Monday, June 3, 2013

You into bikes, Man?

Ride report - Mike Rowley
The young man walked into the cafe.   “I’m looking for Scott!” he exclaimed.

I was sitting down at a table getting some paperwork done. This gentleman with a stout accent of the northern British Isles continued after I made myself known,” You into bikes, man?”
With a quick confirmation that I was indeed "into" bikes, we started a conversation that went on for quite a while. The conversation consisted of everything from Dakar to Baja and from Honda to Husky; Exciting to say the least.
Then it was onto business. Mike wanted to go on a ride. I wanted to guide him. It was a great piece of chemistry.  We agreed that Monday was the day and the details were hammered out about the meetup time. Meet at The Meeting Place Café at 8:30 and we started with a motohead breakfast, well it was the Scott’s Special…A great concoction to get anyone ready for an unforgettable moto ride.
Off to MotoMission headquarters to gear up and hit the trail. A little prep which consisted of a few finger points to the tops of ridges and peaks while explaining that we are heading to those places. With excitement in Mike’s eyes, we continued. Fitted and ready to go, we looked like a couple of pro racers. Maybe even better…
A couple of minutes later we found ourselves at the bottom of Picol mountain. This is a little hill that tops out at 14385 feet. It is all uphill. No place to catch your breath as if it would even be possible at that altitude. The trail consists of a killer single track laden with views of the valley with Cusco lying on the floor below. Incredible!
As we hammered through the tight switchbacks, the rocky step ups, and the tight blind corners that if missed would toss you a few hundred feet below. It was all good. Once out of breath and unable to go one more revolution of our motors, we stopped to take a break. We were only a third of the way to the top. We decided to take our time going up as we had a lot of riding in our future and did not want to use our energy so early in the morning.
So there we were chipping away at this monster of a mountain. Little by little, each terrace was an obstacle to overcome. Piece by piece we made it to the ridge which then provided at least a trail that was trackable; Should be no problem.
On the ascent, there were numerous obstacles such as the tight switchbacks of the trail, the rain slickened grass, and then of course the decreasing oxygen levels in our blood streams. As we approached the top, we were greeted by an enormous cross at the peak. What a treat to have such a view at the final spot in the trail.
On top of Picol Mountain with Cusco in the valley behind
That may have been the final spot of that trail, but our day was only beginning. I was able to show Mike the basic ridges and route that we would soon take. With our breath caught, we mounted up and bombed down the sketchy mountain that was steep and riddled with obstacles. Once back to the road at the bottom, Mike and I rode a minute or two to the base of another amazing part of the day. I call it the Enaco ridge. I am not sure if there is a real name, but that is what I call it. With an incredible hill climb full of rock, terraces, and rutted out washes, we made it to the top which is where we found an inviting single track that ran us along a ridge with Cusco city on the left, way down and on the left, and Corrau on the right, even further down and to the right. Mike was all smiles as he rode the ridge on top of the world.
Once at the end of the Enaco trail, we dropped into Corrau, then up another mountain full of switchbacks, mudpits, single track hill climbs, and just plain fun two track with no shortage of views. At the top of the route, we crested the hill to find a pristine lake nestled in a high grassy valley. It was a great place to take a breather as we were at a pretty high pass and a bit winded.
From the lake, we headed down a single track route to the town of K’enko. To get to this tiny little pueblo, one has to travel down a section of rock that challenges the best of riders. With stair step after stair step of off kilter rocks, we arrived at the tiny town. We passed through and found ourselves cresting the top of the Sacred Valley of the Inkas.  With a little bit more trail behind us, we came to another small community where we were greeted by a handful of kids that wanted to check out our cool bikes. As we stopped for a spell, the kids made it perfectly clear that there was no passage on the route that we would soon be taking to reach the Sacred Valley floor.
It sounded like more of a challenge to Mike and I. Who says there is no passage? They must not be talking about us. Off we went with a bunch of kids and townspeople expecting to see us again in pretty short order.
As we headed down the trail, we came to a few simple obstacles wondering if they were the ones the townsfolk were talking about. After a short little bit of riding, there was no question.
We came to a number of landslides that were certainly challenging obstacles. Much of our time was spent navigating five of these nerve wracking challenges. With the first four of them behind us, we were sure there could not be any more in our schedule. While we were grossly incorrect, we came upon the biggest and most challenging of them all. We arrived, hopped off the bikes to take a look, and quickly found that we had a tough job ahead of us. We scoped out the options of going high, low, and even hopped back on the bikes and rode to the top of the slide to see if there was another route around the obstacle. We decided that hitting it head on would be the best bet.
We both agreed on the strategy. We would build a steep hill climb on the edge of the slide to get the bikes as high as possible. With the height advantage, we would have a bit more contingency space if we ended up sliding down the sandy crevice.  Mike agreed to have me drive the bikes, while he found good footing to help catch the bike in the event of problem.
With our little path as good as it could get, I jumped on the first bike and made a circle as I bounced motivational messages around the inside of my helmet.  I was ready for Mike to catch me. Blipping the throttle with a good chunk of power, I reared down on the back of the seat as the suspension smashed down with a heavy batch of traction. Up the route I went to the bailout point. A good high side and I came to rest with the bike between my legs, Mike with a relieved type of smile, and a really difficult finish to this predicament we had just entered.
Mike attached the tow strap to the front of the bike while I agreed to help push the bike. With just a thought of beginning, the bike began to slide down the loose dirt and rock only to get hung up on the handlebar and Mike’s pressure on the strap. We got it under control, but found ourselves quite low on the slide with very little room for another one of those events. Somehow, we were able to shimmy across the remaining 15 feet of the slide with bike in hand and good health. Then we were onto the next bike.
With a bit of experience under our belts, we thought that it would be better to go even higher. That took a bit more power, but it seemed to work out fine. While we began to traverse the second bike across the slide, it also began to slide. Just like the first. This one was just a bit higher on the hill. No problem!
We were able to get things under control and get the bike to safety. With a short break to catch up on our breath, a quick drink of water, and a short going over our bikes for damage,  we mounted up.
We were only about 4 hours late for lunch and the joke became that we could not wait for lunch and that we needed to get dinner instead.
Down to the valley below, only to pass by a group of people that happened to be watching us try to kill ourselves on the slide above their farm. It was an interesting conversation, but they seemed to be smiling…My guess is that they thought we might be idiots. No worries…we were hungry. To the bottom of the valley we came. A mile or two on the highway to arrive in Pisac and to The Blue Llama for a great pot roast dinner with mashed potatoes and a cold Powerade; just what we needed.
It was getting dark and we were absolutely exhausted. We still had a few more miles to go to get to the ridge trail that dropped us into our neighborhood. We chose to ride the pavement up the road for about 10 miles back to the town of Corrau. From there, we jumped back on the trail for a night ride single track down the first trail we had traveled just 8 hours previously. With the beauty of the lights of Cusco glaring below, we arrived back to MotoMission headquarters with everything intact, a little gas in the tank, and a cheese eating grin that only could mean one thing…That was a great ride!

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