For various reasons which I’ll expand on at some point, I’ve had to put my journey on hold for a few of months.
I now find myself back in the UK, desperately missing the road and its rhythm. The bananas don’t taste half as good, the avocados are tiny, and a clean bed is definitely no improvement on my cosy little tent… But on a brighter note, it’s wonderful to see my family again and catch up with friends after so long away. And reacquainting myself with my local Bristolian trails is a good reminder that you don’t have to travel across the world to have a great ride.
I aim to keep the blog going during this interim, as there are various stories and kit reviews I have in the pipeline. I’ll be posting a report on the last ride into Quito soon – a cracker of a dirt road climb to Lago Mojando, followed by 40 kms of uninterrupted trail and blisterinly fast singletrack along an old railway line. In fact, the last few days in Ecuador were as good a finale as I could have hoped for after two incredible years in the Americas.
The Need to Know Bit:
From the border, it’s possible to stay on dirt (or cobbles…) for much of the way to Tumbaco – and it’s a stunning ride, up amongst the high altitude Paramo.
From Tulcan, look out for the bizarre church with gun-toting dward statue, a few kilometres out of town. Turn right up the dirt road, heading for the Reserva Ecologica El Angel. Up amongst the Paramo makes a great spot to camp. From the reserve (toilets and water), it’s a cobbled descent down to El Angel, a good resupply point.
A paved road drops down via Mira to the Panamerican. A back road exists to Otovalo, via Salinas, Urcuqui and Cotacachi (some cobbles) or you can stick to the highway via Ibarra, as we did. However, I’d highly recommend the backroute from Otovalo to Tabacundo, via Laguna Mojanda (3700m). After a cobbled climb, a beautiful dirt road loops round the lake to the left. Ignoring the first right hand turn after the climb, drop back down instead to the lakeshore on the other side (we camped beside the building under construction). It’s a climb from there up to Cerro Negro, before a steep descent back down to Tabacundo, on a mixed surface dirt road, with views to Volcan Cayambe. Stunning! Timewise, we explored the market at Otovalo in the morning and headed up to Laguna Mojanda in the afternoon, camping there. From the lake, it’s a day’s ride to Tumbaco.
If you’re headed for the Casa de Ciclistas at Tumbaco via Cayamba and Santa Rosa, be sure to pick up ‘El Chaquinan’ from El Quinche – drop a line to Santiago at the Casa for details on how to get to its start point, which is a little awkward to find. It’s a lovely dirt road and singletrack route, a converted railway line bike track popular with cyclists, and easy going for the most part.