There are those moments in your life where time fades away and you remain blissfully in a state of ‘flow & ease‘ while being completely engulfed in the present moment; happy & content with no desire to be anywhere else.  Moments filled with freedom, lightness, and a heightened sense of awareness that allows one to take in every precious second; the newness, the precise details, sounds, and the amazing beauty that surrounds it all. I live for these moments. Call me crazy, but those moments are the most important things in life to me. They are what I work hard and sweat for. I would rather get to the end of my life with a million of those moments than a million dollars on my death bed. Give me a plane ticket to the southern continents of Latin America, my Mountain Bike, my gear bag, and a pair of dancing shoes and you will witness a girl on fire alive with passion & exhilaration. To travel and explore beautiful places, people, and cultures of the world remains one of my greatest passions, along with helping others to find that same sense of passion and love for it as well.

That being said pretty much sums up my experience the 12 days I spent in Peru leading a group of 6 amazing women with my company, ‘Womens Radical Pursuits.’ Still surreal in my mind, I find myself often with tears in my eyes when I think of that time; so fresh but so far away. The beauty of travel, new experiences, and relationships is the impact and joy that is imprinted and left behind on your heart and soul. Everyone of my travel experiences has left me changed in it’s own unique way and influence. 

That being said pretty much sums up my experience the 12 days I spent in Peru leading a group of 6 amazing women with my company, ‘Womens Radical Pursuits.’ Still surreal in my mind, I find myself often with tears in my eyes when I think of that time; so fresh but so far away. The beauty of travel, new experiences, and relationships is the impact and joy that is imprinted and left behind on your heart and soul. Everyone of my travel experiences has left me changed in it’s own unique way and influence. 

I feel immense gratitude for the traveling that I have been fortunate to experience and for the foreign countries that I have lived in. Each one has opened me up to a new world of it’s own and ultimately; to myself. Leaving a powerful impact on my life which has helped to shape who I am.

But this this trip to the Sacred Valley of Peru feels different than any other experience I have had abroad. Bigger. More profound and powerful and I am left struggling to identify why and what to do with the feelings of meloncholy upon return. I want to live in those ‘fully alive and in the flow moments’ no matter where I am. And therein lies my intention. I guess we all have the things, places, and people that pull on our heartstrings in different ways and that’s just part of living an adventurous lifestyle. But this trip has activated a hunger and deep seated desire for more journeys to South America to continue exploring the countries that house the Andes Mountains, new single track, and interesting people more than ever.  My love for mountain biking was heightened as I was challenged in different ways and my desire to become a better rider is high. 

The Andes Mountains provided challenging terrain located in some of the most rough, remote, and rugged places I’ve ever been; the kind of places that I love. Way the hell out in the middle of nowhere with few people in sight aside from those you choose to be with. Wind in the hair with a faced brushed in dirt. My style; raw, real, and drama free. Being in the Sacred Valley of Peru was like being in another world. Engulfed by the massive and stoic mountains of the Andes made me feel so small and insignificant melting away my worries and fears. Not only were the views massive and breathtaking, but the spiritual energy of the valley was vast, encompassing, and mysterious; all at once.

Reflecting back to the month leading up to the trip leaves me in awe and amazement that this came to fruition! The anticipation was immense, nerve wracking, and exciting all at once leading up to day 1. A month spent training on my bike in the high country of the Rockies to try and prepare my lungs for riding at 14,000 feet while in-between landscaping and working the gardens of Crested Butte half of the week with the other half in Durango creating a course in Breakthrough Psychology & Coaching. Each day, the nerves building stronger as the departure date inched closer. Daily having to hush the voices of doubt, insecurity, and worry as that voice would try to scare me away from this dream. My excitement and confidence silenced the voice and kept me focused on the prize; to Mountain Bike the Sacred Valley Peru, see Machu Picchu, and to lead and empower an amazing group of women via Adventure, Travel, Yoga, and MTBing.

The day I left was a classic “Schweim Style Shitshow” as a few friends might call it. Seems to never fail my underestimation of time and that day I faced that challenging in planning how long it would take to drive, pack, and ride which resulted in a major hustle to Denver after Mountain Biking the Monarch-Crest Trail . I found myself in the dark packing my suitcase in the carpool parking lot outside of my friends house in Golden, CO before arriving to her house to stay with her family for the night. Shaking my head and laughing at myself, I got it all packed  and surprisingly didn’t forget anything. A few hours of sleep later the alarm went off at 3:30 am and it was go time. Nine hours later after flying through the sky, I would arrive to a country I had dreamed of going to for many awaited years.

I felt ecstatic upon the arrival to Lima despite the long hours and late arrival. After meeting a lovely woman from Mexico City I found myself with a new friend up all night drinking coffee in the airport hanging out little two kids in a candy store while we waited for our 3 a.m. flight. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night and arrived to Cusco in a bit of a fog to meet the unexpected cold temperatures which helped to wake me up and make it to my hotel.  I arrived at 5 a.m. and plopped down half asleep in front of a little fire for warmth and rest until I could check-in to my cozy little room. When I finally went outside and step foot onto the cobblestone street, my eyes lit up and my heart started to beat faster as I took in the sight of the Majestic Andes Mountains surrounding the city in all directions. I felt punch drunk as I stumbled around looking up and around taking in all of the sights, the beautiful faces, smells, and crisp thin air. I wandered around, in and out of markets, and finally stumbled back to the hotel where I passed out hard to rest and sleep through the afternoon to get caught up and ready for what was to come; Womens Radical Pursuits Maiden Voyage with 6 amazing women in route.  BIG.SMILE.ON.FACE.

After arising in a daze from my way too short of a power nap I left to meet the hombres that would lead us around the Andes Mountains through the most unique and impressive single track in the world. I had no idea what awaited us but I knew it was going to be big. Bryan and Robert, owners of Peru Biking, were the most phenomenal guides ever. With their high level of Professionalism, expert knowledge of the Sacred Valley, and entertaining personalities, they truly provided a Mountain Bike experience of a Lifetime. That night Bryan and I had dinner and discussed the details of the days ahead, logistics, possible back up plans all the while cracking jokes and getting to know each other. I put all of my trust in faith in these boys without actually meeting them and that night helped calm my nerves finally knowing first hand; the ladies and I were in good hands.

The morning of the 26th, Day 1, I woke up with a dash of panic in my heart and butterflies in my belly. I remember fear playing big and saying to myself, “I’m not going to do these anymore. This will be the last one. Really Amy?” I shook my head and snapped out of it as I got dressed and laid out my Yoga Mat, the place where my day begins. After a little meditation and a short practice, I was revived, head on straight, and ready to bring this adventure to life. 

Bryan picked me up from my hotel and off we went to the airport to pick up the 6 RAD ladies who will go down in WRP history as the 2018 tribe of the Maiden Voyage to Peru. The start was close to seamless minus one woman who missed her flight from Cusco. Minor delay. But after that recovery, off we went from the bustling city of Cusco up into the magical Sacred Valley. The city sounds and structures faded as we journeyed into the vast landscapes, valleys, and striking mountains of the Andes. I always love seeing the faces and distinct features of the people in different countries. The sound of the language and different dialects and expressions just light up my soul. 

We continued on through the valley and passed through the town of Urubamba, located in the heart of the Sacred Valley. The 60 mile valley is sculpted by the Urubamba River with the Pisac Village to the east and Machu Picchu to the West. The Sacred Valley floor sits at 9,000 feet with peaks rising steeply up to just under 19,000 feet hovering above with bright white snowfields and glaciers. Just to paint the picture of the spectacular valley that was host to one of the most impressionable experiences in my life.

Here in this magical valley is where we resided just a few minutes outside of the pueblo up into the mountain side at a place called Samadhi, a Yoga Center intentionally designed by a young Yogi and his family. It was the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. Not only physically, but on a spiritual and energetic level. Fernando, the owner, had a vision to create the place and his family is behind him in every step of the way supporting his dream. They all reside in the center together and play a part in creating a space of warmth and hospitality above and beyond any other place I have experienced. The bungalows were designed and stacked in a vertical row representing the 7 Chakras. Each one had a skylight with the color of the Chakra along with beautiful crystals representing the chakras in the rooms that all had a balcony facing the snow covered peaks. I remember us all walking up the circular and windy path to the top with our jaws dropped open. It felt like arriving to heaven!

After settling into our Bungalows, we joined Fernando for a sweet and relaxing Yin Yoga class that was such a peaceful and relaxing way to soothe the body and mind after a long journey down to the Southern Hemisphere. The Yoga Studio was incredible. 3rd floor of the Yoga Center encapsulated with glass windows facing the Andes Mountains. After getting our ‘zen’ on, we had the first of 6 delicious vegetarian dinners prepared by two lovely cooks; the chef from Argentina and her assistant being from Venezuela. There were extra little cultural touches everywhere. From the Yoga Center to the villages in the mountains to the city of Cusco. Full senses stimulated through the beauty of cultural immersion.

And now, for the Mountain Biking! A little snapshot and glimpse of the rides we did adventureing through the Peruvian Andes of the Sacred Valley! Still pinching myself…

MTB Day 2: Lares 

Each day we started the day with a nice Vinyasa Flow Class to warm up the body and mind for epic days to go down in history! After practicing and a healthy gourmet breakfast, our guides showed up to help build the bikes and get ready for our first day on the trail! We loaded up in the van and off we went 2 ish hours into the Andes winding all the way up to Abra Lares Pass at 14,000 feet where Steep and Stoic snow covered peaks surrounded us. The biggest most striking mountains I have ever seen in my life. We were like a bunch of kids at Christmas, eager to take in every sight and second in great anticipation of where we would end up and what awaited us. Upon arrival, we unloaded our fleet of bikes and got geared up to descend all the way down to the valley floor and into the town of Calca. What awaited us was beyond our expectations and challenged every rider. We dropped onto the Inca Trail and rolled over the desolate highland landscapes hooting and hollaring in excitement. Passing through fields full of furry Llamas and Alpacas, streams, wooden bridges, villages, and panoramic views of the snow covered Andes put us all in a state of awe and inspiration. The trail was technical and rocky with steps and drops. For a group of Rocky Mountain Gals who don’t normally charge Enduro Downhill Trails, I feel safe to say we kicked some ass on our Day 1 warm-up and continued to push and challenge ourselves, gaining skills and confidence everyday from the encouragement of our guides and support of the ‘tribe’. The day wrapped up in Calca with nice cold beers to celebrate one hell of a first day shredding the Incan Trail! Off we went back to Samdhi to eat and rest up for Day 2!

MTB Day 3: Lamay 

Little did we know what was ahead of us today. Another big shuttle up a tight valley all the way up the windy pass we went, We started with a little climb and arrived to a beautiful lake nestled up against steep rock walls and snow covered mountains. We took some time to capture the tribes’ finest Yoga Poses only to be showed up by the boys and their humorous Yoga Style. Not to mention Roberts famous wheelie cruising through our shot! Following the photo shoot we mounted up and descended more technical Andes style riding with rocks, ledges, steps, and drops. Kebrina got the cat calls going again today and we were hootin and hollering all the way down with big smiles plastered on faces! Fast and fluid we charged down the countryside with wild dogs and gnarly dynamic Incan stairs. The trail flowed into narrow spots on the edge of the earth followed by rock drops surrounded by stellar views and plenty-a-shreddin! Day 2 Success and pure sweet love for the riding and exploring! After a long day we were spent and ready to relax with some dinner and rest to gear up for Machu Picchu!

Day 4: Machu Picchu

Waking up, my heart flooded with gratitude as this was a day I had waited 10+ years for. Every day felt surreal being in the Sacred Valley so far, but this one even more. It was quite the adventure to get there so we skipped the morning Yoga and got ourselves straight to breakfast. Afterwards, our rockstar guide Bryan showed up to get us to Ollantaytambo where we got on the train to get to Agua Calientes, a little pueblo just below the ruins. The train ride was once again like everything else thus far, incredible with vistas of steep and sheer rock jutting out of the ground to the tops of the mountains. 2 hours later we arrived to Agua Calientes where we had time to explore the pueblo. Because of the high number of tourists, there are two waves that they allow go to visit; the morning and afternoon. Thankfully, we were the afternoon wave headed up the windy and gnarly gravel road that zig zags back and forth until arriving to the entrance. The edge drop off’s were steep and intimidating but even more so was how fast the driver was going along with all of the other buses going up and down! I have been on enough scary bus rides through Colombia and Mexico that it didn’t phase me and I knew we’d be just fine!

You definately have to filter out the number of tourists bustling around, but to be there to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World and the beauty and precision of how they made the structures and ruins was completely fascinating. The lush green grass amoungst the ruins and the Cordillera de Vilcabamba mountain range surrounding the site made for a magnificent location to be and to experience the high spiritual energy of the Inca’s left behind. Sylvario, our guide,  knew how to do it right as he led us on a hike to the Sun Gate that allowed for a stunning view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. By the time we headed down to the ruins, the crowd thinned out and it wasn’t as hectic. He was a good sport taking all the glamour shots for us ladies and he provided a great tour with his wealth of knowledge over the history and information on the Incan Civilization and how they lived. 

I’ll never forget the moment we arrived, climbing the stairs to get to the site. That feeling inside. The tears in my eyes. The flash of the image of a picture of Machu Picchu on my vision board for 10 years…. and then all of a sudden, at the top of the stairs, there it was. It had become a reality. Powerful moment.

After exploring the ruins we cruised back via bus, train, and our shuttle van driven by sweet Brando, our chauffer. We really gave him a run for his money that night! There were 80’s songs playing on his radio and Janelle, Kebrina, and I decided it was a perfect evening for Karokee in the van singing our hearts out! Brando had the biggest grin on his face and chuckled a few times when we hit notes that didn’t stick. But once the station switched from 80’s to Salsa, he said he wished the 80’s were still playing! 

Day 5: Patacancha

Not only was this a wicked RAD day because we were heading up to 14,000 ft. to Yanamayo Pass to ride the Internationally renowned “Patacancha Enduro Race Course”, but it was also Laura’s 32nd birthday and we all wore tutu’s to add a little flare to the excitement and celebrations! According to MTB magazine, Patacancha is one of the most demanding singletrack trails in all of Peru for Enduro mountain biking. The course has it all from climbs to rock gardens. flow, to Alpacas. And we were challenged once again with what the Andes Mountains had in store for us, but by Day 3 on the bikes we were feeling our groove and everyone was riding ‘their own ride’ and pushing themselves. So fun to see that! Laura got 2 b-day cakes that day, one at 14,000 feet from the boys and another at dinner from the lovely chefs at the Yoga Center. From silly jumping fotos, hoots-n-hollers, village dancing, giggly descents, to beers in the plaza of Ollantaytambo we ripped it up out there, tutu’s and all. Tutu’s might have been a first for Patacancha!

 Day 6: Huchuy Qosqo

The boys knew how to send us home with a bang, this day for me was the highlight of the riding. We started with a big climb that tested our lungs after acclimating to the altitude and time spent everyday at 14,000 feet. The air was thin and the climb went on AND we made it to the top with smiles 🙂 The views once again were vast and stunning all the way to the top of the climb. Upon arrival to a high wide open plateau with mountains surrounding in all directions we rested and ate some snacks we took some more fun photos thanks to Janelle’s creativity and refusal to take lined up boring pictures! From that point on the trail took us into the most stunning countryside and more badass single track riding. In fact, it was like riding through ‘Timeless Peru‘ a living museum that shows itself well on the Huchuy Qosqo ride. Not only do you get the massive elevation loss typical of Sacred Valley rides but you literally descend through bio-geo-climatic zones and also through history as the building styles and architecture morph and meld. The Inca Trail we rode was built in the 1400’s. Fascinating to think of all the hard work and years it took to build them and all of the footsteps that have touched those stones. Now, those same stones, being touched by MTB tires.

There are so many vivid moments still fresh in my head from this day. The stunning views, the gnarly stairs, the big drops, and all of the different terrains we crossed over. The final descent was super fun, flowy, and fast and I still remember it like it was yesterday. After exiting the singletrack we cruised down the gravel road into Calca, our final ride in the high country of the Sacred Valley was over. And that called for some beer cheer-sing! 

It didn’t feel like it could be true, that we would be returning that evening to pack up and get ready to head back to Cusco for our final day to ride the trails around the city. But, I guess like all good things, they must come to an end eventually… 

Day 6: Yuncaypata and Inca Carcel

The Grand Finale of our MTB experience in Peru! One last morning of Cold Vinyasa Flow Yoga at Samdhi Center. (That was the joke seeing the studio had no heat until the sun hit!) The studio so beautiful up 3 floors with glass windows to marvel at the Andes and watch the colorful sunrises. The first 15 minutes were chilly but once the sun hit at 8 the room warmed up nice and toasty. At the end of the class, with music playing, while giving the ladies a little neck and head TLC, tears streamed down my face as I took in the views and the experience up until this day as the trip was coming to an end. I just wanted time to stand still and for the experience in Peru to never end! Heart full of Gratitude…

After breakfast and hauling our luggage down to the gate we gave out hugs and love to the amazing staff that took such good care of us and headed back towards Cusco. The boys brought us down two trails that overlooked the city and mountainous landscape of the Andes. The descents were shorter today but we were all pretty spent from the day before so everyone was content! The first descent dropped us down into the neighborhood of San Blas with cobblestone streets, stairs, and beautiful Peruvian Architecture. At the end we weaved and dodged tourists and traffic arriving to our hotel. We unloaded bags and then headed back up for another lap that brought us next to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. After a nice picnic overlooking the city we mounted the bikes and ripped down one last time hootin, hollerin, and out riding scary dogs! To the hotel we arrived to relax, rest, and shower up for a night out on the city!

To top off the trip, we treated our beloved guides at Papachos Restaurant. Robert raved about the Pisco Sours, Peru’s renowned drink of choice, so we had to explore to see if his rave was valid! After a delicious dinner and some fun reflecting over the trip, a few of us decided to go out for some dancing at a local bar. We pretty much dominated the dance floor and our boy Bryan, humble and reserved, threw down some impressive dance moves! Super fun way to let loose, have some fun, and celebrate!

Day 8: Cusco Markets & City Exploration!

Today was a nice and cruisy day of being off schedule and able to relax and move at a more chill pace exploring the city of Cusco! The group scattered about and people did their own exploring. The bright colors of the San Pedro Market and all of the Peruvian textiles, clothing, jewelry, paintings, ceramics, and many more handicrafts throughout the market had us star struck and wandering around in awe of the beauty. We kept saying, “This is the last market” because we were starting to get worried of where we would fit all of our purchases! 

Finally, we wrapped up the markets and headed to La Bodega for some PIZZA! We were all craving some bread, cheese, and grease after a week of eating healthy Vegetarian Meals everyday! And the pizza was the perfect recipe to quench that craving! 

Walking back to the hotel I had a little tightness in my heart and ache in my belly for it was time for the ladies to start moving towards the airport and back home. Robert came to pick up the ladies in two waves for departures. Within a few hours after our pizza sesh, they were all gone and that was it, it was over. Bittersweet as are all endings…

2018 Maiden Voyage to Peru was a grand success! Already dreaming of 2019..