Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Straight out the back door for a ride to the Amazon

Over 4700m vertical meters of climbing in the course of 500 kilometres....what an endorphin rush!

Danger...Death curve....reduce speed
Starting in the top left hand corner, going clockwise. Hope you can zoom in on the detail. 0 is start....1 is Tena....2 is Banos.....3 is Machachi.
This is the mighty Iguana, going on 15 years, in its current incarnation. Not much left that is original....Suprisingly the Grab On foam grips are the same! I finally put shocks on last year...a must for the amount of cobblestone and brick paving in Ecuador. The Canondale handlebar bag I bought inn 86...still going strong. The only other original part is the frame! I dream of a Rholhoff (sp?) hub and Ortlieb panniers...but alas, I'm just a poor teacher.

222km from the Colombian border.
Marty grabbed a handful of brake as my Canadian cycling jersey kind of stands out down here. He's from Edmonchuck and bought the KLR in Colombia....going to TDF and back up to Canada. Check out his website and scroll down to Feb 14 for a photo of yours truly and our brief meeting. http://martysouthamerica.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/quito-puyo/ Copy and paste this link into another page, as I can't seem to activate this link so that you can just click on it.
The Amazon road goes as far as Zamora and then climbs up out of the Andes at Loja. I did this stretch from the Colombian border back in 96...most of it was oil/dirt/gravel/cobblestone. Yeah that was one sticky, sweaty, bumpy ride....with no shocks.

Statue of some indigenous woman with bulging thighs.
It's not easy to get a good foto of the Amazon...when all is green.
As I headed out of Puyo, back up the Andes, a road race was coming into town. Now at 11:30 it's not exactly running weather...good thing the ambulance is behind him. But then cada loco con su tema...every crazy person with their own idea....as I'm about to climb UP at mid-day!.
Ice cold billboards in the jungle.
Cyclists get to go around the 6 or 7 tunnels, on the old road.
Volcan Tunguragua 5023m. Climbed this in xmas eve 95 and spent the night in the summit crater. Most vertical I've ever done in a day....3200m from Banos! That's smoke and ash spewing out now. If I could have managed to stay awake after dinner...I would have been able to see the lava glowing red. Don't think I'll be repeating this climb any time soon.

Maria took the kids to Pasto for a week so that grandma and grandpa could spoil them. With a 4 day weekend all to myself, I decided to blow out the cobwebs with a long anticipated, loop ride to the Amazon. Starting from where we live in Cununyacu at 2300m at 4:30 am, I snuck out before the kids woke up (street lights for one hour until sunrise) and climbed up to the pass at 4000m by 9:30. Six degrees sure felt cold! Then down to lush, green Baeza at 1800m, where I met Marty, a young guy from Edmonton, riding his KLR to Tierra del Fuego.....and back! Then up to a minor pass, enshrouded with cool, humid cloud forest fog at 2000m and then down to hot, steamy Tena at about 500m. Got drenched just before I hit town, which was a welcome relief; nothing beats riding in warm rain! 186km and just over 11 hours of saddle time.
Left Tena at 5am, breathing in the humid, relatively cool morning air. I’d biked this stretch back in 1996 when it was dirt/gravel/oil....what a pleasure it was to be on new pavement! This was followed by rolling lowland riding with a sweaty 5 km climb about half way to Puyo, where I met a retired Dutch couple on their state of the art touring bikes, doing a tour of Ecuador. Hit Puyo at 11am, 80km , bypassed the town and started heading back up hill through a spectacular gorge that Maria and I had ridden down in 98? when it too was gravel. This being carnival weekend, people were throwing water on anything that moved, which was a bonus on the extremely hot ride up to Banos at 1800m...a 143km, 10 hour day in the saddle.
Monday morning I left at 5am for the cool, 35km climb back up to about 3000m, by-passed the big city of Ambato, rolled through the Avenue of the Volcanoes and up to a pass at around 3300m or so, just to the west of Cotopaxi. Here it began to rain on the downhill and I decided to pull into the town of Machachi to spend the night....5pm, 139km. The plan was to continue home, but the busy holiday traffic on a 4 lane hi-way with no shoulders at times, darkness fast approaching, weary, cold and wet, would have made it a bit dangerous. Tuesday turned out to be a 2 hour, mostly downhill ride back home....47km....for a total of 515km. Such stunning geo/bio diversity for a little old, back door loop ride!

1 comment:

Ais and Pugz said...

Steve, You put other cyclists to shame with your early starting times and long long rides. I have some catching up to do. Just have to wait to pay day to get new tires.