The road to Machu Picchu – Days 1 & 2 of 3

I did not want to be visiting Machu Picchu alone. It is supposed to be an amazing place, something better shared. But, everything happens for a reason and given the route I took to get here I think it is best that I do not have a passenger to worry about. The road to Machu Picchu has been a challenge.

Day 1 – Lima to Ayacucho

I was no more than 10 kilometers outside of Lima when my front tire needed air, the tire that was supposed to have been fixed. I decided to stick to the Pan American highway and head towards Pisco before turning to Ayacucho. If I had a problem with the tire, being on the Pan American would make it easier to find help. The billboards on the Pan American are quite something to see, women in bikinis selling Coke, Insurance and vacations. You would never see these types of ads in Canada and had I not been so focused on the tire I would have taken some photos.

The air I put in seemed to be holding, I felt confident after 200 kilometers and decided it was ok to head towards Ayacucho. The landscape changed quickly as I climbed into the mountains, it was tundra like. Large open spaces with no trees, cold and windy and for the first time since Alaska I saw snow. Such a change from the desert like conditions I had just turned away from. I was making amazing time; the road was perfect asphalt and had little traffic. Then my first delay, a giant boulder, the size of the road was blocking the roadway. It took 45 minutes for the equipment to clear the road way.

This was a desolate road, very few towns and even fewer vehicles. I started to get concerned about fuel as I was running low and there was no sign of civilization anywhere. I getting even more concerned about the tire; it was running low on air again. It seems on this adventure of mine that just when I need something, it appears, a sign for fuel, and they had an air hose. The fuel was dispensed by hand and I was a bit concerned about the quality, but as my Dad used to say “beggars can’t be choosy”. Some kids decided that it would be funny to play with the on/off switch on the air compressor, I give them credit, as they pulled one over on me: I did not see them do it the first two times. 

I made it to Ayacucho in the early evening and found a place with secure parking for the bike for only $11 (I asked for a discount from the $15 she originally quoted me). I would deal with the tire in the morning, it was time to eat.

Day 2 – Ayacucho to Chincheros

All the motorcycle shops and mechanics were located on the same street, the first one to open was owned by Juan. You could tell that Juan loved his work and he was excited to have a big bike in his little shop. We removed the wheel and dumped it in a large tub of water to find the source of the air leak. It was the rim, the same one I had repaired in Colombia, but it seems the crack was opening again. There was only one thing to do now, have breakfast; the welder wasn’t open yet. While waiting for the welder to finish, I noticed that my boots were coming apart, no problem, Juan knew where to go and it cost me $2 US. The welder was meticulous in his work, the rim looked perfect.  After inspecting the wheel again Juan soon had it back on the bike and I was ready to go. After a half day of fussing around my total cost was $15.

Ayacucho is full of one way streets and it wasn’t hard for me to get lost. Finally I asked a motorcycle cop and was given a police escort out of the city, full lights and sirens the entire way. The road was amazing and I decided to test my new rim by taking the twists and turns at various speeds, everything seems perfect again. The paved road soon ended and I was on a dirt road back in the desolate tundra. So focused on the tire, I forgot about my fuel. In the middle of nowhere, just as the cold rain started, my fuel light came on. A truck was parked at the roadside and the driver was able to tell me that the next fuel was 40km straight ahead. My gauges told me I had 46km of range left. The tundra turned into mountains and the road became narrow, a huge cliff on one side. In heavy rains I pushed on, not stopping to put my raingear on. What choice did I have? There were many markers and shires to mark the places that people had died on this road, gone over the edge I assumed. I don’t know if the truck driver was wrong or my fuel range gauge but when I pulled into the station my gauge read 0.0.

I pulled into Chincheros around 5pm and found a hotel with secure parking, no hot water and very thick blankets on the bed (its cold up here in the mountains) all for the low price of $7.50 US.

Day 3 – Chincheros to Cusco

This post will need some work, more tomorrow. 12 hours of riding, over the mountains, 2 accidents but finally made it.


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3 Responses to The road to Machu Picchu – Days 1 & 2 of 3

  1. Jane Rose says:

    Totally amazing days! So many events; so many adventures; so many incidents. And then the road with the real edge of life. Glad that you found rest and comforting blankets at the end of the day. This entry was very exciting to read. My grandsons were enthralled. The pix were so good: boulder on road!!! WOW. We enjoyed all the repair guy shots, too.

  2. paul says:

    Hi Greg, I own a 2008 Blk Varadero just like yours. I love the bike but what was Honda thinking? No gas gauge, and the trip computer only starts to count down the mileage till empty when the stupid light comes on. Great commentary, keep up the good work

    • greg says:

      I thought the lack of a gas gauge was going to be a problem as well, but its not. I set the Trip A button to 0 each time I fill up and stop for fuel between 320 and 350 kilometers. I stop more frequently if I am remote or in Chile or Argentina. Don’t wait for the light to come on.

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