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Old 06-27-16, 06:29 PM   #1
DustyBottoms1
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Peru

Hey all! First time post here, my apologies if this thread was started in the wrong area of the site!

I'm in the early stages of planning a 3 day ride in Peru in May or June of 2017. To date, the only touring I have done is RAGBRAI in 2012, 2015 and I'm about to hit my 3rd ride in a few weeks - each time we have a sag wagon to store all of our ****. So to say I'm a total noob in the world of touring would be a pretty big understatement. I enjoy the **** out of it but I've got a lot to learn.

I wanted to layout what I have planned for this ride...

*Ride Stats
Total Miles: 240
Total Climb: 9,700 feet
Max Elevation: 14,300
Min Elevation: 10,100 feet

*Gear (work in progress)
Touring Bike
Tent
Sleeping Bag
Front and Rear Panniers
Stove (maybe?)
Camelbak
Water
Food
Tools and spare parts
Standard camping **** (duct tape, blade, etc, etc, etc)

*Itinerary
1. Fly into Cusco on a Wednesday.
2. Chill for 48-72 hours to check out the town, visit Macchu Picchu, and most importantly, give my body some time to adjust to the 13,000 feet of elevation.
3. Ride approx 60-70 miles on day 1 along highway 3S. Likely camp around the lake or rivers near the town of Checacupe, Peru
4. Ride approx 70-80 miles on day 2 along highway 3S. Stop in the larger town of Sicuana along the way to replenish food and water. Camp somewhere around the town of Santa Rosa, Peru
5. Ride approx 80 miles on day 3, still along highway 3S, and stop in Juliaca and stay in a hotel on this night..maybe.
6. Ride approx 25 miles into Puno on highway 3S, stay a few hours or possibly the night, then hop on a bus and head back to Cusco to grab my transport box and then fly back to NYC.

*Questions
Has anyone ever done a ride in this part of Peru? Maybe you could point me in the direction of relevant threads on this site?

Do you think 2-3 days is enough time to adjust to the elevation? Typically i'm not really affected by it much but I also have never spent time at all above 10,000 feet.

Should I consider a water purifier/filtration system? The last thing I want to do is lug around 2-3 gallons of water at a time, but I also don't want to get myself and body into a bad situation should I get lost or have a major breakdown.

Cheers
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Old 06-27-16, 08:58 PM   #2
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I rode from Cuzco to LaPaz but honestly, I found the ride a bit boring. It's always nice to be cranking and we did a side trip to Amantani on Titicaca which was great. We picked up a boat in Puno and stayed at a guest house on the island and a wicked electrical storm blew up over the Lake so it was one of those magical nights. You'll be on asphalt the whole way and there are no major passes. Most of the trip will be fairly flat altiplano riding under 13,000ft so I would not worry about soroche. Yes 2-3 days should be enough if you are reasonably fit. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice ride just not exceptional. Nice old ruined churches in Juli (not Juliaca)

Last edited by Perdido; 06-29-16 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 06-27-16, 09:12 PM   #3
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PS Water

I was living in Cuzco when I did that ride so I was drinking the tap water and my stomach ameobas seemed to enjoy it. But I have had visiting friends get stomach bugs. If you are there for a short time (couple weeks say). I would stick to bottled water and ditch the purifier-too much weight. You can buy bottled water pretty much anywhere, even the most basic roadside kiosk. Very important to stay hydrated at that altitude so carry more water than you think you need. Make sure the seal on your bottled water isn't broken. Kids used to find empty bottles, fill them with tap water and sell them to unsuspecting gringos then spend their ill gotten gains on Chicles and video games at the arcade!
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Old 06-28-16, 07:06 AM   #4
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sounds overambitious to me.

You haven't toured carrying your own stuff before, you'll be over 10,000 feet all the time, and you'll be in a different culture/country.
I realize that this is a plan for a year away, but what's the story with a three day ride? Will you be there for a planned work event or something?

easy answer to your question is that you will need to get lots of riding experience with a touring load before this trip to see yourself how it goes for you, not to mention experience with what things to buy, how to pack. Depending on where you live, still might not address the high altitude thing.
Altitude sickness can be weird, one person can be fine, and another really fit young guy can be seriously affected.
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Old 06-28-16, 08:58 AM   #5
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Altitude sickness can be weird, one person can be fine, and another really fit young guy can be seriously affected.
+1. I've seen fit athletes who could barely walk across the Plaza after they arrived, and I've seen fat cigar smokers from sea level walking around town no problemo. I think people have a genetic predisposition to the way their bodies react to the altitude but generally speaking 2-3 days should be enough. Take it easy at first, and stay hydrated. Don't drink too much beer your first day there (do as I say, not as I do ). Build your rig in the States and go on as many shake down cruises as you can, tweaking your ride til it's dialed in. Since you have a year to prepare, might want to do a training trip in Colorado to see how your body reacts to altitude. Important: travel as *light* as you can. Not sure why you chose your route. If seeing Titicaca is on your bucket list, fair enough, but if I had to squeeze in a quick ride in the Cuzco area, it would be; Cuzco to Pisac (on market day) and spend the afternoon at the ruins, then down the Valle to Urubamba, on to Ollanta and spend the night there and again, check out the ruins. Double back to Urubamba, then take the cut off to Chincheros. You'll cross the Urubamba and it's a long crank up the pass, then fairly easy/moderate from Chincheros back to Cuzco, so you are doing one big loop.

This is a tired old cliche but I'm going to say it anyway. If you live long enough, it's not the things that you've done that you regret, it's the things that you didn't do. Build your rig, prepare as best you can, but for Godsakes go. I've halfassed my fair share of last minute trips and a couple of those trips turned out to be my favorites. Life is short. Better get out there...
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Old 06-28-16, 09:14 AM   #6
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A Sawyer water filter is about $15 at Walmart. Good insurance for the tummy. May I humbly suggest you head over to the backpacker forum ,Whiteblaze, They will have all the info you want about camping gear. Also renting from REI might be a good option for a short trip.
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Old 06-28-16, 12:45 PM   #7
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About thirty years ago i was on a Canadian exchange program that goes to countries all over the world. Some time after it was finished I got together with some participants from my city who had gone to other countries. There was a guy who had gone to Ecuador, a really fit strong guy, and he told us of how he had experienced really seriously altitude sickness, it had been pretty dire for him.
Your comment about going and life regrets.... Good point of view. I guess my concerns are an unknown internet person telling another unknown internet person who hasn't bike toured before to go for it, but ultimately, individual responsibility and using common sense is what matters, and your experience with the area is great perdido.

Good luck original poster, have fun getting some bike touring under your belt. It should go without saying, but get as much loaded riding up hills as you can, part of riding in mountains is being mentally ready, of course gearing and load weight are factors, but get used to riding up hills, a lot!
Cheers
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Old 06-28-16, 01:30 PM   #8
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... I guess my concerns are an unknown internet person telling another unknown internet person who hasn't bike toured before to go for it, but ultimately, individual responsibility and using common sense is what matters...
Cheers
I agree. And I know this is totally anecdotal but this was my experience; I got out of university and worked like a ****cake for 6 months and saved every penny. I bought that Cannondale (see Pictures of your loaded rigs? post #3770) and I rode it after work. Then I flew to Peru with it and rode all over Peru and Bolivia. My very first touring trip was the trip I suggested above in the Sacred Valley (Cuzco, Pisac, Urubamba, Ollanta, Cincheros, Cuzco). Once I had my confidence built up, I rode from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado over Huallahualla pass. That's a real pass-15,000ft I think, and that was 1987 before they ruined it by paving it. It was brutal and wonderful and remains the best ride that I've ever done, anywhere (including Daman between Katmandu and Hetauda). So yes, prepare as best you can, use common sense, but know that it is possible for a noob to do it. Really, the best advice that I could give you is not what to take, or where to go. It's to learn as much spanish as you can between now and then. Not just to be able to order a meal or ask for a hotel room, but to talk to the locals that you will meet. It will really enrichen your experience. Buen viaje
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Old 06-28-16, 01:36 PM   #9
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I have done this section.
its relatively easy, with only one climb after you leave cusco (stop at the hot springs the day before)

my blog is crazyguyonabike.com: Author Info: Tori Collins

you can get by without a water filter if you want to carry enough, as everywhere sells bottled stuff
same with food, you will be passing a town every day and should be able to get almuerzos and something to carry. The altitude makes cooking pretty bad really, don't bother with pasta it will be unedible. The bread from the markets travels well.

THe road out of cusco is horrible, it starts out as rough cobble stones (only broken spoke on my whole trip) and narrows until theres barely 2 lanes. THis lasts about 10km then the road widens and improves, and from then on is pretty good.
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Old 06-28-16, 01:55 PM   #10
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FWIW. I am not a bike tourer (I only lurk here for the stories and sometimes the drama), but I have spent some time in Peru and hiked the Inca Trail. If you want to see Machu Picchu, that will be at least an entire day and will involve losing altitude as Cusco is at a higher elevation (which will screw up your acclimation time). Consider doing that at the end of the trip as at least one rest day. I had a pretty bad time with altitude sickness with two full days of acclimation, but it was my first time at that kind of elevation. +1 to bottled water- that is sold all over the place. I also wish I had known more Spanish at the time. Would have made a great trip even better. And I went in mid-May, during which we had sleet and 30 degree temps in the mountains.
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Old 06-29-16, 05:26 PM   #11
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I rode from Cuzco to LaPaz but honestly, I found the ride a bit boring. It's always nice to be cranking and we did a side trip to Amantani on Titicaca which was great. We picked up a boat in Puno and stayed at a guest house on the island and a wicked electrical storm blew up over the Lake so it was one of those magical nights. You'll be on asphalt the whole way and there are no major passes. Most of the trip will be fairly flat altiplano riding under 13,000ft so I would not worry about soroche. Yes 2-3 days should be enough if you are reasonably fit. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice ride just not exceptional. Nice old ruined churches in Juli (not Juliaca)

First of all, thanks to everyone for all of your feedback. Truly amazing!!!

Perdido: Based on this response and after looking at more satellite images, perhaps this is not the route I will be taking. I'm looking for a ride with a good mixture of asphalt, dirt, gravel, flat, steep, slightly dangerous, some passes, amazing scenery, mostly desolate country side with maybe some villages...just to name a few things I'm hoping to find on this ride.

The only thing that I want to make sure I do is hit Macchu Picchu. Whether it's on the front end or tail end of my trip, I'm not traveling all the way to Peru and not swinging by MP.
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Old 06-29-16, 05:35 PM   #12
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sounds overambitious to me.

You haven't toured carrying your own stuff before, you'll be over 10,000 feet all the time, and you'll be in a different culture/country.
I realize that this is a plan for a year away, but what's the story with a three day ride? Will you be there for a planned work event or something?

easy answer to your question is that you will need to get lots of riding experience with a touring load before this trip to see yourself how it goes for you, not to mention experience with what things to buy, how to pack. Depending on where you live, still might not address the high altitude thing.
Altitude sickness can be weird, one person can be fine, and another really fit young guy can be seriously affected.
Overambitious? Yeah probably, but that doesn't mean I can't do it and make it back in one piece. I'm driven, stubborn, and tend to always figure things out one way or another. Plus I have a lot of time to train AND learn as much as possible between now and next May/June.

Why the 3 day ride? Why the heck not? No work involved, this will be all about pleasure and exploration.

Good call about getting in some good touring load experience...I'm not even sure what that means yet but based on some of these responses this is clearly something I need to figure out. I will be sure to fit a lot of that into my training. I currently only have a road bike (2015 Specialized Tarmac Sport) and I do not have panniers. Do most panniers work on a road bike and a touring bike? The reason i ask is because I'll likely get the panniers sooner than I would get the touring bike, and I would like to know if they can be swapped from one styled bike to the other.

Regarding altitude, this does have me a little concerned. I currently live in NYC so I'm at sea level. However, as mentioned in my OP, I have never really dealt with serious problems adjusting to high levels. Shortness of breath and a slight headache for maybe a a day then I'm back to normal. The plan would be to fly into a part of the country that's north of 13K and spend a MINIMUM of 48 hours taking it easy and allowing time to acclimate to the elevation.
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Old 06-29-16, 05:41 PM   #13
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Since you have a year to prepare, might want to do a training trip in Colorado to see how your body reacts to altitude. Important: travel as *light* as you can. Not sure why you chose your route. If seeing Titicaca is on your bucket list, fair enough, but if I had to squeeze in a quick ride in the Cuzco area, it would be; Cuzco to Pisac (on market day) and spend the afternoon at the ruins, then down the Valle to Urubamba, on to Ollanta and spend the night there and again, check out the ruins. Double back to Urubamba, then take the cut off to Chincheros. You'll cross the Urubamba and it's a long crank up the pass, then fairly easy/moderate from Chincheros back to Cuzco, so you are doing one big loop.

This is a tired old cliche but I'm going to say it anyway. If you live long enough, it's not the things that you've done that you regret, it's the things that you didn't do. Build your rig, prepare as best you can, but for Godsakes go. I've halfassed my fair share of last minute trips and a couple of those trips turned out to be my favorites. Life is short. Better get out there...
Good call regarding a training trip in Colorado. If you were to time it right and could only get in 2 or 3 days of riding over a long weekend, how long before Peru would you do Colorado?

And thanks so much for recommending another route, especially one that is a loop. I'll check it out later tonight on google earth. The only thing that i feel I HAVE to do is visit Macchu Picchu...after and before that, i'm open to pretty much anything.

Yeah a lot of people throw that cliche around, BUT, I couldn't agree with it more. Why live any other way? Life would be pretty darn boring
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Old 06-29-16, 05:51 PM   #14
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My very first touring trip was the trip I suggested above in the Sacred Valley (Cuzco, Pisac, Urubamba, Ollanta, Cincheros, Cuzco).

Really, the best advice that I could give you is not what to take, or where to go. It's to learn as much spanish as you can between now and then. Not just to be able to order a meal or ask for a hotel room, but to talk to the locals that you will meet. It will really enrichen your experience. Buen viaje
How was the scenery on this route?

And yes I need to brush up on my spanish. I've got the foundation, I just need buckle down and get confident with it again.
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Old 06-29-16, 05:56 PM   #15
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How was the scenery on this route?

And yes I need to brush up on my spanish. I've got the foundation, I just need buckle down and get confident with it again.

Also, how much climb approx was involved? Any passes?
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Old 06-29-16, 06:20 PM   #16
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First of all, thanks to everyone for all of your feedback. Truly amazing!!!

Perdido: Based on this response and after looking at more satellite images, perhaps this is not the route I will be taking. I'm looking for a ride with a good mixture of asphalt, dirt, gravel, flat, steep, slightly dangerous, some passes, amazing scenery, mostly desolate country side with maybe some villages...just to name a few things I'm hoping to find on this ride.

The only thing that I want to make sure I do is hit Macchu Picchu. Whether it's on the front end or tail end of my trip, I'm not traveling all the way to Peru and not swinging by MP.

you could cycle to Macchu picchu, theres even an area to camp at the bottom near the river. theres plenty of ruins on the way too
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Old 06-29-16, 06:40 PM   #17
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I don't think it will matter b/c you will lose your acclimatization when you return to NYC. It would be more of a shakedown cruise for your rig and a test for you to see how you crank at altitude. If I was riding CO on a long w/e, I would fly out to DIA, take the train into Union Station (plenty of room on the train for luggage), pick up the Black Hills Stage which has recently been bought by Express Arrow Buslines (Express Arrow |) and get off at Buena Vista, about 2 hours west of Denver. It drops you off at the VFW and you can un-box and assemble your bike in the parking lot. The folks that run the V are super nice and will probably let you leave your bike box there but call ahead and work that out. Then a nice loop in BV would be to crank up Cottonwood Pass, down to Taylor Res, then up TinCup/Hancock Pass and down thru StElmo to Mt Princton hot springs for a soak and back to BV. Mapquest or google earth this route. BV is at 8,000 and I think Cottonwood is about 12,000, so not as high as Peru but it will be a good training trip. I would do it in the fall, say 2nd week of Sept when the aspens are turning. It is *very* beautiful and you can do it in a long w/e but once you get in the back country, you will want to spend more time exploring. If you do this route in the summer, you have to be careful if it is monsooning. Mornings will be clear but rain and esp lightening becomes a problem in the afternoon so take care and plan accordingly.

The Sacred Valley loop I suggested is all asphalt. They have been paving Peru which is really bumming me out but that's progress I guess. There are lots of nice single tracks around Cuzco. You can ST from Cuzco to Pisac but you have to know the route so ask around town when you get there. Also google Moray Moras salt pans. It's a nice single track and you are pedalling right by it on the loop but I sure would NOT want to do it with a loaded bike-kinda technical in parts but you could walk those bits.

And yes MP is definitely worth the trip. For the full experience, it's best to reach it by the Inca Trail but you won't have time so just arrange a tour.

You are going to have a great time.
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Old 06-29-16, 07:26 PM   #18
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How was the scenery on this route?

And yes I need to brush up on my spanish. I've got the foundation, I just need buckle down and get confident with it again.


Very nice scenery, better than your original planned route. Easy pass that you barely notice leaving Cuzco after the ruins of PukaPukara, then drop into the Valley at Pisac, more ruins. Once on the Valley floor, you are following the Urubamba River all the way down into Ollanta, more Inca ruins. At the town of Urubamba (on the river of the same name), you are around 9400 ft and Chincheros is around 12,400 ft so that's your pass. Really, it's a pretty easy 3000 foot gain +/- but it does seem to go on for a bit! Lots of nice single tracks outside of Chincheros and nice views of the mountains.
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Old 06-29-16, 08:52 PM   #19
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Very nice scenery, better than your original planned route. Easy pass that you barely notice leaving Cuzco after the ruins of PukaPukara, then drop into the Valley at Pisac, more ruins. Once on the Valley floor, you are following the Urubamba River all the way down into Ollanta, more Inca ruins. At the town of Urubamba (on the river of the same name), you are around 9400 ft and Chincheros is around 12,400 ft so that's your pass. Really, it's a pretty easy 3000 foot gain +/- but it does seem to go on for a bit! Lots of nice single tracks outside of Chincheros and nice views of the mountains.
What are your thoughts of going through Urubamba and into the towns/villages of Pachar, Rapchi, Haurocando to get back to Cusco? I realize that's adding quite a few miles but I was really hoping to do 3 maybe even 4 nights camping on this trip. I'm not sure I could or would want to stretch the other route over more than 2 nights.
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Old 06-30-16, 03:19 AM   #20
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Overambitious? Yeah probably, but that doesn't mean I can't do it and make it back in one piece. I'm driven, stubborn, and tend to always figure things out one way or another. Plus I have a lot of time to train AND learn as much as possible between now and next May/June.

Why the 3 day ride? Why the heck not? No work involved, this will be all about pleasure and exploration.

Good call about getting in some good touring load experience...I'm not even sure what that means yet but based on some of these responses this is clearly something I need to figure out. I will be sure to fit a lot of that into my training. I currently only have a road bike (2015 Specialized Tarmac Sport) and I do not have panniers. Do most panniers work on a road bike and a touring bike? The reason i ask is because I'll likely get the panniers sooner than I would get the touring bike, and I would like to know if they can be swapped from one styled bike to the other.

Regarding altitude, this does have me a little concerned. I currently live in NYC so I'm at sea level. However, as mentioned in my OP, I have never really dealt with serious problems adjusting to high levels. Shortness of breath and a slight headache for maybe a a day then I'm back to normal. The plan would be to fly into a part of the country that's north of 13K and spend a MINIMUM of 48 hours taking it easy and allowing time to acclimate to the elevation.
I meant to write, riding with a touring load, ie riding a bike that weighs 60 or 70lbs or whatever, going up hills, and taking into account less oxygen. I once rode down the west coast of the states on my touring bike with camping gear etc, and then visited a friend for a while in Palo alto . We went for a back packing trip in the sierra madres (think that's where it was, was over 20 years ago) for three days. I had just biked for 2 or 3 weeks, in really good shape, but remember very clearly how affected I was starting at 10000ft and up to 12 and a bit. Kind of like slow motion.
The three day question was more from a curiosity thing, ive always wanted to bike in south America, and would want to do a long trip, partly due to the expense of going. I'd ask the same if you were asking about in France or something, but no worries, not my business.
All the best with this, have fun planning and prepping.
Cheers
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Old 06-30-16, 10:08 AM   #21
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What are your thoughts of going through Urubamba and into the towns/villages of Pachar, Rapchi, Haurocando to get back to Cusco? I realize that's adding quite a few miles but I was really hoping to do 3 maybe even 4 nights camping on this trip. I'm not sure I could or would want to stretch the other route over more than 2 nights.
When I was living there, there was no road on this route and I never biked it. There was single track and I once backpacked/camped this route on the way out of UchuayCuzco. It's been years but I remember it being steep and rough-not good for cycling. But maybe they have cut a road since? Sorry, just don't know and I don't want to give you bad info. Maybe someone who has done this route can jump in with a trip report.
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Old 06-30-16, 10:17 AM   #22
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I meant to write, riding with a touring load, ie riding a bike that weighs 60 or 70lbs or whatever, going up hills, and taking into account less oxygen. I once rode down the west coast of the states on my touring bike with camping gear etc, and then visited a friend for a while in Palo alto . We went for a back packing trip in the sierra madres (think that's where it was, was over 20 years ago) for three days. I had just biked for 2 or 3 weeks, in really good shape, but remember very clearly how affected I was starting at 10000ft and up to 12 and a bit. Kind of like slow motion.
The three day question was more from a curiosity thing, ive always wanted to bike in south America, and would want to do a long trip, partly due to the expense of going. I'd ask the same if you were asking about in France or something, but no worries, not my business.
All the best with this, have fun planning and prepping.
Cheers
Yes, altitude, is certainly part of the challenge and that's why it is so important to travel as light as possible. Most people do acclimatize in a couple of days but I have met people who struggle with it for much longer-weeks even. The more time you have, the better, but some people just cannot manage to get the time off. +1 to a longer trip, so much to see and more time for your body to adjust.
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Old 06-30-16, 08:31 PM   #23
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When I was living there, there was no road on this route and I never biked it. There was single track and I once backpacked/camped this route on the way out of UchuayCuzco. It's been years but I remember it being steep and rough-not good for cycling. But maybe they have cut a road since? Sorry, just don't know and I don't want to give you bad info. Maybe someone who has done this route can jump in with a trip report.

I did the street view on google earth and it looks like there's a train track and road that runs alongside of it all the way through that little valley. The road looks a little sh*tty in some spots but I think it looks manageable if I were to take it relatively slow.
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Old 07-01-16, 06:40 AM   #24
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I'll ask my friends in Cuzco and see if anyone has ridden it. But be forewarned; the Urubamba is a very large steep valley. I don't know if you can get a sense of the scale on google earth. Even if you can ride that route, you'll be hurtin' fer certain. But you'll always have the option of turning back to Urubamba and cranking up the asphalt to Chincheros which would be challenging enough for most riders. I'll ask around and get back with you later.
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Old 07-01-16, 12:40 PM   #25
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I'll ask my friends in Cuzco and see if anyone has ridden it. But be forewarned; the Urubamba is a very large steep valley. I don't know if you can get a sense of the scale on google earth. Even if you can ride that route, you'll be hurtin' fer certain. But you'll always have the option of turning back to Urubamba and cranking up the asphalt to Chincheros which would be challenging enough for most riders. I'll ask around and get back with you later.
Thanks for the heads up. It doesn't look too terrible on Google Earth but to your point it might not be painting the most accurate picture. I did look up the elevations though from one town to the next and I'm not really seeing much of a change, unless it's the in between parts that I have to look out for. I was thinking I would shoot up to Maras from Urubamba to check out the ruins and salt ponds before heading to Pichar and there's definitely a pretty big elevation change...I think it was around 3000' of climb over a 10 mile stretch.


Thanks for looking into this further and many thanks for all of the info you've hooked me up with already!!!
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