Rest day contemplation, looking three weeks ahead three weeks ago now. The Cordillera Blanca with its stunning snow-capped peaks waited ahead of us, the mountain city of Huaraz there, our next planned major rest. Glory-seeker cyclists can make a loop out from Huaraz eastward over one pass in the Cordillera and returning westward over the second pass. One pass is paved, 4900m, the other dirt, 4700m, you pick which one you want to do first. No other passes with road approaches in the northern heart of the range. Huaraz departure allows for leaving behind unnecessary gear, less weight then to lug up and over. This loop then a pure masochist’s effort: thousands of meters of climbing, against altitude hypoxia, cold, and variable weather, only to return to where you started from.
Paul and I had no excess weight to leave behind. And we may come from ride-your-bike-in-circles racing backgrounds, but now we’re acting touring cyclists, wanting to ride in a continual southern progression. So, seeking stellar mountaintop views, how to ride both passes? Three options (3 the recurring theme here):