Day 484 Thursday 31st December 2015
I headed towards the Colombia / Ecuador border in the drizzle. It was only a 5km ride. The processing through Immigration and customs was a breeze and there was no cost.
As soon as I entered Ecuador there was a noticeable beauty. The roads were smooth and snaked their way through the hills. The large open spaces were penned in by the huge hills.
The sun had come out and the temperature started to rise. I pulled over and walked into a café. I ordered a black coffee and a 9-inch chicken sandwich all for only US$2. I’m enjoying these prices. It's just as well I was enjoying the scenery and the prices of the food a drink because I didn’t enjoy the next part of the day. It was another flat front tyre and it occurred just before a toll gate. I was able to get the bike to a car park and got some help getting Winston on the centre stand. Off came the wheel and this time I took the whole tyre off the wheel. By this time, I had some helpers from the toll company. The tube had the same puncture as yesterday. It looked like the rim of the wheel had pierced the tube. I found that hard to believe. I’d noticed the flat tyres all occurred while going uphill. I checked the rim of the wheel for any sharp edges, the wheel was fine. I had purposely run high tyre pressure because of the rocky roads I’ve ridden lately. This would eliminate the chance of a rim puncture. While I was checking out the wheel one of the eagle-eyed helpers noticed there was a tear inside the tyre. That was the root cause for all these flats. When I ride normally the tube would sit in the slice and as soon as the weight came off the front tyre the slice would close and nip the tube. Over time this would slice the tube.
We put a patch on the tear on the inside of the tyre. It took ages for it to seat properly and then patched the tube. This also took ages. I wanted to keep my spare tube just in case there were any more problems.
Imbabura Mountain is located 60km north of Quito, near Otavalo and San Pablo Lake. With its 4620mts it is one of the highest mountains in Northern Ecuador, and in local legend it is considered the father of the indigenous people and culture: the "Taita" (father), as they call him, is the protector of the Indians, symbol of hardness and virility; During droughts, the locals carry out rituals on the mountain or in other sacred places to ask for his help.
I decided to stay an extra day in Otavalo. Most of the shops were closed and was feeling a bit worse for wear. I think it must have been some of the street food I had last night.
I spent the day ambling around enjoying the relaxing atmosphere.
Day 485 Saturday 2nd January 2016
I made my way heading south to Quito. It was only an 80km ride but I was nervous that that the repair job we did on the tyre and tube would be ok.
Quito is the capital of Ecuador. It is also the highest capital in the world at 2850 metres above sea level. It’s famous for its Spanish architecture. Some date back 500 years.
When I arrived, I made my way to the Triumph dealer who trade as Pro Racing. They were closed. A guy from the next building told me they would be open on Monday.
I am looking to pick up some new chain and sprockets.
With the information that the shop would be closed I found a Hostel and checked in for two nights.
Day 486 Sunday 3rd January 2016
I walked into the old town centre of Quito. There are lots of Spanish buildings. There were lots of people out and about passing the time-of-day walking around the shops, eateries and observing the people and the buildings.
The squares are the busiest places with people sitting around soaking up the warmth from the sun, snoozing and people watching. I decided to partake and had a nice relaxing day.
As I walked back through the town, I noticed some old Prostitutes on the corner of the roads. I was surprised they were out during the day; I would be even more surprised if they did any business. They were no Julia Roberts of pretty woman fame.
Some of the buildings.
At 9am, opening time I was at Pro Racing the Triumph dealer to get my chain and sprockets replace. I also got them to swap out the patched front inner tube, put an extra 15mm fluid in each fork and check the clutch for wear. These guys were awesome to deal with They have to be one of the best dealers I have been to. They even water blasted the bike free of charge.
I returned back to the Hostel and will head south tomorrow.
It was time to straddle the world. I headed to zero latitude or to put it another way, the equator. Ecuador is the Spanish word for equator. There is a monument that marks zero latitude and a painted line representing the equator the line that divides the northern hemisphere and the southern.
Once I cleared the outskirts of the city the speeds increased. I passed volcanoes and plains, then headed through the hills into the cloud, where visibility was poor. There were a couple of really heavy showers and the cold came with them.
On the way down the other side, I dropped below the clouds, the temperatures climbed and I started to dry out.
One of the things Ecuador is famous for are their Bananas. I must have eaten hundreds over a life time. Today I saw for the first time, kilometres of Banana plantations.
To think that one of these bananas will be sitting in our fruit bowl in New Zealand. It will be in perfect condition.
I ended the day at El Triunfo which is 385km from the Peruvian border.
I rolled Winston backwards through the narrow door way that was the entrance to the hotel reception, down some steps and onto the pavement.
The day was going to be another hot one. I looked down the street for somewhere to eat; the only place was a bread shop. I grabbed a bread roll with some sort of jam in the middle and a Lipton ice tea. It’s difficult to try and eat healthily while on the road. The most important thing is to eat and hydrate while travelling. You need to keep your energy levels up so that you can concentrate. It’s quite physically demanding riding a 330kg bike, particularly when the temperature is in the mid to high 30-degree Celsius range.
I headed off down the E35. It was more congested than I would have liked. There were plenty of trucks and with lots of oncoming traffic it was difficult to overtake. I then turned off on to the E25 with much lighter traffic then it was on to theE68 which took me into the hills and the cloud. Much of the road was concrete and in great condition. The cloud was thick and I’m sure the views would have been stunning, but not today as you could hardly see your hand in front of your face.
I then descended down the other side of the hill. Where the first side was vibrant green this side was dry brown. The concrete road became tar sealed and this turned into some of the best riding I’ve had in a very long time. The road twisted and turned and there was no one on it.
Nearing the end of the day I stopped on the hill at the side of the road to look at my final destination, Macara.
After avoiding a couple of cows lying in the middle of the road on a blind corner I rolled into Macara and found a Hostal to stay the night.
Tomorrow it’s a 3.5km ride to the Ecuadorian / Peruvian border.
I rode towards the border but before I got there, I made sure I filled Winston with the cheap Ecuadorian petrol. Once at the border I was pleased to see that there were very few people around. In fact, I got off Winston, strolled across the road to immigration and got my passport stamped out of Ecuador in a matter of minutes. That had to be the easiest one yet. Then across to customs to find out the customs guy won’t arrive until 10 am. He didn’t actually arrive until 10:30 which meant a wait of one and a half hours.