• Ecuador – Off the Edge

    Posted by Loren on March 6, 2011

    Throttle released, drop down two gears slowing a little more than normal as the right shoulder is a sheer vertical drop 1000m to the floor of the Andes, the apex of the corner lined up, begin hard acceleration, biking leaning over, gyroscopic keeping everything in place, and what is that? A 93 year old man in a three piece suit with a walking cane, slowing walking across the road. ABS chatter, gears are dropped and I come to a complete stop as the old man stops in the middle of the road and gives a death stare. They still mustn’t like German machines around these parts.

    Someone in government finally got it right, or maybe they read one of our earlier blogs. Make the border crossing painless, and pave a perfect road from said border into the country. If you happen to be located on the Equator and have massive mountains, all the better. And so was our introduction to Ecuador.

    How to express one feeling about a country that at times has the most spectacular, breathtaking  (maybe that is just the altitude)scenery  and at other times looks post nuclear disaster? Or where the people are so friendly when in city traffic they stop and wave us back together if separated, but then in the next mountain pass, their cousin overtakes around a corner with no regard for the humans on motorcycles coming in the opposite direction? Murray is feigning radio troubles so he doesn’t have to hear me contemplate this question one more time.

    First light of the morning of our ride around the Quiltotoa Loop found us preparing our bikes, our breath vaporising as we oiled our chains, checking tire pressures and chain tension. Actually it found us swatting at an alarm, then standing on the floor of a cold shower trying to remember from the night before if the hot tap was on the left or right, then recalling that it was neither. After quick breakfast and an Ecuadorian Espresso (boiling water, add your own Nescafe) in Latacunga, we started out on the Loop, avoiding detours by riding through construction zones, snaking our way up the side of a mountain, foot lashing out at snappy dogs, stopping for the occasional passing of a flock of sheep or a local dragging a cow by the nose ring, and doing solo high fives as we cracked our new record of 4017m. Beating any other white folk we arrived at Quilotoa Crater Lake and were greeted with a 3km wide crater containing a greenish/blue lake. Looking at the name of the lake, I could probably have done without most of this description. Breath was regained (lost quickly at this altitude), humorous photos taken, radio interviews given, and we set off for the 45km dirt section of our chosen route.

    It would seem the dirt track we took to Sigchos isn’t frequented by large, loud, bright motorbikes. It is, however, frequented by young children on their way home from school to an afternoon of manual labour. The reactions to seeing us in full kit on our bikes were priceless. My personal favourite was the young boy who literally dived off the side of the road and left his sister cowering, cuddled over, hands pulling her head to her chest, covering her ears, as the end of the world passed by. A highlight of the trip for sure. Doing rooster tails with the new knobbies was pretty good too. With the highs must come the lows, and so it was that I left my Icebreaker GT 320 jumper on the track when it should be in my pannier. Back where we started, and off down the TransAmericana to Alausi and another bike parking session in the front hallway of a hotel and ranking the hot water supply.

    With the prospect of a long days ride through the Andes requiring utmost concentration, we took time out in the morning to have a sustaining breakfast. I was contracted to purchase something from the restaurant/general store. The morning special of chicken parts bouncing in a tepid grey broth served over a large helping of rice and boiled cabbage did nothing for my already displeased stomach. I settled for two semi bruised bananas as Murray perused the neighbouring bakery. A selection was made and we settled into our breakfast of black banana shaped fruit, arid muffins, vapid pastries dipped in a chocolate like substance, and a bottle of orange juice, a breakfast reading of the ingredients showing a decisive lack of orange. All this was watched through the wide eyes of three young boys who continuously pointed at our shoes, wanting to polish them. Energy sustained, and we were off, dry muffin crumbs scattering as the autumn leaves.

12 Comments | Leave a Reply

  1. Donna on March 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Limp Ecuadorian breakfast – 50 cents
    Icebreaker GT 320 jumper – $250.00
    Shot of the countryside through the window – priceless

  2. Mike on March 7, 2011 at 12:51 am

    What route will you take to get here? When are you thinking you might arrive?

  3. Carmen on March 7, 2011 at 7:56 am

    LOVE the video… can´t wait until the dvd is on the marked!! What do you think about the title “Steelhorsetour – one dream, two bikes, four months, a hundred broken hearts”

  4. paco on March 10, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Bueno,bonito video muchachos.Espero que con la sozia Carmen sentada detras tengas mucha mejor carretera.Saludo a los dos desde este invierno frio.PACO.

  5. Mumma Pamma on March 10, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Hola Loren…..What a trickster you are…..but very wise keeping dry….One up on Murray that time! Sounds like you are having the trip of a life time…..

    • Loren on March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am

      Got to keep him on his toes!

  6. Jan and Stef on March 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    U on hooooome ground Mustafa!!
    I’m assuming the tracker having you placed around Cajamarca right now is accurate. Trust you boys are staying on high ground a bit longer then? In case you are heading for the coast, Peru (and lots of West coast S. America) is on tsunami warning after a huge quake in Japan today. I have sent you a text and a link here http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/japan-earthquake-triggers-widespread-tsunami-alerts/story-e6frf7lf-1226019971674. XX

  7. Jan and Stef on March 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Oh and by the way – your footage riding the main highway up the mountains is incredibl………….ly nailbitingly terrifying………………..and awesome. How fantastic to travel those roads without wee running down the bus aisle. Muzz, remember the precious little girl who sat on my knee some of the way up from Cajamarca? I’m sure her bottom was damp….bless…what’s a kid to do?! I reckon your bottoms would have to be more than just damp on some of those corners.

  8. marlene on March 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Al enjoyed riding along with you guys for your short video – the closest thing he’ll get to riding again, I am sure. Is that road drivable by car??

  9. Anthony McNab on March 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Great piece of prose Lozza – you are most certainly waxing lyrical. I particularly liked the bit about “muffin crumbs scattering as autumn leaves”

    Very heartfelt description there mate. So tell me – how big were those muffin crumbs?

    Jokes aside – am loving the journey that you guys are journaling. Keep up the good media work and stay safe on those “steel hosses”.

    • Loren on March 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

      The muffins were not that big when purchased. Iit was so long since they were baked, all semblance of water had evaporated, and when they were broken and came into contact with air, the crumbs puffed up like a child’s “Hatch ‘em Growing Pet”. I should have mentioned that in the original writings. How quick one forgets the details.

  10. Bec and Chezza on March 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Hi boys, muchas gracias for your awesome news updates, I love the pic of you both above lake Quiltotoa, very cute. Mum is freaking out at the video Loren..you’re going way too fast for her liking :)