In Panama Heidi was ill and tired from just the journey from bed to toilet and back. I was reading about Ecuador and specifically about the volcano Cotopaxi. The internet mentioned that you could cycle down from 4600 meters above sea level. I was excited. Heidi was totally disinterested.
But then she recovered and mentioned that it sounded like fun. So we left Panama and sailed south for eight days to Bahia de Caraquez. There we put the bikes together, did some rudimentary training and cycled nearly 400 kilometers from the Pacific to the Andes. The trip took seven days and we climbed 7000 meters before reaching Quito.
On the eighth day we joined five other mountain bikers on a tour organized by the Biking Dutchman. We drove up the side of the volcano to the car park at 4600 meters. Here it was freezing and we put on every item of clothing we had with us before beginning the descent. Luckily all seven members of the group were mountain bikers – a pair from New Zealand cycled across the Himalayas and another girl cycles amateur races in the USA. As a result the descents were very fast and huge fun. The whole route was flowy and technically easy and left huge grins on all our faces.
We cycled past wild horses, wild cattle and Llamas. We saw a condor in the distance soaring above the bare, Tolkien like landscape. We visited a spring where a stream exits the side of the volcano and a pre-Inca hill fort. The route was mostly downhill but the few uphill sections immediately reminded us that we were still well above 3500 meters.
Cotopaxi itself only briefly peeped out of the clouds but that could not detract from a fantastically enjoyable ride in a stunning landscape with a group of fun people.
The GPS was hidden in the rucsac and lost signal a few times but the track is at alltrails.com