In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Monday, 12 March 2012

You Dont Mess With the Andes.

Of course I was naïve to think that because I had climbed to 4300mtrs then I was up and it must be plane sailing from here. No, we are talking about the Andes not an alp in Europe were you zoom up 20kms and then down again for a coffee and ice cream at the village below. O and I’ll have a 5star room with a hot shower to go with that. None of that here. Once I’d crested the saddle the road did go down to Puglio and I did get a hostal with a warm shower of sorts.

I think it’s good at times not knowing what’s ahead because if I knew what I was in for riding the next day I would have thrown in the towel right then. Adi had on my schedule to ride 150kms because there’s not much in between. And it was a plateau. She had the nothing much in between part right but it wasn’t a plateau. I started the day climbing for 60kms without a break. Had some soup at a restaurant shack and then climbed for another 15kms before I sort of plateaued onto the alto Plano. The trouble was up there once again at 4500mtrs a bit of foul weather I did meet. I won’t beat about the bush; I thought I was going to die from exposure. And if there had been a truck or two going in my direction I would have flagged them done. But there wasn’t. I somehow managed to get my woolly gloves, hat, two plastic jackets and tights on. Before heading on into the storm I also managed to let rip with the runs which won’t wait for anyone. Nothing like a summer holiday on the bike, aye. After 77kms I knew I had to stop in the next village or die on the alto Plano. It was just a farmers village stone huts and not much else. I went into the food/ store building and asked for hot coffee and lots of it. It was freezing. I then asked if there was a hostal in town. Of course there wasn’t. I insisted and they showed me the room next door that they kept lama skins and lama wool in. Any port in a storm. I was so relieved. I wouldn’t die of exposure tonight. I threw a heap of skins on the concrete floor and then put the tent up on those. I then threw a heap of dusty lama wool into the tent and snuggled up to all that. It was at that instant that I realised I was sharing my room with a dog and cat both of which had the same idea as me, warmth.

I lay in my tent for an hour or so until my shivering had died down and then one of the Peruvian children came over and said they could make me rice and fish for dinner which was nice. I went next door and there were six Peruvian road workers sitting around a table drinking what looked like ginger ale and they offered me a cup and bottle of the stuff. Naturally I filled it up and they all went Woo! It was not beer or ginger ale but some kind of hot really alcoholic drink! Just what I needed to warm me and take away the (what the hell were you thinking Niel when you said you’d do this).
The Flash from the Camera makes it look Inviting.

I chatted to the road guys but could get no idea what was ahead along the road. I also chatted to the woman who ran the home and the kids they were all really friendly. I have to say the Peruvians are really friendly people.

I went back to my lama room and had an ok night thanks to all the dusty and slightly wiffy skins. I couldn’t hear any sleet on the tin roof so thought maybe conditions had improved and I might get some sun in the morning.

I awoke to an alpine scene. And not one of those pretty European scenes where the snow is happily melting under a blue sunny sky. This was a white out scene. White angry sky, white mountains and white road. Shit, I didn’t sign up for this!

I just packed up my stuff and was off by 8am. I didn’t ask for breakfast because it would be a plateau and then down to the next town (right Adi, my course planner), and also because it would just be too hard with my lack of the lingo. FOURTY kilometres later and I’m still climbing in the snowy surroundings and freezing wind (not a tail wind by the way). Then for another 30kilometres I’m going down only to have to climb up again to the next ridge. But then at the 70 km mark the road finally drops of the tops and plummets into the valley for 50kms. The river is wild and now it’s raining but the snow has gone and the town I’ve arrived in actually has a hostal and restaurants. I even manage to send Adi an email from the internet shop. But the keyboards are all worn off so it’s so frustrating for a computer beginner like me.

Tomorrows ride is supposed to be just down the valley for 120kms. I know it won’t be that easy. But if it is, I deserve it.


  1. Go you good thing. You got bigger balls than me taking this on.
    Hardship and all I still envy you.
    Fantastic blogs, keep it going and show the others the KIWI way.
    Aaron & Trudy (ex Nelsonians)

  2. Really enjoying the blogs.
    I admire what you are doing.

    Nelson cyclist

  3. Hi Neil,Not sure of your exact route but once you get back down to a lower altitude the temperature is going to pick up.You will have more enegy.Your stomach problems are likely to get better.The rainy season is coming to a close,Look out for Hostejades (sp) they can be pretty cheap.Some of the Hotels are cheap in Bolvia and you can the price down a bit if they are quite. The people in the country places have nothing but like you say are very friendly. Keep your chin up its not easy at times.You got in and out of Lima so you did bloody well.I'll visit Adi when I get back to NZ. Rob.You don't need to reply.

  4. Well done Niel, some of your x-customers are asking after you. You have proven once again that you have got what it takes. Best of luck, we are all thinking of you. Life wasn't meant to be easy was it! Cheers from the Stewarts A+ team in Nelson.

    1. Wow Niel that Alpine scene is amazing and what is more amazing is that you cycled through that snow. You certainly must have big Kahunas. Hope the roads have been tilting downward for you and the wind has been at your back now.
      Keep it up I am enjoying the blogs good reading following your progress.

    2. Thanks everyone for your positive comments I really appreciate them. The Andes have been really tough. My face is a mess the skin is hard brown, flacking and dry from the cold dry air and fierce sun. Have given up wearing the helmet because it offers no shade protection. my main guard is lots of Nivea cream and sun cap. Niel

    3. Will try to communicate better with everyone when i finally get off the high plateau and things get a bit easier. Best wishes to all my old customers and staff at the bike shop. Niel