Words and photos by Myles Trainer.
Every pedal stroke you smell it. While every revolution you hear it. Peruvian livelihood rotates around its local resources constantly changing routines to make use of another resource. Leftover eucalyptus burns from scraps used to build houses, while intricately placed irrigation canals move water into this years’ agricultural plots. Barley rotates in with potatoes, keeping the soil fresh as the mountainsides patchwork of vegetation changes like bike manufacturers hottest tan and aqua.
April was a busy month blending together bike communities across the world starting in Monterey for the season kick off at the Sea Otter Classic. One week later, I linked together Peru’s terraced land chasing new and old friends on bikes. While the Sea Otter brought out shiny new product, Peru’s riding culture showed what bike equipment is still performing through thousands of descendible vert.
Headset creaked, rotors screeched, as Jose, our scrappy young Peruvian guide, led our group through Ollantaytambo, grinding his off brand DH bike through the streets. Another rider, visiting from Tennessee, rode up next to me, his bike nearly blinding me with fresh parts. He mumbled under his breath, “uh my bike is making so much noise!” With a grin, I pointed at our guides bike, “that much noise?” I said. Brushing it off, he realized where we were and the opportunity we had to ride Peru’s crazy rollercoasters.
Rolling up to both the Enduro and DH starts at Sea Otter, I felt extremely lucky to be on top of a reliable steed that wouldn’t raddle my teeth out descending. Booths in the pits sparkled with gear that might puzzle the most coveted bike nerds, but carried purpose for many onlookers. Buzzed riders fueled by high frequency IPAs grinned as they took in the California sun.
Peru’s sunshine brought out similar energy, and shared roots with the freedom achieved by rolling nobbies. After riding past the Moray ruins outside of Ollantaytambo, we were stealing daylight flowing through city streets en route to connecting the last bit of trail. We stopped for the local evening goat traffic and it was on. In a 15-person train, we chose lines suiting our style as the sun dipped behind the Andes’ continental divide. I heard it first and then in the corner of my eye, Mario, a younger fearless guide, appeared smashing rock gardens on his early 2000s’ DH bike. He didn’t care. There wasn’t a thought in his mind that his first generation Pro-tec helmet wouldn’t do a thing if it were to meet the ground.
Whether old tools made by two generations before them or Avid Juicy Sevens with rubber bands around them to keep the brake lever from getting away from their fingers, the resources our fellow riders used did the trick. I can’t say I would run them, but the joy the Peruvian’s emanated because they were riding bicycles is something that would make anyone keep their wheels turning. Although the Sea Otter gives us an idea about all the fanciness we can achieve with our gear, at the end of the day its just about blasting water bars with your friends and sharing a beer over stories at the end of the day.