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Old 01-25-2013, 03:56 PM   #25
huzar OP
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Friday, January 18, 2013 Cusco to Ollantaytambo

The day starts for me with a trip to the motorcycle shop where I got the battery last night. I got the terminal nuts and headed back. Hewby had in the meantime packed up the room, so that all that needed to be done was to button up the KLR and we could be on our way.

We head out to Ollantaytambo, bypassing Sacsayhuaman. The road is nice, and as we near Urubamba we drop down to the valley via some pretty twisties. We stop at a mirador and soak in the view before us. The brown river, the green valley and lower slopes, and for the first time on this trip for me, rocky, glacier-clad pinnacles.


DSC00869 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr


IMG_2400 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The mirador above the town of Urubamba:

IMG_2402 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby looking lovely as ever:

IMG_2403 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

As we approach the bridge, we see traffic get very heavy. Lots of stopped minibuses, trucks, people with wheelbarrows. We soon see why. When we get to the bridge, we are told we cannot pass. Only pedestrians. They have put in bollards to keep vehicles from getting on the bridge. I think Id have had to remove my side bags to fit between them. Eventually we are informed that if were going to Ollantaytambo, there is a road that heads out of Maras that will get us over the river.

The closed-off bridge:

IMG_2406 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Snow-covered peaks:

IMG_2407 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We retrace our steps, and soon find ourselves in Maras. We head out on what we think is the road a reasonable dirt tract then turn around and head back, as we realize were riding in not quite the right direction. We then spot what we think is the right road, but it looks kind of muddy and tracked out. Hewby wants to go down it, I want to get gas, as the KLR has already done 165 miles since the last fillup. I think I can get gas in Huayllabamba, which is the road Google Maps had routed us through this morning. Only I didnt see any other paved roads split off the 3S that we were on Odd.

The nice dirt track heading out of Maras. I'm still not sure why I didn't want to go this way:

DSC00888 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

With my limited Spanish and bullheaded conviction that I want to get has in Huayllabamba, I pull a reluctant Hewby with me. There is a little village in which the tract to Huayllabamba originates, but we get conflicting inputs on which of the roads out of the village actually leads to Huayllabamba. We finally encounter a friendly man who first draws us a map, and then offers to show us the way. I ask him to hop on the back of the KLR, and we go where he points. He gets us out of the village, points down the tract, and tells us it is only about 8 kilometers. He assures us that the bridge in Huayllabamba is just fine, and we will have no problem getting across. We thank him profusely and start down the tract.

Hewby getting written directions from a local, before he hops on the back of my bike to show us the way:

IMG_2410 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The road is mostly a dual-track clay road. Given that this is the rainy season, some of the mud and clay is slick. Occasionally there are slides and small washouts, as well as lots of evidence of recent repairs. This gives us confidence that this is the right road, and that people actually use this. Somewhere we miss a turn.

The not quite as nice dirt track:

IMG_2412 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Me piloting Hewby's bike through a rougher section. Long legs FTW!

DSC00890 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Somewhere here we begin to lose the track, I think:

DSC00897 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

More rought stuff:

IMG_2414 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby's relieved to have made it down that:

IMG_2416 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We find ourselves on an ever rougher, ever narrower path. Hewby drops her bike a couple of times. With my longer legs, duck walking is the one type of motorcycle riding where I do better than she does. The single track eventually ends at the ruins of an old house, effectively cliffing out. Crap.

Scenic place for a dirt nap:

DSC00900 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

At the house remnants where the track cliffed out:

DSC00906 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Bringing the KLR around:

DSC00916 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Yay, backtracking:

DSC00918 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Riding past Hewby's downed bike:

DSC00921 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

At least the views are still pretty:

DSC00926 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

I look back, and see that way back there is a dual-track that heads down to the valley, and realize this is the turn-off we missed. I bring the bike around, help Hewby with hers, and we head back. Were not looking forward to this, as the Pirelli MT60s on the KLR are not the best for wet clay, and Hewbys front is getting kind of bare. We came down what seemed like some steep, slick stuff, and coming back up it would be a bear.

The ride back to the turn we missed actually starts to let me understand why the KLR is beloved by so many. Yeah, its not the perfect bike for anything, but five days earlier it did 85 on the pista, it did the twisties in the mountains, and now it is kind of managing the rough tract. My V-Strom would have schooled it on the road, my Husky would have schooled it in the dirt, but I cant very well carry a trailer full of bikes. The geometry sort of fits me. Im starting to like the bike. It just sort of chugs along. I point it, and like a tractor it goes.


IMG_2417 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Unfortunately, Hewbys heavily loaded (and lowered) F650GS has a harder time of it. Hewby has a particularly unfortunate fall where she breaks the mirror mount (yet again), and shatters her newly installed windscreen. Doh! I offer to ride her bike through the more difficult sections, and we move some of her luggage to my KLR. Riding her lowered bike I get a couple of painful reminders that duck walking a heavy bike with panniers through rocks is fraught with peril, as I nearly get my ankle trapped.

Man down, man down:

DSC00927 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We find the missed turn, walk it a bit to confirm, and then head down. The road is once again a nice dual-track with sharp switchbacks. Hewby has another small get-off, but otherwise things are going well. We realize weve now been on this tract for over three hours, as we can see the shadows getting longer on the peaks across the river. Part of me does not care, as the view is gorgeous, with new snow-capped crags emerging from the mists.

Back on track:

IMG_2418 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Walking Hewby's bike down a section that has been torn up by a tractor or excavator:

DSC00951 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

I notice that the KLR is starting to handle like a pig, not tracking straight, sliding sideways on the switchbacks. Uh oh. My front is flat. Hewby offers to air it up, but I think Ill be fine just kind of slowly rolling down the hill. Only now I try not to use the front brake, only the rear one, which is much harder to modulate. I have to fight the bike to go straight, but somehow we make it down to the bottom of the tract. There we have one last surprise. The tract ends in a stream. We can sort of skirt the left side of it through a rocky shelf, and then cross it and go up the dirt on the other side, and well finally be in Huayllabamba. I take the KLR over, and Hewby asks me to take her bike across the rocks and the stream. Were in town.

Bringing the KLR down to the crossing:

DSC00969 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The actual crossing. Looks pretty wimpy now, but we have had lots of practice since. Also, we were kind of knackered after our little ordeal, so it seemed biger than it was:

DSC00971 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

I use Hewbys compressor to inflate the front tire, as we find out there is no llantaria in town. The nearest one is in Urubamba, right near the bridge (the same bridge that we had tried to cross much earlier in the day). The air holds for a bit, letting me get through the village. I have to reinflate again, which gets us to the pista and on to Urubamba. We find a shop thats still open, and the man tells me he can fix it for 10 soles. Music to my ears. We find out that part of the support for the bridge has collapsed, and while theyre putting up a new one, the old one cannot support vehicle traffic. Of course there is absolutely no signage anywhere indicating that a major bridge on a major road is out.

We have another 13 miles to Ollantaytambo, which we risk in the dark. At one point a white dog runs out, I swerve to avoid him, but Im pretty sure that the pickup that was tailgating me mowed him down. We get to town, to be greeted by Hewbys favorite road surface cobblestones. Hewby has the name and address of some Hostel, an we try to find that. We soon come to the realization that a lot of the roads are actually pedestrian-only alleys. We ask a policeman about the street, and he says it too is pedestrian-only. Hewby had previously spotted another Hostel, right by the little bridge in town. 60 Soles for the night, with nice, hot water, but somewhat weak wifi that only exists in the common areas. Given we feel pretty beat, we take it. They have room for our bikes in the courtyard. We shower, and go to the pizzeria next door for dinner. Were tired and hungry and not really caring about an authentic experience we just want some food. The place works.

I never did need the gas. I switched on the reserve a couple of miles outside of Ollantaytambo. Which probably means my gas worries about the dirt tract out of Maras were unfounded. It likely would have been easier to navigate than the one we went on, and would have gotten us here sooner. So I dragged Hewby through some rough stuff, causing her to break a few things on her bike for no good reason. Sometimes I can be a pretty pig-headed boyfriend.

huzar screwed with this post 01-30-2013 at 05:10 PM Reason: fixing pictures
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