Lima, Peru to Cali, Colombia Adventure-Touring Riding Journal by Bruno!
Bruno Boucher, in charge of ACD USA, comes to us with his incredible story of his 8 day riding experience on a BMW Motorrad F800GS between Lima, Peru and Cali, Columbia between May 1st and May 9th, 2015! Enjoy!
This trip was on my bucket list and now it's off, Total trip = 2.000 miles of happiness.
We were an "International Riding Team" but all of us were driven by the passion of motor biking. Most were seasoned adventure/off road bikers, I was the only one with almost no experience.
My wrist is aching, my elbow is tickling, my butt is numb, my throat is itching, my ankle and foot are swollen, my back is killing me, but If I had to do it again I would. Why? Because it brought back the joy of riding and more precisely the freedom. What do I mean by freedom? For 8 days we drove without fearing: speed traps, radars, speed limit, police officers, ticket s, etc. In other words, being constantly watchful of the authorities and not enjoying the most important thing: the ride, the temperature difference, the smells, the surroundings, being watchful not to crash or being hit by cars or objects.
Unfortunately In The U.S and Europe, driving is no longer a pleasure. We have been lobotomized by the authorities that under the false pretexts of making our "roads safer" have used surveillance technologies (radar, cameras, etc.) to increase their revenues. France is testing reducing it's speed to 50 miles per hour on certain roads! That's ludicrous! Push this logic and reduce speed to 6 miles an hour for gosh sake!
Most roads in Peru, Ecuador and Columbia are perfectly maintained and would compare to European roads. No need to say that they are in much better condition and de facto safer than American ones.
What is noticeable, is that while roads in between cities are remarkably maintained, the ones in the city are poorly maintained. Why?
Rush hour traffic in the cities we crossed or arrived to was challenging and exhausting as you are constantly playing chicken with other drivers and having to watch for the unexpected!
Finally, most riding took place along the mythical Pan American Highway.
Day 0 Arriving in Lima
All of us ( Phil, Canadian, Yann, Dutch, Life, Danish, Dave U.S., Mike, U.S., Bruno, French) arrived from different directions. The Motolumbia crew consisted of: Esteban & Carlos, Columbians, Mike (Owner of Motolumbia), Danish but living in Columbia.We met each other in the evening for a quick dinner in Lima and went to our rooms to get "ready for the fun" next morning.
Day 1 Lima to Huaraz ( Peru)
280 miles off road along rocky trail, climbing from sea level to more than 10,200 feet (Recuay)
We left early and the crew started to form. After a couple of hours ride on the PAH, mostly through desert, we stopped for lunch in Huarmey. The memorable part of that leg, was the beautiful pristine beaches on which big surfs were breaking. This part of the trip reminded me of Libya. After lunch we headed towards our final destination and unknowingly we headed toward a road that quickly turned into an unpaved trail built for accessing a mine. What a surprise! We wanted off-road biking, we were fulfilled beyond our expectations! 60 miles of pure fun, curves, unpaved road, rocky trail; even the seasoned bikers were thrilled. Our adrenaline level was high. After the fact, the guide said, "I thought it was paved!" We all were happy he was wrong.
We were so tired that we ordered pizza and had dinner at the hotel. Some watched the boxing match, I went to bed. Our support truck broke the axle of the trailer so Mike arrived at the hotel way after us, but he kept his smile.
Day 2 Huaraz to Trurilo (Huanchaco)
250 miles, 45 miles of unpaved trail and 70 tunnels
Huaraz (9.200 feet above sea level) is base camp for serious hikers who want to challenge "Cordillera Blanca". For us besides the spectacular views, we were here for off-road biking; we were served! After a warm up along great winding roads, we arrived at "Canon del Pato" 45 miles of bike hell, but bikers' paradise. Nothing but pot holes, dirt, more dirt and dust, could be renamed "Canon of Dust or Dirt Road Paradise".
Besides a physical and mental experience, biking can also be a religious journey testing your faith. Let me explain: when you are riding at 45 miles an hour and you go thru a tunnel and visibility is 0! Zilch! Nada, you either stop or say: "F...., let's go" and have faith that you are protected and that nothing will happen to you. Everyone was tired, exhausted, but happy, especially Dave!
In reverse from the day before, we went from a 9.000 feet elevation to sea level along steep curvy roads. "Lady bad luck" struck again the support truck as it arrived late (they had to fix the rim as the one they bought the day before did not fit).
Day 3 Huanchaco- Mancora
375 miles of flat straight roads through desert.
Longest and most uneventful part of the trip, the only fun was to go full throttle (100-120 miles/ hour) in total freedom. In the U.S or Europe this is now a fantasy. The most memorable was the last 20 miles before Mancora, beautiful wide open roads with large curves and beautiful scenery. Mancora is a nice little resort and as the truck arrived on time, we all were out to dinner and some R&R.
Day 4 Mancora – Quanca (Equator)
340 miles,from 0 to 3,100 feet in elevation
The first 75 miles were along the coast, mostly dry, and some curves. Then we crossed the border in Huaquilas, which was a two hour process. From there we rode from sea level to almost 3,100 feet. The landscape changed from tropical (banana plantation) to alpine meadows, very similar to French Alps or Switzerland. Also, we rode along some arid plateau with some luxurious fields of crops along rivers, which reminded me of the Nile river.
Day 5 Quanca to Quito
Awesome ride, we rode under the clouds, in the clouds, above the clouds. I decided to name this stretch (I had not seen the rest of the trip) the "2000 curves paradise" if anyone counted, please correct me. Also, in Latacunga, if I recall correctly, I almost died in a crash with a concrete block in the middle of the road; the bike and I flew into the air and, had I landed on the left side of the road, where a bus was coming instead of the right, I would have been "scraped from the bus windshield" as Phil "cement head" puts it. After this encounter, I said I would go to church to thank my guardian angel(s). Some miles down the road, I realized that my front tire got a leak and before arriving in Quito we stopped at a tire store where it was fixed for $2.00 in 15 minutes with a patch. In Chicago and "developed country", that would have been impossible and tire would have to be changed at a cost of $150+. At night we went for a drink and dinner on "Plaza Mariscal Foch" why the name of a French Marechal? Next morning, from our room, in the distance, we had a spectacular view of Cotopaxi, an active volcano.
Day 6 Quito to Pasto (Columbia)
Most of the ride was along wide roads, large and stretched curves. The highlight of that segment, was our stop at "Santuario de las Lajas" a unique church built at the bottom of a valley and crossing a river. I committed, the day before to go to church to thank my guardian angel(s) and here I am, a church comes to me and my wish was fulfilled. Then we resume our trip. As we arrived in Pasto, a toilet seat fell off a cart drawn by a donkey! The driver did not even bother stopping to remove it from the traffic and continued as if nothing happened. I thought to myself: "I'm glad I did not arrive 10 minutes later, otherwise this would have been for me."
Day 7 Pasto to Cali (Final destination)
We rode along a different kind of curved road. Yesterday curves were wide, today they are tight, close and narrow. I don't know any more what segment to call " curve paradise", as all of them stood for a different pleasure; maybe there is different form of paradise?
The saddest moment was when we arrived at MOTOLUMBIA, we realized that the fun was over and we had to go back to reality of riding the Midwest and paying more attention to traffic regulation than really enjoying the ride.
We have encountered every kind of animals and livestock on the road: chicken, cats, dogs, pigs, donkey, horses, turkey and had to be careful to avoid them.
What is interesting, is that is spite of all the hazards and reckless driving by the natives, we have not seem one single accident.