Distance – 88km
After spending two days in Cusco preparing for the journey ahead, I thought Javier, my camera operator and support driver for the Peruvian section of the expedition, were well-organised. However, by the time we’d filmed a few scenes around the city centre, packed, picked up the hire car and set off it was already 10.30am.
The city was built long before there was a need for streets and, as a result, the city centre is a maze of narrow one-way cobblestone streets – very charming to walk around, but a nightmare for vehicles. Our B&B was on one of these narrow streets, so to load the vehicle, Javier had to stop the car in the lane and we loaded as quickly as possible while the traffic built up behind us. He then had to move on while I had to wait for the traffic to clear before I could start.
We both had the route marked on our maps, but when I turned into the street, Javier had been forced to move on. I continued on the agreed route, having lost Javier and assumed we would soon meet up once we’d navigated the laneways.
The only way out of Cusco is up and in chaotic traffic. Starting at around 3,350m elevation on the cobbles, it was a lung-busting start. I continued but regularly stopped to check my route and wondered where Javier was. The GPS on my SPOT tracker did not seem to be registering. I continued, up and up, winding through the outer suburbs. By the time we found each other – thank goodness for WhatsApp – we’d lost almost two hours. Javier’s pick-up couldn’t fit through one of the narrow streets. He then had got stuck with the one-way systems and inaccurate maps.
The episode was a wake-up call that we had to ensure our communication systems worked a little better. We kept together for the remainder of the day and stuck to the less-direct main route rather than taking the quieter bicycle route.
Out of the city, I had another 6km climb up to Chinchero (3808m) before gradually dropping through beautiful verdant green mountains, lakes and agricultural land. Due to the slow start, we had to keep moving for the rest of the day to get to Ollantaytambo before dark.
Although the climbs were intense, I reaped the rewards on the level ground and downhills – I could hardly believe the scale and beauty of this dramatic, fertile landscape.
By the time I arrived at our destination, Ollantaytambo, the altitude had dropped down to 2800m. As the town is the point where people can take the train to Machu Picchu, and it has adjacent to another Inca archeological site, the beautiful town is buzzing with tourists, mostly travelling to and from one of the seven New Wonders of the World.
Day 1 was incredible eventful but totally rewarding. I was pleased that we made it in good time (once we got going) and excited to be visiting Machu Picchu, a place I have dreamed of visiting for a long time.
Nick Nicholas says
I presume Kate you are on route to Antarctica? All the very best of luck to you and your incredible bike adventures where ever you are!
BTW Jen and I walked up to Machu Picchu .. do that if you have time … unforgettable.
Cheers Nick and Jenny Nicholas
Roland Scollay says
Good luck for it all. Fabulous scenery, but tough riding.
LINDSEY TESTER says
Off again! you make me feel weak at the knees! Hope yours hold out! Have a wonderful trip, stay safe. Your first 2 days brought memories flooding back when Geoff and I visited the same area before driving over the Andes and down into the Manu national park to see giant otters.
I will enjoy your blogs.
All the best. XX Lindsey.
Hugh and boys.
Dick Friend says
Excellent photographs, Kate, as well as reporting.
Our 2019 memories of Cusco, the salt mines, Machu Pichu,… flood back, but your resolution (photographic & in physical commitment) is outstanding.
Just returned from paddling kayaks on Lake Pedder in SW Tasmania, raising the profile of the “Restore Pedder” campaign – but your feats Pedalling far exceed my Paddling!
Eagerly await progress reports!
You legend Kate. What an amazing demonstration of tenacity and power of spirit. Sending you best wishes over the airwaves and continued fun and adventure🙌🌟👊💪👏👏👏