Huancayo to Huanta, PE - 198 Miles
Today would turn out to be a very long day. It started off well.. The first hour riding South from Huancayo along highway 3S was great. A nice 2 lane freshly paved road along the mountain side. Sunny with a nice cool temperature and hardly another car on the road. Perfect.
Okay, I’ve seen this before.. Some roadworks going on with a temporary road closure. After waiting for about a minute I ask one of the guys manning the road how long the wait was going to be… “no, no, the road is closed.. big land slide, road won’t be open for 1-2 months.. you need to take a detour road North of here through the town of Pampas..”
WTF? Not a single sign indicating that the road was closed anywhere up until this point.. would have been nice to know before I spent 40 minutes riding down here and now having to spend another 40 minutes back tracking to a detour road. The Northern detour turned out to be an all dirt road that goes up into the mountains.. It’s surely not going be fast and making it the ~200 miles to Ayacucho is now going to be a challenge.
Sensing that today was possibly going to be long and not sure if the tiny town mountain town of Pampas would have fuel I rode back to Huancayo to top off on fuel and withdraw some more money since I was down to only 70 soles (about $25). Of course, now back in the city there’s a large gathering/protest going on about who knows what and the main road has been blocked by protesters. This is a common tactic in South America by protestors to ‘enhance’ their message. After bumbling down a few tiny side dirt roads (more like goat trails), I manage to get fuel and money and get back out of the city. Ended up costing me another hour and by now it was noon.
I ride up the mountain road (labeled 28B on Google maps) towards Pampas and so far it’s a good well graded road albeit dusty with crazy drivers who are also making the detour. I make it to Pampas fairly quick, have a quick snack and look for a way that goes back towards the main 3S road. Just as I start up on the road leading out of the town it starts to rain.. then hail. This particular road is mostly clay, which for anyone who has ridden on clay before, knows it’s extremely slick when wet. I ended up dropping the bike once when (lightly!) braking.. the front end just slid out. Luckily I was only doing about 3-4mph and simply stepped off the bike. No damage, no big deal. Back to riding. It would be another hour of slow and cautious riding along a slick wet clay road until the next exciting event..
I come around a corner and find a cue of traffic. Up a head a section of the road has just washed out due to the rain. Luckily Peruvians are use to this sort of thing. I walk up there to see what’s going on and literally a bus load of people are there with shovels filling in the road where it washed out. Only in Peru can you be expected to get out and fill in some dirt as part of your bus fare. 😆 After a short wait, traffic was flowing again.
The road eventually dries and the sun comes out. I eventually make it back to the main 3S road after a 3 hour detour into the mountains. I wasn’t looking for adventure today but I definitely found it.
The ‘main’ road turned out to be similiar to the road I had ridden on the other day. Very narrow and winding with lots of dirt patches.. except today with the added adventure bonus of multiple water crossing.. some of which turned out to be actually quite deep due to the recent rain today. I was averaging about 20mph and still had well over 100 miles to go.. yep this going to be a long day. I was already tired and looking forward to stopping for the day.. only there is no where to stop, no sizable towns.. just a few collections of houses along the road every once in a while.
I managed to drop my bike again going through a very shallow water crossing. It was one of those areas where water is naturally allowed to flow across the road. Usually they are absolutely no problem; I’ve crossed dozens of them on this trip so far. However, this particular water crossing was in a tight hairpin turn and also a bit shady, which meant there was a buildup of algae on the pavement. The result was a super slick section of pavement and me going down. I was only doing about 15mph, so I didn’t get hurt (not even a bruise, thanks to the gear). The bike however took slight beating. As usual, the pannier and the crash bar takes the brunt of it. The crash bars are fine just minor scratches but the pannier rack was bent inwards all the way. This has happened before (back on Day 3) so I knew what was needed to fix it. Not really a big deal but rather an inconvenience.
Back on the road, I continued winding my way along the canyon. There’s no way I’m going to make it to Ayacucho tonight since it’s already 5pm and I still have at least 2 more hours of riding left. Along the way, I crossed a few more water crossings. This one below was fairly deep; I’d say about 24-28″s deep, 25 yards wide and with a legit current flowing across the road. It may not look that bad but I had my heart in my mouth going across it. 😯I checked my map and saw the town of Huanta. It looked about 50km closer than Ayacucho, so that was now my goal for tonight. To make the day even longer, the last 30km was a bumpy dusty section of dirt road that was under construction and lucky for me I got to ride it in the dark. 😐
I rolled into the town of Huanta around 1930 and just in time for some more rain (the day just keeps getting longer and more challenging). I stop at the first Hospedaje I find and get a cheap room for only 10 soles ($3). It’s very basic with a shared bathroom, no hot water, no WiFi, but whatever.. it’s dry, the people are friendly and I’m exhausted.
The plan was to park the moto inside the place after the rain stopped. Of course now the moto won’t fit since I hadn’t bothered to check earlier. The handlebars are about 2-3″s too wide to fit through the door. I ended up parking her inside a chinese restaurant a few doors down and paying the owner 10 soles for the inconvenience. I wished I had taken a picture of it.. I thought it was hilarious.. maybe I was just delirious from the epic long day. Regardless, I was thankful today was over. It’s moments like this that you hate in the present time but will look back on and laugh about.. and certainly remember forever. 😉