Man Down!
Cajamarca District

October 31 – November 3, 2016

Andrew and I hopped back on the bikes after a week resting with friends. We knew we had some big mountain passes ahead and I for one was looking forward to it.

Cycling Stats

October 31, 2016
Start Point: Chachapoyas, Amazonia, Peru
End Point: Leymebamba, Amazonia, Peru
84 km distance, 5:28 time on bikes, 52.3 km/h maximum speed, 15.3 km/h average speed

November 1, 2016
Start Point: Leymebamba, Amazonia, Peru
End Point: MOFN, Amazonia, Peru
34.7 km distance, 5:22 time on bikes, 33.6 km/h maximum speed, 6.4 km/h average speed

November 2, 2016
Start Point: MOFN, Amazonia, Peru
End Point: MOFN, Cajamarca, Peru
67.2 km distance, 4:21 time on bikes, 42.8 km/h maximum speed, 15.4 km/h average speed

November 3, 2016
Start Point: MOFN, Cajamarca, Peru
End Point: Celendin, Amazonia, Peru
45.5 km distance, 5:50 time on bikes, 49.1 km/h maximum speed, 7.7 km/h average speed

Accommodations & Route Information

October 31, 2016
You start the day with 16 kilometres of downhill where you descend 1000 meters in elevation. This is a paved road with no shoulder and it’s a road that isn’t really designed for two cars in either direction; it’s more like 1.5 lanes. There was not much traffic. After the downhill you you follow the river for 50 kilometres which seemed mostly flat however in fact you end up climbing back up the 1000 meters you dropped at a very gradual grade. At the town of Yerberbena at the 65K mark there is a hostel and at 74K there is a hospedaje. The last 3K of the day is steeper as you climb up into the town of Leymebamba. There are 5 hotels. We paid 35 soles and didn’t have time to check the prices of the other hotels as we wanted to see the museum. The hotel said it had hot water, but in fact it didn’t. There are a few stores along the way and some stores and restaurants in Leymebamba.

November 1, 2016
This entire day is climbing. Right from the moment you leave the town. Again it is a road for traffic in two directions with really only 1.5 lanes wide. Traffic was very light and the road is paved. The grade isn’t too bad and just consistent climbing, no downhills at all. There is a spot to wild camp at about 17K out of town and beyond that nothing until the top which is 3600 meters in elevation. It is windy and cold at the top. We opted to try and find something a bit out of the wind and ended up riding down the other side for 5K and slept under the road beside a drain pipe.

November 2, 2016
The road starts with 60 kilometres of downhill. It really is all downhill and paved and incredible views. We did not encounter any cars in our direction for 50K. The town at the bottom of the hill is a shit hole. There are a couple of restaurants with sketchy food and some small stores to buy junk, but really any place to buy good food. We couldn’t even find bread. It’s also very hot down by the river at 840 meters elevation. The water from the taps was very murky and we treated it and it still tasted like shit. We left town and started the climb back up. 5K out of town there is a flat area that you could camp, however it was hot and we opted to continue. We rode another 10K to climb over 1000 meters in elevation and camped by a farm with permission from the workers.

November 3, 2016
Again the road is paved the whole way with light traffic. There was only one store along the way about 5K after we started riding where we bought bottled water as the water from the river town was awful. You climb over 1700 meters on this day for 32 kilometres. The highest elevation is 3122 meters. Then you descend about 15K to the town of Celendin. There are lots of hotels, stores and restaurants. The climb on this day wasn’t difficult as the grade is quite gradual. The switchbacks are huge sweeping roads that are super scary with their big drops off the mountainside.

What happened…

Amanda writes: Our first day back on the bikes, while exciting was a bit sad. Philip and Nici are so much fun to travel with and it was hard to leave them behind. I really am holding on to the hope that we will be able to cycle with them again. And failing that we’re going to Austria to visit them. Good peeps those two and I wish them healthy days ahead. The ride out of Chachapoyas was great because it was downhill for the first while and then relatively flat. After the first day we knew we had some big climbs and big descents so it was a great way to ease back into peddling. As we cycled along for the few days I was really able to take in the vastness of the mountains and the remoteness of the communities.

Maybe because Andrew isn’t blogging right now I’m really being very thoughtful as to what I write. I mean I always have but I’ve been thinking about what I want to remember about this time in my life and what I want to share. We’ve always had a tendency to write about ourselves and how we’re feeling. Sure we also talk about our surroundings and provide pictures to try and capture it, but when people ask me ‘what’s the best part of traveling?’, my answer is always; the people. So then I wonder why aren’t I talking more about the people we see?

In these remote parts of Northern Peru I’ve noticed more women in the fields working. They wear their traditional dress of 3 skirts (no lie), a huge tall hat on their head, a blouse and then a wool shawl to keep them warm. It’s not men in the fields, it’s women. And when we roll into towns the women are usually on the porch or steps knitting. We asked a cab driver about it and he was pretty clear that yes, women knit; men do not. Period. I know some people that knit at home, but it certainly isn’t as common as it once was. It’s great to see more women interacting in public than in other Latin American countries.

I’ve also taken notice of how simply people live in these parts. They either have a wooden home, often times without windows or a home made from mud or dirt in the dry regions. They hang their clothes on their fences or on their porches and they congregate on the front steps chatting. 99% of the time we get a hello and a wave and the other 1% people just stare. They’re often very confused by what the heck we’re doing just riding through some back road in their little community. I’m envious of the simplicity and how content they seem. They have their family and their land, and huge smiles.

Today’s Photographs

Man Down!
Cajamarca District