December 19, 2010

Lima to Ancon

I am writing this from Ancon, a pleasant small town about 40 km north of Lima in Peru, after my first day of riding from Lima to Guayaquil in Ecuador. So....how come I didn't continue my ride in Panama, where I left off in January? Well, there's the Darien Gap, which means land travel from Panama to Colombia is only possible if you're willing to deal with swamps, mosquitoes, and other fun stuff. (I have been told that it is possible, though.) So I moved my attention to stretches further south that might be fun riding and started focusing on desert areas in Peru and Chile. I liked the idea to ride from Santiago de Chile to Lima, but that would probably take three or more weeks, and I wanted to limit my trip to about two weeks. (But I will sure do that ride in the future. It will be very reassuring to know that I can expect to be rescued with a red, white, and blue rocket-like contraption in case I fall into one of the many deep potholes along the road.) Looking at availability of flights, Guayaquil-Lima seemed the best idea. Now the next question...how come I decided to ride south to north? The answer lies in some physics that is illustrated in the picture below (from my ancient school atlas from Germany), where wind directions are depicted with blue arrows:



Thanks to the sun heating up the equator region, I can look forward to tailwind. (The counterclockwise wind patterns on the southern hemisphere are a result of the Coriolis force.) Last night I stayed at a hotel right at the airport in Lima and originally I was planning on taking a cab to Ancon, since I had read and heard more bad than good things about riding on the busy streets near the airport. But then when I looked out of my hotel window,



I saw people running on the median of Avenida Tomas Valle, the street that would take me to the Panamerican Highway. They didn't seem to be running away from anybody or be chasing innocent bicycle tourists; in fact, they were jogging on the bike/pedestrian lanes in the median. Contrary to descriptions I had read, this looked like a fun way to start the ride, which it was,


even though there were sections dominated by Vehicular Darwinism, in particular close to the Panamericana Norte.

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