Forget the Olympics! In the history of human endeavour July 2012 will be marked not by beach volley-ballers bearing their collective firm buttocks for country and ratings or synchronized swimmers doing whatever the hell it is they do for reasons that still elude this author. It will, rather, record that on the 27th of July it is now one year since I pedaled out of Deadhorse Alaska. It might therefore be an opportune time to reflect on the year that has passed and some of the things that this road south has taught me. In no particular order:
– The Dalton Highway in Alaska is a great road to ride once per lifetime.
– Alaska seems a nice place to just go and get crazy, literally.
– SPAM in a conveniently sized plastic packet has to be one of the innovations of the decade.
– Vancouver girls should wear yoga pants if they want;
– The most civilized establishment in north America is the cinema in Oregon that serves you pizza and craft beer.
– Oregon is the coolest place for great craft beer and bicycling culture.
– “We don’t need no stinkin’ bad cheese” (Post 19) has to be the worse pun in the known world.
– No one ever improved a banana by frying it (Colombia).
– Veracruz has the best tacos in the world.
– The Peruvian Andes take the prize for gob-smacking scenery.
– Colombia and Oregon vie for the prize of cool cycling and cool people award.
– Peru and Honduras vie for the prize of ‘most irritating roadside people’.
– Hardest riding has to be the highland Andes route through northern Peru.
– One of the happiest moments would have to be getting through that river in Peru the other week.
– Never try to cycle with a welt on your right buttock.
Two days north of Ayacucho I had awful dirt road with fine dust on a layer of sharp rocks. I thanked the Great Lord Harry for a half-moon that shone a welcome dull light onto the road as the map and bikeroutoaster program again proved inaccurate leaving me a bonus 17 km to get to the village of Mayocc and, as an added bonus, a rear flat 15km out. So it became quite a ride of 117km and I put it right out there to get to the very plain village and its restaurant/knocking shop with lovely chicken & rice, soup, beer, and some banter about being single and needing a Peruvian scrubber girlfriend. The road was an absolute shocker all day with the fine dust getting kicked up with each passing vehicle. As night came it was almost a blessing not to be able to see the bloody thing properly as I gallantly pedaled on into the night.
Happily ensconced in the $4 room for the night I must remember to ask if the electrician referred to the ISO9001 standards when installing the electrical wiring in my hospedaje.
Since the morning of my leaving Huanuco, have had the unexpected experience of actually meeting fun and engaging Peruvians (they had to be somewhere). Even in the midst of a double puncture repair this afternoon, the family that gathered to watch the gringo curse and sweat and have his legs bitten by some nasty little bugs, were cheery, something that has been sadly lacking to date.
There is supposed to be a gastronomic festival in Ayacucho this weekend. Given that Peruvians seem to default to chicken and chips at any opportunity there have to be some pretty nervous chickens in the vicinity. Ayacucho has a bustling and energetic city centre with loads of young people buying cell phones and pizza. It’s a great place for a day’s rest and recharge the batteries for the passes to come between here and Cuzco. A plethora of dentists (no idea why) is just too tempting so stop into one for a clean and polish.