I rolled into Huanchaco yesterday with a group of 12 riders in a peloton. The coastal wind is best traveled with teamwork. Again, we moved along a desolate track of windswept dunes and trash filled ditches. We were warned to stay in a group while biking through one of the towns on our way. I wouldn’t have been able to tell it apart from any of the other depressed communities we passed. On my turn at the front of the peloton I got to ride with my friend Barry, the retired Aussie electrician. He is a very strong man and loves to push his bike hard. He also is very knowledgeable about techniques and I am learning much from him as well as many of the other experienced cyclists. The day before I led for a time with Joost, a tall very strongly built Dutchman who loves to fly down the descents with abandon. I hit the brakes when I hit any speed over 55K/hr – I don’t think Joost ever brakes. Joost works for a prominent Dutch firm who designs, builds and installs baggage handling systems for airports. It’s a rapidly expanding firm and his work is stressful. When he asked for time for a couple of legs of this trip, his firm told him to take the time to bike the whole length and come back refreshed. He’s a very generous man and has found a best friend in Patrick, another Dutchman who was assigned as his roommate. Joost is 48. Patrick is 34 and one of the youngest members of our group. He will leave us in Salta. Patrick is quick to take the lead when he sees others are tired and enjoys listening to his iPod as he pedals. Yesterday I also got to talk with Toos, a Dutch university scientist who is currently researching genetic and environmental effects on twins. Her husband Teo, on the staff of a psychiatric clinic – they were able to both get time off together for this trip. Previously they had done an unsupported Patagonian trip in Chile by bicycle and have extensive experience on other trips as well. The peloton has been a good way to ride next to many different people and get to know them a little better.
It’s been nice to land in another seaside town. We are right on the beach. Huanchaco is just a few kilometers outside of Trujillo but it seems a world away from the bustle and fumes of the city. Tonight we all clambered into buses and cabs to go to Lucho’s famous Casa de Cyclistas in the city. Lucho is our mechanic on this trip but more importantly, is a former bicycling champion of Peru. His shop is well known throughout South America. He threw a party for us at his Casa tonight and what a great time we all had. Lucho had set up colored strobe lights, disco colored wave lights, and loud Latin music in the small front of the shop. Add to that the chips, cakes, beer and wine as well as a group of gringos starving for a loosey goosey rocking time and you can probably envision the scene yourself. He even set off some kind of fake smoke into the room and surreal would be a proper description. Lucho’s wife, Alicetto, plus his 20 year old daughter loved to dance themselves – even his young son was part of the party. I feel very fortunate to get to know Lucho and his family. It must be hard for him to travel so long with us and miss his wife and family.
There is surfing in Huanchaco – several shops offer boards and lessons along the beach. The local fishermen use these odd shaped woven mat one man boats to cast their nets for fish. Out they go twice a day with the changing of the tides. The small craft are square on one end and very pointed on the other. We’ve enjoyed the pescados (fish) at the local restaurants and other seafood as well. Ceviche is served in most of the establishments up and down the beach. It is off season here and quite relaxing. Tomorrow I’ll put wider tires on my bike as we are headed back to the mountains on Thursday and will find ourselves climbing and descending rough loose gravel roads. I look forward to the cool air and lush vegetation but maybe not the difficult climbs. We’ll find ourselves at 4800 meters soon. Thursday and Friday nights will be bush camps then back to a hostel on Saturday. Internet will not be available till then if at all for a while so there may not be another post for awhile.