A pale gray dusts hides loose rocks on the road through the Rio Santa canyon in Northern Peru. A cliff into the river and a nearly vertical desert rock wall are it’s boundaries. Only a one lane tunnel allows passage in thirty-seven places.
Our narrow tandem tires cut into the dust and bounce and slide from one auto-tire slickened rock to another. We hope to avoid the shattered and sharpened hidden ones, capable of ruining our day, and one of our tires. We have one spare, and wonder if we should not have brought two. A few times a particularly vile rock (by the second day I was attributing evil intent to certain rocks) would throw the front wheel toward the abyss, necessitating a dual bail out.
All this is more than a little stressful. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for Claire on the back of the tandem, not being able to see what is causing the bumping and swerving (and not a little cursing).
The two days along this road were among the most physically demanding of 40,000 miles of touring, and yet I am beginning to let go of memories of aching shoulders and hands, and the mental exhaustion. Claire said I would. And she said I would probably get us into something just as bad in the future. She’s usually right. But maybe not this time. Maybe I’ve learned it’s possible to have an adventure without such a high degree of physical punishment. I think so.
I call on my friends to remind me to come back and read this post, if I seem to be hankering for something absurdly difficult, and not hearing Claire’s subtle hints that it might be over the top. That’s what friends are for.
I won’t forget the stark beauty of the desert Andes and the Rio Santa, our star lit bush camp, the Southern Cross sinking behind a knife edge ridge, leaving us with a cool restful sleep.
Claire Rogers writes on cross-cultural adventure drawn from her travels across the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, around Australia and of course, through Iceland–all by bike.
She’s currently traveling by tandem with her husband Bob, through southwest China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Check out NewBohemians.net for more information on their travels.