Tuesday 29 May 2018

Day 57 A Real Big Push

May 27th, 2018

Sunny intervals

Off at 6:30 a.m. With the mission to get up to the summit of the lump between me and the next town. That is over eighteen miles away and the road goes up with a fair gradient for the whole way. It starts with the usual twisting loops as it climbs through agricultural areas. It is a beautiful day with just some cloud forming over the mountain tops. The whole push is beautifully scenic and it is a pleasure to be on such a journey. There are even some birds to see along the way. Golden-billed Saltators fly like small partridge, Spot-winged Pigeons seem to favour sitting in the Eucalyptus trees. American Kestrels fly low and Black-chested Buzzard Eagles soar high, circling far overhead. Everything is perfect.
A motortaxi stops by me and the family inside, father, mother and very young child give me a bag containing a large piece of bread with hundreds & thousands on it and four tangerines. Kindness of strangers.
I stop for breakfast at a place where a crash barrier stops and a grassy ledge gives me incredible views towards distant high, snow-capped mountains. A young boy, around twelve years old leads a small herd of eight cows down the main road. No school for him. There is work to do. A man is cutting a tall grass-like plant and laying them in heaps nearby and a field down in the valley has beautifully arranged stoops stacked as green cones. All is peaceful and my surprise bread and tangerine breakfast goes down fine.
Carrying on and after a few miles that take me a thousand feet higher, the landscape changes to Puna grasslands with very little cropping. A few Rufous-naped and the larger, white-tailed White-fronted Ground Tyrants are searching for food on a large ploughed area. Another ploughed area a little later has three women working on turning the soil using short-poled hoes. Hard work in this sunshine. I am amazed at how many women I see out in the fields. Two women later have three dogs and around a hundred sheep to follow for the day.
Further still all ploughed areas stop and there is just course, dry and yellowing grass with some moisture areas in one small valley. Here there are two Andean Geese. A small pool has a Puna Ibis and an Andean Lapwing on it.
The regular kilometre signs tell me that I approaching the wished for summit and a cyclist coming downhill towards me stops for a chat. His helmet is incredible. It looks like a black Kryten helmet from Red Dwarf, with the eyes taken from the Green Goblin in Spiderman! On top of it is a camera. The owner of such a fine cycling helmet announces that his name is Luis as he passes me a business card and takes selfies of us both and then one of just me with the bike. A professional photographer, Luis' card states that he is available for all types of events.
The summit. I sit down for some lunch and to admire the view. I can see for miles and miles; snow-capped mountains to the left, Puna grassland hills and mountains all the way to the right as far as I can see. I can also see the road I am going to go down and am glad that I put all new brake blocks on yesterday.
Over twenty five miles of speedy downhill cycling passes quickly as I go around bends, enjoy the straight moments and watch as I reverse the habitat changes I saw on the way up. I even video the ride for a minute or so as the bike goes along a section where one faces the distant mountains.
Through villages with the usual holas and buenas tardes, I stop once or twice to take photographs. I also stop for a minibus that has a flat tyre and get all the food in my rucksack out for the stranded passengers.
At the foot of the hill, after views of incredible beauty, I stop and watch a football match with a few locals. The home team are, sorry to say, totally outclassed and I see four goals go in for the away team in the half an hour I see. The local crowd are desperate for anything good and the noise level increases when their team looks like scoring. Sadly they never do. I know how they feel!
A few miles of pedalling and I arrive at Andahuaylas. Finding a hotel, I get into my neat and tidy room and celebrate having achieved the mission. Forty seven miles! Brilliant.

Green Year list : 202 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.54 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 47.00 miles

elevation : up 5,416 feet, down 6,434 feet

altitude : 9495 feet

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