PAC Tour Peru, November 2013
by Len Zawodniak
Having spent quite a bit of time with Pacific Atlantic Cycling (PAC) Tours in the southwest, western mountains and crossing the country twice, I was intrigued by the prospect of PAC Tour across Peru. PAC Tour had been running Peru trips for years in the “off season.” I have been riding my P-38 Voyager for almost a year and decided to tackle this epic trip.
Most riders brought donated bikes to be left behind at the end of the trip. I packed my Voyager and headed to Lima, where our dozen riders and support staff met up before flying to Piura, in the north to start our trip.
Piura is in the coastal desert and we started with a quick shake-down ride to the coast for our official start at the Pacific. I was the sole recumbent rider. We spent three days in the flat to rolling desert, happy for moderate temps in the 80s. Most of the food in Peru is simple fare, based on rice, corn, chicken, eggs, and fish. Guinea pig is a local delicacy.
After two days of heading east towards the mountain, we hit our first climb, a 28-mile all-morning event leading to the first pass at 7,700 feet. Fortunately, the road into the jungle is well paved, with only the occasional washout in the mountains. The grades are reasonable, mostly six percent to about eight percent. The seating position of the Lightning is great for taking in the sights during the climb. I attracted a lot of attention from the locals. Buses slowed down so the passengers could all lean out the windows with their cellphones. Kids would come running out of school when I went by. They are very friendly, and drivers really shared the road.
The real fun started at the top of the pass, where a series of hairpin turns started down a roughly 40-mile shallow descent to our hotel in the next town. I would often pass buses or trucks as they braked for the turns. Often, the same buses would catch me in the next town or uphill.
Crossing the Andes, we routinely hit five- to seven-mile climbs and descents as we worked our way east toward the Amazon. There is a lot of agriculture in the lower valleys, predominated by rice paddies. The rivers were a rich source of many kinds of fish, with a few trout ponds included.
In total, we traveled about 800 miles on this trip. There was only one rainy day, the last. I was really sad when we got to Tarapoto, the last town on the Jungle road with an airport. Not much further, the highway stopped at the Amazon and all traffic went via the river. The two weeks on the road just flew by as we traveled from town to town, but it was back in the suitcase for the Voyager.
I had a terrific ride across Northern Peru and will probably take the Voyager back for a southern Peru tour as well.
I have been home a few weeks and just finished converting the Voyager to winter duty with the F-40 upgrade, with many winter miles to go.