December 27, 2011
The first ten miles were uphill and by the time I got to the top of the pass I was already exhausted for the day. I'm at these high elevations and for some reason I am just not getting acclimated to it. I try to take deep breaths but I just can't seem to get enough air in me. I stopped at a little coffee and bread place. The man inside gave me a small sample cup of coffee and one of those bonochita(sp?) bread things. My legs felt a bit weak so I sat down with the coffee, the bread thing and a yogurt. I had asked for a spoon but he motioned that you drink it. It is just like the yogurts in the US. I peeled back the foil top and drank it down. They don't keep their yogurts as cold so it was easy to drink. The only problem is that I could not mix the fruit on the bottom so it just slide down last.
I had a nice long down hill and was able to get up to 47mph but a side wind caught me and I had to use the brakes to slow down a bit. After the steep part started to level off I stopped to take a photo and get a drink from my water bottle. As soon as I started off again I get passed by a cyclist who tried to say something to me and all I could say was "no hablo espanol" she just smiled shook her head and pedaled off. Then another cyclist rides up beside me and starts talking to me in English, I met him briefly as I was leaving Ibarra yesterday. We chatted for a bit and then the group of three cyclists went on their way. When I reached Cayambe I saw the three of them standing outside a door and the yelled over to me. I pulled up and started talking to them and the woman held out both her hands toward me. One hand had panela in it the other cheese, she was offering me bite s of her snack. This is highly unusual in the US, offering others your own food and to share same bites.
They invited my for lunch, the two guys were both named Luis and the woman was Beatriz. I wasn't hungry but wanted to join them. We went and talked a bit, they are from Medillin, Colombia, a place that has come highly recommended many times for me to visti. Thay are on a fast ten day trip around Ecuador, have very little gear and are using carbon fiber bicycles. The combined weight of all three bicycles is probably equal to mine. If I ever do this again, I will travel ultralight with a carbon fiber bicycle.
It was a fun lunch and we looked at my map to get an overview of their trip and were I was going. We talked a little about Colombians in general and Luis told me "we like to touch each other". That is something I have found out, it is a very close culture without a sense of personal space. Beatriz had an infectious laughter and she laughed a lot during this time. She was eating chicken soup and offered her fork to me with a piece of chicken on it, again sharing. This meeting really lightened my spirits and gave me the energy to continue on. It was early in the day still and I could possibly make it to Quito today.
How can someone not fall in love with this place when so many people will share with you what they have. They tend to be very close with each other and totally accept you for who you are. There do not seem to be the same fears here. Luis told me "we live for today". They were all so kind generous and accepting of me as if I was good friend already.
After a bit of level surface(which is rare), I hit a very long downhill that lasted for many miles. I enjoyed the downhill but really would have preferred not to go down so far knowing how high Quito is. The wind picked up and for the rest of the trip it was a constant head wind or sidewind. It would gust and almost put me to a stop. I was doing about 20mph at one point and a gust of wind hit me and I slowed down to 9pmh in about a second. The scenerey was remarkable with stunning valleys and canyons, I had considered taking a photo but I don't like stopping on a downhill it wears the brakes out fast.
After the downhill I hit another long never ending uphill that lasted for hours. I rode and rode and rode. I had to stop and take breaks at times when I was starting to feel dizzy. I think it must have to do with my body not adapted to this decreased oxygen and it makes me dizzy with heavy exertion. Sometimes I did not realize it until I stopped and tried to get off the bicycle to stand, then it would hit me. I did lay down on the side of the road at one point when I started feeling it to let my body rest for awhile.
I had hoped that I would climb up after a few miles and then have a downhill into Quito. That was not to be I kept going up and up into the darkness. When I finally reached Quito it was dark and the traffic was awful, three lanes each direction. Quito is the capitol so I would imagine it would be like bicycling through Washington DC. I had already decided I would stop at the first hotel I see but there were none to be seen. I kept going and going and going, nothing. I asked a couple who told me through the use of hand gestures to go to the roundabout and turn right, there would be hotels there.
After a couple more miles, still going uphill, I am now beyond tired so I asked a police officer for a hotel. He pointed across the street then motion down and to the right. I rode about half a block and saw a small alley on the right, there was a tiny discreet sign that said "Motel". I cycled over to it, it looked like an industrial building and there was one of those security booths out front. I did not care if it was a complete dive I was exhausted and desperately needed to stop and rest somewhere. Just ahead of me a car pulled up and the young man from the booth just motioned the car to follow him as he walked ahead of the car. There were rows of garage doors, he opened one, the car drives in and he shuts the door behind the car. I thought that was odd he never checked the person in and never even looked at the person/persons in the car. He walked back over to the booth and he spoke to me in Spanish and all I could say was "No Hablo Espanol". I asked how much for the night and he said it was $16.00. He walked ahead and motioned me to follow him. There were two drives going in and on each side of each drive there was a row of garage doors with windows above them. I assumed the hotel rooms were above the garages and thought it was cool that they offered secured private garages for each apartment. I have never seen anything like that before. He opened up a garage door on the left about midway down and motioned me to go in. I rolled my bicycle in and then he motioned me to go upstairs. He shut the garage door behind me and I went upstairs looking for some sort of reception. The stairs led directly into a the nicest hotel room I've seen yet on this trip. There was another door that led out of the room but was locked and could not be opened. I debated on going back down to find out how to register and pay but decided to bring my bags up first. I looked around and noticed they had snacks, liquor, a very large mirror over the bed and the shower had a large glass window facing the bed. While I was investigating this room there was a knock on that locked door. I tried to open it but it was locked and then I noticed a small door that I could pull open on the door. I open that up and there was a box that had another door on the side where a receipt was slipped in, I could not see who it was and they could not see me. I placed a $20 in that little box, then $4 appeared and that was it. No registration, they did not want my name or passport number like the other hotels. This had to be the oddest hotel I've ever stayed at, but it was a bit luxurious. The shower was fantastic and was the best shower I have seen so far on the trip.
56.66 miles today
579.7 miles total
max speed 47mph
avg speed 6.4 mph
11 hours out on the road today
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