December 19, 2011

DAY 32

I woke up with the 6 bell rings from the church indicating it was 6am and then there was a series of rings at 6:30 am which got me out of bed. I met Gabriel at about 8:30am and we went to meet his friend Johana who teaches English. On the way over to meet his friend, I pulled a piece of paper from my pocket that had been given to me by that kind woman that I shared the long rough journey with in the back of the transport truck. I asked Gabriel to translate it, he told me that she was asking if I would like to be a godfather to her children. It took me back for a second and I felt deeply honored. I felt a rush of warmth and gratitude through me to have gained such respect from so many honorable men and women. I was humbled and could almost feel my eyes getting a bit watery.

We arrived at the school where Johana teaches and the three of us went for breakfast. We hung out for quite a long time talking and enjoying these last few moments I have in Tulcan. After breakfast we went back to the hotel, Gabriel and Johana helped me bring down the bicycle and gear down the stairs. It was time for me to go and again I find it a little difficult to leave as soon as I start to develop these friendships. Gabriel has been phenomenal in helping me and being a friend.

This man is a national symbol for Ecuador


Johana and Gabriel


It was a later start than I had anticipated but I always know that the timing of things is always the way they should be. I began the ascent up out of Tulcan and found it difficult again breathing and pushing myself uphill. At the top of the pass it was about 11,000 feet and that is the highest I've cycled so far.

This represents "le minge", the idea of working together


The military base had walls with broken glass embedded in concrete






at the end of the day the graph at the top is usually up, down, up, down etc... with longer ups than downs.






lots of farmland in this area

Along the way I met two other cyclists who are from the US, one from Oregon and the other from California. They were moving faster than me and passed me on an uphill climb. At the top they were waiting for me and it was great to speak to someone who speaks fluent English. Brett and Ryan had started their ride five months ago from Vancouver, Canada and are headed to Patagonia. They were soon on there way and ahead of me. When I reached San Gabriel they were sitting in a grassy area eating lunch. I stopped and joined them for conversation, they too have been having some difficulty with these mountains despite all the conditioning they've had so far during the past five months. I think the high altitude has a lot to do with it.

Ryan and Brett at our first encounter before reaching San Gabriel


Brett cycles ahead

This was a good meeting for me, not only was it good to sit in the grass and have a conversation but I also found out about two dangerous areas where cyclists have been robbed in Peru. They are planning on taking a bus through those areas and I will do the same. The towns are: Piura, and Chiclayo, Peru.

After they finished their lunch they went their way headed further down the road. When traveling with someone else so many things are easier, you always have a person to talk to and they are also a great motivator when getting tired. I cycled for a brief time with someone in Canada and found that part of the journey to be much easier in so many ways. Just having a conversation about the distance in a day and having a shared goal helps. Also having someone else around to let me know that I'm not crazy but these mountains really are tough is helpful. The big advantage they have is that both of them speak Spanish very well. I was tempted to join them and if I had not been given a contact in San Gabriel I would have joined them. They were going to put in more miles and try to do about 60 miles a day for the next 4 days.

The other difference about traveling alone versus with someone is that when a person is alone they tend to draw more experiences and meet more people. People are more likely to come up and approach a lone traveler versus two or more traveling.

I went to make a call to a friend of Gabriel's. When I reached Gabriels friend, he said he was out traveling now and not available. I told him I will just find a hotel in town and maybe call later. I just took it as a sign I was meant to stop here anyway. My legs needed a rest and I was looking forward to getting to sleep early. I know there is a reason the meeting didn't occur and I will wait and see what is ahead for me down the road. I would love to just get to Quito and keep moving through Ecuador because I feel like I need to make up a little time if I want to see Patagonia. At my current pace I will have to head home before reaching Chile.

I will try to leave early in the morning and see if I can make it to Ibarra tomorrow. Ibarra should be 56 miles away and if the mountains are not too steep I should be able to do that.

25.81 miles

7.9 mph avg

454.2 miles total


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