Downhill Cycling Adventure

Meg and Dave, Nono to Tandayapa Bike TripBefore leaving for our trip to Ecuador, I read about some bike trips that are available there. I had done a downhill mountain biking trip in Bolivia that was a lot of fun, so we decided to try to do one in Ecuador. We signed up for a downhill trip with Biking Dutchman, a well-known outfit in Quito. When the day arrived, we got geared up and headed out early in the morning to meet our guide and the other participants. On this trip, we had two American guys join us for the day. They were really friendly and quite hilarious with stories of the debauchery on their trip so far. We headed out of town in a 4x4 with the bikes on top to our starting point.

Nono to Tandayapa Bike TripThe trip we did was the Nono-Tandayapa tour. We started at an elevation of about 3,000m about an hour outside Quito. We got on our bikes and started downhill on some paved roads. The guide followed behind in the truck. The scenery was beautiful and we stopped often to take photos. We continued downhill to the town of Nono, a small and picturesque town. There we were given the option of going uphill for a bit, back to an intersection we had passed about 10 min before. Town of Nono, Nono to Tandayapa Bike TripWe all gave it a go; the Americans gave up pretty early given their lack of sleep from their previous night’s adventures, and Dave and I continued on to the intersection. It was slow going at that altitude! Once there, we were given the option of continuing uphill, which I would have liked to have done but I was already getting a headache from the exertion at that altitude so we decided to get in the truck.

Nono to Tandayapa Bike TripWe hopped back on the bikes for the rest of the trip, which was all downhill on a gravel road. It would have been fine, except the road was in the midst of being re-surfaced with fresh ‘gravel’, meaning it was very loose and it was also full of rather large stones (some the size of a softball). This made for some slow biking on my part, and a lot of braking! This was unfortunate for Dave, who was following behind me, when at one point I braked as a truck was coming up around a corner towards us. I thought it would be safer on the narrow road to stop and pullover. Dave braked hard in response and went over his handle bars! Luckily there was no major damage to him or the bike and we hopped back on and kept going. We met up with the Americans at the lunch stop. They had descended a lot faster than us. After a quick lunch, we continued downhill for a few more kilometers to the end of the road. We ended the day in cloud forest at about 1,800m. In all we biked for about 40km and descended 1,200m.

Meg and Dave at  Equator Monument (#2), CalacaliOn the way back to Quito we stopped in a small town called Calacali, where there is a monument to the first team (they were French) to locate the equator in Ecuador in 1743. The location of the equator has since been revised, but the French team was pretty close. We also happened to see a promotional tour of the Booframe bike – a bike made with a bamboo frame. It was pretty interesting –the frame itself was bamboo, but the forks, handle bars, etc. were all metal. It surprisingly was not lightweight, but looked cool.

Meg and Dave on Equator, Museo Sitio IntinanThe next and final stop on the way back to Quito was at the Museo Sitio Intinan. The museum was originally built at the site of some ruins, to showcase traditional culture and ways of life from various regions in Ecuador. The museum happens to be on the equator, so they have also built several demonstrations as well. We tried balancing an egg on a nail, which is supposedly easier at the equator – none of us managed to do it though! We watched as water swirled down a drain one way on one side of the equator and the other way on the other side of the equator. We tested our balance and our strength as well. It was pretty neat! After the visit we headed back to Quito.

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Posted in ecuador | quito | travel Submitted by Meg on Sat, 2011-01-01 18:03

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