Mountain biking in Huaraz

One of the things I’m missing here is my mountain bike and exercise. Throughout Peru and Bolivia I’ve found it hard to do anything other than relax due to the altitude, but since I was coping better I decided to try my hand again in Huaraz.

Since I’d missed the first day by arriving late, I tried to organise something for my second day but none of the shops seemed interested in helping. In the end I took up the offer of a mountain bike from the Hostel for S/20.

The bike was in a horrendous state. The brakes wouldn’t work quite right, the head was knackered and the front wheel rocked badly. The wheels were buckled. It wouldn’t stay in gear… On top of that there was no support, no safety gear, no puncture repair kit… Still, I decided to ride through town to the bus terminal, jumped on the mototaxi to Wilkawain and started the ride up the hill.

In La Paz I tried mountain biking and really struggled with the altitude, here though I was fine and rode up the hill for an hour and a half only occasionally stopping to catch my breath (probably due to lack of fitness now as much as anything). I was even racing Rickshaws (and winning for a period of time) but they didn’t have to worry about fitness so would always overtake and leave me behind.

When I got to the first turning point it was 1500 and I knew I needed to be back in Huaraz for 1600. I’d have loved to have gone further, but prudence dictated I turn back towards town. The road down wasn’t quite single track, but it was brilliant all the same with little bumps, jumps, rocks, gullies, holes… It was a proper adventure and even more so given that bike was in desperate need of destruction!

As I rode down the hill people looked on in astonishment as I flew past. Dogs would start barking and charge at me which caused me to yell out loud to scare them off (I remember what happened in Sorata!) and I just kept going! Cars would get in my way and I’d fly past them.

Eventually I hit town and started crisscrossing the streets exploring as I went. I took my usual approach of riding across things rather than round so took the bike down stairs, through parks… I’m not sure it was an normal thing to have done though as everyone seemed surprised to see me where I was!

I’d love to go back to Huaraz and try some more cycling, but I’d make sure I had a decent bike and at least a helmet!

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