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Peru #2 Daily Journal
Travel Writing, Blog, Travelogue
Huallanca, Peru to Copacabana, Bolivia
(Sept. 15 - Oct., 31 2003)
||Huallanca. Rest day. We met Fritz for
breakfast today. As we were eating breakfast we saw two cyclists
with a dog go by. I ran out and stopped them, they were from
Germany, spoke fluent English and were traveling with their dog too.
Wow. They had arrived in Buenas Aires and rode down to Tierra de
Fuego and back up the other side. They plan to ride to Colombia
and catch a boat to Panama. They told us about the road ahead.
There are some really tough spots. They took 2 weeks to ride
through an area we plan to take the bus through. Confirming why we are
taking the bus.
Huallanca is a nice little town, the people are friendly and the
architecture is interesting. It has been a good town to take a
break in. I was feeling better and was ready to ride.
||Huallanca - Tingo Chico Ah on the road again.
At least it was warmer. We had a steady down hill all the way to
La Union where we had lunch. At La Union we asked where the road
to Pachas was and every one pointed down hill. After 5 kilometers
we asked another man if this was the road to Pachas and he said no the road
across the river is the correct road. We had to ride all the way
back to town and cross the bridge to the other side. The bridge we
crossed was the worst one yet. Tim had to ride it, I barely could
walk across it. The bridge was originally built for a car but half
the bridge was missing and it was used for pedestrian traffic only.
I could feel the planks of wood sage as I pushed my bike across it.
Well we added 10 kilometers (6 miles) to our ride today but what can you
do. Wrong turns are going to happen.
We climbed up to Pachas and
took a break. The local drunk found us and told us he was king of
the town and he was also god. Quite a crowd had gathered around us
so we decided to move on.
We arrived in Tingo Chico about an hour later. Fritz lead the
way down the hill, he just zipped down the road, I on the other had was
pretty tired. We stayed in a local Hospedaje with no name.
We paid 5 soles ($1.50) per bed. Tim and I shared a bed so I would
have to say this was the cheapest room ever. The room did not have
electricity. I made soup for dinner and we all went to sleep
|62 km dirt
||Tingo Chico - Chavanillo We had a long climb
today so we got on the road about 9:15 am. The climb was gradual
at first but the road began to get rough. We were basically riding
on river rocks. After about 10 kilometers my bladder began to hurt
again. We stopped for a rest and I rode another 5 kilometer.
I could not ride anymore. I could not sit on the seat without
pain. We stopped in a town for lunch. I caught a taxi to
Chavanillo and the boys rode in two and half hours later.
began to change after Tingo Chico. We saw and old man sitting on a
log, as we passed by he asked for a tip. That was a strange thing
to ask for. Then the kids started yelling Gringo Gringo, this was
nothing new, however they added, Plata, Plata, after it, meaning money
money. Give me money. I never feel comfortable in an area
where people just ask for money. The adults also called us
Gringos, a man looked me straight in the eye and said Gringa, this made
me shiver. I did not like the tone of his voice.
I arrived in town long before Tim and Fritz. The ride here in
the taxi was hard, my bike would have killed me. I found us a room
at Hostel Yarowich. Decent enough, it had a clean bathroom and yes
a hot shower. We paid 7 soles per bed. Ok later we heard
mice running around the ceiling. Not so good for a good nights
Ascended 740 m (2427 ft) descended 245 m (804 ft)
|37 km dirt
||Chavanillo. Fritz decided to move on and Tim and
I took a rest day. We said good bye to Fritz, I do hope we see him
down the road again. I need a rest day. The thought of
getting on the bike was not very appealing at the moment.
much stayed in the room most of the time. Tim worked on his letter
and I took a nap or two. I do not even like going out for lunch or
dinner. The food is terrible, rice with a piece of tough chicken
or beef. The sanitary conditions are quite rough in a few of these
resturants. Also, the people just stare at us and this makes me
feel uncomfortable. Tonight there was a big gathering at the
plaza. I thought I recognized the sound of the chant they were
saying and then I remembered that I had heard it in Huarez when the
protestors went by. We stayed in our room the rest of the night.
||Chavanillo - Huanuco. We woke up early to ride, we
knew we had a long day. First we had to climb over a pass at 3950
meters (13,000 feet) and then it was 54 kilometers down to town, on a rough dirt road.
The climb to the pass was slow but the scenery was interesting.
Still people were asking us for money. I can not figure out why
people in this area behave this way. We have traveled through
other parts of Peru and people were usually friendly or just left us
alone. In this stretch we even had boys throwing rocks at us.
I can not wait to get out of this area.
Finally we were descending
down we would drop from 3950 m (13,000 feet) to 1850 m (6,660 ft) in 54 km. The road was
not as smooth as we liked but we pushed on. We needed to get to
town before dark. Then it happened, while we were barreling down
the mountain. I heard a thud and then a groan, I stopped and
turned around to see Tim laid out on the ground. Some how he had
wrecked. He was up quick and walking around, with a limp. He
had put a hole in his tights and had a large cut with dirt and rocks on
his knee. I wanted to clean up his knee, he wanted to push on.
Push on we did. The road was rough and we still
pushed on. Four hours later we were near town and near exhaustion.
The only time we stopped was when our hands hurt from using the brakes. The road was so
rough that I was starting to get a headache from all the bouncing
around. Tim was starting to tire too. We passed some police
officers, they usually just wave us on but this time they stopped us to
chat. We chatted for 15 minutes and then pushed on. The last
10 kilometers lasted forever.
We finally arrived and rode to the Plaza de Armas. We paid 27 soles per night for a small room with hot water
and cable TV. Tim's knee is cut pretty deep, there is no
way to stitch it, the cut is wide. Tim cleaned up his knee, I put
Neosporin on the cut and covered it with a sterile pad.
ascended 555 m
(1820 ft) descended 2040 m (6691 ft.)
||Huanuco. We pretty much
rested from our long ride of the day before. It was nice to sit
back and watch movies.
||Huanuco. Another rest day. Tim is working
on his letter. His knee is looking better.
||Huanuco. Tim is still working on his letter.
His knee is not looking as good as it should. We decided to stay
another day to finish the letter and let Tim's knee heal some more.
I am very much afraid that it will get infected in this country full of
We were heading out to lunch when we came across the large
crowd in front of the municipal building. People were gathered in
front of the door and Police with riot gear were blocking the entrance.
Suddenly the crowd surged, people began to run, someone pushed a vender
cart over that had apples and other fruit on it. Some people
picked up apples and began to throw them at the police. Again,
another surge and people began to run again. We watched in horror
as a women beat on the Plexiglas shield of a police officer with a
stick, then he beat on her with his baton. We saw one man running
and three police officers in pursuit. A police officer held one
man down while three other officers beat on him. Tim did captures
some of this on video. We will probably wait until we are out of
the country or at least far from here before we post them. I have
never been so close to a violent protest, all I wanted to do was run
away, I imagined shots ringing out and someone lying on the ground dead,
thank god this never happen. We left to find a place to eat lunch.
No one else seemed to be too disturbed by the whole thing. When we
returned back to the hotel I asked the desk clerk what was going on.
He said that the street venders with carts want to be able to push their
carts of wares around the Plaza de Armas and sell to the public.
The city forbids it because there is so much traffic around the plaza.
So for now the plaza stays closed to street venders.
||Huanuco. Well Tim's letter is taking some time to
put together. Plus his knee is still wide open, it has not closed
yet. I really do not mind waiting, I wander around town doing
chores like shopping. I found the huge market today. The
people are friendly and enjoy talking with a stranger. I also need
to find a place to mend Tim's tights. This is one of the things I
like about Peru, I can find a Taylor easy. Everyone with a sewing
machine is lined up in the same area. I bought some fabric from
one shop for 3 soles (0.87 cents) and I had the patch put on at another
shop for 2 soles (58 cents).
||Huanuco. Yeah Tim finished his letter and it is
ready to be sent. Off to the internet cafe we went. While we
were there we met Edwin, a cyclist from Peru. He was very
interesting so we decided to go out to dinner with him.
I am beginning
to think that every touring cyclist is a bit of an odd duck. We
must be too. Anyway, Edwin certainly did not fit the stereotype of
a Peruvian. He is 30, single and has no kids. He went to
university, is an administrator and speaks English. We went out to
dinner and then to a disco to listen to some music. Edwin has met
and ridden with many Europeans he even speaks some German, however, we
are the first Americans he has met. We really need to get out
more, people think we are all like in the movies.
||Huanuco. Stayed up a little to late to get out
the door today. Edwin managed to get out the door and we said good
bye to him at 9:30 am. I finished packing and watched a couple of
movies. I will miss cable TV for a while.
||Huanuco - Ambo. I woke up last night to the rain
hitting the window. Great. This morning at 6:30 am the sky
was black and the roads were wet. Now is not the time for rain, I
have a bad case of cabin fever and need to move on from this town.
went to the internet cafe and ordered some things for our friend Karen
from Arizona to bring us when she gets here. Karen is flying into
Cusco on October 5th. It will be nice to see a familiar face.
Karen is coming to Peru on a project and we are lucky to be able to meet
up with her while she is here. We now need to get to Cusco, which
means we need to take a bus somewhere. We were planning to take a
bus through the bad parts of the mountains anyway.
So out the door we went at 11:00 am, a little later than usual.
Not ten minutes down the road it started to rain. The weather was
frighteningly black and gloomy. Tim wanted to stay in the hotel
and I urged him to get out the door. It was obvious that we were
not going to get to far today, the rain was coming. We started
looking for a hotel in this very populated valley. We found a
hostel in Ambo. Just as we arrived at the door it began to rain
hard. Well at least we got to ride today. They wanted 10
soles per bed for a room without a bath and a shower with cold water.
We negotiated on 15 soles for the room.
ascended 270 m (885 ft) descended 100 m (328 ft)
||Ambo - Huariaca It was a bright and sunny
morning. As we left Ambo we were again stopped by the national
police, all they really wanted to do was talk. We steadily climbed
up the valley following the river. We stopped for lunch in San
Rafael. People are at lot more friendly in this part of Peru.
arrived in Huariaca ready to settle in for a hot shower. We stayed
at Hostel Rosa, a pleasant place. We had a room with two beds, a
hot shower, and TV. Tim got his hot shower in and then the
electricity went out. We went out to dinner and found an internet
cafe, we could not believe it. This is a small town but it has a
brand new internet cafe. After interneting we went back to the
room and I finally got my hot shower. Hot showers are such a
luxury, so the next time you take a hot shower, think how lucky you are.
ascended 950 m (3116 ft) descended 380 m (1246 ft)
||Huariaca (2900 m 9,512 ft.) - Cerro de Pasco (4380 m,
14,366 ft.). We were awoke this morning at 5:15 am by the hostel
owner, it was a case of mistaken identity. We were not too upset
we had to get going early today we knew we had quite a climb ahead of
us. The morning was bright and sunny not a cloud in the sky.
We had a bit of a tailwind, a tailwind is always welcome.
climbed up towards Cerro de Pasco. I wanted to stop every now and
then but Tim kept us moving, we did not want to get caught in any
afternoon rain. We finally stopped for a lunch break.
There was not restaurant, just a small store. We bought some
snacks and sat down for a much needed break. We did not get any
peace, the store owner was drunk, when the shop owner found out we were from the
United States, he asked us for an address. Tim told him his name
was Mick Jagger, he lived at 714-69 Stoner Way, Rocky Mountain, Arizona.
He got an address alright. He still would not leave us alone.
He wanted us to buy him whiskey, no way. We ended up leaving
sooner than we wanted.
We were in sheep herding country again. We saw our first llamas,
I was beginning to think that they were a myth or just around for the
The air was getting thinner and the sky was growing darker. It
started to rain on us. Then the sun came out, then it rained
again. We passed sheep herders along the way and the boys would
run with us until they got tired. It was all in fun. Just a
week ago I would have thought that they wanted to take something off our
bikes, but not this time. It is hard to change the assumptions we
make about people. Experience is the only thing that teaches us to
think differently. Not propaganda from the government, media, or
Which leads me into the assumptions that people make about Americans.
Lately we have been experiencing the assumptions that people make about
Americans. First they think that we are arrogant, I guess when you
have everything you want it could appear that we are arrogant, people
also assume that we are our government and when you go and start a war
in another country, I guess that can be considered arrogant. But
to think that some nationality is one way or the other without ever
meeting them. Well that is just plain ignorant. I have
certainly met my share of ignorant people on this trip. May be we
have changed their opinion of Americans may be we haven't.
We arrived in Cerro de Pasco, tired and hungry. It took us 6.5
hours riding time to get here. We stopped in front of Hostel Santa
Rosa. I went in and looked at the room. A room cost 17 soles
per night for a matrimonial. When I returned to Tim there was a
huge crowd gathered around him and he was talking to a couple from Hong
Kong. We made plans to meet them for dinner. We carried our
belongs to the second floor and I took the a shower. The shower
was hot but it was so dam cold in the shower that I was frozen when I
finished. It is very very cold here.
We met Fung Man Keung and Choi So Chun for dinner and learned all
about China and Hong Kong. Fung and Choi have been traveling for
the last 2 years and are getting ready to return back to Hong Kong.
We talked for hours, they were an extremely fascinating couple.
ascended 1440 m (4723 ft) descended 115 m (377 ft)
||Cerro de Pasco. Rest day. I stayed in bed
for hours, it was cold and I had a headache that just would not go away.
||Cerro de Pasco. We were planning to leave today.
No such luck. We opened the window shutter to see what the weather
was like and it was snowing, not only snowing it was a blizzard.
Hey, this is suppose to be spring. I sulked all day. I did
not want to stay another day in this town. I could see my breath
in the hotel lobby. Well at least the people here were friendly.
The restaurant across the street served the best food we have had in a
||Cerro de Pasco - Carhuamayo. We woke up to sunny blue
skies. We left about 10:15 am after a few photos with the hotel
owner. We climbed back out of town the way we came in and up and
over a small pass and then we were going down hill just fast enough so
we did not have to pedal.
Soon the sky clouded up and before we knew
it was hailing on us. We found a restaurant to take refuge in.
We were wet and getting pretty cold. We had sweet potatoes, rice
and chicken with a mint green sauce for lunch. The food is
changing and for the better. Still it cost 4 soles ($1.10).
We waited for the rain to clear and we jumped on our bikes and head on
down the road. The wind was cold and my hands were freezing
because my gloves were wet. Another rain cloud followed us into
Carhuamayo. Once we were in town the sky cleared and we were ever
so tempted to ride on. We chose not to and looked at a couple of
hostels. We stayed at Hostel la Union along the highway for 20
soles for two beds. It does not have a hot shower, I am glad we
brought our own. Let me explain. We have a 10 liter bag that
we use to carry water. If we boil water in our 4 liter pot and add
6 liters of cold water the water is almost perfect. Wa la We have
a hot shower. It is amazing how clean you can get with 10 liters
of water. We have used this portable shower in many hotel rooms
with cold water.
ascended 260 m descended 455 m
||Carhuamayo - La Oroya. The sky was blue but it
was still cold when we woke up. We could see our breath in the
room. In the middle of the night I woke up barely able to breath.
My chest felt tight and I was panicking a little. I had to sit up
and calm myself down before I could go back to sleep.
We were dressed
and ready to go by 9:00 am. We started out at a good pace.
We were worried that it was going to rain on us. We pushed on for
nearly 3 hours and covered at least 40 kilometers. Then we started
down the hill towards La Oroya, a mining town. Again, we were
racing time, it could rain at any minute. About 10 kilometers ( 6
miles) from town the sky opened up and we took cover in an auto
mechanics garage. He let us hang out in his garage until the rain
stopped. We pushed on into La Oroya, again it was raining on us.
This town is notorious for polluted air because a smelter is located in
town. The pollution must have been knocked out of the air from the
rain, the air was much cleaner then we expected. We rode to the
far side of town towards Lima to find a hostel. We stayed in a
hostel next to one of the bus stations, it was 20 soles with a very nice
hot shower and comfortable room.
As I was looking to by a bus ticket to Lima a taxi driver approached
me about riding down in a car. We negotiated on 50 soles for two
people and our bikes, we planned to meet at 8:00 am to go to Lima.
In the evening we went to the Market to pick up some fruit and bread
for the ride in the bus to Cusco. While we were down there a
protest blocked the road and no cars could get through. Neither
could taxis, so we had to walk all the way back to our hostel on foot,
we already had plenty of exercise for the day. Ah well what can
ascended 390 m descended 705 m
||La Oroya - Lima. We woke up early and packed all
our baggage. Tim started to load the bikes on top of the
taxi and this is when the trouble started, first they changed drivers on
us, then they increased the price to 80 soles, and then there were 3
other people who were also in the car. This made for a tight
squeeze. Tim was mad that they changed the price and
decided that we were not going. We removed all of baggage from
the car, but still they did not come down on the price. Tim
started asking other drivers for a price but they had sent a kid ahead
to talk to the other drivers so no one would negotiate. They actually
increased the price. I guess they thought they might get lucky.
Not this time. Tim was furious and let them all know what cheats
they were. Tim found a bus and told me to start loading our things
on the bus. That is when the taxi reverted to the original price.
In the car were three other women. Julie, her mom, and
another passenger. Julie was attending high school and spoke
fluent English. It was fun talking to her and her mother all the
way down to Lima. I know she wants to go to school at UCLA in Los
Angeles and I hope she makes it there after high school. It was
great to talk to a young women who had ambition, so many women here do
not have any choice but to have children. I have seen young girls
of 14 or 15 who already have children. This only keeps them in
We arrived at the Cruz del Sur bus station around 12:00 pm. I
went to buy tickets and found out that the buses to Cusco were all full.
I went down the street 2 blocks to check on Omen, the more expensive
bus, and they did not have any seat either. I went back to Cruz
del Sur and we bought a ticked to Arequipa for the evening. We
would arrive in the morning and then take a bus to Cusco from there.
OK it was a little out of our way but hey it was better than staying in
The guard at the gate told us we would be fed dinner and breakfast on
the bus and that they play movies as well. Well we watched three
movies, played BINGO in Spanish, and had dinner. I was impressed
with the service. The cost of out ticket to Arequipa was 69 soles
($20), they charged 25 soles ($7.25) per bicycle all the way to Cusco.
||Lima - Arequipa. We arrived in Arequipa at
8:30am. None to soon too, we had the worst seats on the bus, right
next to the bathroom, and it was starting to smell bad. I
personally can not stomach nasty smells like dirty bathrooms, Tim on the
other hand can ignore it. Men. I think this is why women do
most of the cleaning!
We were glad to get off the bus and into the bus station. We
ate and cleaned up a bit. Tim's knee is still open after all this
time, it is healing but very slowly. He is real good about keeping
it clean and he never complains. I am sure if I had a cut that
deep we would be on a plane back to the States. It must still hurt.
We went to the Plaza de Armas and visited a few churches. I
wanted to visit a convent that has been completely restored but it was
way to expensive 25 soles (7.25). Our budget does not allow for
such an expensive place. Still it is fascinating to think what
life was like as a nun. I have seen more nuns in Peru than any
We returned to the bus station and met two ladies from the area who
were on their way to Lima. They were just a blast to talk to.
They explained the different types of food in Arequipa. We told
them about Tim's knee and they had to have a look. One lady
insisted that Tim but some alcohol on it. We had some so Tim
scrubbed his knee with it. I could see the pain on his face, he
said, at least I will not be getting infections from the bus station.
||Arequipa - Cusco Finally we were on the bus.
We were fed dinner, played bingo and watched a movie. Of course I
could not sleep at all. Tim faired a little better, I at least
heard him snoring some.
We arrived in Cusco at 5:00 am, at least it was quiet. We went
to the Plaza de Armas first. Wow what a city. I will enjoy
exploring this city with a mix of Inca architecture and Colonial
buildings. Tim waited in the Plaza with our bikes and I went in
search of a room. Many hostels were full and I had to keep
looking. I met Ismenia in the Plaza, she took me to a few hostels,
I knew she would get a commission but I did not mind. She was
pleasant and showed me Hospedaje Iquique. For 30 soles ($8.70) we
have a large room, we need to spread out and fix gear, shared bath with
hot shower, and yes a toilet seat, we have hit modernization and it
includes breakfast. What a deal.
We met Karen at her hotel, it was
good to see a familiar face. We also met most of the group that
Karen was traveling with, quite a few people were from Prescott, our
home town, it made me a bit home sick.
||Cusco. Rest day. Met Jeff and Ted two fellow Americans
from California, they were leaving to hike the Inca Trail. Met Karen for dinner.
||Cusco. Rest day. Tim's knee is healing but it is
still open. We went to the pharmacy and bought more medicine.
We will wait until Tim's knee is closed before we go to Machu Piccu.
||Cusco. Cleaned tent and water proofed the fly and
floor. Hopefully it will repair all the leaks. We have not
camped in the rain since Ecuador.
||Cusco. Cleaned bikes. Tim put on new chains.
Painted all the bare spots and tightened down every loose bolt.
The dirt roads of Peru have taken their toll on our bikes and gear.
Met Ted and Jeff as they were returning from doing the Inca Trail.
Oh man, it sounded tough. Jeff was sick most of the time, possibly
food because six other people in his group were sick too. OK this
convinced us not to do the Inca Trail. Thanks guys.
||Cusco. Water proofed our goretex jackets and socks, they
were starting to leak at the seams. We went to the Cathedral today
and bought a tourist ticket for 35 soles ($10), this ticket covers 16
sites around Cusco including museums and Inca ruins. The Cathedral
was grand and noisy at the same time. I am use to a church being
quiet. There must have been ten tour groups in the church at the
same time, I must have heard 5 languages as well. The art work in
the church is interesting. There is a painting of the last supper
of Christ and in the plate on the table is cooked cuy (guinea pig) an
Inca delicacy eaten a festivals. An interesting mix of beliefs.
||Cusco. We finally got out the door today to enjoy our
surroundings. We took a bus heading to Pisa and got off at the
ruins called Tambo Machay it cost us 1.5 soles (0.40 cents) to ride the
bus there. We walked back to Cusco. The guide books says it
takes a half day but we made a whole day out of it. The first
ruins Tambo Macay has an Inca bath and many hawkers. The next
ruins were Pucapucara, they say the ruins were used as a way station for
people traveling the Inca trail. We followed a group along a path
and walked to the Qenqo ruins through a valley. The Qenqo ruins
were small but interesting. A throne was carved out of limestone.
The final ruin Sacsayhuaman, was the largest and closest ruin to Cusco.
It looked like a fortress to me, it had three consecutive tiers of walls
one above the other. The walk back down to Cusco was pleasant and
obviously easier than going the other way.
||Cusco. Hung out in Cusco all day.
||Cusco - Aguas Calientes (Machu Piccu). The cheap
way to Machu Piccu. Take the bus from Cusco to Urubamba, a two
hour ride, that costs 3 soles ($0.90) per person. Then take a
Collectivo (mini bus) from Urubamba to Ollantaytambo, a 45 minute ride,
that costs 1 sole (36 cents) per person, be prepared to have people on
your lap. This is actually faster than the train. At Ollantaytambo,
buy your train ticket to Machu Piccu. Get there early to make sure
you get a seat. It is 14 dollars one way per person. It is
cheaper to buy a round trip ticket and pay in US dollars. You can
save about $3.00 per person that way. Aguas Calientes is
expensive, so bring your own food in from Cusco for Machu Piccu,
otherwise you are looking at a very expensive lunch at the very
expensive hotel. We did not bring enough water for the day so we
had to buy water at 10 soles for a 2.5 liter bottle that usually costs 2
soles, Ouch. We had student cards from Mexico and entered Machu
Piccu at half price. For a student it costs $10 for and adult it
costs $20. It is better to pay in soles. We took the bus up
and walked back, that saved us $4.50 per person. It you want to
walk up and back it will save you $9.00 per person. So going to
Macchu Piccu is not cheap but is an awesome place to visit.
||Machu Piccu. It was a perfect day. We rose
at 5:00 am and caught the bus up the hill at 6:15 am. It cost US$
4.50, Ouch. The morning was misty and it looked like it was going
to rain. An hour after we arrived at the ruins the sun came out
and was out for most of the day. It was fantastic. We
arrived early and viewed the ruins before the tour buses started to
arrive at 10:00 am. Just as we arrived at the ruins we saw the
Uruguayan couple, Euenco and Denise climb the last few steps up the
trail from Aguas Calientes.
We climbed to the Watchman's hut and viewed
the ruins from there, this view is famous from all the post cards.
The mist came in and left. One of the spectacular things about
Machu Piccu is the scenery from the site as well, breath taking.
Machu Piccu is perched on a peak that is 400 meters, 1,200 feet above
the river below.
The sad thing is that there is no museum or even a map handed out at
the entrance. So take a guide book with you or you will need to
hire a guide.
||Aguas Calientes - Cusco. We were up bright and
early to get the train to Ollantaytambo. The train left at 5:45am
and we arrived at the station at 5:40 am. We had terrible seats in
the train. No window. We stopped frequently and seemed like
forever until we could get off. I could not imagine having to ride
the train all the way to Cusco. In Ollantaytambo we looked around
before we headed back to Cusco. First we went to the ruins which
were impressive but small compared to Machu Piccu. The temple and
living quarters were never finished completely, from the top you can see
the rhyolite blocks left on the ramp up to the site, one stone was on a
small incline ready to be put in place and if you looked down the valley
you can see where the large blocks were left in transit from the quarry
to the ruins. Interesting. We also went to the museum in
town. It had the history of the Inca town of Ollantaytambo,
information about the last hacienda in the area, the geology of the area
and some of the community based projects in the area. It was
about this time that Tim started to get sick. I thought that it
may be his motion sickness pills. We decided to get back to Cusco
quickly. We almost took a taxi all the way but could not find one.
Instead we took a combi (with 25 people) from Ollantaytambo to Urubamba.
We then took a bus back to Cusco via Chincero. The other bus
driver tried to tell me that it was the same distance from Urubamba to
Cusco via Pisac. Later I looked at a map and it was twice the
distance. I am glad we went the way we knew through Chincero, it
was the shortest way. We returned to Hostel Iquique and took a
||Cusco. Well Tim was pretty sick today, he stayed
in bed all day. I worked on the web site, we had a lot of pictures
of Machu Piccu to post.
||Cusco. We checked to see if our package had
arrived from the US at the South American Explorers club. It had
not. We decided to wait one more day to see if it arrived.
If not then I would take a bus back from where ever we are to pick it
up. Our visa is running out and we need to get to Bolivia.
We have been watching the news and Bolivia has had problems for the past
month. The roads have been blocked and no one was going in or
coming out. At the very least we would renew our visa at the
border and if not take a bus to chile.
The protests were about eradication of the coca plants
which the farmers were upset about and then the president proposed to
sell their natural gas to a private company and put a pipe line through
Chile (to a coast that once belonged to Bolivia, no owned by Chile,
taken in a war 120 years ago, I guess the Bolivians are still upset) so
the gas could be sold to Mexico and the US. That made the other
half of the population mad so they people united and blocked the roads
to La Paz. It looked like things were pretty bad for quite awhile.
||Cusco. We packed up and got ready to go. We
have been sitting around long enough, it is time to get back on the
road. Tim was feeling better. Things in Bolivia were much
better today so it gave us hope that we can now travel through that
country. I wonder what we will find there?
||Cusco - Urcos. We went to Plaza de Armas one last
time to take pictures. We met Tony a cyclist from Canada in
the Plaza. He plans to stay in Cusco for two weeks and then ride
down into Bolivia. We probably will cross paths again in the
The road out of Cusco was down hill and void of
traffic because it was Sunday. At first we had a strong head wind
and then later in the day we had a tail wind. It was difficult to
say whether this was the normal weather pattern or not. I forgot to put sun tan lotion on my arms
today, by the time I realized it
my arms were pretty burned. It looks like I will need to wear a
long sleeve for the next couple of days. I expected it to be cool
at this altitude but the sun is very strong so we burn easily.
When we arrived in Urcos the Sunday market was in full swing.
We saw lots of women in native dress. As we pushed our bikes
through the market to a hotel Tim decided to take a picture of me in the
women around him tried to catch his attention and started pointing out
their daughters to him, they were very young. Tim explained that he
already had a wife. We could not figure out if they were serious
or just trying to embarrass their daughters.
ascended 315 descended 535
||Urcos - Tinta. We had a great tail wind all day.
The people are friendlier here than in Central Peru. I think that
they are use to tourists here. However no one asked for money. The valley was rolling and we
steadily climbed up as the day went on. We stopped to take a break
after the toll booth and as we sat there we saw a forest fire start.
It started in the bushes and then spread to the Eucalyptus trees. The
wind was so strong there was not way of stopping it. By the
looks of things the fires just go until they burn out.
We stopped at
Hostel Progreso and got a room for 10 soles ($3) for the night.
Actually hostel Progreso is
located 6 km before Tinta. They said they had hot water but they did not. Yet another hotel
without hot water, at least it was cheaper. I woke up in the
middle of the night with a racing heart, I could not get back to sleep.
It was a bit scary. I think it is the altitude. Funny I did
not have these problems when we rode over Cerro de Pasco which was over
500 meters (1,500 feet) higher. Consequently, I slept in and we
got a late start in the morning.
||Tinta - Sincuni. It was virtually flat from Tinta
to Sincuni. We had just a slight head wind, oh we would have liked
the tail wind we had yesterday. The locals were friendly and we
say lots of local cyclists. We stopped for a store to take a
break. We noticed the women had big ceramic pots filled with
something. I asked what it was and they said, Chica. Chica
is a fermented drink made from corn. The Incas usually had it with
their festivals. It was then that I noticed a few men staggering
We arrived in Sincuni around 11:30. We located the
internet cafe and decided that we liked the town. I wanted to stay
the night, I am having trouble with the altitude so I did not want to
ride higher. As we started to look for a place to stay we met Gus.
An American from Los Angeles. He is living here, his grandfather
grew up in this town. He invited us to his hostel to stay the
night and have a buffet lunch. He serves buffets to tour buses
that pass through from Puno to Cusco. The food was great,
vegetables, soup, and 6 main Peruvian dishes to choose from. The
best food we have had in Peru.
|30 km 18 mi
||Sincuni - Santa Rosa. We said good bye to Gus and
headed towards the pass called La Raya. We were followed out of
town by his dog but he eventually turned around. If we had more
time I think we would have stayed longer. The ride up the valley
was gradual at first and very scenic, we also had a tail wind so it made
the climb even easier. The valley was green and the people were
very friendly. 28 km from Sincuni we passed Aguas Calientes, a hot
spring. It looked like a good place to camp and soak for the
night. However, we needed to push on.
We finally reached the
pass and started to descend very quickly. The valley was broad and
being the dry season very brown compared to the valley we just climbed
out of. As we were flying down the hill we had to stop for a herd
of alpaca crossing the road. I was lucky enough to be able to ride
behind the Gauchos (cowboys) and we talked while the herded the Alpaca
down the street. They were all white, fluffy, and full of energy.
When ever one veered from the pack a Gaucho would literally jump on its
back and wrestle it back into the pack. So that is how you do it.
The weather changed quickly and suddenly we had a very strong
tailwind, for about 20 km and then it changed direction and suddenly we
had a head wind. It was getting cold and we arrived in Santa Rosa
at a good time. We found the only Hospedaje in town and got a room
for 10 soles ($2.90). The room was large enough for our bicycles
and had a private bath. We did not have hot water and in the
middle of the night the water was off. Again, I had trouble
ascended 855 descended 420
|70 km 42 mi
||Santa Rosa - Pucara. The morning was still and
clear. We traveled quickly on the flat road. We were in
Arivica 40 kilometers (25 miles) in an hour and a half. We were not in a
rush so we stopped for lunch. The town seemed empty until we
arrived at the Plaza de Armas. A parade was going on and the
entire town was out watching the bands march by.
In hind sight we
stayed in Arivica a little too long. When we finished lunch we stepped
outside to a dark overcast sky. The clouds popped up in a matter
of an hour. We rode for about an hour and then the head wind hit
us hard. I think we will not be riding in the afternoon anymore,
two days in a row of head winds have taught us a lesson. Tim makes
a great wind break. At one point we got off our bikes and walked
just to take a break. This was a good thing to do because the wind
shifted while we were walking. One thing I have noticed over the
past two days is that everyone has a bicycle. They are everywhere
and people ride long distances between towns. The great thing is
it is not only boys and men on bikes but women and young girls too.
I just loved seeing a women in traditional dress riding a bike with here
child sitting on the back rack. It would have been rude to take a
picture but I will remember that sight for a long time.
We arrived in Pucara, just as the rain started coming down, just a
sprinkle. We were first sent to the plaza for a Hospedaje (hotel)
and then we eventually found our way back to the highway. The
Hospedaje is a huge modern looking building, it did not have a sign
either. It is on the corner of the highway and the road to the
train station. We paid 20 soles ($5.80) for the night and they
said they had a hot shower. What they failed to tell me was that
the water in the whole town was turned off. Seems to be a
reoccurring theme. It is the end of the dry season and it appears
that there are more people living here then there is water.
145 descended 295
|80 km 50 mi
||Pucara - Juliaca. We had such a beautiful view
from our hotel room it was hard to leave. Finally the water came
on and we both had a nice hot shower. Even with the extra time for
showers were got out the door pretty early. About 10 km (6 miles)
from Pucara we met our first cycling couple along this stretch.
They were from Germany and spoke some English, we are so lucky that
people learn the language we speak. They were just in Bolivia 5
days ago. They said because of the recent protests there was no bread
or water in La Paz or Copacabana. Hopefully by the time we get
there things will be back to normal.
The wind was favorable, there
wasn't any wind for the first hour and a half. Then it kicked up a
little and we had a slight headwind. The beauty of riding behind Tim
is that he just ploughs right through, especially on the flats, at times
I have a hard time keeping up with him. Obviously this type of
riding suits Tim. The road has gotten progressively worse since
Pucara, no shoulder and patchwork pavement that makes it hard to get
into a rhythm.
We stopped for lunch and I had sardines and
bread and Tim chose to pass on the sardines, fish is not his favorite
meal. It was a good choice for Tim too. I did not feel to
well after lunch, about a hour down the road I had to pull over because
I was nausea and could not ride. This area is flat as a pancake
and there was not a tree in sight. So as I am getting sick on the
side of the road I hear cars beeping at me, great I had an audience.
I felt better after getting sick but definitely weak. Juliaca was
only 10 km (6 miles) away so I decided that I needed to stop for the
day. Too bad too, we are only 45 km (15 miles) from Puno. We found a
Hospedaje (hotel) Senor de Huanco, 15 soles for the night, not quite as good as last night but at
least it had great hot water.
ascended 170 descended 200
|62 km 37 mi
||Juliaca - Puno. The morning was beautiful when we
set out from Juliaca. Juliaca is quite a hustle and bustle city.
The common mode of transportation is a tricycle taxi. As we left
we road in a pack of tricycle taxis, it was a bit of an eerie feeling,
everyone pedaling fast, you never knew where these guys would turn
either. The first 20 km (12 miles) was fast a furious, I could
barely keep up with Tim. Then as usual the wind changed and it was
back in our face. It did not really matter we had to climb over a
small set of mountains to get to Puno. As we were climbing a pair
of dogs attacked us, the first time in a long time, Tim ran one over and
they both went running home. As we reached the top it began to
rain. I fear that we will be dancing with the rain for the next month.
It is getting close to rainy season here. We plunged down to Puno
in no time and found the plaza.
I started scouting for a hotel and
realized that they all quoted their prices in US dollars. This is
never a good deal. We decided to wait a while before we chose a
hotel so we sat in the Plaza. As we were hanging out a parade of
local bands with traditional costumes and pan flutes came by. We did not
realize it as the buses passed us on the highway, but we say most of
these groups coming in on the highway, I recognized the drums. It
was very interesting and I was in heaven for the rest of the day.
I love parades and could watch one every day, it is the kid in me coming
ascended 270 descended 265
|45 km 15 mi
||Puno. Sunday in Latin America is low key.
Nothing is open, nothing to do. We walked down to the peer and
checked out the boats. Then we went to a movie, American Pie III,
I know adolescent. It did have some funny parts. The kids in
the theater were as obnoxious as the movie.
In the evening I was having problems with my bladder again. it
was painful and kept me up all night.
||Puno. I decided that I needed to see a doctor
about my bladder infection. First I went to the pharmacy and they
sent me to a private clinic. The hotel owner suggested that we not
go there because as soon as they saw we were foreign tourists they would
up the price, very high. So to the general hospital we went.
Our spanish must be getting better because we went through admissions
with out to much hassle. Then we had pay for the administration
fee before we could see a doctor. Luckily, we had a women escort
us to where we needed to pay. It was a long line and we waited
along with everyone else. Women with sick kids, old men limping
along. Hospitals are a scary place and this one seem to fit right
in. After we paid our 5 soles ($1.45) for admissions our escort
came out of no where and showed us to another room. There they
took my blood pressure, 95/80. Seemed a bit low but maybe it is
due to the altitude. My temp was 35 degrees C., I guess that is
OK. and I weighted 60 kilos, 132 pounds. Then our escort took us
through a maze of floors and halls. We saw a women laid out
on a gurney obviously in pain and being rushed down the hall. They
had put her cute little hat at the end of the bed, what an odd thing to
carry with you through an emergency. Finally we were sent in to
see the doctor. I explained my symptoms to him in spanish,
frequent urination, painful urination, symptoms have occurred for the
last three weeks. He sent me down to the laboratory to get my
urine tested. This is when things got really interesting.
First, I had to pay for the laboratory tests, back to the long line we
went, the lab analysis cost 8.5 soles ($2.50). The laboratory did
not have any sterile cups and suggested that we go out to the street and
buy one in a store. Like they have that kind of store here.
I was at a loss. The doctor wanted a urine specimen but the entire
hospital did not have a sterile cup. Wow, beyond belief for me.
As Tim and I headed out the door to the street our escort showed up out
of nowhere with a glass coke bottle. She handed it to me as said
use this. OK now they want me to pee in a coke bottle. It
looked clean but it did not have a cap. Well what else could I do
but pee in a coke bottle. Harder than it sounds. OK now I
had my specimen for the lab, now all I had to do was get it there.
How embarrassing, walking around with a coke bottle with urine in it.
I tried to hide it the best I could. The halls were crowded and at
one point a women slammed into my elbow, I almost lost my specimen all
over the floor. Yikes, I did not want to fill it again. I
dropped off my coke bottle at the lab, they did not seem to mind the
container. They said come back in an hour. An hour and a
half later my results were ready. The lab technician was kind
enough to take us back to the doctor's office, we could not have found
it on our own. The results showed that I had a bacteria. The
doctor prescribed an antibiotic. First we had to go back to the
long line and pay for my prescription, 2.9 soles ($0.84 cents) for a 6
day dose of ciprofloxacin (the same antibiotic I had for my stomach
problems in Puerto Chicama, Peru only I paid 20 soles ($5.80) there).
All and all everyone was extremely helpful, concerned, and I felt well
taken care of. The language barrier was evident at times but we
worked around it.
We called the South American Explorers Club and
found out that our package has not arrived in Cusco yet. Ugh!! I
guess it is now on to Copacabana and one very long bus ride for me back
to Cusco. Such is the ways of Latin America. Our visa runs
out on Sat. and it costs $27 per person to renew for a month. Just
not worth it. Besides we need to get ahead of the weather.
So we will leave on Thursday.
||Puno. Found a nice little store on Arequipa that
had a lot of the things we needed. When I walked in I asked for a
basket and they gave me a cart and they man jokingly said, fill it up.
I did, but you know toilet paper takes up a lot of room. Two large
grocery bags full of food cost me 70 soles or about 20 us dollars.
To think how quickly I would spend 20 dollars back in the States and not bat an eye.
Now it seems like a heck of a lot of money. The locals seemed to think
that as well. Some how I have managed to convince Tim that it was
time to buy a few souvenirs like an alpaca sweater. So we went
sweater shopping and found a decent price, two alpaca sweaters for 43
soles ($12.50 or 6.25 each) what a bargain. Earlier I had gone to
the expensive stores to see what they had and what was a good weave and
texture. Latin Americans are aces at copying a good thing.
So you really have to check that it is not a fake. Well I gave the vender a 100 sole note and he could only give 50 soles
in return, he did not have the 7 soles he owed me. I am sure this a common ply oh my now I get to pick out
a pair of gloves (never have to many gloves at this altitude) and a
matching hat. Ok I could not argue, Tim was agreeable and that is
all that counts. Thanks Tim.
||Puno. We visited Uros the floating islands today.
We arrived at the dock at 7:30 am hoping to get on our way. An
hour later we were still waiting for other passengers to fill up our
boat. Suddenly, we were being moved from our large boat to a
smaller boat. A group of tourists wanted to go out to Uros and
Taqxxx. We wanted to only go out to Uros the floating islands and
then return to Puno. It became obvious that most tourists made a
whole day of it and see more than the floating islands.
Anyway, two families from Lima joined us and we had a grand time
visiting the floating islands. We practiced our Spanish and the
kids practiced their English. Every thing was low key. The
locals had built a tower to go up in and view the surrounding islands.
All the boats, houses, and islands are made of reeds. They are
cut, dried and either bundled for walls or boats or just thrown on the
floor. The first island we went to was large and had a floating
school house on it. We just had to visit. Nice set up and
pleasant kids, the teacher was having a bit of a time controlling them
but hey that is just how kids are. We left a donation for the
school in the box near the door. We took a ride on a reed boat to
another island, they charged us 2 soles each, I can not imagine what
they charge for a group of foreign tourists. The boat was more
stable than it look. The second island we visited was smaller and
I could feel the waves move beneath my feet. Our boat captain
pointed out to us that the children know how to swim by the age of two.
Wow pretty young. I thought that this trip may have been a bit too
touristy but I really enjoyed it and the native people were very
pleasant, it is obvious that they depend on tourism to maintain their
life style. I just hope that they have islands that are completely
private so they can get away from the tourists.
We met Meke and Tobias
our next door neighbors and went out to dinner with them. We also
had dinner with another German couple and a couple from France. It
was an entertaining evening.
||Puno - Juli. We woke to stormy weather.
However, I was itchy to get riding again. Sometimes this itch will
get us in trouble but not today. When we left Puno it was
sprinkling and we feared that we would have to stop sooner than we
wanted to. Lucky for us the weather held out the entire day.
As we left Puno the people were friendly and were busy plowing their
fields with burros, cows and oxen. What a terribly difficult job.
We noticed a change again (similar to the people in Chavanillo, three
weeks before) in the locals at about Llave when a little boy on
the side of the road threw gravel at us. We stopped jumped off,
our bikes and chased the trouble maker back to his house. Tim was
furious. Lucky for him
his parents were not home, only his older brother who found the entire
scene entertaining. His little brother was not too happy and just
a bit scared. We left and continued on our ride. Over the
next hill three little girls dressed in new clothes and carrying school
supplies in new Barbie backpacks asked us for a gift. Then the next
man said Gringo, Plata. Translated to English, white man, give me money.
Then we saw the signs, a hey we are saving the world
organization. As far as I can see they are just corrupting these
people. I wonder what they really doing to make people act this
way. Hey you are a foreigner give me a gift or give me money.
I am not against aid, what I am against is how it is done.
Something is not right when you take away peoples dignity, and at the
same time inducing a lack of
respect for others or foreigners. Quite frankly I am getting tired of receiving
the blunt end of some one else's feel good project. This entire
scenario has happen too many times. I have a request to those in
foreign aid and tourists, stop handing out pens, gifts, money, clothes to the
people on the street. Give these things to the local church, school, or
hospital. I know a hospital in Puno who could use some sterile
cups and latex gloves as a gift. Let their own community members hand
out these things so they do not associate these gifts with race and
tourism. Yes, there are inequalities in this world but
handing out things to people so you can go home to your first world
country feeling good about yourself is doing more harm than good.
OK enough of my soap box. I can only imagine what Bolivia is going
to be like.
The result of all this begging is a misinterpretation of people on my
part. It upsets me immensely when I think that someone is asking
me for money when actually they are just saying hello. It is not
fair to think of someone like that.
Stayed in Hostel Municipal across
from the market. The owner quoted me a price of 10 soles for two
people, private bathroom, no shower. When I registered and told
him that I was from the US he changed the price to 14 soles total.
I hate it when someone changes a price on me, we already negotiated on a
price. Once again judged by my where I am from, disappointing.
ascended 280 meters descended 230 meters
|80 km 50 mi
||Juli, Peru - Copacabana, Bolivia. We were up early and
ready to go. We had to bring all our gear down three flights of
stairs so we always kept our door locked between trips. A normal
precaution on our part. We had two bags to go and Tim called the
owner up because he was having trouble with the lock. The owner
gave the key a twist and broke the lock, the door could not be opened
and two of our bags were stuck in the room. We pressed the owner
to get the door open. He wandered around not knowing what to do.
He sent a kid up to look at the door and he tried to open it with a pair
of scissors. Meanwhile they would not let Tim near the door.
We told him we really needed to go, our visa had run out and we needed
to get to the border. We wanted to break a window or something, he
said only if we paid for it. We asked him if he wanted to pay for
the extra day on our visa. The argument escalated to the point
where I did not know how we were going to solve our problem.
up with the solution. Instead of breaking the window he scrapped
away the putty around the glass and used a piece of wire supplied by the
dumb founded owner to open the window. A skill acquired will
breaking into cars with the keys locked in it. Wa la, Tim opened
the window right before the owners eyes. The owner was speechless,
he did not even thank Tim, we grabbed our bags and flew out of there as
quickly as we could.
Anticipation of crossing the border into Bolivia, finally, had us
both excited. We made good time to the border, Tim plowing ahead
through a steady headwind, and I staying in his draft the best I could.
We were asked for money along the way, at least five more times, I just
ignored them the best I could and decided the best thing to do was not
talk to anyone unless I had too. Sad but true. I asked
directions at one point and one of the kids asked me for money for the
answer, give me a break.
We arrived at the border between Peru and Bolivia. The border
was quiet. We easily exchanged our soles to Boliviano at a rate of
2.2 to 1 and our dollars at a rate of 7.7 to 1. We crossed the
quiet border to the Bolivian side, received our entrance stamp, and rode
the 8 kilometers to Copacabana. Our guide book and cycling
information we had stated that the road from the border to Copacabana
was a very bad dirt road. Much to our surprise and delight, it was
paved the entire way. Sure made for a quick trip into town.
We arrived at around 4:00 pm and Tim sat in the plaza while I scanned
the city for a hotel. I went to 7 and the best I found was Hotel
Colonial, it looked to expensive for us, it had a large room, large bed,
even Tim fit on it, and a hot shower. All for 40 bolivianos,
($5.20). It appears that the recent road blocks in the area have
affected the tourism and people were desperate to get any tourists in
Ascended 475 meters descended 475 meters.
Thumbnail Photo Page for this Journal
Tim's Letter for this Journal
6-3-03 to 6-17-04
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Sept. 14, 2003
The Ecuador border to Huallanca, Peru
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Huallanca, Peru to Copacabana, Bolivia
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November 1 - December 8, 2003
Copacabana to Villazon,
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