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April 20th, 2012 | Ecuador

Long Ride to Quito…!!

The first 80 0dd km north of Montanita were a dream start to the day…

The road to Manta made me want to turn back and ride it again...and again...!!

A great surface; a tight, twisting road that tested our focus… Sea vistas off to our left, mountains shrouded in mist on our right, and lush undergrowth all around…

Fabio and I took off like bats out of hell…Eager to test ourselves and our machines on what was a “track” made for bikers…!!

For the most part, I stayed behind him, trying to ride the same lines he was, but I gave up after a while… He just went into corners far too fast for my liking…!!

I have coconuts; Fabio has watermelons…!!

If anybody reading this wants an exhilrating ride to start his or her day, ride the coastal section between Montanita and Puerto Lopez… (Don’t stop to look for Jennifer…!! You are going to have to have your wits about you…!!)

One of the villages we passed through was clearly Maize Mad...!!

Letting the Italian Connection lead the charge... The roads were being kind to us this morning...!!

Just short of Manta, we turned east and made the run to Portoviejo, where, on the outskirts of town and almost in sight of  a service station, I ran out of fuel…!! Tom was close enough in front of me to stop and wait while I used one of the fuel bottles for a splash and dash…!!

Quito was still a long way off, but we were making good time... The lower coastal plain was almost behind us... Soon we would have to start climbing up into the Andes again...!!

I refueled, and then we rode further down the main road to look for a place to have our customary cup of mid-morning coffee…

Not what I would normally have for breakfast...!!

A second look made my stomach do another somersalt...!!

The place we chose was a very basic roadside restaurant, and the owner bustled over to assist us, noting our expressions at the huge pile of sausages that she had just taken off the open fire…

She explained that they were some kind of “blood sausage” made up from a mixture of red meat…

For me, they looked more like something that once hung between the legs of an animal, and I removed myself from the general area to enjoy my coffee out of sight of the plates of sausages…

Back on the road again, and the weather still playing ball... We were yet to reach the higher altitudes, but were slowly working our way towards them...

We stopped in El Carmen for lunch, and spent at least an hour enjoying the usual meal of rice, potatoes and steak…and a salad…!! Washed down with a cold beer… If I had known the sort of weather we were in for, I might have had a hot mug of coffee instead…!!

Lunch break in El Carmen... As usual, our bikes attracted a lot of interest, and diners spent more time watching us than concentrating on our meals...

Clever advert...!! Facebook is creeping in everywhere...except into my life that is...!!

Soon after leaving El Carmen, the road began to climb up into the foothills of the first set of mountain ranges that we would need to get over on the way to Quito… At an altitude of just over 800 m, the weather closed in and the rain started…

We pulled over to get into our rain gear.... The next part of our ride would be made in driving rain on the slippery ascent up to 3 200 m...

In less than perfect conditions, Tom lines up to overtake another set of vehicles....

The road surface was slippery and we had to contend with long lines of vehciles that were stuck behind trucks and busses… We still pushed hard, overtaking wherever we could, incuring the wrath of many drivers who must have thought we were crazy to be doing the speeds that we were… They would hoot at us whenever we passed them…

We stopped in the town of Santo Domingo de los Colarados so that Fabio and Tom could put on more clothing under their rain gear… The temperature had dropped significantly the higher we climbed… The cold did not seem to bother me, as much as it did them, and other riders who I have ridden with….

Must be my Latin blood…!!

While Fabio and Tom added more layers to their riding gear, I wandered over to a nearby stall to see what was cooking....!! Meat and potatoes, as usual...!!

I started out before my companions, and rode the next long section up onto the plateau on my own, getting a few lucky breaks with the traffic, and leaving Fabio and Tom far behind…

I reached the final toll gate at 3 200 m about ten minutes before first Fabio arrived, and a few minutes later, Tom came straggling in, dripping wet, and cold…

Fabio and I waited for Tom at the toll gate... It was the coldest I had been since the Altiplano in Peru....!! The word "Mierde" was used often...!!

Thr road then rejoined the Panamericana, and took us north towards the capital for about 40 km before we rode into the southern part of the city…

Conditions were no better than we had been experiencing for the past two hours, when we arrived in Quito....

The motif painted on the outside wall of Ramiro's home, left no doubt that we were in the company of a fellow biker...!!

The last 10 km to get from the southern part of the city to the north western part where my friend Ramiro lived, were made through dense Friaday afternoon traffic… And to make matters just a little worse, I ran out of fuel on a very bust road, much to the exasperation of Fabio…!!

“Ronnie…!! The nexta time I stop for gasolina, I make you fill up too…!!”, he said as I poured the contents of my last spare fuel bottle into the tank…

The address Ramiro had given us did not show up on GiGi’s screen, but I got us as close to the place as possible, then called Ramiro to come and find us… We were just two blocks away from his home, a large rambling house, that he lived in alone…

We parked our bikes in his back garden, and then were shown to our rooms…

We lugged a mattress from a storeroom, to pout on the floor of the bedroom Fabio and I would be sharing, while Tom got his gear into another bedroom close by…

Fabio drew the short straw and got the matress on the floor... He was onto his website in a flash, to see how his new products were being accepted in the marketplace...

After a welcoming beer, we piled into a taxi and headed downtown, where Ramiro showed us the old part of the city, which had been converted into the major tourist area of Quito…

Our good friend and host, Ramiro, took us to a traditional Ecuadorean restaurant, where we tucked into the local food with gusto...!! Tom demonstrates...!!

A local group of musicians played some songs that all but drowned out our attempts at conversation…

"No Senhor....!! We are not the band "Four Hombres Wearing Bedspreads...!!"...

A plate of meat and rice, along with tasty empanadas, washed down with a hot alcolholic drink called Canelasos, akin to Gluwein...!! All very good....!!

Seemed like an appropriate place to have a drink or four....!!

After dinner, we took a walk through the narrow streets of the area, which were lined with bars, small restaurants and a host of curio shops selling locally made merchandice…

Silver jewelrey, as well as many woven blakets and tapestries were on offer… Feeling the cold, Tom bought one of those woolen caps that covered the ears, and immediately put it on…!!

Quito lies at about 2 800 m above sea level, so when the weather closes in, it can get quite nippy…!!

We did manage to talk about Ramiro’s recent trip from Ecuador down to Ushuaia and back up the coast through Brazil and Venezuela and then througn Colombia and back to Quito…

He mentioned how corrupt the police in Venzuela were, and how he had make small payments of either cash or the odd Coke to work his way through the country…!!

His next big ride that he was planning, was to Alaska in afew years time, and he was determined to make it on a bigger bike next time… He had made his last trip on a 400 cc bike, and struggled a bit in the high winds of Patagonia…

We were very impressed with Quito, and with Ecuador as a whole... Tom and Fabio said that it was the best country they had toured in since arriving in South America... They had not taken to the mountains in Peru but had ridden through Argentina and Chile on their way up here...

We enjoyed our walk through the old part of the city so much, that Tom and I planned to come back the following day, while Fabio went to see about getting his sore neck massaged at a local Spa…

The bustling night life in the old city of Quito took us by surprise after the quieter evenings we had experienced over the past few days...!! Quito had a lot more to offer than we had thought...!!

Fabio wanted something sweet... And he got it...!!

While Tom was still feeling the cold...!!

We saw very few tourists whilst in the city, which was surprising, as Quito is a city steeped in history, with many interesting places to visit…

After another stop at an open square where younger folk ate and listened to music, we headed home to have an early night…

We watched guys making their moves on the pretty girls that flocked to be seen at the square, wearing the latest fashions that showed off their curves…

“Were we once lke that…??” I asked nobody in particular…

“Of course…!!” came the chorus of replies from Tom and Fabio…

After a long day and a very pleasant evening with Ramiro, the sign said it all for us.... We were just a bunch of Happy Gringos....!!

It had been a long day and we had covered almost 630 km in almost every weather condition, to get to the capital…

We felt we deserved a day off after that…!!

©GBWT 2012

2 comments to Long Ride to Quito…!!

  • Mark Behr

    Glad you did not eat those sausages – definitely something dodgy there. I have thoroughly enjoyed South Amerrica. Thank you!

  • Charmz

    Thank goodness you never touched that food. You would still be clinging to a toilet!
    Its amazing how well you bikers get on with each other, guys from all walks of life have met and rode with you, and there has been no troubles, Willy “munchkin” included. 🙂

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