How quickly two weeks pass by. I arrived back in Munich in the middle of the night yesterday evening with some unbelievable impressions of Peru.
We spent the first two days in Cusco waiting for my second bike – a new Canyon prototype I was to test and photograph on trails in the Andes. At first, the bike, my helmets, bike shoes and a few other things that were in the Bike-Box didn’t arrive and I therefore had to get by with anything I could loan out in Peru. At least I had my Torque with me and was able, even if not for the pictures, to get used to the dusty, technical and flowing trails.
However, I spent most of the time on the telephone with the help of our guide and airport staff trying to locate the second bike. I think the poor person on the other end of the line still probably hears our voices in his or her sleep. Nevertheless, the 25 phone calls bore fruit: Although several days late, the bike was finally delivered to me in Ollantaytambo. Then I unfortunately became a little ill due to a stomach upset. The start of the trip was running anything but smoothly.
21 May: Now fit and well and fully equipped I finally got going. Our photographer Marco Toniolo, the second rider Renè Wildhaber and I rode up to 4300 metres in order to then ride the Megavalanche racing course. The route passes numerous Inca ruins, terraces and fields, which are still used by the mountain dwellers, even today. Actually, the entire Inca empire is here in the heart of the Andes around the Machu Picchu. Breathtaking! Above all when one considers that back then the Incas built everything by hand, without wheels, block and tackle and productive livestock. Incredible! Most of the ruins have not yet been excavated and have therefore been spared the negative effects of tourism. We gave the expensive Machu Picchu a miss because the mountain is already suffering enormous damage from the daily wave of tourists who climb it to see the famous ruins. We also didn’t want to exacerbate the situation still further, even though it would have certainly been a highlight of the trip.
23 May: From an altitude of 4500 down to 900 metres in the jungle and then into the green valleys and mountains of Vilcabamba.
Telephone network and internet? Forget it. Sometimes there’s electricity, sometimes there isn’t. In contrast there’s plenty of rain – something which we unfortunately discovered. The few rays of sunlight and the rising clouds made a few pictures into absolute “money shots”.
After 2 days the rain forced us to move out from our base and drive back to Ollantaytambo. However, after such rainfall the never-ending dirt roads turned into dangerous mud tracks and it was no fun driving a van that wasn’t really suitable for off-road driving. A few times we got stuck for hours and had to wait until a special vehicle came along and levelled the road to make it passable.
After a whole day on the road we arrived in Ollantaytamboo and spent the evening with the locals at the Plaza. A four-day festival with traditional costumes and dancing was taking place and the very nice and hospitable people were celebrating life and its divinity in a relaxed atmosphere.
The celebration was cut short for us because we had to get up at 4:30 the next morning, pack our bikes and do a photo shoot on the mountain at dawn. The favourable light in the morning is simply unbeatable! Especially here in the Andes. We used the time around midday to scout new trails and build new jumps, so that we could photograph the action in the good evening light. But more about that later…
Here are a few of the first pictures. In a few days there’ll be more photos of the jumps across a Canyon and in a creek… Watch out!