Sunday, August 26, 2012

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.
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 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! A venezuelan with home made panniers, made from plastic jugs...going to Peru. A French couple we ran into on 4 different occsions! 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 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 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 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 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!

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