Longitudinal de la Sierra

Today’s plan. Santiago de Chuco to Caraz. 200 miles on 3N which is named Longitudinal de la Sierra. From what the folks in Santiago told me, the whole route is unpaved. I woke up before 6 to get on the road early. That plan ended when the gas station wasn’t open until 7. It was even more delayed when the gas station workers and locals all wanted to get photos with the bike. The people here are so friendly so I didn’t mind hanging out for a while.

From the moment I left town I was riding down a dirt road into paradise. The morning sky and the clouds against the green hills of the Andes made my morning ride one of the most beautiful.

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Since the main highway goes towards the coast I don’t know if they see many travelers coming through these tiny towns. I got a lot of stares and friendly waves. I had to stop and ask people walking on the road if I was going in the right direction. And as standard practice in towns, I always ask two or three people. When I asked a man sitting on a bench by the road which was the right way he pointed to the left as I started riding a man from the bus came and told me the old man doesn’t know and the road I needed was to the right. Since he was a bus driver I trusted his directions.

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It was beautiful morning of riding but I wasn’t getting anywhere fast. I was averging around 20 to 25 MPH and then I came to a canyon that I had to somehow get across. The only road was switchbacks all the day and then all the way back up.

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Once I crossed the river the road was recently paved which was ¬†welcomed surprise. You don’t see too many roads in places like this.

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The road was only paved for a few miles. Just as the pavement ended the rain started. Peru rain storms seem to end quickly so I pulled over in the small village of San Juan to wait it out. While waiting I met Polly and Rosalina. We chatted while the rain kept coming down. They were really curious about why I was riding on that road. When I told them I wanted to go to Caraz they said not to take the road I was planning on taking. “Muy mal!” It’s a very bad road in the rain they said. They recommended I head west where the road becomes paved. Since I had done 100 or more miles on the dirt and it was taking me forever I decided I’d take their advice.

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Rosalina and Polly from San Juan.

I rode to Tauca where the 3N splits going east and west. I took the paved 3N to the west. The road drops in elevation and I went from riding in the lush Andes to the arid and hot coastal valleys.

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Peru seems to be nothing but switchbacks

Along to the valley floor the road follows the river. I passed this old abandoned mining camp. I couldn’t find a way over to it but I would have loved to checked this place out.

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After an hour I reached the turn off for the road that heads through Canon del Pato to Caraz. By now it was past 3PM and there were dark storm clouds in the area. I wasn’t sure how difficult the dirt road through the canon would be so I decided I would ride to the nearest town and stop for the night. I headed west towards to Chimbote and found a hostel in the town of Santa. My plans didn’t work out like I had wanted to but I was fine with the change. Tomorrow I’ll ride one of the roads I’ve been dreaming about since reading about it in other riders blogs. Canon del Pato is next!

Here’s a video of my day:

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The cola of choice here in Peru. A mix of cream soda and mountain dew. Tasty and it’s only 30 cents in some places.

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