Trujillo, Peru

Almost 3 weeks since I last posted (but as usual, I’ve been adding short updates via Twitter). After a few days off in Cajamarca, Dylan, Greg and I were ready to find some quieter towns. That we did. First to San Marcos, then to Cajabamba.



I woke up in Cajabamba and knew things Weren’t Good. I optimistically went to buy some fruit with the hopes of getting back on the road, but the sights and smells at the market made me rather nauseous. I packed my things up and walked a block to the hostel Greg had stayed at, I wanted a little more comfort and a clean bathroom for what would be a bout with food poisoning. I’ll spare you details but needless to say I spent a few days in bed getting over a fever and not eating much more than a roll of crackers.

Cajabamba Sunset

Still not 100% better, I decided to keep moving as I had been off the bike for 4 days. The ride to Huamachuco was strenuous, I was still rather weak and there were stretches of deep dust and sand. Parts of the road was being regraded, so should be in better conditions for future cyclists.


Another day off in Huamachuco, as I knew I had a tough day ahead of me. The road would go up to 13,000 feet (a new record for me) before the descent to the coast started. Partway into the day I taped a little video message at what I thought was almost the top “Oh hey this isn’t too bad”, but an hour later I was still huffing and puffing up hills and noticing the altitude. I made it to Shorey late in the day. Shorey is a small town with a lot of mining in the area. There were basic rooms for rent and a dining room with a set menu, visited only by miners.


After a rather restless night at 12,000 feet, I rode the 77 mostly downhill miles to Trujillo and found my way to the famous Casa de Ciclistas. 25 years ago, Lucho Ramirez, who at one point was Peru’s top cyclist, started hosting cycle tourists. Since then the Casa has grown into a cycling legend. The house itself is modest, really just two rooms and a bathroom shared by a few other families that live in the building. But it is a place that has seen travelers from dozens of countries come through its door. I’m visitor #1391 in the log. A highlight of your time at the Casa is to look through all guestbooks. I came across entries from a dozen cyclists that I had followed online in the years before I started my trip. And of course entries by cyclists I’ve already met on the road.


I got here a week ago and met two Spanish cyclists on their way north, and that evening, Lucie and Torrey, a Canadian couple, came back from a quick flight home and back after having left their bikes here. They started biking in Alaska last Spetember. At some point they overtook me in Central America but I didn’t run into them there. It was great to finally meet them, and we spent mornings making breakfast and coffee together. They took off two days ago, I hope to catch up to them at some point. The day they left, three more cyclists showed up, and so begins the process of making more friends all over again.


A map of Heinz Stucke's Christmases spent abroad while travelling for the past 5 decades

All the cyclists that have come through here will say you’ll spend more time here than you originally thought. That was true in my case. There is always something going on around here. Lucho and his family live a few blocks away and are coming and going, inviting you over for cake or to help out with a project. Last Sunday Lucho organized a bike race for kids in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town and Lucie, Torrey and I went as well.


We got there and first biked around the place 5 times, Lucho with a trailer with two huge megaphones advertising the event. Nothing had been planned before hand, but this was no problem as everyone was outside anyway on the curbs eating or playing volleyball and had no other pressing engagements. A total of 6 events, I got to follow the races and shout at kids for short cutting through the empty lots.


On the way back, not only the joy of riding in Trujillo traffic but the responsibility of making sure lucho’s 3 year old, Lance, stays safe on his (training-wheeled) bike. This is much easier than it sounds, though left turns across oncoming traffic make me a tad nervous. Lucho leads the way with his microphone, scolding the taxis and offering deadpan commentary on the lack of culture among drivers. I grab Lance’s shoulder the whole way and am his gas and brakes, he takes care of steering and makes sure to hit as many potholes as he can with shrieks of delight.


When you stay here and hang around Lucho and his workshop, of course there is the big realization that your bike needs a major overhaul if it is going to last 5,000 or so more miles. A rather expensive undertaking to replace a rear rim, chain and cassette, but very necessary. And one look at two chainrings with extremely worn teeth, those needed to be replaced as well, but Lucho’s contact in Lima couldn’t help with that. Lucho has a crankset with chainrings that will fit my bike, he had been saving it for a bike he was going to build for himself, but offers to sell me it, and I have to thank my lucky stars!! Not only a replacement but instead of 26 teeth, a 24 tooth one. This two tooth difference will make the mountains to come significantly easier.

Worn Out

The week here has been anything but restful.  Taxi drivers only use their horns and not their brakes.  I’ve been eating poorly, staying up way to late, running all sorts of errands but not accomplishing anything.  Lots of hellos and goodbyes. No silence in which to contemplate, I’m left with more questions than answers. In the upstairs room there is a simple memorial, a framed portrait of a Colombian cyclist Andres who died unexpectedly on his journey after spending time at the Casa (not from a collision, but a medical complication). The picture and his beaming grin is unsettling and starting to wear on me. More and more, each time I catch a glimpse of Andres, I hear “Go, celebrate life”. I must be on my way.


4 comments to Trujillo, Peru

  • Matt, nice to hear about Lucho’s casa de ciclistas. I think I was guest #1354 or so when I reached it in June on my way North to Ecuador. Unfortunately I needed a shower badly, and they didn’t have water that evening, so Lucho helped me find some room at a friend’s hostel nearby. But I felt the nice atmosphere at Lucho’s place as well.
    Seems like you had a rough time as of late, with crazy mountains and an upset stomach. I hope you can calm things down a bit prior to heading South. If you decide to go up the Canyon del Pato, you definitely want both the bike and yoruself in tip-top shape!

    Keep it up and Enjoy!


  • Regina

    Mateo, Cuídate mucho. Estoy encantada de verte. Me da mucho gusto de siempe sonaste en tus experimentos y has logrado uno de tantos. Te deseo que estes bien. Te quiero mucho. Muchos abrazo, Mateo. Que Dios te bendiga. Tu amiga, Regina

    PD. Aquí estoy en Las Arboledas tomando cafecito con sus papis.

  • Gabriela Ruiz

    Hola Mateo, soy Gaby Ruiz y estoy con tus papás y mis papás y nos han mostrado tu gran trabajo en la Bicicleta y estamos sorprendidos por tu tenacidad, valor y fuerza para cruzar tantos ríos, tantas montañas, en fin. Creeme eres una motivación para mí en muchos aspectos, desde el deportivo (ya que a mi me gusta correr) hasta el espiritual.

    Sigue adelante, y que Dios te bendiga a donde quiera que pisares. Recibe un gran saludo de parte de mis padres y estaremos rebisando la página para seguir viendo tus a avances, por cierto, ¿no te duelen ya las piernas?

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>