Tandem biking in the Andes

Tandem biking in the Andes

After leaving Ecuador and before going to Bolivia, we decided to take our wheels toPeru, country of the Incas. You might think it’s a bit crazy, crossing the Andes on a tandem bike with a three year old in a trailer… to be honest, sometimes it is! Coming north from La Tina, we started with 200kms of Sechura desert. There was a lot of wind, so strong that we weren’t able to ride faster than 14 km/h. We stopped in Parachique, a fishing village. Our son was excited to see tons of squid and fish, and we all had a lot fun trying to help, and shared a lovely dinner on the beach.

We didn’t know if we could reach the next water stop in one cycling day: almost 100kms, always struggling with this strong side wind. Waking-up at 5 am, when the weather is usually calm, it took us six hours of sweat to be able to fill up the empty water tanks. We had one more difficult riding day and then arrived in the friendship city, Chiclayo.

We were invited by a family we met on the street to share our son’s third birthday, we spent a great time together. After a few days of exploring the area, filled with fantastic archeological sites and the unforgettable Lord of Sipan Museum, we rode until we reached the mountains of Cajamarca. Going from sea level to just over 3000 meters, the landscape was wonderful, and the fauna wasrich: scorpions, tarantulas. Peruvian rice, ceviche, chicken and plentiful fruit was perfect for getting the energy to pass over the high passes!

We headed up to San Marcos to enjoy a big Fiesta Patronal. The fiesta was full of music, fireworks and… beer. All this of great hospitality was care of a family of cuy breeders. ! We tasted the famous roasted crispy guinea pigs. After Cajabamba, we rode over a 4200 meterpass to Santiago de Chuco. Now, we were in the real Peruvian Andes. We chose to get lost in the country side, taking remote unpaved roads. We passed through little villages of farmers and mines (carbon, copper, silver and gold), the air was so pure, the sky so clear, and the stars so shiny at night. It was a dream to pitch the tent, if you have enough water. The people are friendly, helpful and ready to give a hand if necessary.

Then there was the Cañon Del Pato; unpaved, hard to ride, but beautiful. A bit later the Cordillera Blanca appeared with the more than 6000 meter high snow peaks, the second highest mountain range in the world. A few days later, we arrived in Huaraz, our headquarters to explore the area, and a good place to stay and rest. For us, it had some of the best deals (price/quality) for hotels in South America.

Despite 1500 kms on our tandem bike in Peru, we were still far from our next target, Bolivia. More passes, with our maximum altitude of 4700meters, and more canyons, quiet roads until the Altiplano. At last a bit of flat roads! We enjoyed Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, thermal water, and of course Lake Titicaca; full of islands (even some floating on kind of bamboo) where cars don’t exist: a paradise!

The three of us will have a lot of memories fromPeru: nice landscapes, good food, old civilizations (not only Incas, but Chavin, Sipan, Moche…), and painful legs! It’s not easy to cross the Andes every day, to cycle at more than 4000 meters, but you meet such interesting people, and discover a new culture and way of life!

Stéphanie, Antoine and Mattéo-Esteban (www.tandazimut.com) from France

Stéphanie: 33 , head mistress at a primary school, she is behind on the tandem. She takes care of the logistics and is the only one who knows how to pack everything in such smalls waterproof bags. She reads the maps from behind and double checkscars and trucks when pedaling in busy cities or on roads.

Antoine: 34, high school math teacher, he’s in front, handling the tandem, taking care of the mechanics and is the only one who knows how to deal with bike parts.

Stephanie + Antoine: have crossed Asia (Russia to Tibet) and Middle East (Egypt to France) before Mattéo-Esteban was born, with the same tandem bike, which has now 33 000 km!

Mattéo-Esteban: 3 Years, he celebrated his birthday in Chiclayo, invited by a family to share a big cake! He is the one behind the tandem, in his trailer where he sleep’s one and a half to two hours a day. He also has a little bike, without pedals, and rides 2 to 3 kms per day, in addition to a saddle in the front, which is safer when riding in busy cities. He is now able to speak a little bit of Spanish, and makes new friends every day!

By: Stephanie & Antoine.

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