Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cross the Peruvian Andes Mountains

I had just crossed the highest ridge of the Andes Mountains. My route now would turn north to follow along parallel to the slopes. During the next four days I traveled through the mining country past the towns of Cerro de Pasco (elevation 12,000’) and toward the jungle city of Tingo Maria. There are still many demanding climbs as the road meandered from 10,000 to 13,000 feet elevation several times. The road was perfectly paved during this 200 mile section. Once a year the bicycle club from Lima has a road race through this area. It would be a fun and challenging route for a future PAC Tour road bike tour.

The landscape is similar to being above the tree line in the United States. Lots of barren rocky hillsides. The sporadic tufts of grass looked like bald man’s hair with a bad comb over. Just when I thought the mountains were drab and sterile I would drop into a lush farming valley. The terraced flower farms going into Tarma are famous in Peru. There were more hairpin turns than I could count in fifteen miles. It must have taken farmers hundreds of years to level the fields and move all the rocks that now make giant staircases up the mountain.

The nice thing about cycling in Peru is that bicycles receive equal respect on the road. Motorists are used to seeing herds of sheep, hand carts and pedestrians on the road. Everybody still needs to be careful because oncoming vehicles in your lane expect you to yield to them. The reverse is also true when I had vehicles pass me with plenty of room to spare they almost hit oncoming traffic in the other lane. During all my bicycle travels I never had any motorist act like bicycles didn’t belong on the road.

When I reached Tingo Maria 200 miles further north I was entering the jungle region. I had dropped down to almost 3,000 feet. I still needed to get north to the town of Tarapoto to scout the jungle routes for our tour. There were limited villages the next 300 miles. The guide books warned tourists not to travel the one lane mud road because of possible military rebels and drug dealers. Since I was running short of time I decided to load my bike onto one of the 4 wheel drive pick-up trucks that transport passengers through the jungle.

To contact Lon by e-mail use:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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is extremely useful and essential for me!With the best regards!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Web said...


It sounds as if you've had some extraordinary tours in South America. Are you doing this one in preparation for a coming group tour?

I'd like to post something about your experiences on with a link to your blog so my readers can learn more. FYI, most of my readers are recreational cyclists, commuters or folks into health, fitness, outdoors or travel so I'm sure they'd be interested in reading about your tour.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.

12:11 PM  

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