Sunday, February 5, 2012

biking lima

so i landed in lima, peru late saturday night, having had very little time to research anything about the place. at least i wasn't as bad as the guys from montreal in the plane. they said they we're going to maccu piccu. i asked if them how they were getting to Cuzco, and whether they were going to train or hike. huh? what's Cuzco, you mean Pisco, like the drink?
anyway. i left my hotel early on sunday morning to explore. around the corner i noticed a lot of people on bikes. everyone has pretty fancy road bikes, or pimped out cruisers that have tassles and blast latin music. wow, is lima the progressive bike-friendly city of south america? i stop at a little tent that is renting bikes by the hour. fantastic! they give me a beat up low-rider mountain bike thing with lumpy wobbly wheels and a kick stand that rattles against the spokes of the back wheel. and i'm off on the widest bike lane ever. 
i quickly realize that's it's actually "Cyclodia" and they have shut down the major street, no cars allowed. pretty nice though, until i reach the end of this calm stretch, at a tremendously busy intersection with honking cars and buses. 
the peruvians are content to turn around and go back down the avenue and bike a tiny loop like it's an amusement park ride. there are little water kiosks and places to fix your bike, which will eventually break down every 300m. um, i rented this bike for 2 hours, it's going to get very boring, very fast. 
so i turn off, and sneak under one of the yellw ropes to go explore something else with my ride. the people in the yellow vests are screaming after me "senora! senora!" as if i've just taken a bumper car out of the rink or something. i'm not wrong in thinking i can ride my rented bike a bit around lima? i mean, i'll bring it back, they made me leave my passport as collateral! 
and how many cyclists?
and off i go. and well, no, lima is not exactly a progressive bike friendly city..bike lanes? safety? que es eso?
7 lane roundabout! gah


4 wheels or go home


most streets are 4 laned dusty messes of honking jostling cars like in a demolition derby. at one point i select the bus lane, thinking it would be either more appropriate or safer, but there it was some sort of death match. the buses have these horns, not regular horns but the quintuple 5 note arpeggio things, or the eardrum blasting air horn like at a soccer game. they wait until they are right behind you to HOOOOOONK! and then the ticket guy who hangs out the door is screaming at you, and the driver is smiling an evil grin, showing his gold teeth, the passengers are staring at this weirdo on the bike, and then another bus comes in and tries to squeeze you - it seems all they are missing are razor blades on the hubcaps, which would make their day complete. 
murder buses

so then i went on the sidewalk, and that's even worse, people grab their kids and glare at you, and the police whislte with their whistles and scream some more senora! senora!
it was exhilarating. i found some side streets to rest/hide. took some cool pictures of run down buildings, and landed upon some sort of cultural parade with all these people with flour on their faces and colorful hats and such. pretty crazy.
cultur-y stuff

i returned my bike on time, somehow completely sunburned despite the cloudiness, and my chain was flinging grease all over my back and legs. and there you have it, biking in lima.

1 comment:

Pepou27 said...

Bon, c'est encore mieux que les Vélibs ....