10 October, 2012

Day 97, 157km: Long day

Woke up, packed my camp and loaded all on the bike. Bid farewell with everyone at the campground and I was on my way out of Cusco, for what turned out to be an eventful day...

The town of Pisco (I think!) going down into the Sacred Valley
 The road was great, the weather perfect. I was off to a good start and enjoyed the views and the riding.

All is well, so far ...
Amazing views in the narrow valley
 The road started going up and was full of twists, a steep winding mountain road. I started to feel something strange on the rear wheel, a kind of floating sensation in curves. I thought there might be something wrong with the tire so I stopped for a quick check.

Well, here's my problem
 And so it was right in front of me. My first puncture, after nearly 27,000km on the road. Not bad, I have been pretty lucky so far. What sucked thought was that I was in the middle of a mountain road, 30km from the closest city (Ollantaytambo) which I had just been through.

Removing the nail was a stupid move in retrospect
My first reaction was to remove the nail. That was a stupid move as the tire had been loosing pressure rather slowly but went flat shortly after I removed the nail.
A few seconds after I snapped the photo above, the bike fell on its side. The delicate balance of a mountain road side stop was disturbed by the tire going flat.
And it fell almost perfectly horizontal this time, which means a gigantic pain in the ass to bring it back upright. I was angry at the puncture, even more at dropping the bike so I did the same mistake as back in Sacramento, California. I lifted the bike as hard and quickly as I could, and ripped a muscle in my back in the process. Lifting the bike inch by inch, pushing on my legs and pulling with my back and arms I could feel that something was going very wrong in my back, like the slow ripping of a muscle.

As I'm typing this right now at the hotel I can barely move, I hope after a good night of rest I'll be fine. Earlier on however, stranded on the roadside I didn't feel the pain yet.

First, enjoy the view
It being my first flat, I thought I needed some time to rest and get my mind straight to avoid further mistakes. The first thing on my checklist: enjoy the view and think about a way to get out of this situation.
Luckily I was somewhat prepared for this. A toolkit, spare tubes and instruction videos on the laptop. So I started unpacking all of that and getting ready for the roadside repair. After lifting the bike however (remember we're at 3500m or something) I had no energy to put it on the center-stand. So I waited on the roadside and started waving at cars asking them to stop and help me. I actually took 5 cars before one stopped. That sucked. When the bike fell down the mountain in USA every single car stopped and offered assistance.

So after a while I was all set to start the repair. Started the laptop with the intention of having a look at the instruction videos. Well, the laptop didn't start. Displayed a message "Fan error" and then shut itself down. Now being an IT Engineer I used all my skills and knowledge to kick on the damn thing until it eventually started again. Then after looking at the video, I realized that I was missing tools. The only tool in fact that you need to remove the rear wheel. Had plenty of others but of course not this one. I have to say that I cursed profusely the person who sold me that toolkit :-) I am to blame also for not double-checking on these sort of things.

After trying in vain for an hour with other tools to unscrew this damned rear wheel axle nut I moved on to the plan B and used some kind of glue on the exterior of the tire, waited a bit for it to dry, put some pressure back in the tire with the electric compressor I carry, and started a long descent.

Every 5km ...
I started going down the road at 30km/h and stopping every 5km to put some more pressure back in the tire. I knew I was going to completely destroy the tube and possibly the tire in the process. This was either that or staying stuck up there in the mountain.
Still had time to enjoy the view!
 Painfully but surely I made it back to Ollantaytambo, where I was directed to a motorcycle repair shop.

They had the best staff in town
Daddy and mommy were not at home so the shop owner's son (pictured above) started giving me tools so I could repair my tire. A friend of his came along and both were very excited to see the bike. Now equipped with the proper tools, I was able to remove my tube (good for trash) and put the spare one in place. The shop owner eventually came back and helped me out on putting the wheel back on the bike (which I hope I won't have to do alone as it's a major pain in the ass).

Finest motorcycle repair shop in Ollantaytambo
While fixing the bike on the road side I met Bary and Salvatore, from Scotland and Peru respectively. As it was 4pm I decided to call it a day, have a beer with them and stay in this town for the night.

Cool views of the mountains and the sun sets
 Checked-in a hotel with hot water (yeah!) and a bed that I hope will ease the pain on my back. Went back out with Bary and Salvatore and we had a fun evening with them and their friends. That was very much needed after the setback of the day. Thanks guys!

Sweet dreams little bike, hope your repaired tire and wheel will hold on ...

Off to bed,


  1. Bah dis dc Guigui, jespere que cest la derniere fois que tu creveras!!!

  2. Awesome !!!!!! macchu pichu!!!