Our highest point yet: 15,400 feet (4700 meters)

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Nancy cresting the Abra Yana Shalla, at 4700 meters (15,400 feet)
Nancy cresting the Abra Yana Shalla, at 4700 meters (15,400 feet) (View on flickr)

Today we crossed the highest point of our journey so far, and perhaps the highest of the trip. After climbing back up into the Andes (the Cordillera Blanca) for more than a week, we crossed over 15,400 foot (4700 meter) Abra Yana Shalla. We had been working our way up to this, climbing no more than 1000 meters per day as we got into the really high places. Nancy really felt the altitude in a number of ways, so we were trying to be as careful as possible. But we made the last push this morning up into the barren peaks. We saw lots of beautiful scenery in the last few days and will try to get the pictures uploaded within a few days.

Nuestro punto mas alto del viaje: 4700 metros

Nancy cresting the Abra Yana Shalla, at 4700 meters (15,400 feet)
Nancy cresting the Abra Yana Shalla, at 4700 meters (15,400 feet) (View on flickr)

Hoy cruzamos el punto mas alto del viaje hasta ahora, y tal vez el mas alto del viaje. Después de subir otra vez en los Andes (la Cordillera Blanca) por mas de una semana, cruzamos Abra Yana Shalla a 4700 metros. Habíamos llegado a esto poco a poco, subiendo no mas de 1000 metros por día cuando entramos a los lugares altos. Nancy sintió la altura en muchas maneras, y por eso tratábamos de cuidarla todo posible. Pero lo cruzamos esta mañana hasta los picos. Vimos mucho paisaje bonito en los últimos días y trataremos de subir mas fotos en unos dias.

Health, Healthcare, Health Insurance, and Vaccinations for the big ride

People often ask us about health-related issues, so here are some answers.

Health Insurance: Since we are from the US, with an immensely expensive and burdensome healthcare system, we felt that we had to carry health insurance that would cover us there. Although we might be able to cover expenses for most types of events in the other countries of our journey, a single week in a hospital in the US can easily bankrupt anyone. So we carry normal (expensive) major medical, high deductible ($10,000) health insurance that would cover us if we had to go limping home for a major chronic illness or something. But that insurance doesn't cover us outside the US, so if we had a serious accident or something, we could end up without coverage. So we also bought health insurance that covers us outside the US (cheaper by far). Our monthly expenses for health insurance are probably the biggest expense of the trip.

Note that "Trip insurance" is not worth much for a trip of this size, since it is not renewable and typically has pretty serious limitations. It's oriented to people going on vacation, not to people living abroad. What we needed (and most travellers will need) is the type of insurance that expatriates buy. The folks at Global Insurance Net make a specialty of this type of insurance, and we were pleased with their expertise and service.

Health Care: We've been pretty pleased with healthcare everywhere we've been.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Back on the road, Climbing up into the mountains

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Stillness of the desert
Stillness of the desert (View on flickr)

Click here for all of our favorite photos from this section
After more than three weeks of not riding we are back on the road once again in Peru. We made a two-week trip back to the United States to see all our family members and are glad to report all are well. It was good to see the family as well it was a delight to see all our wonderful friends.

We returned to Trujillo, Peru and stayed once again at the Casa de Ciclistas where Lucho and his family have offered free hospitality to cyclist for 23 years. Randy and I were visitor 998. While staying there, we meet 7 different cyclists from all over the world.

We have now been on the road for 5 days and are taking a rest day in Caraz. The ride from the coast up to Caraz has been amazing, spectacular, a hard ride on mostly dirt road, some good and some awful. The best part is the lack of traffic which permitted us to enjoy the majestic views of the mountains and the river valley we pedalled through.

We rode for one day on the Panamerican highway south to Chao. The road had a good shoulder, big trucks and a landscape which brought to mind the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. Huge hills, not really mountains, of nothing but sand dunes. Nothing lived in this region, no houses, no people, no business thrived, no birds chirped, no butterfly fluttered by.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Randy switches to a BOB trailer... Advantages and Disadvantages

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On private road to Chiquicara
On private road to Chiquicara (View on flickr)

When we came back to Peru I started riding with a Ibex BOB trailer trailer again instead of using panniers as I have for the last few years. It was kind of a return to my roots, since I used a BOB for our first several rides in 2001-2005. So far, I'm happy to be pulling my old friend Bob again. It feels good on the bike.

You may not know it, but since the BOB was introduced, US touring cyclists have often raged at each other about its advantages and disadvantages. As one who has used both the pannier system (front and back racks with saddlebags attached to them) and the BOB, a single-wheeled bike trailer, I thought I could weigh in on advantages and disadvantages.

  • I think when you ride with the BOB it's more like riding a bike and less like driving a truck, which is how I feel when riding with panniers.
  • The BOB is a bit easier on the bike, since there's one more wheel to spread out the load. The frame of the bike gets almost no strain (and it can get quite a bit going over bumps with the panniers). The rear axle still gets about half the load, but the frame itself gets almost nothing.
  • My kickstand doesn't work any more! In general, it's just harder to manage the bike+bob configuration when you're off the bike. I think it's easier to manage when you're riding, but harder when you're off.

Cyclists before us at the Casa de Ciclistas

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Group pose at Casa de ciclistas as Pius and Stefan leave
Group pose at Casa de ciclistas as Pius and Stefan leave (View on flickr)

People often ask us "Has anyone ever done this before?" or "Are you setting a new Guinness Record?". The answer, of course, is an authoritative NO! We know this, of course, but stopping at the Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo and looking through the logs makes us really feel humble. We were the 998th entry over 24 years. Plenty of people have been through here! There are slow people and fast, many rides as long as ours, but many much longer. Here are a few links and a few details about some of the folks who have signed their names in the logs at Trujillo.

Hans Stuecke
Hans has been bike touring for 46 years, and has visited at least 193 countries. He really HAS set a Guinness record. I don't think we're going to touch his record anytime soon!
Dominic Gill
Dominic started his ride about the same time as we did, and we actually met him for a few moments in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. But Dominic just finished riding a tandem (most of the time by himself, alone) with gear for himself and a guest, all the way from Alaska to Patagonia. His gear weight was incredible, but his idea was "Take a Seat". He invited anybody who wanted to to come along for a ride for as long as they wanted. He had incredible experiences.

Lucho and the Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo, Peru

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Lucho with his son Lance - In training
Lucho with his son Lance - In training (View on flickr)

When we came down from the mountains of Peru to the coast we stayed at the fabled Casa de Ciclistas (House of Cyclists) in Trujillo, Peru. Lucho Ramirez started offering his simple house to passing touring cyclists clear back in 1984, and is on the edge of crossing the one thousand mark. One thousand groups of cyclists have signed his journal and stayed there over almost 25 years! One cyclist stayed a year! Many stay far longer than they expect to, often for a week or more. It's a delight to browse through the journals and see famous cyclists that we've either met or heard of who passed this way. Our friends Dick and Els, from Holland, signed the book about 5 years ago. Our friend Andrew signed it just a month or so ago. Our friends Pat and Cat also passed through about 3 years ago.

Many of you have asked us if we're setting some kind of a record or something, and the answer is no, we're really slow, and lots and lots of people have gone farther. Although not all the cyclists who have stopped at Lucho's house were doing rides as big as ours, many were doing rides much bigger. One fellow, Hans Stuecke, has been cycling for 46 years!

Anyway, Lucho provides a tremendously friendly place for cyclists stop, recharge, get their equipment worked on, and generally have a wonderful memory. We left our bikes safely there for our trip home, and came back to find them waiting for us.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

A quick trip home to see our family

Frank Lewis
Frank Lewis (View on flickr)

Dad - Abbott Fay at park near Grand Junction
Dad - Abbott Fay at park near Grand Junction (View on flickr)

We just got back to Peru from a whirlwind trip back to the US. It was great, and exhausting. First, we had to take a 10-hour bus down to the coast from Cajamarca, then an 8-hour bus from Trujillo to the capital of Peru, Lima. Then we flew for ages to Boston, and we arrived in time for the main event that timed our trip: The 80th birthday celebration of Nancy's dad, Frank Lewis. We went to her brother Dan's cabin in New Hampshire and had a delightful celebration.

Then we flew to Denver and got to see Randy's kids, Elisheba and Mark, and drove to Grand Junction, Colorado to see Randy's parents. We got to walk with them and see their new home at the Atrium living center in Grand Junction - they have a beautiful cottage, complete with even more space than they had before, a garage, and a meal a day at the nice facility next door. Very good setup.

Then we drove back to Denver and had a get-together with friends which was an absolute delight. Several friends came to say hello, and even one set of bike tourists we'd never met, Nick and Dave, two impressive young men who are about to set off from Denver on their way to Panama. Thanks to all of you who came and who couldn't for your friendship!  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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