Thinking of going for a bike ride in Peru, but not sure of the best route? This is the man to take you there!
I know nothing about cycling in Peru, or anywhere else in South America for that matter. Do they even have bikes in Peru? How about roads? Isn’t it all llamas and mules and men in ponchos playing El Condor Pasa?
Aren’t there crazy drivers in ancient buses with no brakes, hurtling around hairpin bends and placing their trust in the crucifixes swinging merrily from the bracket where the rear vision mirror used to be?
Things are rather better organised than that, according to Rudy and Louise, whose company runs guided cycling tours through the country.
Rudy is a native Peruvian, Louise a New Zealander with many years experience as a tramping and cycling guide in Kiwiland. I’ve been riding for six days with them through the South Island on an Adventure South excursion and can vouch for the fact that they understand bikes, handle tour organisation with gentle efficiency and are great company.
‘All travellers know about Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail,’ says Louise, ‘but apart from those spots being very busy, there are lots of other things to do in Peru.’
It’s been a steep learning curve for Rudy, who had never ridden a bike until he came to New Zealand. ‘The first day, we ride 100km,’ he says, ‘then we climb the (1100m) Crown Range. Oh, my God!’
Four years later, he now enjoys cycling as much as the trekking guiding he also does. He and Louise work the summer season guiding in New Zealand, then around May each year they head back to Peru.
Cycle Peru leads small group tours on a fleet of Specialized mountain bikes ‘with mechanical brakes,’ says Louise, ‘Hydraulic disc brakes sound good, but they can develop air bubbles at altitude.’ Who would have thought of that? A bit of local knowledge is always useful before you head downhill in the Andes.
Although it helps to be in good shape, you don’t need to be a super athlete to enjoy the ride. They aim to cater for various levels of fitness and ability, riding partly on sealed roads, partly on gravel, typically covering about 50km a day. A support bus carries gear and picks up anybody who’s had enough for the day. Accommodation is generally in 3-star hotels, and there is also the opportunity for homestays to meet locals and share a little of their lives.
It sounds fantastic – I’d love to do it some time!
To visit their Cycle Peru website, CLICK HERE.