Having taken the highway from Checacupe to Sicuani made us yearn for dirt again. Unfortunately Dan’s over adventurous food exploration landed him with food poisoning and made him unable to continue. After a rest day he still didn’t feel much better so we decided that I would ride the dirt section to Azangaro solo. Unsure as to whether the route fully existed due to some dodgy satellite imagery, I was in for an adventure. Turns out that most of the way was rideable and well graded. Road conditions varied from gravel, soil, rocky, to grassy and tussock.
The first two days to Nunoa were rough, mainly due to the elevation (one 4400m pass right after Sicuani followed by a 4900m pass), but rather scenic. On my way down to Nuñoa, two dogs suddenly came running towards me out of nowhere and one of them bit into my calf before I could even register what was happening. Pain and anger subsided as I continued the scenic trail. I made it down to Nuñoa and was able to sleep at a school. The next two days were fairly easy, undulating and passing through little communities (lots of dogs) and then into Azangaro. All in all, a much better choice than the highway though. I did it in four days (roughly 200k) but could be done in three!
Other: from Azangaro you can continue on dirt roads to the Bolivian border on the eastern side of lake Titicaca, but you need to prestamp in Puno (direct buses only seem to leave from Juliaca but be warned, that city is an absolute nightmare, taking two buses from Azangaro or Huancane would be worth it!)