Peru Mountain Biking – Sacred Valley – Day 3: Lord of the Keys, Racchy, Calca DH

Mountain biking Peru is all-time for sure, and after a super fun Day 2, it was time for another full day of riding incredible trails!  In retrospect, I think Day 3 might have been one of the best days of riding (hard to choose!), so read on!

Ride 1: ‘Lord of the Keys’

Lord of the Keys is one of the epic rides of the Sacred Valley.  Descending over 5000′ in 10 miles, the ride travels through multiple ecosystems, a huge variety of trail quality (from super flowy, to super tech, and everything in between!), and through amazing scenery down a huge mountain and valley.  It’s so unreal, and a classic example of what makes riding in Peru unlike anywhere else I’ve ever ridden.  I had no idea this kind of stuff existed!

The ride starts with a bit of  ‘Choose your own adventure’ through the grass or super sketch road descent.  Transitioning through a grassy traverse (narrow, fun, super rideable with just enough rocks to keep it interesting), the trail then goes through a super tight chute as it transitions to a steep section with lots of tight turns that is super fun and totally rideable.  This steep downhill section was super fun and really different character than what we’d ridden so far.  The trail then spices it up with an off-camber section, then a grassy crossing to a ride out around a corner (shale features – totally rideable) to a proper chute with a left at the bottom.  I rode ahead of the guide at this point (since I’d stopped to take pictures earlier) and figured I was off route when I saw the feature, but then the Chileans came bombing through and it was indeed the trail!  I kinda pinballed down – feet on the pedals but both knees hit the sides – and then from there is was more tight turns and fun techy stuff.  Then a climbing traverse around to the final DH section.  This section was super loose and super turny but totally rideable.  On 2 corners, I got sucked into the drainage rut and laid it over but otherwise I was stoked on how I rode it.  The final bottom section stayed spicy to town and I was pretty stoked on the ride!  I definitely tried hard and rode a lot of features I might typically be scared to try and for that I was satisfied and content.  

Overall, Lord of the Keys was super challenging and super fun – not for the faint of heart, and a true classic ride!

View from the start . . . The ride traverses out the ridge to the low point in the distance and then down the drainage to the valley floor below – so incredible!

 

Near the beginning, in the grassy section – the ride heads out to the col on the ridge, then makes the turn downhill to descend down the valley and around the mountain at the end of the ridge we’re on! Amazing ride.

 

Scott making his way to the spicy left turn! Grass riding was fun 🙂

 

The fun downhill section as we took the downhill left off the ridge – spicy and fun!

 

The funky off-camber section as we transition from the steep flowy section to the chute!

 

The ride makes it down this ravine, ultimately using both sides!

Headed out around the corner – shale sections to keep it spicy!

 

The Chileans headed down the chute feature!

 

And the final descent! Hard to see in this pic, but there was a deep ravine in the middle of the trail from water draining that created a very challenging feature to ride around!

 

Classic Peru finish to a ride!

 

Ride 2: Racchy 3 – ‘curves for days’

This ride might be one of my favorites because it was just the right level of challenging . . . there were like 1000 switchbacks, with varying degrees of difficulty, and I had a blast practicing my steep exposed tight turning technique.  Little did I know, this is a skill that comes in quite handy for all rides in Peru (and has changed my riding since I’ve been home!).

The second ride was going to be in the same valley, but Bryan read the energy right that the last section of the first ride wasn’t universally loved so he chose another trail.  This one was 1000 switchbacks – curves for days!  It was super techy and tight and slidey but mostly rideable since I was still in the mood to try things.  I got twisted up in my bike on one corner and on other properly fell, a fall that I hit a rock straight in my chest which made me very very glad for chest armor!  Overall a super fun ride and at the bottom I felt pretty tired – my arms and legs and my hand hurt from landing with it out.  

 

Classic Andean view to start

Definitely a downhill-style trail!

Down, down, and down! Trail ends on the valley floor . . .

This turn was harder than it looks! A classic feature of Peru riding, and this ride especially.

Ride 3: local Calca enduro/DH

After 2 great rides, Bryan our guide offered a 3rd and we were all for it!  Due to foreboding clouds in the zone we were riding, we came back to Calca (where we were staying) to ride a local trail, again starting from a football pitch at the end of a road. 

This trail was a lot shorter but no less engaging – well, maybe a little less, and yet it still demanded full attention, had some sharp corners, loose downhill sections, and lots of turns.  It was really fun and a great way to end the day.  There were some cactus hazards too since we were lower – I definitely had to pull a few thorns out!  A nice spin back to town and we call it a day.  

The town start of this ride was super cool – the kiddos were so fun!

 

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