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Old 01-05-2013, 05:52 PM   #601
Ulyses OP
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Originally Posted by junkyardroad View Post
A fluffer of a 14er...
I climb in similar gear every time, never figured out why people wear/carry/pack so much crap.
Maybe I've just been lucky

Great pics of the rainforest
I normally do too; but I don't normally wear a cotton t-shirt. And I'm normally in better shape. Doing nothing but riding a motorcycle for 2.5 months isn't great prep for the mountains...
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:08 PM   #602
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This is one bad ace ride report my friend, thanks for taking us on the adventure. Started learning Spanish in hopes of doing your ride next year. Seriously incredible journey
You bet man! Have fun with that Spanish! It isn't necessary, but it sure as hell makes things a lot easier. And more interesting. I was riding down the mountain in a cable car with some Ecuadorian ladies the other day and they started talking about me in Spanish. They were a little surprised (and embarrassed) when I started talking back to them.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:37 PM   #603
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What border crossing are you thinking for Peru?

I'm in Cuenca for the night (with all the fog, nothing better to do than keep riding), and was thinking about the Zumba - La Balsa border. Hardly ever used, probably because it's mostly dirt roads. Thought I'd throw it out there in case you liked the idea.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:08 PM   #604
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Banos to Alausi

Day 82 (January 5, 2013)
Banos, Ecuador to Alausi, Ecuador
Day's Ride: 105 Miles



This morning I took a dip in the hot springs and took my time getting a good cup of coffee in town. It's so odd that it's hard to find decent coffee in South and Central America. Despite having traveled through many marvelous coffee growing regions, the locals almost all seem to prefer Nescafe instant. I reckon that all of the real coffee is being exported to the United States.

As I was packing up, bubbletron showed up at my hotel and we decided to ride together to Alausi to see the "Nariz del Diablo"; a famous train route down an incredibly steep incline. They used to let people ride on the roof of the train until a big accident in 2008.

My clothes were still not dry from yesterday's slog fest, so I set off in damp riding gear and squishy boots. Just outside of Banos we stopped and took some pictures over the valley.





A little ways down the road and just outside of Rio Bamba, we came across Chimborazo, a massive 20,561 foot tall volcano. Unfortunately, it was totally socked in. We could barely see a small fringe of snow below the clouds.



I've been extremely disappointed with the weather in Ecuador; mainly because it has prevented me from seeing some amazing mountains! Everyday that I've been riding all of the peaks have been socked in and totally obscured.

We stopped in Rio Bamba for lunch at a Mexican joint called "El Rey del Burrito", or "The King of the Burrito" for those of you who don't habla.....




.....and they sure weren't joking:



It seems like everywhere you go, you can always find a Mexican restraint. I think that secretly all of the other Latin American countries wish they could have food like Mexico.

Leaving Rio Bamba, the elevation once again reached up around 10,000 feet and the scenery began to look familiar:



Does this look like Central Oregon to anyone else? I swear, I thought I was on the road to Bend for a minute.

The weather continued to be overcast and brisk with a slight breeze. Occasionally the sun would break through the clouds just long enough to tease you into hoping that it would warm up....



...and then you would drive right into another cloud and the visibility would close down to 20 feet....



After a few hours of mixed weather on beautiful Ecuadorian roads, we finally arrived in Alausi. The town is perched on the side of the mountain and is the jumping off point for the crazy train ride down "Nariz del Diablo".



I found a room at Hotel Europa for $10, parked the bike, and went to look around the town. I went to the train station to see if I could get a ticket for the ride, but they were closed.



Tomorrow I'll head down to the station at 7:00 AM and see if I can buy a ticket. The train ride is three hours long and gets back to Alausi at 11:00 AM. I'm not sure if riding the train or watching it go down the hill would be more fun.....I guess I'll figure it out in the morning.

Ulyses screwed with this post 01-05-2013 at 07:15 PM
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:18 PM   #605
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Originally Posted by CleanWatt View Post
What border crossing are you thinking for Peru?

I'm in Cuenca for the night (with all the fog, nothing better to do than keep riding), and was thinking about the Zumba - La Balsa border. Hardly ever used, probably because it's mostly dirt roads. Thought I'd throw it out there in case you liked the idea.
Dylan! I thought you were lost in the Amazon. I have no idea where that is, but it sounds cool. I may make it to Cuenca or Loja tomorrow, depending on if I take the train ride. Hit me up on PM so I can get your email address.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:13 PM   #606
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Train

Do the train for me buddy-I'll live it vicariously through you-never got my own ass into gear to do it!
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:30 PM   #607
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Thumb Bravo!

Ulyses,

All caught up! Yet another great RR to distract the senses from the mind numbing redundancy of . Thanks.


Sorry to hear about EdZachtamundo’s misfortune, but very glad he is alive. He sure put some hurt on that pick-up, unfortunately at the expense of his bike and lower extremities. Prayers for a speedy recovery and to hear of him riding again soon.


Keep up the fantastic work, this has been a very fun read. I pissed myself laughing at the news paper clip of poor guy who fell off the curb at Best Buy in front of the Toys for Tots table. Stupid bastard learned a hard lesson, and I’m sure he’ll pay more attention to where he’s about to step next time.


Cheers
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:55 PM   #608
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Ulyses,

All caught up! Yet another great RR to distract the senses from the mind numbing redundancy of . Thanks.


Sorry to hear about EdZachtamundo’s misfortune, but very glad he is alive. He sure put some hurt on that pick-up, unfortunately at the expense of his bike and lower extremities. Prayers for a speedy recovery and to hear of him riding again soon.


Keep up the fantastic work, this has been a very fun read. I pissed myself laughing at the news paper clip of poor guy who fell off the curb at Best Buy in front of the Toys for Tots table. Stupid bastard learned a hard lesson, and I’m sure he’ll pay more attention to where he’s about to step next time.


Cheers
Thanks for reading!
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:12 PM   #609
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Nose of the Devil, Cloud Riding, Road Blocks, and so much more.....

Day 83 (January 6, 2013)
Alausi, Ecuador to Cuenca, Ecuador
Day's Ride: 131 Miles



Nariz del Diablo: totally underwhelming. When I think of a train ride in Latin America, I imagine hurtling down a rusty track on a worn out steam locomotive with faulty breaks, crammed in a stuffy box car with a hundred other people and a few random pieces of livestock. I expect to have a near death experience that I will someday relate to my grandchildren, who will stare at me wide eyed in disbelief, barely able to suppress their astonishment that I survived the ordeal. That's not what I got.

I had heard so many good things about this little spectacle, unfortunately, it seems that it's been gringo-ized and turned into a kitschy tourist trap. The "Nariz del Diablo" is a section of the railroad that used to connect the capitol of Ecuador to Quito. This particular section of track was so steep that they had to build switchbacks into the mountain where the train would have to go for wards and backwards in a kind of falling leaf pattern to go up and down the mountain.

Back in the day, this was a legit train with boxcars and a steam locomotive. You could even ride on top of the train if you wanted. Now, everything has been modernized, the section of railroad is a self contained tourist train only, and you can't ride on the roof. Booo!



Not only is it a kitschy tourist trap, it's the most expensive train ride in Ecuador! Each ticket costs $25; that's a day's expenses in this country, including gasoline! Even after they started modernizing it and using it as a tourist train only, you could still ride on the roof. Then, in 2008, someone got hurt, and they stopped letting people up top.

Now, you sit in your little seat and listen to a narrator explain the workings of the train and wonder why you didn't just go find a spot across the valley and watch the train descend for free.

In any event, here's some pictures. This is the train reversing into one of the switch backs:



Here's a view of the Nose of the Devil from the bottom of the valley; note the switch backs a quarter of the way up the mountain.



Here's a camelid of some sort (alpaca?, llama?) hanging out with it's handler at the bottom of the track:



According to the narrator, over 4,000 workers were brought in to build the road bed and lay track for "Nariz del Diablo" and of those 4,000 or so people, over 2,500 died during the construction! This is what she said, I have no idea if that's correct or not, but damn, that's over a 60% fatality rate! I think you might have better luck storming the beaches at Normandy.

Here's a picture of a picture of the good old days:



Now wouldn't that be cool? Riding on top of a boxcar down one of the steepest, narrowest railroads in the world? Too bad things got stupid. You might as well go to the states and take a train tour.

Sorry for being so jaded about the whole affair; it was really interesting to learn about the history of the railroad. I just wish I wouldn't have paid $25 for it.

After the train dropped me off back in Alausi, I ran back to the hotel, packed up my bike, and hit the road. As I was riding out of town, I noticed a huge group of locals standing outside the bank. I've been meaning to take a picture of some of the women in their bowler hats, shawls, and brightly colored skirts; this seemed like a perfect opportunity.



It turned out to be another cloudy, foggy, rainy day. I kept running into cloud banks where the visibility would drop down to a couple of feet.



Despite the bad conditions, I found a great lunch at a roadside stand today:



I'm not sure what it was called, but it consisted of hominy (I think), slathered in mayonnaise and topped with fried chicken, onions, cilantro, and tomatoes. And a side of freshly deep fried potatoes. It was so tasty! I haven't had good luck with street meat stands since Mexico; this totally rocked! I took a picture of the family that was doing the cooking:



They were great people! The entire meal cost $1.25. I ended up getting seconds. And then thirds.

Continuing along towards Cuenca, the clouds began to clear up a little. Most of the elevations today were between 9,000 and 11,000 feet; the vistas were incredible!



As I was coming around a particularly sharp curve, I was suddenly confronted with a group of costumed kids manning a road block similar to the ones that I had seen just before New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, these kids meant business and they had dragged several sizable logs across the road to stop traffic. I wasn't in the mood for shenanigans today, so I slowed down just a little, then gunned the throttle and popped my front wheel over the logs and kept riding. One of the kids was angry that I hadn't stopped and given his little gang some centavos (coins, cents), so he ran after me and hit me in the shoulder.

Bad idea muchacho.

For some reason I was totally steamed that that little punk had just struck me. I slammed on the breaks and skidded to a stop, totally intent on turning around and giving those little punks a "firm talking too". As I was turning around, I saw a cop car come tearing up the road heading straight for the road block. I looked back at the road block and watched as the kids vanished into thin air. That got me laughing and I figured I should start taking pictures as this little drama unfolded.

Here's the road block right after the kids saw the cops and made themselves scarce:



As I watched, the cops dismounted from their truck and started sprinting into the forest along the road. They managed to flush out one of the little punks and I watched as they chased him up the hill:



By this time I was laughing so hard that I was having a hard time keeping my bike upright. The cops huffed and puffed after the youth for a while, but eventually gave up and came back to the road. I talked to the cops about the whole affair and they showed me some of the evidence that they had recovered:



Feisty little devils! The cops eventually picked up the logs and tossed them out of the road. I said my goodbyes and rode off, laughing uncontrollably.

I rode for another hour or so and then stopped at the Incan ruins at Ingapirca. This was a completely different experience compared to Teotihuacan and some of the Mayan ruins that I had seen in Mexico and Central America.







The most impressive thing about these ruins were the quality of some of the walls:



Considering that they didn't have any metal tools to cut these stones, the Incans were pretty damn good at masonry. Our tour guide explained the process: first, the stone were heated up in a fire. Then they were doused with cold water which caused them to crack. Next, the Incans used stone chisels to chip off the excess and square the stones. Finally, they used sand and mud and gravel to polish the stones until they fit perfectly. Incredible. It's hard to imagine how much work went into forming just one stone.

After the ruins, I blasted down to Cuenca and found a bed in the dormitory at Hostel Casa Cuenca for $8. Tomorrow I'm heading for Peru.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:30 PM   #610
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Thumb SPOT Tracker Question

Hey Bryce,

Nice report! Been following from Oregon for a few weeks and thought I'd chime in to thank you for the efforts and ask a quick question. Do you have your Spot tracker hardwired? I noticed you're running it in track progress mode. I'd like to do the same but it seems like a pain to replace batteries every 4 or so days. I'd love any info you have on how you have been utilizing it.

This is my last week of shitty work and then saddling up for a trip down to Chile......just trying to resolve the last minute items. Good luck and stay safe!
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:45 PM   #611
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Hey Bryce,

Nice report! Been following from Oregon for a few weeks and thought I'd chime in to thank you for the efforts and ask a quick question. Do you have your Spot tracker hardwired? I noticed you're running it in track progress mode. I'd like to do the same but it seems like a pain to replace batteries every 4 or so days. I'd love any info you have on how you have been utilizing it.

This is my last week of shitty work and then saddling up for a trip down to Chile......just trying to resolve the last minute items. Good luck and stay safe!
No, it's not hardwired. As far as I know, SPOT doesn't even have a power cord for it. If you use lithium batteries, it will last for a couple of weeks, even on progress track mode. Unfortunately, lithium batteries are a little harder to find down here. They may be easier to find in Chile and Argentina, but I can't comment on that.....yet. I would recommend bringing along a large stash of lithiums. They're really light and they don't take up much space. If you use alkaline, you'll only get a couple of days out of it.

Another thing: make sure you set up a spotwalla page. The SPOT website will only save your progress track for a few days before it starts to recycle the old data. Spotwalla.com will save your tracks from the entire trip! It's a little complicated to set up, but definetly worth it. I didn't find out about it till colombia and wish I had known about it earlier.

One final note: make sure your SPOT is attached to your person and not your bike. When my buddy Justin got hit by a truck in El Salvador, he landed at least fifty feet away from his bike (and his SPOT which was on his handlebars). He had a serious compound fracture and if he had been alone and out in some remote location, he would have had a hell of a time getting back to his SPOT to hit the SOS. Use the little wrist band that comes with your SPOT of have someone make you a mount that you can attach to your riding gear.

Hope that helps! If you need some more information, don't hesistate to ask!
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:07 PM   #612
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After the ruins, I blasted down to Cuenca and found a bed in the dormitory at Hostel Casa Cuenca for $8. Tomorrow I'm heading for Peru.
I hope to run into you in Peru and buy you a beer or three...

Been following this ride report for a couple of months now, and it has not disappointed. I'll be flying in to Arequipa on Thursday, and riding north to meet Hewby, and then riding with her.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:19 AM   #613
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Just read the whole thing.. in one sitting..

All I can say is your living the dream, never pass these adventures up..

Ride safe and keep up the reports PLEASE>>>


Dave.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:13 AM   #614
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... I was riding down the mountain in a cable car with some Ecuadorian ladies the other day and they started talking about me in Spanish. They were a little surprised (and embarrassed) when I started talking back to them.
I hope it was all good!

I've been there and done that
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:01 AM   #615
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I'm telling you, you're blasting through Ecuador too fast! While Al is right about going from Quito to Banos via Baeza and Puyo being better than via Ambato, that's anticlimactic compared to heading west to the coast first. Now you gotta understand, I've been on these roads, albeit in private vehicles and busses, yet to do so on Moto. Not to be mean, but in your haste to blast through Ecuador, you've missed a great portion of what the country has to offer. Knowing what I know, this is how I suggest routing through Ecuador from Quito. It would only add a week or so to your time there, but increase your experience tenfold.

West to the coast, take a quick peek at the real Mitad del Mundo (where you took your pic in Cayambe is not it), take a gander over the Pululahua overlook, and stay in Mindo Loma, on the left just before the road to Mindo, and say hi to Patricio. This area is the Cloud Forest. Then head west to the coast, take the squiggly road north of Santo Domingo to the main road up to Esmeraldas, then work down the coast (the road is dubbed "la ruta del sol") checking out the many gorgeous beaches along the way. Take special note of Bahia de Caracas (good place to stay), see Montecristi, Montańita, and the Iglesia en forma de barco near Manglaralto - Olon up on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Enjoy the ruta del sol to Salinas, head inland toward Guayaquil, drop down toward Playas then east thru El Morro to the end of the road and take the Mangrove (manglares) tour in boat. Come back up and through Chongon, and check out the city of Guayaquil, don't miss the malecon 2000, parque de iguanas, barrio las penas - climb to the overlook, the overlook with the statue of Jesus, the two overlooks on the hill along the estero salado and malecon salado, side of the stadium (between los ceibos and urdaneta), monuments, amazing shopping malls, painted bridges, a huge 'terminal terrestre', etc.

When you're done, head over the bridges crossing the Daule and Babahoyo at the confluence forming the Guayas, up and through the bosque nacional las Cajas to Cuenca to stay at Casa del Sol and say hi to Luis. Hit the overlook at Turi. Next north to Alausi to stay. Climb up to where the saint San Pedro overlooks the place. You are surrounded by mountains! Facing the town center, look left about 9 o clock and see that dirt road winding up that killer hill.... I was dying for my XRL fo blast up there!!! La Nariz del Diablo is within a mile or two. You might get lucky enough to get a ticket there to ride it.. I'm sure there must be a way ride into to the bottom of the Nariz if you're industrious enough to dope it out. Alausi is on level with the top of the ascent.

From there to Riobamba. Check out the town of Guano to the north. Shoot up to Chimborazo to the west, and back. Head to banos, and - if the ruta por Tunguragua esta cerrado, go through Ambato. Enjoy, then from there drop down to Puyo.... watch this road! Like most, it's beautiful but dangerous. There will be some waterfalls to pause at. In the oriente, shoot south through Macas, Zamora, and on to Loja to enjoy. From there south to Vilcabamba to hang, and then take that road south to cross into Peru on the road less traveled.

That's my advice, Most riders make essentially a beeline through and miss much more than they experience, then tend to spend extra time further south to make up for it. At the rate you're going, Bryce, you'll be at Ushuaia in two weeks! Perhaps you can ride back up and catch some of what you missed on the way down!

Stay safe
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