Sunday, September 8, 2013

McDonald Ride Report

McDonald Ride Report
It was early Sunday Morning as I left the house to pick up Scott at his hotel in the center of Cusco. As I arrived to the hotel, there stood a bright eyed bearded young man waiting on an adventure that he will not soon forget. Into the car we went to return to the international headquarters of MotoMission.
It was there that the real tour started. My youngest daughter, Kayle, was waiting with hot waffles and fresh sweet cream setting on the table. As we sat down to enjoy the culinary delights of a sweet 12 year old, Scott and I discussed some of the details of the trip. What a great way to get ready for an adventure!
After stuffing our faces, we geared up, orientated the bikes, and made a few final adjustments. We were ready for the trail. It was a two day trip with the first day destination of Lares, a small community high up in the Andes Mountains. The day started with a very technical section of hill climb single track. It was really a test for me to know if Scott could handle the trail that was to come. Well, Scott passed the test. He started off a bit shaky, but I could tell that he would warm up soon and be able to handle the tougher sections up the trail. As we climbed up the base of Picol Mountain, we rapidly reached the trail to the town of Ccorau. A few minutes ride down to the valley floor we reached Ccorau and then off to the other side of the mountains. Climbing up the dozens of switchbacks, we reached the final ridge to come into view of a beautiful mountain lake surrounded with huge Andes ridges and peaks. Breathtaking to say the least! It was there that the route became a tight single track trail and our smiles permeated from one side of our helmets to the other.
A distinct walking trail that is daily used to get locals from one side of the ridge to the next was just waiting for our arrival. Down the trail we went as we encountered incredible views of which we could enjoy only for moments between the tight turns, rocks, and other obstacles. It was shortly thereafter that the toughest section of trail was encountered. It was a rocky terraced foot trail filled with more rocks than a quarry. In fact, the trail was lined with stacked rocks that came from somewhere, but apparently not the trail itself. This section put Scott at the limits of his abilities and gave me something to film as I watched him navigate the hundreds of rocky terraced steps. Scott worked his way down through the obstacles with grace. No wrecks, although I thought there were going to be a few.
Into the town of E’nko we arrived to a bunch of wonderful townsfolk excited to see some crazy adventurers in their town. We chatted for a bit and shook hands. Then it was off to the town of Coylla via a long and gnarly batch of switchbacks that took us to the bottom of the Sacred Valley of the Inka’s. It was there we crossed the bridge over the Urubamba River and headed towards Lamay for a nice plate of fresh trout and Chicheron (fried pork) and a little bit of a break.
After lunch it was a fun and fast ride to the town of Lares where we were greated by a plaza full of hustle and bustle. We made arrangements at one of the finest places in town that was not even up the standards of the cheapest hotel in any bad town in the US. However, there were not a whole lot of options and so we were satisfied. We then asked for the directions to the Lares Hot Springs, which is just what a couple of dirt bikers needed after a long day of riding. Off to the springs we rode.
It was there that the one star hotel was quickly forgotten and the steamy heated mineral water began to sink deep into the pores of our skin. We soaked for a good hour or two before pruning up and the desire for a good meal overcame our need for warmth. Back to the little town of Lares to find a place to eat. The group of young boys that greeted us was a perfect group to ask about a good polleria(chicken place). They agreed to guide us to the Polleria, but we had to take them on the bikes; A small price to pay for a good chicken joint.
Complete with Smackdown on the tele, an empty dining room, and a lady quickly arranging the furniture as she may not have been open before we arrived, we sat down to eat. As is almost always the case, when one orders a whole chicken for just two mouths, the order taker becomes confused. Even the boys did not understand the situation. We had been riding all day and were hungry. That is why we wanted a half a chicken each. And don’t forget the French fries…Yep we are going to eat it all.
The chicken arrived and we devoured. Life is grand when after a good days ride, one can soak in some great hot springs, sit in a dirty chicken joint in a tiny town in the Andes mountains of Peru, eat a half chicken while telling the stories of the adventures of the day, all knowing that after a good night sleep in the rickety bed at the cheap hostel, we will have another day of riding to get back home. The chicken was grand!
We finished the meal, headed to the plaza to fuel up get ready for the next day. Funny thing about getting gas in these types of towns is that the gas station consists of a guy with a barrel in his living room. The dirt floor makes it possible for him to spill fuel all over the ground. His wife doesn’t mind because the dirt surely cannot be tracked through the rest of the house (complete with sarcasm). The fuel gets soaked up in the dirt and somehow it makes it tolerable. Pretty safe deal if you ask me…hmmmmm. Not only does the guy spill it all over his living room floor, but all over the motorcycle as well. We managed to clean up the mess and call it a night.
Back to our hostel where we quickly found out that there were two people booking rooms at the same time. They ended up with the room before we got back. Suddenly, I felt a bit like Joseph where there was no room in the inn. We found a better hostel with a garage and quickly realized that blessings abound. The room was a bit nicer and only for a few bucks more. No problem…It was time for bed. However it was only 7:30. It was then that we decided that playing some card games would be a good way to pass some time. Problem was…no cards. We needed supplies for the next day so I went down to the store in my cool Fly Racing motorcycle socks (no shoes or boots). Got some funny looks, but I did not bother. I found some playing cards and the supplies at the local tienda, returned to the hostel, and proceeded to play cards with Scott for a few minutes. Not long afterward, the fatigue set in and it was time to slumber. With a combination of the strange noises coming from everywhere around us, we laughed at the next thing that startled us awake. It was the Volkswagon bug outside our window, then the 8000 fighting dogs, then the whistling that sounded like a warning alarm at a nuclear plant. Not long beyond that, our eyelids closed and took us into the next morning.
Day 2
After gearing up, eating a few snacks, and giving our bikes a quick going over, we left the quaint little town of Lares. It was this part that was unknown to me. This part was exploratory in nature. Scott and I knew this going in, so we were not sure what we were going to get ourselves into. Heading to one of the starting points of the Lares hiking trek, we encountered some beautiful views. These mountains are incredible! While arriving at a tiny little community of which is named in a language that makes it hard to pronounce let along write, we found ourselves in need of asking a local where the trail starts. It was there that we encountered a little bit of hostility with the townspeople.
As is common when asking for directions for an adventuresome trail, the answer from the locals is, “no hay paso!” This means a lot of things. One, it means that there is no way through. To another, it means that there is a sweet trail ahead complete with many challenges. Still to another, it means that it is prohibited unless one pays a bribe. Still another, it means that the townspeople have had some bad experience with other people, possibly motorcyclists, and just don’t want you to go through. Maybe we will never know. However, as Scott and I looked at the trail going up the side of the mountain, we both realized that if the rest of the trail is anything like that first part, it was not something that we wanted to tackle.
I decided that I would not spend more than a few minutes trying to convince the locals to let us pass. There was a good chance that we couldn’t make it very far and may have to return back through the towns with our heads covered in shame. Neither of us wanted that, so we opted for keeping the relationship cool and leave with a handshake and the possibility to return some other day. No bribes paid, no harsh words, and no busted up bikes trying to get past the first 500 yards of the trail. As we departed, we left with a good feeling about the rest of the day. It was sure to be a fun day of riding. And it proved to be true.
From there we decided to try to find another access to the main part of the trail. Down and around a few enormous mountains, Scott and I came up to a beautiful small town that seemed to be deserted. We could not find the trail with certainty, so we decided not to ride through, although the temptation was surely there. It was at this point that the fatigue from the previous days ride was setting in and we both decided to go the fun and easy route back. We took rough dirt roads and some tame trails back to the Sacred Valley via a couple of amazing vistas of some really big mountains. If you have never been in the bottom of a valley in the Andes, it makes one feel pretty insignificant. Regardless, we had a blast riding through these valleys and mountains.
We made it back to Calcca in the Sacred Valley, had a great meal at a great place. Gotta love fresh trout in Peru! We rested a bit, put our gear back on, gassed up, and headed back towards Cusco, our final stop. We arrived in Cusco tired with sore spots between our cheeks…both sets; One from the seat and the other from the constant grin that was glued to our faces over the past two days.

No comments:

Post a Comment