matches the year of her visit.) A few names above ours in the guestbook is that of Victor, a Spaniard with a kindly smile who arrived a few weeks before us and seems to have settled in nicely. However, on the evening we arrived, Victor and Lucho were hurriedly preparing for a trip north to Jaén for a cycling competition, and thus we didn’t get a chance to talk much to either of them. Using the ever-trustworthy Sketchbook Express, Will had a go at representing Victor in electronic pen and paper. We’re duty-bound to report that in real life, he’s at least half as old and twice as handsome as this doodle makes him appear.
Trujillo, 13, Peru
22 May 2014

 


 

Ian & Kate (UK)
riding from Ushuaia, Argentina to Lima, Peru
iankate-1024When we met Marcel (see below), he mentioned that there were a couple of British cyclists about 20km ahead of us. We weren’t sure if we’d catch them, but we trailed their tyre tracks on the tierra for about 75km and wound up next door to each other in the finest – OK, only – lodgings that the one-horse junction town of Chuquicara had to offer. A cheery couple, Ian and Kate have been weaving their way north since November, eating up the tarmac at speed on their road bikes (700c wheels, daringly skinny 28mm tyres) but struggling a bit on some of the scruffier dirt roads. When we met, they were debating what to do with their last three weeks in Peru before they head south to Lima and fly home. Ian’s slightly gritted-teeth grin may be due to the fact that, an hour before this photo was taken, the pair had locked themselves out of their hotel room and still hadn’t managed to get back in.
Chuquicara, 02, Peru
21 May 2014

 


 

Marcel (France)
riding from Quito, Ecuador to Ushuaia, Argentina as part of a much longer world tour
marcel-1024‘He’s travelling light,’ we thought, as we spotted the cyclist in the distance. ‘No front panniers. Maybe a bikepacker.’ But then as we got closer to the mystery rider, us descending the same hill he was climbing, we realised how wrong we were. Un homme gentil, Marcel was the first rider we’ve met to be towing his luggage in a trailer. And what luggage: as he volunteered with a wry, slightly tired smile, his bike, trailer and bags weigh in at a colossal 64kg. It’s not how we’d choose to ride, but Marcel has been doing this long enough to know what makes him happy. Setting out a year ago from his home in the fine city of Toulouse, he rode to Singapore, then took a plane to Quito and started heading south. From Patagonia, he’s planning to fly to New Zealand and carry on from there. You can read more about his journey, and the cause for which he’s nobly riding, at his website.
Cañón del Pato, 02, Peru
21 May 2014

 


 

Juerg & Sabina (Switzerland/New Zealand)
riding from Cartagena, Colombia to La Paz, Bolivia
juergsabine-1024This isn’t Juerg and Sabina’s first cycling trip to South America. Seven or so years ago, they brought their bikes on a ride that included, among other highlights, a haul over the Paso Jama and a trek up to the spectacular Parque Nacional Lauca in northern Chile. In July 2013, they left their New Zealand home and returned to their native Switzerland for a few months, then flew to Bogotá to begin their ride south. Once they’ve made it to La Paz, they’re planning to return to Huaraz, ditch the bikes and spend some time trekking and climbing in this stunning region. Quick to laugh and generous to a fault (when we met at our hostal to trade route tips, they bought the beers), they’re splendid company.
Huaraz, 02, Peru
18 May 2014

 


 

Edwin (Netherlands)
riding from Ushuaia, Argentina to Aruba
edwin-1024On a sunny Sunday morning in Huaraz, Johanne rode out from Santiago’s House with a wave, bound for the coast after months in the mountains. Soon after she left, Edwin arrived. It turned out that the two of them had crossed paths on their respective ways into and out of town, and Johanne had directed Edwin up the hill to what’s generally regarded as Huaraz’s most bike-friendly hostal. Like us, Edwin’s riding north, but he’s making speedier progress: having left Ushuaia in February, he’s ploughed through most of Peru and should be in Ecuador shortly after us. In July 2014, he’s off to Phnom Penh to resume his career as a teacher of epistemology and history. In the meantime, he’s writing about his travels here.
Huaraz, 02, Peru
18 May 2014

 


 

Nathan (UK)
riding from Alaska, USA to Ushuaia, Argentina
nathan-1024As a photograph on his website proves, Nathan hasn’t always sported the epic beard visible in our snapshot. Still, after several years’ road growth, he wears it well, perhaps because one of the few luxuries in his travel-light touring set-up is a brush with which to groom it. Leaving behind a career in TV production, he headed for Alaska four years ago, since when he’s been tracing a long and winding route south towards Patagonia on his Rohloff-equipped Thorn Nomad. His kit has evolved (and shrunk) with his riding philosophy, which now shuns beaten paths in favour of back-country tracks and trails often absent from published maps. A likeable, laconic fellow, he was waiting out a lung infection when we met him in Huaraz; when he’s road-worthy again, he’s planning to continue south in the company of Cherry and Jukka. You can follow his progress at his website.
Huaraz, 02, Peru
11 May 2014

 


 

Alex (Austria)
riding from Ushuaia, Argentina to New York City, USA
alex-1024Alex was one of five cyclists already in residence when we arrived at Santiago’s House, the travelling rider’s hostal of choice in Huaraz, but he’s the only one who, like us, is heading north. He set out quite some time ago from Patagonia and has covered some of the same roads as us on his way north, including large chunks of Ruta 40 in Argentina and the Huallanca-to-Huaraz route mentioned at the end of this post. Like us, he’s also heading for New York City – but with a substantial and slightly eccentric detour via Alaska. A Salzburg native with a wickedly infectious laugh, he’s riding a bike built up around a Tout Terrain Silkroad frame with a Rohloff hub. You can see pictures from his trip on his Flickr page.
Huaraz, 02, Peru
11 May 2014

 


 

Cherry (UK) & Johanne (Belgium)
Cherry riding from California, USA to Ushuaia, Argentina; Johanne riding from Vancouver, Canada to near Santiago, Chile

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Small world. It turns out that cheery Cherry (left, modelling a Ruth-made banana pancake) hails from Hackney; indeed, she used to work on Downs Park Road, no more than two or three strong-armed stone’s throws from Will’s house on Shacklewell Lane. She set off from California on her Surly Long Haul Trucker roughly a year ago, bound for Patagonia. For the last few months, she’s been riding with Johanne (right, with pisco sour), a native of the French-speaking part of Brussels who’s cycling from Vancouver to Chile. Both of them have blogs: Cherry’s is here, while Johanne’s is here. A couple of days after we met at our Huaraz hostal, they headed off with Jukka (see below) on a four-day loop ride into the Cordillera Blanca. Cherry and Jukka were then planning to join Nathan on a challenging back-country route to Huancavelica and Arequipa, while Johanne heads west to Lima and the coast. She’ll be doing so armed with a newly acquired Alpkit down jacket, a victim of Ruth’s increasingly ruthless stuff cull.
Huaraz, 02, Peru
11 May 2014

 


 

Jukka (Finland)
riding from Bogotá, Colombia to Ushuaia, Argentina
jukka-434Jukka started his trek south from Bogotá last year, but his 15,000km-ride through South America looks like a casual warm-down when placed in the context of his earlier six-year, 61,000km odyssey through four continents. Like Nathan, he’s happier on trails than highways, and is the only rider we’ve so far encountered to count among his touring possessions a yoga block. Unfortunately, we forgot to take his picture before he headed off into the Cordillera Blanca with Cherry and Johanne. Ruth refused to provide another of her Sketchbook Express specials (scroll down for a couple of her best works), so Will attempted his own, more minimalist intrepretation. Closer likenesses can be found at Jukka’s own website.
Huaraz, 02, Peru
11 May 2014

 


 

Gaëtan (France) & Sara (Spain)
riding south from Bogotá, Colombia to they don’t know where
gaetansarah-1024Noooooooo!’ roared Will at wake-up-the-neighbourhood volume. The dog skidded to a halt with a whimper. ‘Story of my life,’ came the reply with a chuckle, whereupon Will turned to find Gaëtan and Sara on the other side of the road. Before setting off from Colombia, which they called home for six months, the friendly couple lived in Northern Ireland and – of all places – Ramsgate in Kent, studying and saving money for what looks likely to be a ten-month trip. Travelling light (neither of them has front panniers), they’re riding what Gaëtan described as ‘250-dollar bikes’ with front suspension and, in Gaëtan’s case, two crucial upgrades: Schwalbe tyres; and, zip-tied to the front forks, an improvised holster bought from a plumbing supplies store that provides easy access to a dog-deterring stick. Beats shouting, for sure.
Huanta, 05, Peru
17 April 2014

 


 

Nathan (France)
riding south towards Santiago, Chile
nathan-800Most touring cyclists who pass through Cusco head straight for the Hospedaje Estrellita, one of various cheap and cycle-friendly hostales and hospedajes on the continent that come recommended by the cicloturista grapevine. When Ruth visited the bike shop opposite the Estrellita for some running repairs, then, it was almost inevitable that she’d run into another long-distance rider. Following a major haul around Europe, Frenchman Nathan’s heading for Santiago on a rather circuitous route that Ruth couldn’t quite piece together from their conversation. Our camera was at our hotel when the pair met, but Ruth’s such a dab hand with Sketchbook Express that you’d never know the difference.
Cusco, 08, Peru
14 April 2014

 


 

Danja (USA)
riding from Lima, Peru to she’s not sure where
danja-1024As intrepid cycling writer/photographer Cass Gilbert discovered in 2013, it’s virtually impossible to cycle all the way to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. Like most cicloturistas, we gave in to convention and left our bikes in Ollantaytambo, then took the insultingly expensive tourist train to the gateway town of Aguas Calientes before hiking up to the ruins. However, Atlanta native Danja wasn’t so easily deterred. Will met her in the main square at Ollantaytambo, where she was trying to catch a bus up to Abra Málaga before continuing on a complicated back route that should, con suerte, take her to the site. She started in Lima a month ago with no destination in mind, riding a bike she’s built up herself around a cromoly Kona frame. The most eye-catching part of her set-up, though, is at the back: she’s toting her burdens on an extraordinary homemade rack held together with zip-ties and carabiner clips, rucksacks replacing panniers and a plastic box acting as a rack pack.
Ollantaytambo, 08, Peru
11 April 2014

 


 

Dan & Eva (UK)
riding from El Calafate, Argentina to Cusco, Peru
evadan-1024The spectacular Inca site of Machu Picchu was low on the list of places in which we expected to bump into fellow bike tourists, not least because you can’t get a bicycle within several miles of the site (and many have tried). However, Dan and Eva had clocked Will riding into the nearby town of Ollantaytambo, and introduced themselves when they spotted us roaming the ruins the next day. Like us, they’ve been riding north, but on a very different route: setting off from Patagonia at the start of December, Dan on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and Eva on a Thorn Sherpa, they’ve tackled the Carretera Austral, the hills of Córdoba and the wilds of Bolivia. After 5,000km and just one puncture, fixed with the aid of a football pump emergency-purchased in Potosí, they’re heading home to Brockley in a couple of weeks. It was fun to swap war stories with the first British cyclists we’ve met in the nine months we’ve been on the road.
Machu Picchu, 08, Peru
9 April 2014

 


 

Jorge (Colombia)
riding around the Americas, heading towards Santiago, Chile
jorge-800Jorge came to the rescue of a rather flustered Ruth, who was struggling with a mechanical problem at the end of a wearying journey back to our B&B in the village of Huarocondo. He’s been touring for two years; ‘south, then north, then south’, as he puts it, with his final destination of Santiago mere months away. Pretty much every southbound cyclist we’ve met has described Colombia as their favourite South American country; fair enough, asked Ruth? Perhaps, said Jorge, with a twinkle – but cruelly steep. Ruth forgot to take Jorge’s picture, but hopefully this sketch will suffice.
Huarocondo, 08, Peru
7 April 2014

 


 

Jun (Japan)
riding around the world, ending in Lima, Peru

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On day 262 of our journey, two-thirds of the way up the hill that leads north out of the Peruvian city of Puno, we finally ran into another cicloturista heading in the same direction as us, and at roughly the same speed. When we asked Jun where he’d started, he pulled out a laminated map on which he’s plotted his epic two-year route west through Asia, across Europe and eventually into South America. You can see it in more detail by clicking on the image above and to the right; Japanese-speakers can read more at his blog. We parted ways later that day in Juliaca – only to find, when we arrived at our hostal in Ayaviri the next night, Jun’s titanium-framed bike locked to the stairwell. The following morning, the three of us slogged into a headwind as we tackled the 4,340m Abra La Raya. We enjoyed his company a great deal; maybe we’ll catch up with him again down the road apiece.
Puno, 21, Peru
28 March 2014