Friday, March 23, 2012

Planning and Packing

Essentially, it started like this (post from my motorcycle forum):

"I have a feeling I won't be riding this weekend , bike is partially dismantled, too cold, need to Christmas shop, family in from out of town, etc...

Oh yeah, and I have a lot of research to do on Peru! My birthday was today, my wife gave me a guidebook to Peru, and as I puzzled over it, she handed me a plane ticket to Lima for March! I'm going to Peru for 1 week in about 3 months! WOOHOO! Honda XR250R or Falcon 250 rentals for about $45 a day! Machu Picchu! Cheap food and hostels!!!! WOOHOO! My wife rocks!"

I posted the above line on December 9, 2011 at 9:25pm on the night that I found out I was going to Peru. I was overjoyed at the prospect, caught off guard by an awesome trip, and overwhelmed with the idea of planning an awesome ride. I can be a bit of an over-planner on a trip, and for a few days, Cusco seemed to be starting the same way. I had some help on here with a few different ride reports, but specifically Poolman's "Sacred Valley of the Incas" ( and swamp's Machu Picchu report (!!%29/?PHPSESSID=1e2f1d07272fcaf0f37f68adf67b5cfd). Both swamp and Poolman helped me during the planning stages, graciously responding to PMs (even initiating them themselves, great guys!) and helping clear up any questions I had.

Fortunately, I realized that over-planning for this trip was simply not going to happen. As with most emerging countries, you have to learn to go with the flow. Situations can change on an hourly basis, roads can wash out, governments can shut down. Fortunately, I embraced this idea quickly. I booked my connecting flight from Lima to Cusco, found a hostel for me first night, and setup a rental bike at Victor at Maginka World tours has been incredibly helpful, responding to questions, verifying route options. He and I discussed getting into Machu Picchu via the back door, and laid the groundwork for an excellent 5 days on the bike. I am enlisting their services as a local guide and translator as well. I was initially a bit bummed by the idea, but my wife was very much relieved by the thought. I have some high school Spanish that I have not used in years, but could probably fumble my way through what I needed to say while in Cusco or Ollantaytambo, but if I ended up somewhere that the locals where speaking Quecha, I'd be screwed. Overall, probably a good idea.

So, after nailing down a rental bike, the rough plan to get to Machu Picchu and booking my entrance, I basically stop planning. I've done some research on various villages I might visit, checked out the possibilities of riding Colca Canyon, seen what options I have to make a big loop versus an out and back ride, but basically, I decided to wing at last part of this ride. I think it'll make things more exciting, but also not setup a plan that is waiting to be thrown out the window. Instead of planning everything I want to do (like I did in the UK last year), I spent a lot of my time buying gear.

I'm a bit of a gear whore. I'm also a list maker. It's bad at times. I was always making this big lists of things I "needed" before I went. I already own a Giant Loop Coyote and Diablo tank bag, and I have a nice heavy duty backpack with 2 liter water bladder in it. I didn't have any good motorcycle boots, so I ordered a set of Gaerne G-adventure boots. My wife got me a Steripen for Christmas, and a hidden wallet. I ordered 2 FatTees wicking shirts, and a pair of new lightweight cargo pants from REI. I decided to take a pair of shoes for any hiking I do, and my Patagonias were nearly worn through the sole. I found a set of nike trail shoes on discount. I spent $64 on socks! I already had a pretty decent first aid kit, but now it kicks but. I visited the doctor and received my Yellow Fever inoculation, Hep-A, Diamox for altitude. I planned to buy a SPOT and a GoPro. My buddy TN-Steve offered me his old SPOT that he no longer used, awesome! I realized that I could not load non-North America maps into my fancy-dancy fairly new Delorme PN-60 GPS. I traded it with marcusarelius for a old-new Garmin 60CSx so I could load maps up from OpenStreetMaps. I tracked down electrical connectors, chargers, and AA power headlamps. My buddy Matt snagged one of those could rechargeable USB power supplies on Woot for me (Thanks Matt!). I like buying gear, and I like crossing things off lists. It's pretty bad.

To be honest, some of the stuff I got is probably overkill. I always like to think of myself as an outdoor person, I used to be really big into hiking, but in reality, I've only "camped" probably 5 nights in ten years, and I'm known to beat feet as soon as the sun rises so I can get home and get some real sleep. Somehow, during all of that, I amassed a decent stockpile of outdoor gear. Oddly enough, much of it is crap. This prompted me buying some new gear, as well as building my first aid kit and personal effects bags. Some of the stuff I could have gotten in Peru (probably cheaper), but I don't want to spend a half a day walking around looking for a pharmacy when I could be checking out a town. Don't get me wrong, sometimes that's a great way to find new and unexpected things, but I realize I'm on a bit of a constrained schedule this trip. I will be flying to Lima on Saturday March 24th, flying out Cusco the morning of the 25th, and then jumping on a bike on the 26th. My return flight leaves Cusco on Friday the 30th.

So, basically, I'm ready to go. I can get all of my stuff into my Coyote, a backpack, and a helmet bag. I'm fairly impressed at how small I got everything, and I'm taking a tooltube bag, tool roll, air pump, spare tube, 2 days of clothes, extra shoes, and a 20 degree sleeping bag (it's what I had). I've only ever done 1 overnight trip on my bike, and that was to my parents house last summer. So, my first bike big trip, in a foreign country on a continent I've never visited, on a new bike, and where I barely speak the language. Oh yeah, I've only been riding for 1.5 years. I can't wait to get this started.

Oh, and my wife's brother called her a few weeks back and said that they were going to Italy during the same time frame that I was going to be in Peru, so she's headed to Europe while I'm in South America.


Karen's bags for Italy are in the background.


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