I knew when I went to sleep that the plan I made for the day was bad. I realized that I would have to climb 2,000 vertical meters within the day. Somehow when I made the plan in Abancay the climb looked mellow – if I would only have looked at the numbers…
Bueno, his was only one of my problems for the day. The other (and most pressing one) was how to get myself and the bicycle up to the main road. I woke up at six in the morning hoping that there will be a car going up, but of course there was nothing moving at this hour. So the only option left was to push the bike up for the three kilometres – there was no physically possible way to pedal up that steep path. Shortly before seven I reached the main road, all sweaty, exhausted and the calories for the next two hours already used. I know that I have a tough climb before me, so I rest for five minutes and then I start going.
After the first fifteen kilometers or so the climb starts, and I advance terribly slow, less than six kilometres per hour. On top of this the sun is out full blast, reaching 27 degrees at nine in the morning. I am sweating, have no power, so I start pushing the bike and chewing coca leaves, but nothing helps. I become stressed as I want to reach Ancahuasi in the evening in order to be in Cusco the next day, to meet Mariela and Carlos Julio. After thirty kilometres I reach the village of Limatambo – it is ten in the morning, and the heat is terrible, 30°C. I take a short break – it is 10:20 already, and I am not even halfway into the climb. I still have around twenty-five kilometres to the top, and I know that the maximum I can do in these conditions is six kilometres per hour, no breaks accounted for, so I realistically could make it to the top around four, which is one hour past my daily deadline (for logistical and security reasons). I know that the community of Pampaconga is sixteen kilometres away, so I tell myself “if you do not make it to Pampaconga before 14:00 sharp, you spend the night there there”. I start going: serpentines, scorching heat, altitude, the whole program. Some kilometres before Pampaconga I hear a truck behind me, and I hear it is going slow, very slow. I look in the mirror at it – it looked perfect: old-style, with vertical wood beams on the sides to keep the cargo together. My heart starts beating faster as the truck approaches. I see it closer behind me, I try to catch the same speed (was not so difficult, as the truck was going ten kilometres per hour) and I grab on – there was a cord going around the sacks of potatoes it was transporting. I hold on to it as it goes up and up with around ten, fifteen kilometres per hour. In some sections it was speeding, and within fifteen minutes my arm is hurting like crazy, then my shoulders, and my right leg which I push on the pedal to keep balance. But I hold on for another half an hour, just a couple of kilometres before the peak, so I made it to Ancahuasi around 14:00 hours in time for lunch.
But the day is not over yet – I am exhausted and want to sleep with a roof above my head, and there is no hostel in Ancahuasi. So they send me back two kilometres to the Killarumiyoq archaeological site, but also nothing there. So I finally went to a shop and asked the señor there to lodge me in his house, which he graciously accepted, and also invited me to have dinner with the family.