Huayhuah, Mountains, Glaciers and Trolls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter few days in Huaraz eating lots of big food and hanging out with the french and the big dogs it was time to go along the last bits of Cordillera Blanca and toward Huayhuash.

Although i try my best to avoid it, riding on pavement isn’t bad. We climbed gently up the valley passing towns and mines.

Our first stop was the Pastoruri glacier. It was nice to see the locals herd their sheep up the hills but man these peruvian sheepdogs really don’t know what they are doing, running around and barking and not helping like a proper sheepdog.

Sylvain had seen me rock the peruvian poncho and got one as well. We set camp just before the rain hit.


The peruvian national park service had it all figured out: run animals everywhere in the park, build mines and gringo tax tourists (4x normal prices). We paid our 20$ for a night of camping
“You can sleep in the parking lot.” Oh, great!

to the pasture!
a dog sneaking up on Sylvain
and rocks
and some miners on their way to mine stuff

It was still early before the tourists flocked in on buses and the valley was full of big weird plants. Pretty good weather considering the downpours we had between Caraz and Huaraz.

At the end of the road the guys told me I can’t go with bike and need to take horse instead. I pointed to the old road and they said yeah then went back to their card game.

rent a horse Pastoruri
the paved way up, looking back

The glacier seemed pretty small but had a nice vibe with the on and off snow and sun. At 5000m it was the highest I have ever been. Apparently the horse rides to near the top are just $2 but there is also a dude helping and carrying people on the final steps (not kidding!), that would set you back a $6. I waited for my friend as people went about taking photos, selfies and getting cold.

Sylvain making his way amongst the tired people!

At 4 some whistles started blowing and they all went down. Sylvain went around and we set up camp. Water, from the lake or the ponds was undrinkable with very strong metallic taste. We scooped some fresh snow nearby. Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to eat snow? Well, it will be snow for dinner and breakfast!


It was a cold night and silent morning. It was truly awesome to wake up in the white winter wonderland without a single cloud in the sky.

We rode down early as the horses got ready for their day and towards a true peruvian dream road. Snaking its way amongst ridges and peaks, barely used and never too steep.

Eventually hail and rain rolled in for a bit and there was a final 1300m unbroken downhill past more mines to a little mining town. Even our hostel was named “the blue mine”.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

more mines
seems like everybody is trying to mine something!
the little town of Huayllaca

We climbed on a too good to be true road out of town. I was somehow worried that there may be a mine gate at some point as we watched convoy after convoy go down. Zero up traffic, they must all go up in the morning. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then as Sylvain said it “the fun begins”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Around the corner the small road ended and it was trail time. Thats when the real fun begins!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wait… is that a sheep???OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Peruvian poodle dog!

We made good friends while waiting for Sylvain and she even went with us to show us the right way among the many false cow tracks. And boy she could howl!! A howling peruvian poodle???OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More friendly farm dogs to come!


Eventually we got on a road, map had one the whole way but maybe they put it on the map but forgot to build it?

a horse sneaking up on Sylvain
the road to Huayhuash!

Wer rode down a ways and set a camp, rather windy but the wind blew away the clouds just in time for a red sunset over the Huayhuash.

big rock camp


Morning was clear and road good until it ended. We went past a toll booth luckily unattended and up a trail.


It was easy pushing except for few steeper parts, lots of water, birds and cows.

whats in focus? The cow in the corner!!! go figure! #autofocus
a gang of cows blocking the way

Downhill was rideable and fun, Sylvain walked most of it though, love fat bikes! But i really wish I had a helmet.


This donkey did not hide too well but stealth is a useful skill to have as a donkey.

a nice rock!
another nice rock!

I got myself well aquianted with the next set of peaks and glaciers while waiting for my friend and a local went looking for the donkey, who by the way had escaped and if he didn’t bring it back it could wander off.

the beauties of huayhuash
you can listen the the ice break off with thundering sound
and the wind blow off the top of the peaks, wondering what kind of wind chill is that!

A stealth donkey and an escape artist! Wait.. there are two of them??? was the other one just that good at stealth???OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Camp was with obligatory door facing the view. After the 4pm hailstorm it got nice again.DCIM120GOPROGOPR0540.JPGDCIM120GOPROGOPR0538.JPG

Sylvain wanted to shuttle the bike up the pass and go hiking and I added my gear to the donkey taxi but decided to bring my bike, in case I can ride it. A stealth escape artist donkey taxi.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After having paid yesterday, a kid with a notebook ran up to us asking us
to pay another $15. Really? We knew what we were getting into, Huayhuash was pretty popular and the whoe loop runs about over $100 but getting charged at each house is silly. We argued for a bit until his dad waved us on from the field.

Next house up the hill came again a lady with a notebook.
“You have to pay”
Sylvain confirmed that this was on the list of “have to pay” places and we paid our $10. Kind of a bummer to be charged everywhere but if your quiet farm turns into a tourist wonderland how could you blame anyone for making a profit?

Trail was very narrow and steep, making carrying impossible and pushing very difficlt. Taking off a pedal did the trick and I made my way up, Sylvain also pushing the bike from time to time in the back.IMG_0835

the three lakes

Sylvain had to keep his donkey date at 3pm so he went on and I slowpoked my way up the 4800-somethingish pass.



Some guide book had it titled the best hike out of the circuit and it was beautiul but I wasnt here for that. Just going along for the ride… er. Hike. Ok, downhill was actually mostly rideable save for some really bumpy boggy parts.



Sylvain tells me was was 10 min early for the donkey date and it all went well. No second date though and he’ll be biking the next pass. Hopefully they make it back before 4pm hailstorm. Just before the dark it broke for an amazing sunset and oh, have you seen the moon?IMG_0871


me: Sylvain can you keep this light on for an hour of timelapse sylvain: no, its my phone!

We descended down another valley wondering how many times we can be charged but luckily nobody was at home. I looked over my shoulder for a bridge troll and a notebook but we made it clear! Despite that, it is a wonderfull place where the valleys climb toward the sky and the rugged peaks stand tall from above. It is a place to feel at home, a place to take your breath away (literally) and a place where you can’t dream because well… you are in it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The ride down was a blast but perhaps tougher if you were pushing more of it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Doing the whole circuit for me was a no go, not only because its expensive but also my ticking clock on peruvian visa. I have 28 days to get out and just so much more to see. Sylvain was not super stoked on pushing his bike up and walking it down. I think he was also struggling with altitude but I am also just good at pushing my bike (we have same riding speed on roads). He wasn’t overly excited about the exit trail and decided to zoom down the valley where there seemed to be a road. We agreed to meet in town in two days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In my turnoff I was clear of any and all toll/troll houses and receipts! Although this second climb of the day was a bit much. Going up is tough but downhills really sap your strength, negotiating with rocks and bumps and cowpoop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I found a good spot with protection from the wind and the cows but a short scout did not show a road where the map had it, just a trail. Maybe Sylvain was right to opt out but tomorrow is another day, another 4800m pass and if all goes well I can stuff my face full of food in a town in the evening! These peruvian mashed potatoes are crappy, I feel sick about 3/4th way through a bowl.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I tried to capture the thunder sizzle above in audio but the hail pounding on the tent muffled most of it. But the best about being so close to the equator is that the frost and snow melts super fast and you can definitely pack a dry tent.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Good trail up until what appears to be a road.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The road went gently down after the pass and a mine but still rather rocky, hard to ride with one hand and take video with other. Without the looming threat of toll booths and notebooks it was much easier to stop and talk to the locals, to work out bike for a horse and a half trade and invite their kid to argentina!


The main road widened almost expecting big mining truck convoys but they never came, just some little mines alongside.

This little town had a restaurant but you have to pay money to go in the town. Odd. I just went on.


I asked to buy some eggs and rice at a little store and hung out with their dog and kids for an hour. Theolder kid was super curious and the younger one just grumpy! Dog played soccer too!!!



To top it off I found a shortcut at a little town and got mobbed by 6 dogs in a little alley until an old man came out and threwrocks at them. The road turned to hiking trail. A peruvian dream trail, not steep, wide enough and smooth. It ran all the way to the town. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oyon, a typical miner town, we found a place with ok hot shower at The Miner hotel and munched a so-so (by peruvian standards) dinner with the other miners. We even managed to catch up with the 2014 huayhuash video and turns out we did almost the same side (they did 2 extra passes). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so yeah this is about it for this post! lots of peru left to go!

you can go back to the main website if you wantt to look at other stuff! It is in the process of being moved here to wordpress but for now will take you back


The Three Gringos and the rain

So after a lengthy almost two week brake off the bike it was time to get moving again. During my stay in Caraz I also met up with Alex, a Canadian who has been biking from Colombia and also Sylvain who was coming down from Canada for a few week trip in Peru… also bringing some presents!

if you are wondering, Canadian Santa rides a black surly troll!

We decided to join forces for few days until Huaraz and to get Sylvain acclimatized we went out on a day ride to a nearby lake.

Then as usual the rain started and we crawled up the hill. As the time ticked, we really wondered if we`d even make it to the top and even if we did, would it be worth it to just look at the clouds?

laguna Paron

What the ranger did not expect was to find 3 wet gringos infront of his house, trying to hide from the rain. It was 5:30pm and we would have likely ridden down in the dark but there was an option for $3 beds for the night and… well… a fire!

and the morning was just clear enough to see the big guys standing over the lake before the clouds took them away

Aside from the odd cow wandering down in the national park, we saw few minibuses loaded for tourists heading up the steep valley. It was an uninterrupted down from about 4300 to 2300m, making me really glad I had big tires as I zoomed down toward the little houses and fields instilling fear into the hearts of sheep, cows and dogs.

I managed to return the renter computer I used to edit the 23rd video and even repair the hole in my fork with some epoxy, Lauff had agreed to send a replacement eventhough it was my fault for not installing the brake cable properly but this should hold for at least few months. No signs of cracking or anything.

Up again for real and now fully loaded toward Chacas over the Huascaran National Park. It was sunny until about 3800m where we had to pay 4x the local rate to enter the national park for 3 days. ($25 or so). `Foreginer` rates are just really discriminating in my opinion and I would do my best to avoid it but for now we just hand over the cash, a little warm up for huayhuah…

in retrospect, the 25$ was worth it as we got a sheltered spot to cook/sleep as it poured cats and dogs as usual all night.

We had the park for few hours in the morning to ourselves aside from the odd cow that has wandered off from the pastures. It almost cleared up but it was a cloudy and muddy ride up to about 4800m

We almost saw Huascaran, Peru`s tallest


We rode down to a typical little town with surprisingly luxorious government buildings. We found a cheap place to recharge electronics (which was mostly me!) and dry out for the night.

then the next day…


Yup! Rain!

but that made the few precious moments of sunshine that much better.

Even down to the hot-dog valley at 2800 meters or so. We had to share the road with pigs and other animals but I unfortunately did not manage to grab onto any of the slow trucks going to Chacas.

five more minutes…
share the road – Peru

So far we`ve been spoiled little campers and still havent had to camp in the rain but with the dark clouds looming over the city it was not a hard decision to call it a day at 4pm.

I know how you feel buddy!

Now it was time for the real fun. Despite the rain we are giving Quebrada Honda a go, a route from tagged with 90% rideable. Keep that in mind as you scroll down.

It was half sunny and half cloudy as we made our way up to the end of the road, past some odd gates, personal mining operations and the neverending pastures.

Then it began raining. I had my peruvian plastic poncho game right on, it keeps me mostly dry while pushing but cool enough but also a gift from DeNolin rain jackets from Quebec, a full goretex outfit for when its cold enough and downhills. While Alex was much better at pedaling up, I totally kicked both of their asses when it came to pushing the bikes!

Sylvain by far has the most rad bikepacking setup I have ever seen. Organized, convertible to hike-a-bike and completely shattering my expectations of French-Canadians (having only know them as tree planters or some crazy mono-skiers from the 80s, haha) He had been touring on and off since 14! and had a lot of time to tune up his ride.

sometimes I feel that I should have helped but I just took photos. Thats what friends are for!!!

What kind of a bikepacker are you if you cant jump over a stream with your bike?
90% rideable, remember?

We called it just in time before a serious downpour on a fairly flat and somehow dry ground. All the little towns on the way had good tomatoes and i just could not resist adding them to my bag… maybe I have a problem?

I also forgot at the time but tonight was my 30th birthday! Perhaps a time to reflect on the past and the future and think about what I will do in 5-10 years? But too tired to do that, sleeping sounded like a better idea.

and it was a surprisingly good sleep with the switchbacks and the pass looming over us

again, thats what friends are for, you may slip and fall on these rocks but we will get it on video!!!  (seriously though any time there was any helping with pushing or pulling the bike it ends up being a little more dangerous than if you do it alone where you have complete control)

The other valley was a little clear of clouds but they went on and off like the rain. Alex and Sylvain elected to talk their bikes down while I rode most of the downhill, crushing through the big loose rocks and riding through the brush on the lower part. A rock broke a spoke but that was all about it. Alex had a bit of a timeline to reach Huaraz so he bombed down the valley but me and Sylvain decided to try our luck at a lake in the upper end despite the mines all over the hills and what seemed to be a mining camp on the way.

one of the few photos on the way down
a convoy of mining trucks on their way out of the national park
cows! the first obstacle we faced on the way to the lake

So it happened like this. We reached the mining camp at the base of the final camp. Gate unattended and went up the hill. A man in orange ran up to my friend and stopped him. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

me? I am going to make a run for it. I started pushing as fast as I can at 4200m and a surprisingly steep road. The guy trying to run after me, whistling and yelling. My headphones would be my excuse if he catches up to me. about 200 vertical and 30minutes later I cross a stream and am mucking through some mud just near the lake when he is on my heels. I turn around and slowly take of my headphones.
he was surprisingly not upset for running after me. Its a mine property here (in the national park) and we cant go through. I convince him to walk to the lake for some photos before we go back. He is chatting to the operator and the boss on the radio but we will need to go back down.DCIM117GOPROGOPR7457.JPG

As we get to the road the boss comes out of a combi, his hands dirtier than mine! Black from Coal I assume but they tell me they mine mostly silver here. Surprisingly he is pretty cool and invites us to stay at the camp after we visit the lake. He doesnt quite understand why we would want to camp here but says its ok. I feel like a giant asshole for running for it but I did not expect for them to actually let us go. Maybe talking up here and not down at the gate it was easier for him to say yes. I set up camp and Sylvain gets shuttled up with the minibus to the lake. For the first time…. the clouds clear. There is sunshine. and just WOW.DCIM118GOPROGOPR8789.JPG

and I kind of wonder how can they mine a national park at the base of the glaciers but then if it werent for these mines we could have never reached here. These faint old roads would not exist and well… while it may not be the most environmentaly friendly thing to do, it is work for the locals, likely better than picking potatoes for $6 per day.

the mine and the glacier
our lake

and the rest was just beauty and extra space on the SD card! For the first time we had a dinner outside as well.


Then it wet snowed all night so we had an interesting morning


We zoomed down the valley of the mines, the dude who chased me yesterday agreed it was a good workout and he wont need to go to the gym and laughed. We played tag with mining truck convoys down the muddy road. Riding behind one was good because when it crosses a big pond it would split the waters to each side and you can see exactly where you can ride!

good way to warm up in the morning! no need to worry about getting your feet wet

Then of course, we see another mine when we enter the big valley


A quiet up and down around some tree plantations took us to the final descend to Huaraz

At huaraz it was time to rest and prepare for the Huayhuash.



[VIDEO] SEE THE WORLD 23: Peru, of mines and mountains

So this one follows the last um… about 3 months in Peru, entering from Ecuador. You can find a lot more info on the journal updates (links open in new window)

  1. The Hotlands and Baby Mountains of Peru
  2. Dirt Roads, No Brakes and Horseman Militia
  3. The Great Brake Odyssey
  4. The Ridge
  5. To the Land of the Mines
  6. Toward the Sky


The exact route is here. Downloadable (go to the google page) and if you are going do get in touch with me!
(*after Pampas via Laguna Pelegatos there is a checkpoint, see post#5 above to find contact info so that you may be able to get permit)


  • I am Oak – Trees and birds and fire
  • Blaze Foley – Clay Pigeons
  • Old Show Medicine Crow – Wagon Wheel
  • Mark Knopfler – Before Gas and TV
  • The Great Lake Swimmers – Your Rocky Spine
  • Rachelle Van Zanten – Your Country
  • Tallest man on earth – Into the Stream
  • Johnny Cash – Troubled Waters
  • Cinematic Orchestra – Home
  • Albert Kubzein – Yensei Punk
  • Edward Sharpe and the magnetic zeroes – life is hard
  • tallest man on earth – dark bird is home

FULL playlist on youtube here:


Big thanks to everyone for making this possible, it has been just over a year since I started the Patreon support page and by now there are over 95 supporters! I am able to comfortably travel now and stop to edit new videos on the way, in addition to being able to buy some upgrades! (next EP will have… a surprise!!)

Learn how you can help!

Link to the video project page (still on the old website but it will all get moved to wordpress soon)

Also big thanks for Magura Brakes for coming through and all my other sponsors for their wonderful gear and support through the years. Blackburn Design, Chris Murray (Elevation Wheelworks), Fatback Bikes, Lauf Forks, Johnson Outdoors (Eureka, Jetboil)


Cordillera Blanca

(in the process of changing website platforms, new blog posts will appear here until I can complete the move! You can bookmark and follow this if you want. Later this will be the main webpage)

So a two day rest in Pomabamba proved to be a bad idea as I was just not sure what to do and where to go. My planned route lay ahead toward Caraz but what about these traile leading away from my lake camp few days ago? My friend told me that people can do it with horses and mules so by default it is possible on bike. I sent as much stuff ahead as I could including stove, repair kit and clothes and went out of town. We are doing this!


It did made most sense to take the old road up. A 1300+m climb on a trail would be tough, especially if it will rain all day. I had gotten a Peruvian blanket-like plastic poncho which did wonders as it was fully waterproof and had enough openings to keep me cool. The light rain was on and off but as I reached above 4000m it got quite cold. Cows seemed to try and run interference but nothing could stop me now!

I kicked around cow and horse poop to clear a decent spot, as usual facing the big mountains when they come out. It was a rather rainy night and in the morning the mountain came into view on the backing of the bland cloudy sky as if it was a dream and not real.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I drove up to my friends hut at Huilca and he was surprised to see me again. I told him I am going to the other side and here is how the conversation went (in spanish of course)

´Do you know the trail?´
´How is it? is it good?´
´its just rocks´
´but can I ride the bike?´
´no, just rocks´
´not even for a little bit?´

We ate great wheat soup for breakfast. They go to town twicea month. One time with horses for supplies and likely another time with the moto for small things if needed. No TV, no electricity (aside from a Solar Panel for light and charging their phones for music). There was a moment of awkwardness as I headed up, maybe he was expecting me to go back? I snap a photo as his wife (in red) goes off chasing after the sheep some of which broke off before their scheduled release time of 8am


My ride through the flat valley bottom and the rain from the night before all contributed to my tires getting saturated with sheep and horse and llama poop. I take care to ride through every puddle and luckily it falls off. Pushing your bike with poop on it up a hill would not be fun!


After some wandering among the millions of cattle trails that go up I find something more pronounced. Its the main trail leading over the ridge


It was hard work but somehow easy as it wasnt like the deep mule trenches of Ecuador or the simply dangerous foot trails of Colombia. Peruvians had their stuff together and perhaps the topography of these mountains allowed it… for now. Sharp pieces of rock came over on the other side and I instilled fear in the hearts of the cows and horses as I descended the rideable section before the next pass, often staring at the valley end and wondering ¨How am I going to go over that???¨

It was the calm before the storm, figuratively and literally. I almost caught a glimpse of the sun as I munched some lunch after scaring off a band of horses from their favorite spot. I could see their heads at 30 degrees, looking curiously at me as I made my way up the hill and it started raining.


The final push over the pass looked nearly impossibleOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but it was easier than it looked. The rocky terrain offering good drip and always, always having decent space beside me to push the bike up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and then it started snowing, haha it was just perfect! So thats why they call it Cordillera Blanca!DCIM116GOPROG0136316.JPG

I had a short moment of ¨NO WAY…¨ at the pass as I looked at the begining of the trail. I descended it on my bum with bike up front and using my feet and one hand not holding the bike to slow myself down. After the initial steepness, the trail evened out a bit. The soft cover of snow over the sharp rocks meant …. it could may be be rideable??

While the plastic poncho kept my core body dry and warm, everything else – sleeves and pants through my rain gear was soaked and while I wanted to keep doing the descend, I figured chances are I wont find a decent place to sleep and the bottom of the valley at 4200m would still be cold. It was best to set up right here.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I force fed myself as much as I can of the sandwitches and tuna that I could eat and went to sleep. The bright moon shoot through the clouds and I came out to see what was happening.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The morning was no less spectacular as the first sun went over the white giants and before the clouds engulfed them again. What a rad place!DCIM117GOPROG0087043.JPG

while I was watching glaciers and clouds, I too was being watchedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking at the rough elevation for tomorrow I set up camp very early at 4200m to rest and celebrate the new year by sleeping half of the day. Tomorrow would be tough and its best to rest up. I fired up a big playlist of TED talks that I managed to scoop over my cellphone network in Pomabamba (as simply none of the internet cafes had decent internet).

It was a mostly rideable descend down the valley past some old ruins, perhaps older than few hundred years? These rocks are very very big and heavy and I dont think normal people would go about moving them…

Lorena from Lima was hiking here (also a warmshowers host in Lima!) We helped eachother move the bike and backpack over a thorny cactus-like plant fence, perhaps used to make sure cattle dont wander off on the trail and get lost. She was off to hike another 8 days and I was a little jelaous! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But I had other things to worry about. Such as the over 1000m of vertical ascent that lay ahead of me today…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and all the switchbacksOI000090.jpg

I dont want to be the one criticizing the ancient trail builders… but did they really have to dip 300m down and then up again? 😦OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was tough going up to 4800m again. Lots of pauses, especially during rockier parts or when bike needed to be lifted. But interestingly I was making good progress, slowly. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The final push, although at times scary looking was easier than the rest mainly due to wider trail

and for some odd reason, the descend was in a good shape as well. Partly rideableDCIM117GOPROGOPR7133.JPG

At the base of a lake I was looking for a camping spot when I stumbled at a decent shelter. 4600m is still quite cold and the thought of not having to pack frosty tent seemed appealing (I still had to dry mine which was still frozen in my bag from yesterday!). After watching the sunset show over the lake and to the west over Cordillera Negra across the valley, five gringos rolled in. They took the kitchen floor of the hut and I had the master suite.

We chatted for a while and drank Matte in the morning, I was just so happy to talk english (it has been a really long while!) and they were off to do the entire circuit – another 12 days of hiking. They also told me that the way down was rideable and while I did not fully trust that I still had to take the stairs for about an hour before the descendOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was actually rideable. At times bumpy and rocky but RIDEABLE! I scared the crap of a whole bunch of different groups of cows as I bombed down (at a safe speed), really appreaciating my new brakes and how well they have held up as well as the bike in general – it was a wonderful piece of machinery, new and old that was just perfect for the occasion.

I munched fresh food at the town while the locals were poking the tires, counting gears and wondering where the gas goes. I did quite well to find apples and bananas and I need to be careful not to overeat as that has been a problem in the past after similar stretches of eating bad or not eating enough (it has been 3 cans of tuna and sandwitches and cookies for the last 5 days). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The road was a road and I felt like a superman pedalling in low elevation, basking in the heat of the sun and talking to cows and dogs by the road (and people too).

The final descend to Caraz was something different. It started off good but the road deteriorated as we went on. I was just bombing down first passing the minibus, the taxi and then a mototaxi. Faster and faster I even overtook one of the Toyota Hilux mining trucks – the monstrosities of the peruvian dirt roads that stop for nothing. I was the fastest thing down this stretch of road.

Rolling into town was nice and I went for a $6 pasta at a tourist restaurant, followed by fried chicken on the street. There was the plan to ride over the Cordillera Blanca twice more, once on a road and once on a trail but that may have to wait. I had been copying videos off of my camera to my tablet to have space and now I was at capacity. While I planned to stop in Huaraz to rest up, a quick stroll around town found me a place to rent a computer and one of the hotels (at $15 canadian) seemed very good and the staff amazing! So I set up here for the next 11 days to work on 1st video of Peru along with few other projects and fatten up. They even brought a table, couch and coffee maker to the room.

meanwhile, typing up this post on the engine was a blitz and I will definitely be using this for all future posts and eventually move the main website here. So, you can hit subscribe here too if youd like to keep up to date! Cheers!!

back to ?

Recap and What’s next?

I had my first bicycle touring trip from August 1st to Sept 10th, 2013. 41 days, 6400km and absolutely the best summer vacation I have had. My daily average was 182km (not counting days hitchhiking and the 1 rest day).

More detailed day-by-day journal at:

Here are all the entries in the journal (if you just want to see the pictures, they are at the bottom of each post):

Day 1-8 Vancouver to Kitwanga, BC

Day 9-12 The Stewart Cassiar Highway

Day 13-17 Alaska HWY and Klondike HWY

Day 18-19 Top of the World Highway to Alaska

Day 20-25 The Dempster HWY to Inuvik

Day 26-29 Inuvik to Cache Creek, BC

Day 30-41 3 days in BC, the Praries and the end

What’s next? Hopefully next summer I will either cycle the Dalton Highway, Alaska or the Karakoram Highway (between Pakistan and China):

Or some of the less traveled roads in BC (Chilcotin Highway?)
or even a multiday hiking trip!

30-41 3 days of BC and the Praries

I just realized that my previous posts were full of whining about the weather, road conditions and availability of food, but that’s really not how I will remember my trip, it has been the best 29 days of my life and I loved every moment of it! With that being said, I am no writer and I can’t fully describe the amazing feeling of moving at 15-20km/h through such amazing scenery (nor do the pictures do it any justice).IMG_8902

Day 30 (226km) near Cache Creek – just past Salmon Arm

Kamloops Lake
my camp spot at an abandoned gravel quarry

After two days of driving and several short naps, I find myself at the 97/99 HWY junction, where 27 days ago I made a turn and headed north. Happy to be on the bike again I head south toward Cache Creek and then to Kamloops. Having been used to seeing one vehicle every 30minutes, at peak hours, the traffic on the Trans Canada highway becomes really irritating, especially as I near Kamloops – tiny shoulder on a two lane highway full of cars, trucks and RV’s. At Kamloops I spent the last of my money for a 6 day supply of food: new bag of Oatmeal, Biscuits and the luxury Chef Boyardee spaghetti! Now I don’t have to worry about making sure I am at towns within business hours of the grocery stores. With a little bit of tailwind and much less climbing, I break 200k for the first time in about 2 weeks! I set up camp at an abandoned gravel quarry (not sure if thats the right name), after realizing driving in the night is too stressful (I wanted to make it to Revelstoke, but two lane highway with small shoulder isn’t very safe).

Day 31 (159km) … – somewhere in Glacier National Park (before Roger’s Pass)IMG_9048

If you have extra money, I am sure the staff at that resort will solve that problem for you!
Living on the edge

Nothing too eventful, the scenery was amazing and the rolling hills reminded me that I am still in the Rockies (So did the mountain peaks, still partially covered in snow). I also met Jordi again, which was very interesting. He has cycled to Prince George and then through Jasper National Park and on his way to Vancouver, while I made my way up north and hitchiked back. He had picked up some friends, riding one of those bikes where you sit down (they apparently do very well going downhill and against the wind – something that would come in handy in the praries).

There is a funny story behind this photo: I was amazed by the beautiful Revelstoke and how it was surrounded by mountains, that I stopped to take a picture of the approaching train. Not realizing I am at the crossing and there was a barrier coming down, luckily it was few feet away from me.
Jordi from the Netherlands 20km out of Revelstoke

I set up before the Roger’s pass climb in a hurry: it gets dark early again, I really do miss being able to ride until midnight without any lights.

Day 32 (167km) … – Lake Louise, ABIMG_9137

yup, they built the road right through the mountain
Yoho national park

Nothing wakes you up faster than climbing a mountain pass in the morning (only 1300m, and much less in altitude gain). After having a flat on the narrow road past Golden, I get to enjoy the roadside waterfalls and try to imagine how much money must have been thrown into creating a four lane road through the mountains. After arriving at Field, I decided that I will make it into Alberta, even if I ride in the dark, and so I did. I did not see the welcome to Alberta sign or anything other than the white road line few meters ahead of me and the beautiful stars above me. I camped not too far from the Trans Canada Hwy, but far enough to enjoy a quiet night.

Overlooking the village of Field before it gets dark
The last 1.5 hours of the day

Day 33 (193km) … – Calgary, AlbertaIMG_9283


After an early 7am start, I really enjoyed the last of the Rockies: Banff park. I regretted not   doing a hike up one of the trails, but that would be for another trip, I had to get home in time for school.

Banff – Canmore trail

Going through Lake Louise and Canmore was fun, due to some tailwind and mostly downhill, the traffic on the other hand was a bit stressful. Today was the earliest I have stopped riding, at 7pm in Calgary. I enjoyed a warm shower, great food and a bed in Calgary (another great hosts: Julia and Mike).

With a fairly wide shoulder, it was time to turn on the MP3 player and up the volume 🙂

Day 34 (301km) … – Medicine HatIMG_9352

I really hope there were no babies in there… or that he lived in one of the nearby farms, but who would take their kids on the trans-canada hwy walk…

Having had a great night sleep, I left Calgary at 5am and I had to be at Medicine Hat if I wanted to stay at another warmshowers host. After being on the trans-canada hwy for a day, I barely saw any decent campspots, so getting to Medicine Hat was important. I met… well saw 3 cyclists who were too busy looking down at the road to notice me (would be a shame if they did that everyday: cycling across Canada and staring at the road isn’t fun!). Another thing that is not fun is headwind… and I got a full day’s worth of it, which not only delayed my arrival to 3am but really wore me down. Saw a guy pushing a stroller about 30km both ways from the nearest town. Right before it got dark, I stopped to ask the people I was staying with if it would be OK to set up in their backyard since I will be late (they refused and told me to let them know when I arrive so I can stay inside). Right as I put down my phone, I felt like I had


goosebumps: all the hairs on my legs and hands were standing up. WRONG. Mosquitoes, lets just say that I did not stop for four hours, until it was too cold and I had to put on more clothes. A truck driver pulled over and gave me his reflective vest, because he could not see me in the dark (what an amazing gesture!).

Sunset on the praries, amazing!
Medicine Hat, 3am

Day 35 (236km) … – Swift Current, SK

Bonnie and Doug, who not only let me in at 3am, but prepared the best breakfast I had on my whole 42day trip!

With about 230km to the next place I can stay over and a 11am start, I was sure to ride in the dark again. After about 50km, I enter Saskatchewan, almost finishing Alberta in two IMG_9408days! I have never had problems with water, but today with the welcome centers around the border being closed, I had to rely on some funny tasting tap water. Thanks to the saloon at Piapot, I beat the heat with some real water. I was lucky to have avoided any headwind for the day, but contrary to what I thought: The praries are NOT flat. I arrived at 2am in Swift Current and got to spend the night on a trampoline. IMG_9429 IMG_9432

Day 36 (180km) … – Moose Jaw

I had to break up the habit of riding into the night, so I decided to get to Moose Jaw, instead of Regina today. I stayed over at Jenny’s house who is planing on touring Victoria Island on a tandem bike and also taking along two children. The most memorable thing about that day, aside from the beautiful sunset was the heat, I had to stop for an hour under some trees. I enjoyed a nice stay at another warmshowers host in Moose Jaw.IMG_9467

Day 37 (330km) … – Manitoba borderIMG_9510

8 hours of this

After non-windy morning I reached Regina, where I stocked up on supplies (I had gotten some money from my uncle). Then I had the misfortune of having to spend the rest of the day (and night) riding against 15-20km/h headwind. I had been running way behind schedule, so I had to make up lost time and I decided to ride through the night. With two 45min naps and a wide shoulder where I felt safe from traffic I continued onto the next day, where I had 3 hours of sleep just before the Manitoba Border. The headwind died down a little at night, which was a relief.

Glad to see Manitoba is taking advantage of that headwind I am getting

Day 38-39 (269km) … – Kenora, ONIMG_9558  

Shortly after the Manitoba border one of the people I met at Indian Head stopped to offer me a ride to Winnipeg, with the headwind not dying down and days behind schedule, I

could not refuse that. After being treated to the best dinner on my whole trip at a small restaurant in Brooks, I got dropped off in Winnipeg at about 9pm. I would be riding all night again to IMG_9584escape the wind. Sadly it did not stop all night

and all throughout the next day. I had two 45min naps again before Kenora, ON and I found out why sleep is important… I was moving slow (the headwind was not a good excuse) and just feeling tired the whole day. I camped at the side of the road in Kenora.

Ontario! The wind decreased, but only due to the rolling hills to follow

Day 40 (126km) Kenora, ON – Dryden

One of the few pictures I took, with one of the firemen beside me

I have been using my Canadian flag for extra safety, by having it stick out about 30cm, so people passing me by don’t blow me off the road. A car came by so close that it broke it (it didn’t touch any other parts of the bike but it nearly threw me off balance). The day started off with rain which continued throughout, but I was lucky enough to meet four firefighters who were doing a ride to raise funds for muscular dystrophy research. ( ). I threw all my luggage in the support truck and rode with them for the day, they were rotating in and out (having 2-3 people on the road, while 1 person drove the support vehicle). To be honest, it would have been incredibly hard to ride alone in the rain, rolling hills and headwind (+ all my gear). The firefighters did not have much rain gear, and decided to stop 30k before Dreyden at a small town. I really hope they were alright and finished the ride. The last 30k were difficult: I was soaking wet, shivering from the cold and tired. It was also getting dark, so I decided to go to a motel and pay for accommodation for the first time on my trip.

*EDIT: the firefighters made it, about half a day late, but nonetheless they spent another day in the heavy rain!!! They are also expecting to surpass last year’s fundraising.

Arriving in Dryden after 7 hours in the rain

Day 41 … – THE ENDIMG_9632

Starting a new parking trend in Thunderbay, with my bike box at the back of the truck 🙂

I have been worried about school (Day 41 is Sept 9th) and with planned arrival date 21st, it would have been too much material to catch up on (2nd year engineering). So I decided to end my trip at Dreyden and unfortunately let down one of my friends who was supposed to cycle with me from Sudbury, ON. I got lucky once again, hitching a ride from Dreyden to Thunderbay, the gentleman that helped me not only drove me there, but went around town to help me get a bike box and then dropped me off at the Greyhound bus station. I packed everything up (thanks to $5 suitcase from the Salvation Army Thrift Store), and at 9pm I was off to Toronto. zb

More pictures:


Day 26-29 Inuvik to near Cache Creek, BC

Day 26 (-) Inuvik – Nitanlaii campgroundIMG_8663

Inuvik was a proof that its the journey that matters and not the final destination, aside from the interesting church, there was nothing really to see there (besides the grocery prices!)   IMG_8660

I met the four cyclists that were ahead of me and learned the full story of the bear problem at Engineer Creek. One of the girls was eating alone and left for few minutes, just to find a grizzly eating their food when she returned. The bear did not run away until somebody with a pickup truck scared it, then the cyclists were a bit uneasy so they hitched a ride down the road and continued from there.

Now it was time to hitchhike to where I made a turn in BC and to continue to Ontario from there. I really wasn’t sure how that would work with me having a loaded touring bicycle, so I rode down the Dempster and held out my hand when I heard a vehicle approaching. After 30km out-of-town, a guy picked me up, and he must have been very patient because it took me like 5 minutes to unload the bike and get in the truck.

Turned out he had quite the adventure of his own: Canoeing the Mackenzie from near its origin in Alberta down to the Dempster crossing before Inuvik. 80 days of being out in the wild, I was getting jealous! He dropped me off at the ferry crossing where I was able to get a ride from a native down to Fort McPherson.

Then I met Buck, half wolf/half husky and as close to petting a wolf as I’ll ever get. And no, this picture is not photoshopped! He was very happy to see me, I guess…IMG_8690

I continued down the road to Nitanlaii campground where I had a chat with the warden, who upon hearing that I’ll just ride down to the Peel river and camp, let me stay at the campground.

Day 27 (-) … – WhitehorseIMG_8698

I rode down to the ferry crossing and figured it would be a good spot to hitch a ride. The captain invited me and shared his sub as well as some coffee. Then a couple from Holland took me in their RV, so I was off to Eagle lodge.

Stopped to take some pictures, and I got to see the Dempster in the sun, it was beautiful. Yet the snow-covered Tundra, along with piercing wind and fog had its own unique beauty. We saw another grizzly lazily moving about near the road, kinda makes you wonder how you can get so big on berries and fish.IMG_8756 IMG_8777 IMG_8792

At Eagle Lodge we said our goodbyes and as it was getting late I started riding down and look for a place to camp. Since its been dry for few days now, the mud was replaced by dust, every time a car passes by I had to close my eyes and take a deep breath.IMG_8799

Just when I was thinking not to bother trying to stop cars, since people who would get past the start of the highway would have already left earlier, the Priest from Fort McPherson came by and managed to fit me in his van, despite already having 4 people in there.

We spotted this cute black bear, chilling in the middle of the road with its back towards us. Then it slowly moved away clearly upset that we made him leave his spot.IMG_8812 IMG_8815

With ETA of 3am, I got to see the northern lights across the night sky at Stewart Crossing, I have had bad weather all along, and this was the first clear night up north (so in the last 13 days).

Next day at Whitehorse I managed to find a Pizza Hut with all you can eat buffet. I spent two and a half hours in there, just resting and eating. Then I was off, sadly being near Whitehorse and with prices skyrocketing as you move away most of the people were leaving the city with fully packed trucks, so there was no space for a cyclist in there.IMG_8838

After two fruitless and to be honest depressing hours of holding my hand out, I was about to ride to the house of somebody I met at Boya Lake (on the Cassiar). Then a speaker for the natives from Atlin gave me a ride down of about 60k, at least now I dont have to worry about stopping local traffic.  IMG_8841

IMG_8852Then I rode a bit looking for a camp spot and met a gentleman traveling from Alaska to Oregon. I got very lucky! There was some  IMG_8860 IMG_8861 IMG_8863 wildlife on the way, including an organic lawnmower, a car who may have hit the lawnmower (Bison), caribou, few deer and some pretty nice scenery. So I’ve been thinking that I wont need to visit an amusement park for a while, after being driven down the Dempster and Klondike highways. Now I definitely wont need to because the driver fell asleep and we went into the ditch of the Alaska Hwy, luckily it was grass and not a cliff and we didn’t flip over (otherwise my bike would have been ruined 🙂 ). I also managed to get a decent shot of the Northern Lights.IMG_8858

the 97/99 junction was about 40 driving hours away and that concludes my hitchhiking experience. I set off at 7am from near Cache Creek and I make my way to the Trans Canada Highway, which I’ll call home for the next 15 days.IMG_8889

Here are the rest of the pictures (including more of the lazy grizzly!):