Today, 05 January, I went out to ride without the luggage. The destination was the so called “Necropolis”, a place where a number of open graves contain mummies that date back to the pre-Inca time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauchilla_Cemetery.
It’s quite amazing to see how well they are preserved and still sit outside in their open tombs with merely an overhang as protection.
The road towards the cemetery was gravel and sand for the last 15 to 20 km’s or so. This was my first actual dirt road, other than a couple of times practising. It went pretty well, but I was rather tensed during the whole trip, back and forth. Standing on the pegs, I never got above 40 km’s/hour.
This reality check, made me wonder about my itinerary. This trip was without luggage and all the freedom to move around. Will Bolivia have also more than 1000 km’s of dirt tracks? How much time will I loose on those when riding fully packed?
Are there any sights in Bolivia that I absolutely must see? My main 2 goals on this continent are Machu Picchu and Patagonia. Bolivia was an extra maybe.
I have decided: I am going to skip Bolivia and go for Chili straight after Machu Picchu.
The amount of riding days at best are at least another 25 or more. In that case I will have to ride nearly every day and nothing can go wrong. I have taken into account that seeing Machu Picchu will at least take another day and Patagonia maybe 2 or 3. It seems I have lost too much time at customs in Lima to be able to complete this itinerary in a realistic way.
Tomorrow I will be on the road again to towards Abancay and then Machu Picchu. After that I will see how much time it will take to reach Conception in Chile. In my mind that will be a point where I should decide wether Patagonia is still feasible (taking into account that there are numerous gravel tracks as well) or I might have to cross straight through Argentina for Buenos Aires.
The trip to Abancay tomorrow will show me if the gear on the bike is still too heavy and therefore I may need to make even more sacrifices or that it will be acceptable.