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11 Feb 2020

DUST CITY - VANS IN PERU

Behind the 'Grey' in Lima

vans flying v clean

Words and photos by Rob Dolecki | Additional photos by Eisa Bakos | Originally published in DIG Magazine Issue 99.99

About seven years ago, I visited Lima, Peru for the first time, during the Semana Santa holiday in April (as seen in DIG Issue 91). It was sunny every day, and pleasantly warm temps; it kind of felt like the San Diego of Peru (based on his recent experience, I’m sure Dennis Enarson would vehemently disagree, though). The city was a ghost town due to the holiday, and for the most part, riding anywhere was basically a free-for-all. But once the holiday was over, the population returned and with it, an entirely different dynamic of security, excessive amounts of traffic, and lots of vehicle horn-blowing. Lima loves its horns.

Fast forward to late 2019, and Vans decided to do an impromptu trip to Lima with Rich Forne (watch the video HERE)holding down a swanky 10th floor apartment right in the mix of the city for a month while handling filming duties for two groups of riders from different corners of the globe coming over to visit. The first wave consisted of Alex Donnachie, Simone Barraco, Bruno Hoffmann and Lewis Mills; I joined Dennis Enarson, Anthony Perrin and Dan Lacey on the second leg.

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Turns out Lima weather in October is a bit different than April - the whole time I was there it was overcast and grey… very grey. In fact I think I only saw the sun one time, and that was for a few hours when we went to an outlying neighborhood. But still an overload of honking horns, and the fluid chaos of rush hour traffic. We pedaled a bit, and also ventured to outer parts the city care of Peruvian connect and Lima native Luigi Viacava (whom I stayed with the first time I visited) via a few of his friends’ vehicles.

Like most road trips there were ups and downs, be it the noise, the excessive dust (Lima is pretty desert-like, and dust seems to coat the entire city), or the usual security issues, but there were definitely more ups - feasting at so many amazing veggie restaurants (Lacey and Dennis are more plant-based inclined these days) or Rich’s gourmet home-cooked dinners (he’s almost as good a chef as he is a filmer), we hit some key genuinely awesome terrain, plenty of laughs, and of course, with this group of uber-talented riders, plenty of amazing riding. Go peep the edit from the trip for evidence; it’s going to be a good one at that. - RD

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Insta-worthy? Anthony took a stop at the corner store of a rail and snacked on a quick second-story feeble-to-180 en-route to the real feast down the road. Photo By Rob Dolecki

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Nothing like some fresh brewed Peruvian coffee to kick the day off. Anthony Perrin enjoying some real deal local-brewed goodness. Photo By Rob Dolecki

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In a not too distant past Alex Donnachie would have loved sampling Peru’s 4000 native varieties of potato, but now he’s a man of the kale. Whatever he’s eating we should all follow his lead if it makes you ride like he does. Casual manny 180 for the squad on a heavily sessioned spot. Photos By Eisa Bakos

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Dan Lacey. Photo by Rob Dolecki

Locked and loaded. It’s incredible how much skill Lacey has with these kind of setups, and the stamina he has to keep trying over and over again to get the perfectly locked grind. At one point he made it a full 360 degrees around this. The icing on the cake was when he 180’ed out of it, and called it a day. Shouts to the Lima local who had the foresight to see Lacey would love this thing, and so graciously brought us here.

- Rob Dolecki

10 Things We Learned in Lima (1-5)

01 THE SPOTS

Like most South American cities, Lima’s got an offering of spots in all forms. Not always easy to find on your own, but they do exist. And some unique ones at that. At many of them, though, just be prepared to deal with…

02 SECURITY

Surprisingly, for such a raw place, security is a challenge at many of the centrally located spots. The first crew definitely had an uphill challenge at almost everywhere they went. Luckily for the second group, they got to experience this issue a little less frequently due to luck of the draw.

03 THE APARTMENT

The apartment accommodations were quite a bit better than the average bike trip. Plenty of beds and space for all, a nice little balcony for smoking / chilling, the rooftop gym and stretching area with views of the entire city, and a fully stocked kitchen were some of the highlighted amenities. Comfort levels definitely helped keep the stoke level high. Of course, the consistently grumpy doorman nor the poorly-supported kitchen sink imploding one evening wouldn’t be one of the better amenities, but nothing’s perfect.

04. PERUVIAN CUSINE

It’s almost an anomaly, but it’s safe to say the second group ate like kings the entire trip. Regardless if you were on the vegan end of the spectrum, or full-on eat-anything-on-a-plate mode, Peruvian cuisine delivered. The best cauliflower “wings” on the planet exist in Lima, whilst those who were brave enough to try it, went in on the native dishes of guinea pig, and ceviché. Rich Forne’s culinary skills are top notch too.

05. THE DUST

Lima is dusty. Be it the desert climate, the heavy ongoing construction, the dry season in full effect, or a combination of all those factors, it seemed like dust covered everything, and everyone. In certain parts of the congested pollution-heavy areas, one of those demo dust masks might actually benefit one’s lungs greatly. A quick getaway to the oceanfront was a pleasant respite from all the dust and congestion, though.

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Photo by Bakos

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Photo by Bakos

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Despite having a rough stretch on this trip with sore body parts and multiple flats, Lacey still boarded the plane home with some sweet moves in the bag for this project, like this double-pegger to gap-3. Security even had the courtesy to show up here and tell everyone to leave when everyone was pretty much ready to move on to the next spot anyway. Photo by Rob Dolecki

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Simone Barraco casually and continually forging his own path in BMX; this time via the streets of Lima. Photo By Eisa Bakos

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Too easy… at least for Mr. Perrin. Kinked ledge ride to 180 bars as the sun sets on another adventurous day in Lima, and to the delight of the locals. Photo By Rob Dolecki

BRUNO HOFFMANN

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A classic Bruno Hoffmann move. Master of the nollie snap.Photo By Eisa Bakos

What were your expectations prior to going to Lima and how did the trip compare?

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, besides being excited to go back to South America. I’ve only been to Chile before so I didn’t really have that many points of reference.

The trip was good in general. Just long days and even longer nights, since it got dark at around 5pm. Also it didn’t help that the sky was constantly grey, so you would never tell what time it is. Could be 8 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon, the sky always looked the same. I guess it's because the clouds get stuck right over Lima just between the Ocean and the Andes mountains.

How were the spots?

The spots were good, but security was super tight. Pretty much every downtown spot had private security in and around the buildings. It was definitely frustrating at some points, but at least we made the most out of the one Sunday we had. At the same time it made you more appreciative once you managed to get a clip, ha. It definitely didn’t come easy. We were warned before about corrupt cops in some neighborhoods but luckily didn’t have any situations. The private security in front of apartment complexes or public buildings weren’t too intimidating, just super annoying. Also the traffic was insane. I guess in the greater Lima metropolitan area population is around 10 million people, while the city was once designed for one million. Also there’s zero metro so everyone has to use buses or cars. It's pretty insane pedaling home during rush hour on the highway, but we made it, ha.

Was there any point where you became numb to the constant horn honking?

Ha ha, yea I would say so. It wouldn’t stress me out too much, but also I wasn’t the one driving ha.

Any good Rich Forne stories?

Nothing too specific, I’ve been on so many trips with him that nothing surprises me anymore. It was a good time though.

How did the Peruvian cuisine treat you?

I can only speak for myself but I liked it for the most part. I’m not veggie or vegan and eat fish so I was really into all the ceviché that you get served everywhere. One night we we’re going to get the other national dish, which is roasted guinea pig but the waiter messed up our order. I guess that was a sign not to try it ha. Pretty sure Rich had some later and said it tasted quite different.

Did you get to cruise with any locals?

Yes, after pedaling around for the first day and getting pretty frustrated we connected with Luigi. He’s the man and came through with everything. He definitely saved the trip for us, since he took us to spots that were outside the city and hooked it up with everything else. Thanks to him, Tex and the rest of the crew.

“It's pretty insane pedaling home during rush hour on the highway, but we made it.”
- Bruno Hoffmann
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There wasn't enough dust in all of Peru to stop this guy. Photo By Eisa Bakos

“The scene there is super strong from what I could tell. One morning I woke up to see about 300 kids riding down our street for a jam they threw there. It was sick.”

- Lewis Mills

LEWIS MILLS

What were your expectations prior to going to Lima?

Honestly I had no idea. I remember before I went to the airport I looked it up on Google and it just came up with a few city photos of Lima and heaps of Machu Picchu. Ha ha. So I pretty much wasn’t expecting much.

How did the trip compare?

It was quite the opposite. It was dusty and the city was super congested, but was cool in a way.

How were the spots?

Spots were sick. It had a few unique setups but it was hard to ride with the dust.

Any troubles with riding in Lima?

Pretty much every spot we went to we got kicked out within 20 minutes, so it was actually really difficult to warm up and get the things you wanted on film.

Best experience overall:

Fuck, I’m not too sure, there were so many funny little things that came out from the trip cause it was the best group of boys, but I'd have to say the sink suddenly collapsing while full of plates, as we were watching TV. Ha ha.

Worst experience overall:

Having to clean the house. Ha ha.

Was there any point where you became numb to the constant honking horns?

Nah never, those things were so annoying I can’t even tell you. Ha ha.

Any good Rich Forne stories?

Oh mate. Richard, what a bloody character. There’s heaps, but can't discuss here!

How did the Peruvian cuisine treat you?

Not good, ended up eating heaps of KFC that was just up the road cause it tasted like home.

Did you get to cruise with any locals, and if so, how was the local scene?

We would end up seeing squads of kids around the city just pedaling which was sick to see cause you don’t often see that at home, and they were all super happy and stoked to roll with us. The scene there is super strong from what I could tell. One morning I woke up to see about 300 kids riding down our street for a jam they threw there. It was sick.

Can you sum up the trip in one sentence?

Everyone and everything was dust. Ha ha.

DENNIS ENARSON

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#Goals? Mr. Enarson, not concerned with overused hashtags scores a banger here with the help of our resilient local fixer Luigi Viacava. Photo By Rob Dolecki

What were your expectations prior to going to Lima?

I was just really excited to hang in a new city, ride some new spots, and chill with the homies, Lacey, Anto, Rich, and Dolecki.

How did the trip compare?

It was all that. And got to meet some cool new friends out there along the way.

How were the spots for you?

The spots weren’t really my style, it was hard finding bigger stuff to ride there. It’s a pretty packed in city so a lot of the time there would be lack of runway or runout to the spots I was stoked on. But there was defiantly a ton of stuff. It’s a jib paradise for sure little setups are all over!

Any troubles with riding there?

Mainly just the congestion of people and cars in certain areas. Like I said its really packed there. But the cops and people of Lima were amazing and would always help us to get the clips. We rarely got kicked out of any spot.

Best experience overall:

Just seeing the city in general. Every day was eye opening and it was a real travel experience that I will never forget.

Worst experience overall:

Just getting stuck in traffic when trying to grab some food. That happens in every big city but rush hour traffic is on another level in Lima.

Was there any point where you became numb to the constant honking horns?

Ya, I feel like we were all used to it a few days in. Actually the craziness of the busy city became normal really fast. It’s a trip how fast you adapt to surroundings.

Any Rich Forne stories?

None that I can put on here publicly haha.

How did the Peruvian cuisine treat you?

I loved it. I eat plant based and there were so many good vegan restaurants all over that city. Such low price for such high quality food.

How was the local scene?

Ya Luigi and a couple of his friends were out with us daily, and a couple days we even had a squad. Such good people and seems to be a thriving scene out there. Much love to all the locals we met!

Can you sum up the trip in one sentence?

I really don’t think I can haha, but Lima and the BMX scene is sick, thanks to everyone for showing us a good time, you guys rule!!

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No fucks given. An overload of pedestrian traffic, a quickly setting sun and a horrendous exit way off this thing can’t stop D when he’s in the zone. Photos By Rob Dolecki

"the cops and people of Lima were amazing and would always help us to get the clips."

- Dennis Enarson

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Photo by Rob Dolecki

10 Things We Learned in Lima (6-10)

06. SO GREY

Much like North American bears during the wintertime, the sun seems to go into hibernation in Lima during October. It was endlessly overcast for days (and nights) on end. Out of the entire time in Lima, each crew saw the sun probably for a total of four hours. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing. It never got too hot for comfort, and no one got sunburnt. After being there a month, Rich Forne might have needed to take some Vitamin D supplementation, though.

07. THE HORNS

Man, Lima drivers love their horns. From the moment you wake up, until the rush hour traffic dies down later into the night, it’s non-stop horn blowing all day, every day. And it’s not really the “Get the fuck out of my way” intended type. More of a courtesy, “Excuse me, I’m behind you, just to let you know” sort. Though either type essentially sounds the same. And I don’t think anyone got numb to it by the time they left.

08. SOLES

Like most South American currency, the Peruvian Sol is very colorful. Soles also go a long way; after homeland currency conversion, eating out and ride hailing services were exceptionally inexpensive, even in a huge metropolis like Lima. Everyone was hyped on that.

09. FANS

The riding scene is pretty huge in Lima. Peru has been located on one of the roads less traveled in BMX destination terms, so the riders were obviously super excited that pros from other countries were visiting. The moment we arrived at the airport there was a group of riders enthusiastically greeting everyone. On a few occasions, we ran into random riders on the street that were so hyped to see the crew and needed to take selfies with everyone. The “I’m too cool to show my excitement” attitudes don’t exist with the riders there. They just love seeing riders they look up to, and gladly express it. Everyone was essentially elevated to superstar status.

10. LUIGI

Lima native Luigi Viacava has the city on lock, and was more than happy to pull out the red carpet for everyone visiting. He even took it upon himself to take time off work for most of the period everyone was in town to show us around and give us the best possible experience he could. The entire crew was eternally grateful for the hospitality. Luigi is the man.

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