Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Arequipa 4 (ride to la Joya)

Ride to La Joya

Sunday's ride gathered 14 cyclists ready to ride to La Joya in the province of Arequipa, a rural town of about 25,000 people. Although we would need to climb for around 45 minutes we would then have to lose around 4,000 feet. We stopped by the road at a small but busy open air market and drunk surtidos. Here is a recipe in case you are interested. I enjoyed watching the Jugodora pulling together the ingredients. It was very tasty and refreshing.

El Especial:
100gr. de fresa
100gr. de piña
100gr. de papaya
50gr. de plátano
250ml. de leche helada
1 huevo
1cda. de algarrobina ó miel de abeja
50 gr. de azúcar

Moving on, and as usual, the road part of the ride was somewhat intimidating with occasional long-base petrol lorries passing frighteningly close to our group of orderly cyclists. Further on there was some great road descending until we gathered by the side of the road to leave it via a well made track.
A little uphill before the payoff
There followed one of the most exhilarating rides I have enjoyed. The path was made of sharp and grippy sand and we sped down winding trails with banked sides, almost seeming as if they were made specially for cyclists. Eventually we left the path and actually made progress by riding the tops of mountain ridges, sometimes crossing down a valley to pick up yet another super ridge. The landscape here was lunar with absolutely no evidence of human or animal occupation, the very occasional cactus but otherwise entirely isolated.

great trails
After a while we came to some abandoned mines and shortly after a deep gorge which it emerged that we needed to descend carrying our bikes whilst scrambling down the rocks and up the other side. 
Hard going

Note the colour coordinations

I look steady but fell off 3 times!

This was very arduous and my lungs were bursting at the still relatively high altitude. Later on unfortunately Jaime our organiser suffered a complete break of his rear mech and we had to remove it, shorten the chain and set him up with a single-speed.

Eventually we joined a trail which led to bridge overlooking the first sign of green vegetation we had seen for 4 hours. Down in the gorge a fast running river fed an oasis like plantation where the deep greens contrasted against the predominant browns and greys of the arid landscape. 
No gold here!
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Quite a new bridge, thankfully replacing the one with holes in it!
From here we had a few more hills to negotiate until plunging by way of a rocky trail, accompanied by a fast running man-made river into the dusty town of la Joya. Here we were met by others who had come by a shorter route and were revived with beers and a lunch of fried chicken, potatoes and corn accompanied by Inca Kola, rehydration fluid as good as any. We played with offering chicken bones to several dogs and we attracted a Peruvian dog that was quite cute.

Peruvian hairless dog

Later we lifted the bikes on top of a bus and headed back to Arequipa where, due to the onset of rain I elected to take a taxi, bike on top, back to my apartment. A fantastic day. 

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