“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” — H.G. Wells
I swerve to a stop and see the rocks under my bike’s tires tumble over the cliff and into the valley below. Glancing over the steep decline I think “What the hell did I sign up for?” Before me is a trail that is barely four feet wide that is littered with large, loose rocks that are just waiting to tip me and my bike over a cliff and experience a 500+ ft drop with no parachute. Whatever possessed me to try a new sport in the Andes I’ll never know. But frightening experiences and the courage to try are two necessary indgredients for adventure and a good story 🙂
So off I go. I pedal just a bit to acknowledge the start of the steep decline. As gravity starts to take control I place my feet level and stand up on my bike. My guide told me that during rough declines it’s best to stand up so your bike doesn’t fish tail as you brake. I wish I spent more time practicing.
The Andes is the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia. The Andes extends from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The highest peak, Mount Aconcagua, rises to an elevation of about 6,962 m (22,841 ft) above sea level. In Peru, the highest peak is Alpamayo, which rises to an elevation of 5,947 m above sea level. I’m not sure where in the Andes we started our downhill mountain biking adventure, but I do know that I was reaching for coca leaves to battle the thinner supply of oxygen.
And the views are incredible!
Going up and down through the mountainous terrain at break neck speeds was exhilarating! Steering my bike to avoid a drop of death down off a cliff is something I would do again and again. Feeling the chips of rocks bounce off my legs was a new sensation that reminded me that I’m no longer home, and I’m allllllright with that 🙂
One thing we had to avoid was a herd of sheep that crossed our trek . . .
And that’s just part one of my day! More experiences in the next post!
MOMENT OF ZEN: Seeing a trail that is barely wide enough to catch me, with one side advertising a straight drop and with the other side sporting a jagged wall, was pretty intimidating for a first-time downhill mountain biker. Where’s this blood on my calve coming from? Oh yeah . . . the rocks that ricocheted off my bike sliced me open. LOL . . .behind every cut and bruise is a good story, and first time opportunities are a great ways to develop “novel” experiences 🙂 After all . . . I’M. NOT. DEAD. YET.
Peace, Love, and Adventure!