By Shannon Boffeli — Visiting the famed Inca fortress city of Machu Picchu in southern Peru is a bucket-list dream for most adventurers but few imagine the experience as part of 5-day mountain bike stage race. The Machu Picchu Epic makes this dream a reality. Following five days of racing throughout Peru’s Sacred Valley region racers finish their Peru journey with a day-long tour of the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu.
Race director Alexandra Whilar started the Machu Picchu Epic in 2021 with the goal of combining competition on breath-taking racecourses with a first-class tourist experience showcasing handpicked overnight locations allowing riders to experience Peru on a more raw and intimate basis.
The brave riders of the Machu Picchu Epic will be challenged by 5 days of racing starting in the historic Inca capital of Cusco. Tucked high in the Andes mountains, Cusco boasts an elevation of 11,152 vertical feet, just over 1,000 feet higher than the oxygen-deprived city of Leadville, Colorado.
It’s from this dizzying height that riders will strike out for 169 miles of racing over five days with a total of 20,072 feet of climbing thrown in.
In its first year, top riders finished each stage in around 2-3 hours leaving most competitors ample time to experience the uniquely historic finish cities and world-renowned Peruvian cuisine.
While following the Route of the Gods, riders will experience the wonders of Peru’s ancient culture starting with the first overnight in Pisac, center of the Sacred Valley, Pisac features majestic Incan ruins including some of its famed Incan interlocking stone walls.
Other overnights include the fortress of Saqsaywaman, site of one the most famous battles between the Inca and Francisco Pizarro’s conquistadors in 1536. The ancient city of Ollantaytambo, with its winding, cobblestone streets and babbling irrigation canals, Ollantaytambo has been continuously inhabited since the 13th Century.
Riders will then dip into the Amazon jungle at Abra Malaga before finishing at the back door of Machu Picchu in Santa Teresa where the Cocalmayo hot springs await to heal the bodies of the riders strong enough to reach the finish line.
Day six of the Machu Picchu Epic includes a guided tour of the legendary citadel of Machu Picchu, considered one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Part bike race and part curated tour of one of the most unique and historic locations on the planet the Machu Picchu Epic provides an endless abundance of experiences guaranteed to give racers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Racers can compete as individuals or as a team in completing the 169-mile journey through the Peruvian Andes. Accommodation packages available through the race include lodging, transportation, and breakfast/lunch each day. Riders are encouraged to visit one of the many local restaurants for dinner each night to further their experience of local Peruvian culture and cuisine. Packages are available with or without the unofficial sixth stage tour of Machu Picchu but it’s highly recommended as a pinnacle to the Machu Picchu Epic experience.
The Machu Picchu Epic runs from September 14-18, 2023, with a guided tour of Machu Picchu to follow.