The gang of four assembled in Les Houches, near Chamonix - my husband Steve, our flatmate Karina, her friend Kirsty and myself. We were in town to circumnavigate Mont Blanc on the "Sentier Pedestre" hiking trail.
"Mountain biking in South America - are you guys completely nuts?" Almost certainly, but over the years we've often contemplated the possibility of a few Latin American epics. A randomly spotted article about riding in Peru defended our sanity and catapulted us into planning a trip.
Orchestrating multi-day mountain bike traverses has become an unhealthy obsession over the past few years. Last summer's jaunt was conceived over a hearty helping of kumara balls at Main Street Café one night - it's curious how a full stomach clouds one's judgment in matters of endurance and suffering.
Maps, I love 'em. More than that, I get quite excited by them. I collect them like some people collect phone cards or personalised number plates. The metric 50,000:1 series is my favourite and I've managed to acquire the full set. I've done heaps of mountain biking up and down the South Island and a few years ago became fascinated with the prospect of joining the dots to ride it all in one go. After all - I did have all the maps.