Today can best be described as a fairground ride…a combination of The Tunnel Of Love and the Wall of Death…
But let’s start from the beginning. As we left Huarez, we were all transfixed by the mammoth mountain, totally covered in snow. Not to be outdone, by the skiing expertise of our Swiss crews, Mr and Mrs Schlatter bought a pair of skis from our hotel the previous night, and, we cannot be sure, but evidence suggests that they detoured for a quick slalom down the piste.
What A Peak.
So onto our first and all tarmac test of the day.
Queuing Up For The Start.
And this is where the Tunnel of Love meets Wall of Death. To explain, the largely single track road followed a fast flowing river – a different one from previous days, as this was grey/blue/green, not brown. But hewn from the very rock of the gorge were a series of tunnels, how many would you guess? 10, 20, more???? No….56. What, yes 56 in total (well, that’s my total, I may be one or two out, as when did a tunnel finish and become a window – you’ll just have to go and see for yourself and decide). These tunnels were accompanied by sheer drops down to the river, ‘Keep away from the edge’ was our motto. The test itself lasted for 28km, with the gorge itself running for over 60kms. Current leader Andrew Davies said ‘Yesterday was blooming brilliant, but today was even better.’ Happy with his current lead, Andrew is not counting his chickens yet.
Tunnel of Love.
After a quick jaunt through some roadworks and a village, we progressed onto the 47km second test, also tarmac. This test gave participants the opportunity to let their cars run, with fast, flowing roads, and little in the way of steep climbs, just gently undulating slopes to pop up and down. Although there were still some drops off the side – totally to be avoided! There was a range of bridges and bridge options. Luckily we did not have to cross every one.
Thankfully Thats A Footbridge To The Waterfall.
My Bridge Fell In The River.
New Bridge Or Old…. You Choose.
All participants came into the final time control on schedule and in order….perfect, with only seconds being lost or gained.
All crews then took a leisurely drive to the coast on the Pan Americana Highway. This in itself is not what you may expect. The highway goes from 2 lane to 1 lane every time it encounters a village, so that’s a surprise. Not surprising for any of us, is the lack of lane control of Peruvians… they can make a tunnel or build a road, but they are not sure which lane they ought to be in on that road, and if in doubt, just invent another lane! However, the real surprise is the speed bumps. Not kidding, on a 2 lane highway, there are speed bumps, at least they are marked, so you have a chance of slowing in time! The highway did though take us down to sea level, where we glimpsed the Pacific Ocean, mad to think a few weeks ago, we were looking at the Atlantic. Cruising on down to the sea, we passed from the mountain region, through the lush green valleys growing sweet corn, chillies, palms and even rice. Then followed a brief region of sand dunes as big as hills which gave an almost lunar-like feel. Then we saw the sea, fantastic.
Overall we completed 360km today, and the consensus from participants was that it may be the best day….yet.
Just as a general note, it is important that all crews keep fully fed and hydrated. Caught on camera was car 6 stopping to pick up some fruit, and being in Peru, and knowing what their national dish is, who was grabbing this little guy for a bbq?
Pound of Bananas Please.
Anyone Got A Stick?
We then retired to our hotel, The Libertador, used the pool, admired the view of the central square and possibly partook of a pisco sour.