Barranca to Lima
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
The next morning, after some fitful sleep, it felt good to find some of my clothing dry from the last few days of rain. I’d laid all my gear and electronics out on the bed to air out from the rain and condensation, and luckily everything was dry from the warmer temperatures of the coast.
The hospedaje offered no breakfast, so we grabbed a tuk-tuk to the town square and found a place serving some hot food.
Lima was a couple of hours ride away, according to my Google maps app, so I added an extra hour mentally and planned the route for the big city. Luis, the Chilean rider we’d met the night before, had suggested Lucky Lodge hostel in Lima since the owner is a motorcyclist and had a small garage if work needed to be done.
We loaded the bikes and I loaded the GPS coordinates, then waved goodbye to the Colombians leaving the Dakar race for home, and rolled out for the highway south and a new city, but more importantly for me, a place to repair the blown rear shock which was endangering the handling of the bike.
The blowing sands kicked up and the ride was in buffeting winds all the way. The terrain began to appear as if we were in Morocco or the Sahara, giant dunes and clouds of dust blowing ahead. Tiny shacks littered the landscape and it was hard to tell if they were homes or some form of mining claims or who knows what.
To my right, the Pacific provided the winds and eternal sand, which covered distant mountainsides and created massive dunes everywhere. I guess I had no concept of the Peruvian coast and towns, but I felt like I’d gotten lost and ended up in North Africa. The concept of riding in snow, sleet and cold and then three hours travel later riding in North Africa was hard to grasp. Nearing Lima and seeing the brown, windswept, mud brick buildings laid out across a desert just didn’t compute in my mind. I enjoyed the sensory experience however. Ride to Peru and get a free trip to the Sahara!
Our destination lay in the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores on the southern side of Lima. After being warned by everyone about the horrendous traffic we elected to try the local coastal streets rather than the main highway, exiting into Callao and entering the city from the north. The traffic didn’t seem too bad, other than choke points near the airport shipping terminals. It took an hour or more but we made the Miraflores district and found that the GPS had taken us to a commercial building plaza. We couldn’t see the hostel, but a guard unchained the plaza entry and we rode in to find Lucky Lodge tucked away amidst restaurants in a quiet corner.
The bike was pretty clean from the mud of the mountains after several hours in rain the previous day
Ernesto the owner and a couple of other moto travelers were outside by their bikes. Ernesto showed us the garage and his current restoration project, a rare BSA Rocket 3 from the mid 60’s. The hostel was pricey but I didn’t care. It was nice, quiet and I got a big room with windows. I’d barely even looked at a map, having been so focused on the bike and it’s potential problems, and now the blown rear shock, that I just needed to delete everything mentally and reboot.
Since Lima had become the de facto center of the motorcycle racing community for the Dakar race, it offered more options for motorcycle parts and repairs than most South American cities, and I had been shocked to learn that Touratech, the German company who'd made my front and rear aftermarket suspension, actually had a shop in Lima. The next day I punched in Touratech Peru, where I planned to take the bike to have the rear shock rebuilt and with Ed taking up the rear, we plowed slowly through the traffic.
On the way we stopped at a motorcycle wash to get the crust off. Much is said and written about Peruvian drivers, and it’s pretty true. Aside from the insane honking of horns, they drive very dangerously, as in “kill you and not care” dangerous. Most bad traffic in cities is more of a dare game, where there is give and take, but generally the other driver isn’t willing to push it to the end. Not so in Lima, and as I made the final turn onto the street for Touratech, a big SUV was in my lane making a pass to beat the other driver to the stop sign. It’s the closest call I’ve had yet, tossing the bike as best I could, and missing a head-on collision by a few inches. I’ll never forget the face of the driver laughing and talking to his friends and not giving a sh*t what he did and how we barely avoided a serious accident.
The other incident I'd had a few days before was similar, making a turn in Trujillo to find a mini-bus in my lane coming full speed to make a pass to get in front of a vehicle before the stop light. It was so close I cringed in anticipation but somehow miraculously missed him. At the next traffic circle, Ed rode up under me in the turn, showing me how close it had been, with two fingers about 2 inches apart, a big grin and shaking his head.
Still buzzed from adrenaline, the street seemed deserted, dusty and nothing but walled compounds. The GPS said Touratech was here, but nothing was apparent. No signs, no nothing but high concrete walls along the street. We made the corner and stopped to find shade from the heat. My apps all said it was near us, but we couldn’t find it. Then Ed spotted a guy to ask if he might know and it turned out he was wearing a Touratech t-shirt, pointing us a half block back to a brick wall with a gate and a single yellow line painted over the door.
In a few minutes we were allowed in to find a very nice, new facility hidden inside. The shop was new and squeaky clean with a lot of gear in the store, as well as a pristine shop. Ivan came out to say hello. MotoHank had heard about the shock issue and had sent him an email with all the details of my shocks and settings. That was a real surprise and a huge help, but that’s the type of guy Hank is.
After drooling at the place a bit, I took Ivan over to check out the bike, holding it while he thrashed on the rear and said they’d figure out what was going on. He said they had parts and the ability to totally rebuild the shocks and re-pressurize with nitrogen. It was a huge relief and I hoped the problem could be resolved without another wait for parts to be shipped in. It was comforting to be in a state-of-the-art shop specializing in big adventure motorcycles and felt like I was in good hands.
They hailed a cab for me and Ed followed on his 800 back to the hostel. That night we shared stories with the few other riders staying there, of whom were heading both north and south.