<img src="/images/14229-13631/road.jpg” border=”0″ width=”600″>
The ledge of a road that carved its way through the Peruvian Andes between Ayacucho and Abancay was the most gravity-defying stretch of the trip. The route was too narrow for buses or trucks, which was fantastic. (We ended up taking a road marked as a thin gray line on our map that ran parallel to the “main” gravel road). The downside (literally) was that one mistake could send you over the edge and into the abyss. It’s hard to describe the magnitude of the altitude changes, and the pictures hardly do it justice. We would switch-back our way up the side of a mountain for hours, gaining dizzying views of narrow valleys beneath us. Then the road would turn and instead of looking down from above we would be on the floor of a higher valley itself surrounded by towering Andes. The road seemed to just ascend indefinitely.
It was on this narrow gravel road that we overtook a group of mountain bikers. I had been starting to feel fatigued from a hard days’ ride, but I realized I had no right to complain when I saw people riding pedal bikes on the same stretch of road. It turned out it had taken them over 3 days to cover the same distance that we had traversed in just a few hours. The mountain bikers included a husband and wife, Oliver and Chloe, who were both medical doctors from France. They had been riding around the world for the past year and a half after having completed their training. They had started in France and had already crossed Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. They were now crossing South America from west to east. Their plan was to then cross to South Africa and return home to France through Africa over the course of the next year. They planned to be on the road for total of 2.5 years.
I have been following their travels on their website http://www.bicyclettesnomades.com/and am happy to report that they are now in Brazil. They have wonderful pictures posted of their trip. In particular, I recommend looking at their pictures of Peru http://www.bicyclettesnomades.com/photos-perou.asp.
<img src="/images/14229-13631/nomades600.jpg” border=”0″ width=”600″>
Left to Right: Oliver, Benjamin (Chloe’s brother, joining the couple for a few weeks), Chloe, and Ricardo (a friend from Peru joining them for a week).