Pedaling Peru: Blending Mountain Biking and Inca Culture

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September 29th, 2017

 I gazed out the airplane window as the houses, roads and hustle bustle of  Lima, Peru's largest city slowly faded into the clouds.  I closed my eyes to imagine the 10 days of mountain biking that lay ahead. In just over an hour, I landed in sunny Cusco, met two guides and four other riders brought together by our passion for mountain biking and our endless curiosity to experience other ways of life.

 

Cusco;  3400m high in the Peruvian Andes and once the capital of the great  Inca Empire blends the ingenuity and mystery of Inca culture with  Spanish colonialism. Beautiful ancient Inca stonework and cobblestone streets surround Catholic churches beside modern tourist shops,  markets, and trendy cafes.  Restaurants line the streets,   hoping to attract tourists who are searching for a place to rest their feet and re-energize,   before embarking on a hike to Machu Picchu or a journey to the famous  Nazca lines - both sites that are part of the enigmatic history of Peru.

 

 It became apparent during the next ten days I would not only be on a mountain bike trip, I would be pedaling through history - learning about and experiencing the Inca culture that once ruled South America and how the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century changed an empire. 

 

Cusco and the surrounding area is a mountain biker’s paradise.  Crisscrossed with thousand-year-old trail systems still used by local farmers to shuttle herd of alpaca, sheep, and horses; the dirt pathways are perfect for modern-day singletrack mountain bike trails. My two-knobby mountain bike tires would become familiar with the many kilometres of trails meticulously built by the Inca as routes for trade, travel and spiritual journeys.  I'd also become familiar with the vast and jaw-dropping Andean landscape. The perfect stage for seemingly endless flowy and technical descents that make you grateful for disc brakes and dropper posts. 

 

video: This is what happened next...

 

 

 
 

photos: mountain biking peru 

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Day 1   included a short climb above the city of Cusco and a fun descent down cobblestone stairs. 

 

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Day 2 brought beautiful views of the Sacred Valley and the Andes. 

 

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Peru is known for vibrant textiles and beautifully woven Alpaca fabrics. 

 

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River crossings add to the adventure!

 

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Shuttling to 4200m so we can descend 2500m! 

 

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Meet Louisa and Joelle,   they watched as we biked down the mountain and were prepared with beautifully woven fabrics   for sale as we passed through. 

 

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The amazing wonder of the world - Machu Picchu.

 

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Biking through the clouds at 4200m!
 

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The trails in Peru are beautiful and vast.

 

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Hanging  with our wonderful guides Wayo and Xavier.

 
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