Peru – A Mountain Biking Epic Playground.
Peru is a geographically and culturally diverse country. And Peru is alarmingly big; at 1.28m sq kms it’s the 20th largest country in the world yet has a population of only 32m people; most of whom are concentrated on the coast. Peru’s history is best described as “complicated” and/or “complex”
with it perhaps being best known as the home of the Inka (sometimes spelled Inca), the stonemasons of the ancient world. Many cultures existed before the Inka ruled, and many cultures continue.
Peru has a rich history and culture that seems almost symbiotic with one of our passions, Mountain Biking. While no organized advocacy groups exist to build purpose built bike trails, there are a wealth of Inka trails and paths. There is also no shortage of hiking trails used by Peruvians in their commerce and travels. In Lima and the Sacred Valley there are informal groups that share our biking addiction and have worked hard to help to establish riding areas that they wish to share. One local group of core riders and trailbuilders we rode with on this trip to Peru is Holy Trails MTB. Holy Trails is the brainchild of Diego Pacifico Sarmiento who started Holy Trails MTB in 2012. He has ridden in many places in the world and is a superpassionate builder and biker. We found that Diego and his friends knows how to showcase a tremendously fun and unique Peruvian riding experience.
Peru is a big country. At 1.285m sq kms it is the size of California, Washington and Oregon combined. We focused on the Lima and Sacred Valley area to ride as there is way too much to see otherwise in one chunk.
We arrived in Peru in the wee hours of the morning to be picked up by Jose who runs Road Trip Van, a shuttle company helping Diego transport guests around town. We stayed at NM Lima, a very nice hotel in Miraflores close to the center of town and near very good restaurants and stores; a yuppy neighbourhood by Lima standards – perfect for us gringo travellers frankly.. This hotel had a great breakfast, the rooms were spacious, but bike storage is haphazard. We were able to keep our bikes in our spacious rooms.
Our first day in Peru was spent in Lima, building bikes, relaxing and walking around town. In the latter part of the afternoon, we were able to do a short ride on the local riding area of Morra Solar. This area has hosted the downhill race, Copa Downhill, which was one of the first official mountain bike races in Peru. Holy Trails did a fair chunk of work maintaining the trails in the area so the crew knowns the tracks well. . Morro Solar is very popular with the local Lima riders as a quick evening hit but is located in a not-so-good part of town so be careful with your bikes and valuables if hanging around..
Our second day of riding in Peru was in the Pachacamac area 45km from Lima. This is the site of a Cement Quarry where the owners allow mountain bikers to ride. There are about 5 variations of trails to ride in Pachacamac, as well as a DH Trail – Amancaes, and another trail that was called ‘Terrorist” that was on another mountain in this area.
On our third day of riding we rode the Classic Olleros. This is a massive trail that can be divided into two parts. The top downhill section goes from 3423m -> 1200m, descending 2270m over 18km on classic singletrack with immense views. This section can be repeated from the top or from the town of Olleros at about 2870m to make two downhill sections. The lower part loses 1000m over 28km and is a more gradual xc descent following a river valley. It’s a cool meandering ride but very XC-oriented. If you’re there for the DH, the last section can run a bit long and pedally but does offer bragging rights of descending from Sierra to Pacific. Note that the Olleros ride has a serious shuttle and it would be a very long day to do this self-powered.
Jose our awesome driver in Peru!
Found a cool market in Miroflores with lots of artsy stuff
Diego and his trusty Hilux provided shuttles while in Lima
Morro Solar is one of those rare beasts; sanctioned downhill in the middle of a large urban area. Pablo Lavinas who was out of commission due to a bike injury kindly drove us up. On the downhill track there is a memorial to Eguz – a 22 year old fanatical biker who messed himself quite badly in another crash at another local spot. Eguz shouldn’t even have been biking but couldn’t keep off two wheels and was killed in a minor crash at Morro Solar.
Diego, Pablo, and many others in the Holy Trails MTB Peru gang collaborate to build and maintain DH trails in the Morro Solar area. Diego actually quarterbacked a UCI-sanctioned track in the area; the Copa Downhill track. It is very progressive of Lima to allow the construction and maintenance of DH-orented track in an urban area..
Holy Trails awesome Hilux shuttle machine! With Jesus making sure we ride safe.
There are four trail variations you can do from this hill adjacent to Lima.
Diego rides by a Peruvian Navy sail ship in the harbour
Diego on the DH line
A memorial for Eguz, a fallen rider who left too soon.
The breakfasts were included in our stay at NM Lima Hotel and were very good with excellent service constantly replenishing biker-friendly heavy breakfastsy. The Pisco sours were also complimentary!