Down in the Pampas and Cuzco


I descended out of Tinqui in a cold rain with a fever on my way to Cuzco. After a few hours of long descents and high rises I could see the fertile valley of the pampas thousands of feet below and prayed my brakes were going to land me safe and sound far below.


I climbed again up to about 14,000ft but this time it was clear, sunny, and dry. There were a group of road workers just after the summit as I began my way down who warned me to go slow and take it easy. I couldn´t believe how far down I was to fall before arriving in Urcos to start the traverse over to the ancient city of Cuzco. I had given my brake pads a quick glance the day prior and assumed they´d hold up.


As I descended I rode the bike like a motorcycle, looking through the hairpins to where I wanted to go, not where I was going. I wasn´t passed once by a car and had an easy time passing 18 wheelers as they crept their way down the slopes. When I finally arrived at the base in the town of Urcos I could take off all my cold weather clothes as it was down right hot in the valley.

After a few hours of riding and waiting out a thunderstorm in a gas station ( I wanted to stay dry since I wasn´t feeling well) I made my way through the miles of urban sprawl into the Plaza de Armas in the historic center of Cuzco. I sat in front of the cathredal until a tourist came up to talk to me. This was the first English speaking person I´d spoken to in person since getting on the plane in New York in September. He was British and had ridden his bike from Vancouver to San Diego before decided it was too dangerous to proceed further south via bike. I had him take a pic of my arrival.


As we conversed other tourists came up to have their picture taken with me and the bike. We both got a kick out of that. This city is crawling with sight seers from all over the world and rightly so. Cuzco is a very beautiful city with an incredible history dating back to the Incas. The city is a World Heritage Site and most of the visitors are here either coming or going to Machu Picchu as well.


There will be no Machu Picchu for me this time but I´ll be spending a few days here to recoup and re-gear for the next leg further across the Andes and down to Nazca in the desert. There are many more high passes left, including two around 15,000ft and a run along the altiplano at 14,000ft that will require me to camp most likely. I bought a used tent from one the of tour shops, a durable parka shell and pants in the market, and proper gloves. My jungle hammock, mosquito netting, and machete are fairly useless at this point and I wasn´t able to sell them to the tour operators either.


My slick new sweater and some flawless Inca stone work.

I´ve been asked to find some new Alpaca slippers for my woman so off I go to see if I can acquire a pair before I leave.

15 Responses to “Down in the Pampas and Cuzco”
  1. Ya! Edible mammal slippers!

    by sara
    on 20. Nov, 2009

  2. I do believe you made fun of the tourist for wearing pants that zipped off at the knees. I guess you had a pair packed in the event no one would notice. Goes well with your new sweater. Love ya

    by Mom
    on 20. Nov, 2009

  3. Wilmer Valderrama called…he want’s his sweater back!

    by ed
    on 21. Nov, 2009

  4. Is that a ufo on that sweater? are they taking the alpacas to mars? it’s pretty sweet whatever it is!

    by amy gunz
    on 21. Nov, 2009

  5. Hey Doug… Very happy to see your updates…..The pics are awesome….Take care.

    by Prabhu
    on 21. Nov, 2009

  6. Nice pics Doug. BTW, other than the slippers, are you bringing back home the ” historical ” piece of metal that carried you through the biggest journey of your life ?
    Take care

    by idario
    on 21. Nov, 2009

  7. That sweater is magical! You look good brotha, stay safe!

    by Yost
    on 23. Nov, 2009

  8. Wow! We are hooked on this site. We laugh, we cry, we are amazed by the endurance (of your one and only bicycle pant).
    Your holding up pretty well too. Keep the posts coming.

    by sara's dad
    on 24. Nov, 2009

  9. Enough already about the sweater…what about those pants people…turn around so I can get a better look.

    by ESmith
    on 24. Nov, 2009

  10. Very proud of you buddy, great pictures and looking forward to seeing you back in Boston

    by Vatsala Sadasican
    on 24. Nov, 2009

  11. Maybe you should lay off the coca leaves before sweater shopping. Seriously, you continue to amaze us in your journey. Happy Thanksgiving and continued luck kicking ass.

    by Nate and Beth
    on 24. Nov, 2009

  12. Quite a contrast how you go from the wilderness to civilization on such a regular basis – nice to be able to relax and shop for Alpaca slippers after such a demanding leg on your journey.

    by Ken
    on 24. Nov, 2009

  13. I too thought it was a UFO on the sweater and the cut off pants make for some great short shorts to show off your incredible quads :) Best of luck on the rest of the journey! Can’t wait to read more about it! gobble gobble…

    by jess
    on 25. Nov, 2009

  14. Doug, I hope you are doing well and eating some more brains for T-day. Cranberry sauce probably wouldn’t go to well with that, huh? Stay strong and keep up the good work!

    by Erek
    on 26. Nov, 2009

  15. That last picture of you with your new sweater and the Inca stone is amazing…the colors…!

    by joni Donahue
    on 03. Dec, 2009

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