Feb. 9 - 13, Day 122 - 126, ECUADOR NORTH



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DAY 122-125, Feb. 9-12, 2012, Quito, Temp 10-24C (360/15,330km)

Road wary after having a cold for 5 days with a bit of a stomach bug too a rest in Quito would be welcomed and I found a comfortable spot to do it.  Of course I first had to make my way over the Colombia / Ecuador border (my first South American border, which are considered much easier than the Central American borders).

A nice ride Pasto to Ipiales in a valley most of the way with an urgent "rest stop" halfway C7R7T2/3V8.  Oh and don't miss Las Lajas, UNBELIEVABLE!!!

View from Andres' roof top

Andres and brother enjoying
photos with Bumble Bee.

Andres and his Pulsar

Rough road heading out of Pasto






















Bit of video of road cresting valley C7R7T2/3V8




Rest stop with great bike parking

If it were raining I'd be sweet


Uphill futbol, that's the ticket!

"Damn kids making a mess"
Spectacular!
Las Lajas

Bold confession in a Tourist church

Inside Las Lajas

Great use of the surrounding rock


High up, definitely.

Foot bath and prayers along the wall

Post card shot



I thought this was a good shot

Thanks to Guillaume for the tip to stop here.  One of the
best stops on my trip.
Not to take away from the Church
but this is what you will see in the
parking area.

Let's not forget this cute little dude
selling hats

Finally around midday I found my way to the border which is about 30 minutes from Las Lajas.  The Colombian side was super quick.  They stamped my passport out in a 2 min line and simply took my bike paper work and told me I was on my way.  I planned to check in to Ecuador next, but some how missed the offices thinking they were further down the road and not right beside the Colombian ones.  Anyhow needless to say I stopped 4 km in to Ecuador admitting to a cop that I had no papers to be here.  No problem, so back I went to wait about 30min for my passport stamp and another 30min at least for my bike paper work.  Still not terrible and the bonus was I found assistance from 3 keen Colombians who visit the border hoping to practise their English with a foreigner.

Colombia / Ecuador border.  Not always the case, but
these two share a border and check point within metres.

I'm out of here and in to Ecuador!
3km ahead I realized the 2 countries
share check points and returned to
check myself in to Ecuador.  Oops.

Line cutting Nun!  She probably
paid someone off.

Love this sign which the nun walked passed as
she jumped the queue.

My helpful Colombians practising
English at the border.  Isabella,
Edwin and Freath.


Similar to Nicaragua, I was told Ecuador had great roads and who ever told me this was 100% correct.  What a treat after the border C6R8T3V8.  Great sweeps and some outstanding hill side views with fields outlined by trees and bush (see photo).  Brilliant curvy sections to Chata / Carpuela C8R7/8T3/4V8 where I stopped for some super cheap gas($.35/litre).  Then on to Ibarra C5R7T2/3V7 and finally the last 50km going to Quito which is also worth mentioning with a nice mountain climb and cool valley views C7R7T4V8.

First looks at Ecuador and I like it
That's a full rack

tree and bush lined hills

Brilliant clean curves half way to Quito




Another favourite shot.  Believe it or not I was shooting
from the hip here.

Locals drying crops on the road.
Smart use of space.



"If you want to be Lance Armstrong, you need to let go
of that bumper pal"

Beautiful valley climbing to 2000m.
Initially I thought Ecuadorians were a little more relaxed
than Colombians on the road, but I may be wrong.  Here
this guy is blowing around cars on the right side.  I
thought that kind of crazy was reserved for Motorbikes.

Bit more forest through this section
with nice mountain peaks.  

Huge sweeping curves, FUN!
Moving up to 2600m the temperature started to drop to
19C or so, but still comfortable enough.

Let's not forget to mention that they
charge motorbikes $.20 at the Peaje
in Northern Ecuador. Pain in the ass.

In to Quito around 5pm with reasonable traffic for rush hour.  It was slow, but it was rush hour.  Prices for accommodation definitely lower than Colombia as I found a place with private room/bathroom for $12 with Hot water, Good Wifi, a big old desk to write, secure parking, right by the bars and a comfy bed (One of the best accommodations of the trip!!!)  The place is connected to El Aurpo Hostal (not a Hostel, but botique hotel).  It was so good I decided to stay 4 days in Quito.  Hey, the town is pretty good too with very reasonable priced restaurants, a good night life, a beautiful Old Town area and very friendly people.  I stayed near Plaza Fuch (in Barrio Mariscal).

While in Quito I also met up with fellow Panama to Colombia boat mate Conor and his 2005 V Strom where we both had work done at City Moto Sport by Willy (Give it a 50% Recommendation).  Conor and I had some great experiences at restaurants and bars around Plaza Fuch and even got a private tour of the Museo de la Ciudad by his friend Carolina.  As well I watched as Conor provided a film crew with his opinions on Tourism and Gentrification.  Be sure to check out his Website for more as it is very colourfully written with great photos.  

RECOMMEND Quito!

1.5 million people and packed suburbs surrounding Quito
Possibly, take your kid to work day?

Solid traffic during Rush Hour

Sure the food is cheaper than Colombia, but you may need
to order 2 lunches at this small size.
Conor "1Man,2Wheels, 3Americas
and a side case"

Went to City Moto for a new front tire.  Got a Continential
Trail Attack and a shitty vibration problem at the same
time, weird?  Willy did not fix my problem or take the likely
defective tire back.

Everyone is in Quito

Old town Quito
Plaza Independencia

Young lovers and Conor

Gentlemen, are you enjoying the food?
Let's go to the City Museum




Early days

The natives fighting the Spanish.
LOVE the look on that guys face!

So much happening in this painting

1700s?

Thanks Carolina for the tour!!!
In the background is La Virgen de
Quito which is a good spot to get
mugged.
Conor the politician being interviewed by a Spanish
Magazine wanting to know if he agreed with upgrading
the old town for tourism in turn taking away from the locals

John and Pounch from C.H.I.P.S?

20km out of Quito you can go to the Equator

Apparently it's easy to balance
 an egg at the equator. yeah right!

The face of a guy who didn't pay $3
for a proper tour.  what's going on?


Whoa, now that's interesting!  My first car was a 1981
Ford Mustang in silver.  Don't like Ford now, but you
never forget your first car!

Entrance to Museo Solar Intinan


Side note: After the real equator I went to the more popular Mital del Mundo which was figured to be the equator before GPS existed.  A massive line to get in with cost of $5 or so, so I said stuff it and left.  I was equatored out!  

The unnamed Hostel connected to El Arupo Hostal

Super friendly energy filled Selima
and  her husband at El Arupo 


Below some photos from my nights in Quito.  Thursday = Salsa lessons, Friday = Turtle's Head pub for $5+ pints which is ridiculous for Ecuador, went with new friends Christian, David and Juan to "El Aguijon" an alternative rock / dance bar for a bunch of drinks paid for by the boys (thanks for that guys and the foosball shots Juan), Saturday = Kidnapped by a Stagette who also bought us drinks!
Hot plate steak for $10.  Look at it all



Plaza Fuch where a lot of night life happens
One tequila shot for the bride to be

Party bus with Vodka provided by the girls, yes!

Back of the bus fun

Thanks girls for the fun night

DAY 126 Feb. 13, 2012, Quevedo, Temp 18-5-25C (300/15,690km)

Made my way out of Quito easy enough to find out that I had a vibration issue in my front tire between 40 and 60km/h.  Not bad enough to stop riding, but bad enough to turn around and have Willy at City Moto sort it out.  Short story - Willy checked the tire and rebalanced it finding nothing wrong even though there was still a vibration at 40 to 60kph.  His conclusion was that the weight in my bags was not evenly distributed which was causing the problem so I headed to the coast.

Unfortunately my second time leaving Quito was not as pleasant ending up on the wrong road here and there taking an hour longer finally clear the city.  This meant 2 things; 1) I would not make Montanita today and 2) I had no idea where I would stop which actually relaxed me allowing me to ride until I decided to call it a day.  

Oh, and what a day it was...

Ride Report: Quito to Latacunga C4R8T3V7 fast with sweeping climbs and descents.  Latacunga to Zumbahua C7R3T5V8 bad conditions with dog chases and near drops in the mud.  Zumbahua to Pilalo C7R7T2V8 lost the traffic and the villages for a good bit of downhill with nice pavement.  Finished the day with a push from Pilalo  to Quevedo (C4R5T4V6) which was warmer and flatter with some chopped up roads, Temp: 25C.

Leaving the unnamed hostel owned by El Arupo

This kid is impressed with the bike

Video showing the disadvantage of staying in your lane in a tunnel (I'm sure there are videos showing the advantages)

Somehow I just didn't feel a "thumbs
up" represented traffic leaving Quito


Two lanes of heaven.  Quito to Latacunga C4R8T3V7.  

These poor girls

Can't find a good spot to cross
After Latacunga in to the mountains on
a very shit road for about 30km
Making my way to the top of the pass with a look down in to the valley towards Latacunga
Annoying Mountain Dogs
always chasing you down
At the top of the pass 4000m




Rain, fog, cold, bad road...Paradise?

Plus some traffic too


Highland Indian people

hand to hand loading, old school


Wet and foggy with a fresh rock slide.  Cool to encounter the rocks through the fog.
Highland life in Zumbahua



Over the pass and coming down to a warmer zone




Not out of the rough stuff yet.  About 100km to Quevedo
Little hazards in my path



One of a couple very
new bridges in to Quevedo
Super Side note: Kindness of strangers!  Arrived in Quevedo with no clue where to stay.  While looking around a guy in a truck was yelling at me and almost bumping in to me.  With out panic we stopped at a light and he displayed his Motorcycle sticker on the truck.  Ok, must be a great guy then.  So I followed him to a hotel where I met another member, Augusto, of "Hormiga" Moto Club who allowed me to park my bike in his shop for the night right next to the hotel.  Great!  I checked in to Casablanca for $10USD which included a private room, bath, fan and TV with no Wifi of course.  Good enough for me as I would only be in Quevedo one night.  In good spirits the biker boys invited me to go for dinner and then a couple beers at their club shop where we could discuss my tire problem indepth.  Did I mention that this all had to be done in Spanish...

Big thanks to Freddy, Augusto and Nelson for everything!

Beautiful fountain round-a-bout
just down from the club shop
At the Club shop having a beer
 
Other Stuff
"Look guys, I'm just parking here for a minute, really."  


Where did everyone go?


Tires in Bathrooms???

Tires in Bathrooms???
This one needs a better photo.  The
partition in the middle of the shot
goes to the wall.  So if you were to
dry your hands you would be in
close quarters with someone
peeing.  I had to laugh.

Many traffic jugglers on my trip.  One of the better ones.  
Always amazed to see what type of
pitch the people endure to play
 football on
Perhaps a drug deal about to go wrong

That's a classic Foosball Table!  Metal
players and a MARBLE for a ball
More impressive loads

Very normal to see the baby
sandwiched between the parents