North of Huarez we followed an ever degrading potholed road until we reached the charming little town of Carez, it would be here that we would search for the last of our adventure rides, the Cañon del Plato. Etched into the Canyon wall using what must have been enough explosives to make that scene out of independence day, The road was originally built to service the several mines and hydroelectric facilities that operated within the mountains. Since the first intrepid travel motorcyclist had curiously wandered down it, news had spread and it had become a Bikers “must see” in Peru.

The first challenge however was finding the place. Several roads led West, back to the coast but none were clearly sign posted “obscure niche motorcycle scenic route”. With thanks to the never ending help of random passers by and the reliability of the SAG NAV (Stop, Ask, Go) System, we found it and began our slow bumpy descent.

Our diversion instantly became worthwhile as we shimmied past a sheer drop to our right hand side within tight canyon walls and spectacular scenery. The road itself was an engineering marvel, carved almost impossibly into the mountainside. We passed through somewhere in the region of 40 tunnels, some simply rough blasts into the protruding rock, others over 100m’s long giving a harsh reminder that my headlight was, in fact, a piece of shit. There was almost no traffic on the road apart from the occasional miners 4×4 packed with workers all on their way to facilities actually burrowed into the mountainside like a bond bad guy’s evil lair.

(Just about the only video we shot, through the tunnels of the Canyon)

It was slow going along the rocky path, any exploration beyond 30km’s/ph resulted in a few slips and slides, after all, our 125’s were never build for this. We had been so used to burning down the Pan-Am at 90 with our hair on fire that we had not accounted for quite how long the day would become. Unlike other times when we had become stuck out after dark, there was no beach or field with which to pitch a tent, we would be forced to negotiate the road in darkness, and that was a whole other ball game.

Blissfully un-prepared as always we simply ploughed on, pushing the speed as fast as we could go without skidding off the edge, something that Frank and his flagrant disregard for self preservation was a lot better at. Personally, for me, every turn conjured up scenes from Indiana Jones’ Temple of doom and I could envisage crocodiles chewing on my suzuki’s tyres as I sunk to a watery grave. Fortunately no imaginary crocodiles had either of us for supper and before dusk we reached a tarmac road, never before has Asphalt been a more welcomed sight.

After a night in what we now know to be one of the roughest towns in Peru, Chimbote, we once again re-joined the highway north. The surf town of Mancora was our next notable destination but between us and there lay around 500 miles of desert with nothing really appealing to see. That in mind we split the distance in two and aimed to be surfing after 2 days riding, packing in 250 miles each day.
Lunchtime brought us to Trujillo and a quick stop for the usual unidentifiable soup & fried something preceded what would be a long afternoon slog. Trujillo was busy with slow moving trucks and the ever awkward looking Tuc Tuc taxi’s, Frank leading the way we passed them all, right up until it happened.
I could still see Frank just a couple of cars in front, he always took some stupidly risky chances but by now I was never far behind, begging the question, who is the bigger fool, the fool or the fool that follows him? He had passed a slow Tuctuc laden with palm leaves and was eying up his next overtake while I pulled out to follow. However, as I did so, without warning, the Tuctuc turned left, cutting across my path and it was too late. I’m not sure at what point that surprise and evasive reactions are replaced with acceptance and clenching but for me that was a split second before I smashed into the back of the Tuctuc. A faint memory of my bike silhouetted against the sky as it cart wheeled over me is all that remains before I came to, laid out in the middle of the road, Stabbing pain in my gut and a warm current of blood trickling down my leg and onto my boots. A woman’s screams filled the air, the Tuctuc’s passenger. She was unhurt but having an Englishman career into the back of her taxi must have come as quite a shock. It took me a few seconds to fully appreciate my predicament as oncoming trucks came back into focus and I turned to see my beloved bike on her side, crying tears of petrol onto the dusty road.
Aside from the pain I was ok and still had the strength to haul the bike up and wheel her to the roadside before collapsing once more. It didn’t take long for the cops to arrive and when I took another look around a small crowd had gathered. My Spanish, which had become quite proficient upto this point, had all but stopped working and all I could get from the police was something about hospital. Some gears began to turn in my brain, something told me that I didn’t want this hassle and using my best mumbled Spanish I insisted that I was fine, much to the surprise of the now handcuffed Tuctuc driver. With that, he and I were both free to go.
Gazing up the road into the distance I saw no sign of Frank but hoping that he was waiting for me at the roadside as he often did, I dusted myself off and threw my leg over my crippled bike. My Suzuki’s wounds were worse than my own, the panniers had snapped and the forks were slightly bent making for an uneasy start to my limp onwards. The front wheel had hit the Tuctuc and sent the left handlebar into my stomach, inches from my balls, for which I was thankful. This had also bent the handlebars but with a few yanks it was back to a recognizable shape and some duct tape on my panniers made me South American standard roadworthy again and I set off in search of Frank.
At this point I was not pissed at Frank for continuing on, it was not unusual for us to separate every now and again on such a long ride. But after the miles added up and still no Frank, the anger grew, he had not just left, he had buggered off. Each cop that stopped me along the way told me of another gringo on a black Honda who had passed through over an hour before but trying to catch up soon became futile. I stopped to inspect my duct tape repair only to see that it had fallen off miles back, I needed a welder if I was going to continue.
In a stroke of Disney-like luck, I just happened to have stopped right outside the house of the local motorcycle welder and his young sons came rushing out, insisting I followed them. The entire family gathered round me and my bike and all hands truly were on deck. The father and his eldest son set to work on my twisted panniers while his wife and the young kids quizzed me on where I was from, my journey and just about everything else that came to mind. Their kindness was heart warming and all the rage that had been building up in my helmet, thinking of ways to kick Frank’s ass, fizzled away with their presence. What’s more, after all the work was done, this family of many who lived out here in the country with very little even insisted that I pay nothing for the work. Insisting right back I gave them $20 and my sunglasses if only for the good mood that they had put me back in.

The family who fixed my bike and thoroughly cheered me up