Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ambato to Babahoyo - 2 day ride

After hearing of my buddy Rick's death in a climbing accident....I thought I'd wander off for a few days on my bike, past Chimborazo, (views both days) that little bump of a mtn that's the closest point on earth to the sun. I had been encouraging him to come down and bag some Andean summits, culminating with this climb. Who me? The via flores (original route from Guayaquil to Quito) from Ambato...climbs up thru a tight canyon for 30km unrelenting kms, along the Rio Ambato and small pear orchards. Lots of river xings with single lane bridges built in 1946, then it opens up, connects to the main hiway and climbs up to 4200m at el arenal and the turnoff to Chimborazo. Don...you'd love this on a motorcycle! 1st views of Chimbo Spent the night just past Guaranda in San Miguel.....the following shots are of Chimbo from various perspectives as I climbed my way up and above San Miguel the following morning....thinking of Rick. Then on down out of the Andes....what a hoot! To the town of Balzapamba where I discovered a great little hotel, Mi Colombianita, owned and run by a lady from Bogota for the past 24 years. A huge water park out front....a great place to bring the kids in the near future. ....and then....almost instantly flat....usually there are more ups and downs, but not this route...the original route between Guayaquil and Quito. Soy in the foreground....rice further back. 100k the second day and rolled into Babahoyo at 11:30am And one more peak at Chimbo on the bus back.

Rick Collier....you'll be missed......

Rick Collier, a friend and mentor, died in a climbing accident last week, when the rock face of a pitch he was leading gave away.

 I met Rick when he was about 50 at a Calgary Roadrunners cross country race. I’ll be 50 next month. I had just discovered the newly published Scrambler’s guide by Al Kane and bursting with pride, proceeded to inquire whether or not he climbed such basic peaks as Cascade and Rundle, which I had just done. I think he was approaching 1000 climbs around that time, but was very gracious and inquisitive as to my experience on those peaks.

 Being relatively unaffected by death so far in my life, the passing of Rick has been difficult to deal with. Stages of grief I suppose. The shock and disbelief led to many hours each day over the last week of reflecting upon the ways he impacted my life. I never stopped to ponder this earlier….but I have come to realize, that excluding family, he was the most influential role model/mentor in my life.

 -The running connection: From road to cross country to orienteering. He and Mardy were an integral part of accepting and welcoming Maria into running community and thereby helping to give Maria a sense of belonging in her new country.

 -The cycle touring connection. Although we never toured together (except for access into climbing areas) we shared a passion for travel by bike and constantly shared our experiences.

 -Political views and the state and future of life on this planet. He was just as integral to the Revolutionary Politics online message board as he was to the Old Goats postings. Oddly enough, just weeks before his death, I unsubscribed to the political message board; I was finding that I was spending too much time on the computer and this was one way to cut back. Or maybe the grim truths regarding the future were just getting to be too much to handle.

-Writing connection. I never would have had my Central American cycling/pseudo climbing article published in the Alpine Journal if it were not for Rick’s liberal editing!

-And then of course, the scrambling/climbing connection. Memorable outings ranging from second ascents of Sundance and some peak in the Beaverfoot; rapping(for the 1st time) off Onslow in the midst of an electrical storm; being turned back on a 3rd consecutive midnight/moonlight climb of Temple; holding a serious fall on a 5.8 at Barrier bluffs (which I think was the last time he did any sport climbs)

 -And then there was the bad dot com, stock market advice….coming from a Marxist, I should have known better!

So I just took all that for granted; something we tend to do with people we love. Now it’s just the acceptance that we can’t share any of the above anymore. As another old goat Ferenc mentioned in a recent posting, he not only replied to all emails, but did so in thorough and caring manner, when it’s so easy type a few lines and be done with it, especially when he had so much correspondence. His regular emails provided me with a link to issues around Calgary and the mountains and made home seem not so far away.

 Well….it’s not just about what he accomplished in his life, but how he went about doing it; with mucho integrity. Why are people of his caliber so rare?

So I went out riding past Chimborazo 6300m earlier this week, reflecting on his passing, while trying told back the damn tears and wishing he would have come down to join me for one more climb….. and enjoy another beautiful morning, such as in the attached photo of Chimborazo.

You will be truly missed by many Rick. Re: his mountaineery achievements http://bivouac.com/UsrPg.asp?UsrId=13 and his life http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Avid+climber+passionate+outdoorsman+Rick+Collier+killed+climbing+accident/7108349/story.html

The beach-Tasaste revisited

Well, we enjoyed the beach so much last xmas, that we returned to the same place for more of the same. Unfortunately, in spite of the lack of mozzies and mosquito nets at night, we were getting bitten. But by what? After 5 days I had about 100 itchy bites. So we decided to return early and actually hang out at home...turns out Ramon and Carla had fever and colds during that time, so it turned out for the best.

UPDATE:  Turns out the bites we got where caused by Coloradillas in Spanish....Chiggers in English.  Likely picked up on a hike in the dry tropical forest of Bosque Lalo Loor.







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The Arch of Love. Learning on dry land before attempting the real thing might be a wise course of action Carla. Thanx for the pretty dress Elisa! We may have picked up some tics on this hike in the dry tropical forest....or more likely, fleas in the mattresses....or both ...or fleas from the doggie? near 6 inches long! When I sat down on the bus, the guy behind me told me I had a garrapata on my neck. A tick....and then proceded to removed it for me. Says it's common in the cattle in the area. However, the dermatologist in Quito, said it couldn't be as they burrow in the skin...and that wasn{t the case for the 100 plus bites I had. Maria and Carla had a few, but not Ramon. s

The Tober-Zambrano Crazy Train- Southern Ecuador: Riobamba-Loja-Zamora-San Jose de Morona

Another summer, another family bike trip. But each one is a bit different. This year Maria informed me that I'f I wanted to travel by bike, that I would have to pull the kids. Hmmmm...... Well after some tinkering I managed to attached Carla's trailer to Ramon's Tag a long, to my bike. Weight-wise, this worked out to 27kg for Carla and the trailer and 26kg for Ramon and the tag a long....about 10kg in the two panniers, plus my bike. This made for very slow 5-6kph climbs thru the Andes...with Ramon helping out for 20% max...enuf to take the edge of the stress. Maria of course had it easy....easy enuf to bike ahead, get off and go for a run! GRRRRR! The kids would get out once in a while and run or walk....and that was a big help. I rode 1,000km and pulled the kids for about 700km. The extra 300km was solo, as I compromised even further, in order to entice Maria to do a section in the Amazon....they went in a truck-taxi twice.
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Grass will do in lieu of snow! Main plaza Riobamba....3 hours south of Quito. With Ramon's fave new shirt, courtesy of Moe and Bruce! The Tober-Zambrano crazy train. With Chimborazo in the background, 6300m. We biked this section in 98 on our way to Chile. This is one of the few places we remember, as the priest gave us permission to camp next to the oldest church in the country. So does that mean I no longer need to travel to new destinations? The memory fades and I can do it again, as if for the first time. Have dog, will hug. Barley? Last day of the trip and mom helps out. $75 train ride for the family. Top dollar now for the tourist train. And no more riding on the roof. Devil's nose...Alausi Lowered the seat and moved the bars forward so Carla could hang on....once a day. However there is no propulsion as she can't reach the pedals yet! Roadside papaya stop. Here comes the peleton....A cycling group just out of Saraguro.....as we take pictures of each other. Many more cyclists on the panamerican than there were back in 98! This French-Chinese couple are going from Seattle to Tierra del fuego and then up africa to France. Their rig is as long as ours! www.africamericabike.com A venezuelan with home made panniers, made from plastic jugs...going to Peru. A French couple we ran into on 4 different occsions! www.onfaitdouavelo.blogspot.fr Family portrait. Ecuadorian bike lane Roadside fun Views down to the coast with the cloud on top. Ramon fell off a small, manual ferris wheel and whacked himself good. 2 stiches. Dad's fault :( He asked me for help and I told him he could do it...then it happend so fast. (I know how you feel Mike!...with Libby falling of the counter) Chocolate sure takes away the pain though. Removing stiches a week later. All services and medication were free. Welcome to Ecuador. A piece of rainbow near Chunchi. Potatoes in the forground. Certain indigenous women were these hats. I think it makes him look like a little gangster. Cloud sitting over the coastal lowlands. Azogues Incan ruins of Ingapirca (not quite Macchu picchu, but it was worth a visit) Lookout stray dogs! Amazing how big these agave-century type plants grow. Rid'em cowgirl! Do you think she ate it all? Ladies who run a now famous restarante.....this should be next to the picture below with El Presidente Correa giving one of them a hug when the entourage stopped by for lunch a year ago. take out lunch break at the top of the climb Who says you always have to wear bike shorts and tank tops on a bike trip! One huggy family..... El presidente....handing out hugs Roadside snooze with guardrail protection. A wonderful place we stayed in for $10....a whole house!!!....the owner only comes from Cuenca on the weekends. Amazing what you can get when there is no hotel and you ask around. Must be the cute kiddy factor. The view out the back window. Susudel was the name of the little town, near Ona. Again...I can{t seem to keep these pics in order. This is Zamora in the Amazon....the southern most town on the east hiway route from the Colombian border. From here one has to go back up to the sierra. Because it{s such a low pass....the wind howls over the top. 17 years ago I rode up it and was seriously hypothermic with the rain and wind and no warm clothes. This time I went solo as the wind would have been to much for the kids....no rain this time though and what a downhill! Vilcabamba is just south of Loja, know for it{s high ratio of near centurians. About 100 gringo families live in the valley of youth, which is starting to cause tensions with locals, driving up land prices and having so much leisure time compared with the local Ecuadorians. The entrance to the institute of gerentology. Saw this poster in a restaurant.... ....and then walked into the main plaza and lo and behold....there was the guy in the poster! Don Nestor is 99 years young. Ramon says he likes the downhills more than the uphills....wonder why? "Pedal Ramon, pedal!" I just love these views of the amazon. Lot{s of mining, including Canadian companies in the south amazon region. Gold panning statue. Looking for the real thing. More amazon views, this time into Peru on the left. ....and super humid. cocao beans...bitter but tasty Well....what{s a Tober bike trip with out a roadkill shot? ? Maria explaining our trip to a group of mountain people...on there way thru the jungle to visit the virgin of cisne. The last day I rode 150km in 10 hours on a newly paved road that goes into the amazon flatlands and passes the source of the Santiago and Morona rivers...major Amazon tributaries. This is Shuar territory and the natives were'nt too friendly in some places...so I just kept riding. This sign basically states that anyone who does not belong to their community is not allowed on their land ....NGO's, foreign and local tourist etc. And even if you manage get permission, they still may refuse you. This after mining and oil companies exploited their resources, without paying sufficient royalties and leaving the land polluted. The new road....one of five that conects the coast with tributaries so they can trade with Brazil. Mostly just military base towns and they fought over this border 18years ago. Meeting of two big rivers. And the real thing... Rio Yaupi transportation. I love this old single lane, plank bridges. Please don't enter...the house does not belong to you....and the lion will eat you. That magic moment where the mountains end and the endless flat landscape of the amazon begins....all the way to the Atlantic. This should be the last photo....a pizza...yes with cheese...to end the trip in Mendez. The buses however are too heavy for the old plank bridges, but the passangers have to get out and walk the bridge in case the bus sinks. The air is soooo staturated with moiture that drops of water form on my hair as I ride in the early morning hours ....yet by late afternoon, I have sweated soooo much that the salt evaporation stays on the outer surface of my riding shorts!