Page Contributor(s): Ties Arts, Bussum, Netherlands; Jelmer Brinkman, Lent, Netherlands; Bryan Kevan, Berkeley, CA, USA
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Cycling Conococha, Peru
Ride 71 kilometers gaining 3,357 meters to 4,045 (13,270’) at 4.6% average grade.
Climb summary by PJAMM founder John Johnson.
This was our first climb on our trip to the Ancash Region of Peru. The Ancash Region is located in west-central Peru and is home to some of the best and highest bike climbs in the country.
We stayed in and began our climb in Chasquitambo which has a population of around 1,700 and is the seat of the Colquioc District in the Ancash Region.
The climb is along a fertile valley with steep sides for the first 10 kilometers then through a steep canyon the remainder of the way.
This is a good climb to begin a cycling trip such as ours because, while the climb is to high altitude by USA standards (it would rank #4 in the US behind Mt. Evans, Pikes Peak, and Mauna Kea) it has moderate altitude by Peruvian Andes standards (we topped out at 15,500’’ on Punta Olimpica).
The scenery varies from lush near the bottom to tundra at the top.
The climb is through a deep canyon much of the way.
We pass through several small towns on our climb.
There are many fruit stands and little restaurants on the route -
This was a nice one at kilometer 31.
That sign is crazy - the steepest segment is only 11% for 1 km.
But most of the climb is in the 4-6% range.
There were many colorful buildings and political advertisements along our route.
This one at km 38.
Soccer field in Cajacay (pop. ~1,700) at kilometer 41.
Our second stop for provisions was at kilometer 52.6.
There are several sets of hairpins along the second part of the climb.
We were surprised to encounter gravel around kilometer 47. Since there is no history or write ups for many of the climbs in Peru, we were forced to rely on our own research. In this case, we relied on Google Maps which showed a fully paved road for our entire route. However, upon closer inspection after the fact, I noted that the Google Streetview for the highway was from 2013. As of December 2021, there are approximately 20 kilometers of dirt/gravel beginning at about kilometer 47. The road had some washboard conture to it in spots, but I managed it without much difficulty on 28mm road tires.
We finish the climb at the high point which is just shy of Laguna Conococha. There is the small town of Conococha with a few open-air grills at the Laguna, which is also the junction of Highways 16 and 3N where the roads from Lima and Huaraz meet. The temperature at the top of the climb will be much colder than at the start, so plan accordingly.
Beware of dogs on all bike rides into the mountains of Peru. We did not have any terribly close encounters on Conococha, but there are many unleashed dogs along paved roads in Peru and they can be vicious - we recommend bringing a stick or club to hold above your head to deter dog attacks. This worked for us except on one occasion on Punta Callan.
This route is entirely on Highway 16, a major corridor for traffic to the Ancash region of Peru and Huaraz (a destination town for tourists). There was moderate traffic on the road for much of our trip, but we never felt in danger or that traffic was a hazard.
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