Home > Ecuador > Fantastic Biking Routes in Ecuador, Part Two

Fantastic Biking Routes in Ecuador, Part Two

March 3, 2012

The crisp Andean air greets us together with the early morning rays of the sun, piercing through a thin layer of clouds. We have congregated at Quito, the capital of Ecuador’s north-western city exit, where the Motorway leading to the Middle of the World begins. The gang is all there: Mario, Roberto, Maria, Fernanda, me and more than two dozen other cyclists, ready to undertake a new biking adventure, this one leading us from the top of the Andes, directly to the splendid northern beaches of Ecuador.  Fully equipped with our reflective vests, helmets, gloves, knee protections and water bottles, we set off on a speed-spree along the 8 kilometers (6 miles) long, six-lane fast highway.  It just takes us a little over 20 minutes to reach San Antonio de Pichincha, and the neighboring tourist complex which features, as the centerpiece, the tall monument to the Middle of the World.
We have reached the planet’s Latitude 0-0-0. Time for some pictures with the monument behind us and one foot on the northern hemisphere and the other foot on the south…. A unique treat, only possible along the very few inhabited spots which the Equator crosses…!! We make a short break to get some refreshments, chocolate bars and snacks and a “technical” restroom stop.  We must keep on the move, so, under Mario’s leadership, the biking troop starts pedaling again… now we start a progressively steeper climb over the southern slopes of the old Pululahua Volcano… the scenes that pass by are striking, from verdant hills to barren fields, heavily eroded by wind and centuries of deforestation… fortunately now the area is protected.  Friendly people cheer and wave at our caravan, while we put maximum strength to our muscles, pedaling uphill, over the winding road, which provides a new breathtaking view at every turn. The scenery is typically Andean as we get to the highest point of the road at close to 9.000 feet above sea level….. And the sea is waiting for us later this afternoon….!!!
Now we begin a gentle descent towards a green valley, still with an Andean air, towards the small and picturesque town of Calacalì.  The quaint pueblo’s yellowish walled church stands as the main construction on the village, while a monument to one of the most distinguished natives of Calacali, a famous and much loved Ecuadorian music female singer and composer of the mid-20th Century, stands in the center of the pretty little town’s park.  Here we make a second break to adjust our equipment, hydrate ourselves and stretch our legs. It has taken us a little close to one hour to cover this new stretch, from the Middle of the World to Calacali.
More than two hours have elapsed since we left Quito.  The sun is now right overhead and, even with our helmets, it feels strong, as it uniquely is on these Equatorial latitudes… The support vehicles furnish us with towels, bottled water and the odd spare to fix a tire or transmission piece. Upon leaving Calacali, we now engage on an increasingly steeper, exciting and challenging downhill…. Surprisingly too, the scenery changes within minutes from the bucolic Andean rural sights to the wilderness of the vast montane and cloud forests  which stretch down in front of our eyes…. The dense and luxuriant vegetation startles us with its “silver trees” shining under the bright sunlight, as some small cascades create a magic feeling of entering a “lost world”.  If this trip is beautiful by motorcar, the perspective from a mountain bike is totally unique, different and memorable…..  Our group uniformly keeps up the pace and, relaxed and feeling great, we even manage to exchange comments and friendly jokes amongst us, while our leaders and the escorting vehicles and support staff are on a constant alert to the groups’ safety.  This third segment takes us another hour, before we reach a roadside resting area where we will get off the bikes, load them onto one of the trucks and let them rest, as we board a comfortable bus, for the 30 minute ride taking us to Mindo, a colorful and bustling tourist hub in the middle of the cloud forest, renowned for its spectacular nature, superb bird watching and adventure sports and activities.  This is our near-two hours’ midday stop, before reassuming our journey towards the beach…. So, the story continues on… We will tell you about it on the following issue, just keep track of our biking adventure….

E     N     D        O     F        P     A     R     T        T     W     O

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