Casa de Cyclistas

I completed a week journey, alone, through the Andes of northern Peru. In Huanuco I had great stay with my host Midori and her family. Due to illness and some change of plans, I ended up taking a bus south, to Ayacucho, one of Peru´s charming colonial cities. Paul arrived the following day, coming from the south after spending a couple weeks with his friend from France. After our couple days of peaceful rest, we were back on the bus. Paul’s mission was to rescue the recuperated Caracola from Ecuador and build her up in Trujillo, in the northern coast of Peru – and I was along for the ride. My bike, Guate, and trailer BOB, stayed at the hotel in Ayacucho. Thus, it was a sleepless bus ride across the sierras and northbound on the coast, to the Casa de Cycylistas, for Project Caracola.

We arrived, unconventionally, to the Casa de Cylistas of Trujillo… by bus. Additionally, no one was there. The founders wife, Aracelly, arrived to let us into the house as the only visitors of the week. Actually it was only I, because Paul continued north to Ecuador. It took a couple days for it to feel like the welcoming community that everyone raved about, as one by one arrived; the Argentinean cyclist, Miguel,  then Paul, and finally, Lucho.

A couple days after the arrival of Lucho and the stripped bike frame, Project Caracola was on. First the frame was taken to be sandblasted, followed by a paint job and into an industrial oven to set the paint.

Poor dear. Caracola had been kidnapped, stripped of her parts, and continued to be blasted and baked.

While Paul and Lucho worked on project Caracola, more cyclist arrived in a flock with their bike woes; two young french guys, Joscelin and Jeremy; a comical couple, New Zealand Mel and UK Chris, and a Canadian, Tim, who was also lucky to recover his stolen bike. Lucho dedicated his efforts well into the late night hours to complete Project Caracola. Lucho seemed to want Paul’s bewildering stolen bike story to have a happy ending. Another example of Lucho, the man who opened his home to touring cyclist since 1984. He and his family are appreciated and loved in the cycling community. Much evidence comes from reading the collections of farewell notes in the journals known as the “Books of Gold”.

The Casa de Cyclista (bike house) is the international bike house. It´s reputation as the first international cycling home in the Americas, stands to be a legend. For decades, thousands of cyclist have, and more will continue to make, the pilgrimage for a stay at the CdC. Lucho has provided a place to rest and to get an excellent bike tune-up. He is also a huge promoter of cycling in Trujillo, if not, all of Peru. He sets up local races and benefits, and use to be a champion racer, himself. Lucho is warm and easy going. He speaks from the heart, that it is clear, the compassion he has for cycling and the community. His response to the compliment of how incredible it is to run the Casa de Cyclistas, is that it is his humble pleasure to have the adventure cyclists pass though his life like the birds.

In 2000, Lucho went to the Tour de France. Anne O’brian, a previous visiting cyclist, invited Lucho to the tour for two days. It was a gift of his dreams and a return of grand appreciation for taking on a big role in the touring community. She contacted all the cyclist and supporters of Casa de Cyclistas, and all-together, they raised money to send Lucho to Paris. When he met Jean-Marie Leblanc, the president of the Tour de France, the president was so appreciative of Luchos story, Leblanc told him “You will not stay 2 days for the tour. You are going to stay for the entire tour.” Lucho said he had to pinch himself every morning to believe that he was attending the entire 21-day tour, meeting all the guys like Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indueriain.

Lucho shared with us the collections of signed books – 8 volumes and counting, of golden memories. Perusing through the books, was a journey through time that brought to myself to know what an incredible community exist: the cycle tourers.

***

I would like to share some entries- a few of many that remind me what a wonderful world it is, on a bike:

Every cyclist who passes through the Casa de Cyclista are each a unique story.  A thousand tales of wanderlust on wheels.

I was happy to see the friends I had the pleasure to meet…

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Paul recognized the guy who inspired him, Claude Marthaler. His autobiography of a 7 year world bike tour was brought to CdC by a cyclist, Joscelin. Paul rode with Claude in Africa. Paul had recognized a picture he took for Claude, featured in the book. The photo is one of Lucho’s favorites in Claude’s collection

There were love stories…

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Those who rode with ideals…

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…from the rebels to the yogis…

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They road with a message…

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…carried out missions…

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…and had fun…

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Some who rolled in, were musicians…

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Artist…

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With four legged passengers…

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They shared itineraries…

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Pirate stories…

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Unfortunately, some came with troubled road tales…

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They gave their reflections over the highs and lows…

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These journals date far back to the early days, before most of us thought to ever do such a crazy journey…

The first family…

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The first ladies..

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The first one, dating back before I was born…

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Some, had been touring since they were a wee-bit…

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…for others, they were never too old…

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…and all the ones in-between, came from all corners of the world…

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There were ladies as tough as their steel bikes…

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Some were celebrities and record breakers, respectively…

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Some met their heroes on the road, or in a written entry at the Casa de Cyclistas…

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They showed up on just about anything with two wheels…

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Maps of places where few have gone before...

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There were tree huggers...

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...and tree smokers…

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Some of them had me laughing…

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Others brought me to tears…

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Two Argentinian brothers had cycled together. One of them was shot and lost his life, just a days ride away from the Casa de Cyclistas.

They inspired and made miles of smiles…

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Lucho made many smile, too…

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They were free…

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Miguel and his bike.

Miguel and his bike.

***

After days and late hours of grease shop labor, Project Caracola was completed! We celebrated our last night with the September 2013 crew, with boxed wine, chips, and continued bike maintenance. Paul was back with the biggest smile like the one I saw when we met in Mexico. We hugged our friends, ’til next time, and exited the Casa de Cyclista, with two bikes; Paul on his, and Lucho, carrying me on his road frame. Lucho accompanied us to the bus stop. We hugged and wished farewell with hopes that it wouldn’t be the last visit.

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The last night for Paul, Marie and Caracola.

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The Champ, Lucho.

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And another page in the books…

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And then…?

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