Saturday, April 20, 2013

Adventroubulus ride from Tumbaco/Quito to Banos
In Ecuador there are pretty much three roads running in N-S direction; one along the coast, other in the jungle and the third one - the busy Panamericana in the mountains. So since we want to stay in the mountains, but not necessarily breathing fumes of the trucks roaring along the big highway, we followed, already well beaten, cyclists track and looped first to the left and then to the right of PanAm. The first loop took us through Cotopaxi NP. On the way there we had to go through very through internal fight; we took an alternative route to avoid cobble, but we ended up on a cobbled road anyway - very bad, sharp and uneven stones. We had already tried cycling on cobble in Ecuador and with our rather thin tires and heavy weight in, gently speaking, a nightmare. So when we were standing there (4km of cobble behind us, half cycled half pushed; another 12km ahead), trying to decide if the Cotopaxi Volcano is really worth it, a car came and offer us a lift; it was a hard decision, but we accepted. It was the first time we took a lift, the first time the road won the battle...
The second loop, called after picturesque crater lake Quilotoa, was one of my favourite rides on this trip, even though I had all the reasons to be fed up with it. First my front inner tube exploded damaging the rim (after some filing down it still can be used) and the brand-new tire (this one most likely is damage beyond use), then for the next three days I had problem with the rear wheel loosing air (the protection tape inside of the rim over time hardened and its edges became hard and were cutting through the inner tube; we put an insulation tape over it, but the inner tube had already so many small cuts, that with the pressure they were just opening on by one) and when we were done with this and the ride was becoming 'boring' my rear gear cable lost tension. But the loop is truly beautiful; the road winds and rolls through hills covered with patchwork of fields and pasture lands, with snow-capped volcanoes in the background, small indigenous villages until it reaches stunning Quilotoa Lake at nearly 4000m asl. 
We actually bit our record and reached over 4000m asl on bikes on the way from the lake to Latacunga. We made a short stopover in Latacunga as we arrived there a day before one of the biggest markets in Central Highlands in a nearby village, Saquisili. So we couldn't miss it. The next day after a long ride against heavy wind we arrived to Banos. Today we go for well-deserved soak in thermal baths fed by water heated by nearby Volcano Tungurahua.

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