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Old 07-12-08, 01:06 PM   #1
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Enough with lightweight bikes: here are the hard-working bikes of Peru (bike pics)

Hi, just back from a couple of weeks traveling around Peru w/my son.

I did not do any bike riding, but did enough rugged day trekking to return 7 pounds lighter (!) after lots of aerobic workouts at high altitudes (also came home with a sprained ankle, a bruised tail bone, and a sore right hamstring).

I did see a fair number of bikes, though....most being used as day-to-day transportation and in some cases cargo haulers. I only saw two riders out for a "recreational" ride kitted out in bike gear, both on mountain bikes on a Sunday morning ride. The rest of the time it was folks using bikes to get somewhere or haul something.

Without further ado, a tribute to the hard-working bikes of Peru...

Typical three-wheeled cargo bike in Pisaq, Peru. Pisaq has a large market and a lot of the stall vendors use their bike to haul stuff to market. (at the bottom of this thread I have a detailed shot of the interesting rear brake).



Most of the bikes I saw were like this - Asian-made mountain bikes (notice the package strapped to opposite side of bike).





Two Bike Forum members stopping by the library to catch up on BF posts? This is Lamud, Peru, northern highlands.





Snapped this on a highway in far Northern Peru coming out of the mountains. There are three live goats trussed up on the back of this Chinese moto taxi (sorry, couldn't catch the front of the taxi). The passenger in the back seat evidently rode his bike up into the hills to get his goats and has caught a moto-taxi ride home (or to market).


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Old 07-12-08, 01:16 PM   #2
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This is the only drop-handlebar bike I saw in two weeks.



Parking lot for workers on a road construction site out in the country...there were about 20 bikes and one moto taxi.



My kind of restaurant! This was the entrance way to a restaurant in a small town where we stopped for lunch one day.



I did not see as many of these bikes as I thought. When I lived in Mexico 25 years ago, most of the working bikes I saw were like this -- Indian- or Chinese-made rugged cargo bikes. I only saw a couple of these; this appeared to be old but well cared for. The more rugged version of these have double top tubes; I saw one of those but couldn't manage a pic. The big silver bar under the handlebars is the brake; it activates a rim brake like shown in the detail on the bike below of the cargo-bike brakes.



More cargo bikes...



Bike waiting for repair at a small repair shop...



Kids bikes for sale at a bike shop. I only saw bike shops on one street that all sold the same combination of goods -- bikes (both adult and kids' size); baby strollers, and metal bed frames.



That's it for the bikes. I think there is some kind of international treaty that requires all travelers to Peru to take at least one picture of a llama and another of the ruins at Macchu Picchu. In order to save server space, I will now fulfill both requirements with one pic.


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Old 07-12-08, 01:23 PM   #3
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A final pic...I took this to show the braking mechanism on the big three-wheeled cargo bikes.

Note the pedal over the down-tube. That is the brake pedal. That activates a mechanism that forces the two big blocks over the chain stay to move forward (toward the front of the bike) to press against the rim. That stops the bike.

Same mechanism was used on the Indian-made bike pictured above.



Obviously this bike doesn't have a seat...on very hilly, cobblestone streets it looks like some folks have given up on riding these three-wheeled cargo bikes and they use them as push carts.
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Old 07-12-08, 02:57 PM   #4
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At what town(s) were the pictures taken?

When I was in Peru I didn't see so many bicycles, other than the 3 wheel things. Now there were hundreds of the 3 wheeled motorized bikes, especially in Iquitos (on the Amazon)
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Old 07-12-08, 03:08 PM   #5
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At what town(s) were the pictures taken?
These are from Pisaq (which is in the Sacred Valley, near Cuzco), Chiclayo (on the northern Coast of Peru), and a variety of small towns near Chachapoyas (the Northern Highlands).

I did visit a number of places with almost *no* bikes; other towns had lots of bikes. Saw a fair number on the highway, too, being used just for transportation.

The kinds of transportation people were using varied a lot depending in terrain and location, but for the most part we saw very few privately owned cars outside the cities. People used mini-buses or trucks to get from town to town; horses, mules and burros; bicycles; mototaxis; and, of course, their feet. This is not unusual in hilly areas:

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Old 07-12-08, 03:49 PM   #6
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I could not imagine riding these cargo bikes up the hills that must be there. They don't seem to have gears and I would think the steering takes a bit of getting use to. As a pushcart it also seems like it would be awkward.

Oh well - we may all be using these before long...
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Old 07-12-08, 04:55 PM   #7
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Those tell a real story. Thanks for sharing them.
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Old 07-12-08, 06:44 PM   #8
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I could not imagine riding these cargo bikes up the hills that must be there. They don't seem to have gears and I would think the steering takes a bit of getting use to. As a pushcart it also seems like it would be awkward.

Oh well - we may all be using these before long...
Not like those bikes, I hope. It would be really tough to unclip to use a foot brake,

When we were in Peru last fall, the few locals we saw on bikes were in towns, where it was mostly flat. In the villages (with more hills), there were none. And the only folks I saw traveling from town to town were tourists.
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Old 07-12-08, 07:02 PM   #9
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I like observing "everyday" bikes. Just yesterday I saw a bike that I wished I had had a camera to take its picture. At a lawnmower shop in Argyle, Wisconsin, I saw a mountain bike where someone had removed the front wheel and replaced it with a reel mower. So one could ride their bike and mow the lawn at the same time. I was wondering how hard it would be to pedal.
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Old 07-12-08, 07:57 PM   #10
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great pics. thanks.
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Old 07-31-08, 06:44 PM   #11
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How was your Northern Peru part? Did you went to Kuelap?
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Old 07-31-08, 10:12 PM   #12
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How was your Northern Peru part? Did you went to Kuelap?
Yes, we did go to Kuelap. After a couple of days in Chiclayo, we took the bus to Chachapoyas, and visited Kuelap (a pre-Incan fortress on a mountain top) plus such sites as Karajia, Pueblo de Los Muertos, and Yalape. In most case we were the only tourists at any of the sites we visited, except for at Kuelap, where we saw 4 or 5 other people in the 3 hours we were at the ruins. (www.kuelap.org)
Northern Peru is *spectacular.*

Here is Kuelap from afar (you really can't make it out well; it's on the mountain in the middle...I am just showing this pick to give you an idea of what beautiful settings the Chachapoyans chose for their main fortress, which has a commanding view of several river valleys.)





And up close; this is the main wall of Kuelap. This is by far the most popular destination in Northern Peru but it gets only 50 tourists *per day* (it's about 4.5 hours from the closest paved road; 15 hours from the closest commercial airport).


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Old 07-31-08, 10:54 PM   #13
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I enjoyed your pics.... they have a National Geographic feel to them.
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Old 07-31-08, 11:01 PM   #14
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Wonderful pic's of a far away place. Which one were you riding?
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Old 08-01-08, 09:48 AM   #15
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I just got back from a trip to Guatemala (doing volunteer work for www.safepassage.org). One of the things that I noticed about the bikes, which were similar to the ones in your pics, was how few of them were locked up. Everybody in Guatemala seemed very security conscious, with bars on windows, front doors kept locked, even for hotels, and other businesses, but bikes left on the street unlocked.
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Old 08-01-08, 09:57 AM   #16
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Bengeboy, those are great photos. You were there for a long time, it seems to me. How long were you there?

Edit: I rescanned and saw you were there for a few weeks. Did you go into culture shock when you came back? I remember being stunned, after a few months in Mexico as a kid, to come back and find fancy orange and white barriers with lights in front of holes in the road. Down there I had gotten used to the ol' burning oil rag in a coffee can on top of the dirt from the hole. I remember thinking how rich we were that we probably spent a couple hundred dollars to tell people where every hole was.
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Old 08-01-08, 10:13 AM   #17
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WANT! Rod brake bikes are so cool even if the brakes don't work very well at all.
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Old 08-01-08, 10:19 AM   #18
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Thanks for posting these. Very interesting. I felt like I got to take a little trip myself...
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Old 08-01-08, 10:35 AM   #19
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Roadies be humbled. Utility Bikes Rule the World!
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Old 08-01-08, 10:52 AM   #20
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Did you go into culture shock when you came back? I remember being stunned, after a few months in Mexico as a kid, to come back and find fancy orange and white barriers with lights in front of holes in the road. Down there I had gotten used to the ol' burning oil rag in a coffee can on top of the dirt from the hole. I remember thinking how rich we were that we probably spent a couple hundred dollars to tell people where every hole was.
Having traveled a fair amount and lived abroad, I guess I'm used to coming back and experiencing the culture shock. You're right; a lot of things we take for granted in the U.S. are a luxury elsewhere in the world (e.g., guardrails, handicapped access, sanitary tap water...). On the other hand, the airports in Peru (Lima, Cuzco, Chiclayo) were all a heck of a lot nicer than Miami International (which I fly into regularly for business and usually hate, except for the *excellent* Cuban food at La Carreta).

The only thing that shocked me coming back to the US trip was the number of adult *men* wearing shorts in the airport. I was standing in the St. Louis airport on our way back to Seattle, and notice that practically every middle aged male was wearing shorts (except for me). And hardly any women. And I thought, "when did shorts become a male-only garment for adults past the age of 40?"
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Old 08-01-08, 02:18 PM   #21
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The pictures below are from my trip to India during Fall 2007. I like to call them 'Loaded Livelihood' - a fruit vendor, a breakfast snack vendor and a woven floor mat vendor. Each must be carrying over 100 lbs on a single gear bike (which is around 50 lbs to begin with) all day long to eke out a living. Also, a picture of a homemade bike with hand cranks for folks who are unable to use their lower limbs.
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