The issue with flying into Cusco, Peru, with a planeload of disassembled mountain bikes is that you just then should commandeer the modest airport’s car parking zone to bang these bikes again collectively. The chore might be a great factor, although, to assist us acclimate to the 11,000-foot altitude—and to the problem forward. I’m certainly one of 16 seasoned North American riders who’ve traveled to this area of the Andes in southeastern Peru to log six days of rigorous descents as we discover an historic path system within the Sacred Valley of the Inca, with a aspect journey to Machu Picchu tacked on for good measure.
With all wheels and handlebars matched to corresponding frames and the bikes secured atop three vans, we shuttle by the colonial metropolis’s twisty streets and farther up into surrounding inexperienced mountains to stage our first descent. We unload and, regardless of our stoke, attempt to tempo ourselves as we pedal to a fair larger place to begin. Huffing on the skinny air, we’re stunned to come across a gaggle of colorfully attired Quechuans, direct descendants of the Inca, singing and dancing alongside the in any other case lonely go. They weave by our ranks, smiling and clasping our fingers, then drift previous. As welcoming receptions go, it’s fairly unbeatable.
Our inaugural downhill , a llama-blazed, 9.3-mile path generally known as La Maxima, is domestically notorious. It begins as a observe of Andean crimson grime bordered by tall, yellow grass. The trail is steep and quick earlier than transitioning into rugged rock gardens and scrabbly switches that require fixed vigilance to maintain from washing out. After about two hours of technical maneuvering, nearing the underside and fatigued from the lengthy flight and the journey, I unceremoniously tumble off my seat. I slide feetfirst over free, jagged rock that scorches my bottom, praying I don’t develop into a pace bump for the bikes barreling down behind me. Catastrophe narrowly averted, I grunt off my scrapes and end the descent. Laughing over celebratory cervezas, we assess that this “shakeout journey” was already the equal of a number of typical rides again residence—and we’re set to sort out 16 extra such descents within the days to come back. I make some extent of clinking longnecks with my pal Dillon Lemarr, supervisor of a using crew for bike model Commencal, and professional freeride mountain biker Aaron Chase. This entire touring, spoke-spinning circus has been envisioned by Chase after seven earlier journeys to journey the Sacred Valley. He’s dubbed it “The Inca Move.” And proper now, I’m questioning if I’ll survive it intact.