I skipped 20 kilometres.
You may well ask. Out of 30000km (or whatever on earth it is), who really cares? Surely doing 99.99% is good enough?
Not for a long distance cyclist it isn’t; skipping even small parts of a trip is a surprisingly hard pill to swallow. Due to the same stubborn mentality that enables him (or her) to get so far in the first place. It’s his anal disciplined self wanting to reach his target; right to the very illogical end when it doesn’t really make sense. Cycling a heavily transited road when it’s clearly grimly dangerous can be described as a good idea under very few circumstances. It’s not even fun. It’s like forcing yourself to do 10 reps instead of 9 at the gym, even though there’s a good risk of injury. Don’t do 10; stop at 9. Do what’s good enough.
Then there is something called opportunity cost. Time is not limitless and we do not have nearly enough time in our lives to do everything we want. So we have to make trade offs.That time spent riding a dull dangerous road could be costing you the opportunity to ride a fantastic landscape a few days (or even months) later. Is it really worth riding every centimetre to then miss out on a classic like the salt plains of Bolivia, climbing Chimborazo mountain or riding across the Atacama desert? The world is full of Chimborazos and Bolivian salt plains. We don’t have nearly enough time to do them all so don’t waste it doing something less rewarding because of some dogmatic self-inflicted idea.
The same philosophy can perhaps be applied to other aspects of life; for example should we really bother finishing an above average book when there are so many life changing books out there to read? Just to tick that box. Spending your time in an average manner comes at a cost of missing out on something great. It’s effects are insidious. Sometimes it’s only when we start running out of time that we start to emotionally realise the time that we’ve wasted. A bit like climate change, only when it’s too late will we realise.
And so, my personal rule is to not ride a road if it is heavily transited / dangerous or just pointless.
Against all expectations, I managed to follow my own rule by taking the bus from Chosica to get back up into the mountains on the Carretera Central. The road is grim with traffic, why cycle it? There’s too many other good things going on in this world. My cycle started again at Rio Blanco, 20 kilometres from where I had deviated from the Pikes route a few weeks before by heading down to Lima (check out this post for more).
I was cautious with acclimatisation, even though I’d spent months at higher altitudes before my trip to the 100 metre high Amazon. My next few days would see me at passes up to 5000 metres. A night in San Mateo and a relatively easy first day helped ease me back in. From San Mateo I caught a colectivo (shared ride) to Rio Blanco.
After cycling for half an hour I stopped to eat and had the sudden hideous realisation that I’d left my one small rear pannier bag somewhere. My passport was in there but (more importantly) it also contained lots of chocolate. I thought I may have left it in the long gone colectivo. With a certain amount of self loathing I cycled back down what I’d just climbed. It was a painful moment, being so absurdly far behind schedule I had been keen to make good progress that day. Passing from the bright daylight into two long tunnels I found myself blinded by darkness. Not a pleasant moment, with trucks and an invisible rocky sharp wall to contend with. Suddenly the pannier seemed a bit less important.
Incredibly it was still sitting in the carpark where I left it, passport ‘n’ all; I took another colectivo back up to Rio Blanco and set off for the second time at high speed (relatively). Similar to the scene in Chariots of Fire when our hero is pushed over only to have an almighty comeback.
It took me 5 more days to get to Huancavelica on the Pikes route; another Peruvian epic. Here are some of the photos.
In all it took me five and a half days to get Huancavelica. It felt good to get there and, with a well valued polleria at virtually every corner (8 soles for a quarter of chicken and chips), I immediately set about eating my body weight in chicken meat. Something which I think I achieved over the next three days. Topping each meal off with a cake from the epic Huancavelica cake shop. Not a recommendable diet.
Writing this in Cusco. Time for a 1/4 of chicken and chips…
Find the route here on the andesbybike.com website.