DAY 618 - CUSCO TRAIL W/ Mark & HAna
Day 618 - Cusco, Peru - 12855 km
On the trail with Mark & Hana
Since about entering Mexico I’ve been in touch via social media with Mark and Hana from New Zealand. They started cycling from Alaska a year earlier than I started from Vancouver, but because they’re often choosing the most remote roads over pavement, I’ve been able to finally catch up with them in Cusco over dinner and beers. Perhaps two of the most resilient cyclists I know, having an impressive 37.000 km under the belt in 2,5 years, plus, they’re nice folks too.
We meet in an old cafe overlooking Plaza de Armes where they serve great IPA’s. It’s been a while since I had those. “Team down jacket..!” jokes Hana when I arrive. We’re all wearing the typical outdoor clothing, like most travellers in Cusco. I’m excited to meet them. They’re not only great travellers, Mark is also a gifted photographer, who captures their whereabouts in great detail on his blog, including route information and gps tracks. Not surprising they were awarded ‘Explorers of the year’ on bikepacking.com for connecting the the American continents almost entirely by dirt road.
We plan a day ride together in the hills around Cusco. There seems to be a great trail over a long ridge overlooking the city. First we have to cross the city, but once we go up it doesn’t take long before we’re on grassy dirt roads and streets of Cusco become smaller. The grade incline rapidly and we need to push the bikes up for parts through spiky bushes. The downhills are a lot of fun, especially with a light, unloaded, bike. As slow as it goes up, we fly on the way down.
Mark and Hana have done a bit of technical trail riding on their trip. I enjoy it too, but I’m less experienced so it doesn’t take too long before it goes wrong. At some point there’s a very steep part and I’m not able to lean backwards enough to balance out because my saddle back is in the way. I try to brake and put a foot on the ground but it’s too late and tumble over and roll down the trail. I hurt my shoulder and wrist, but I’m able to continue, but with a lot less confidence. It’s the first time I fall from a bike as far as I can remember. My body feels locked up as we descend back in to the city later. I have to take it slow. All together it was an amazing ride and great to get out of the city for a day. You can follow Mark and Hana on Instagram.