Ecuador – Avenue of Volcanos, Inca Trails and a burgeoning mountain bike scene.
Overview || Day 2-Pululahua || Day 3-Chota Trails || Day 4-Rucu Pichincha || Day 5-Quilotoa || Day 6-Chimborazo || Day 7-Mama Rumi || Day 8-Camino Del Rey || Day 9-I-Line || Day 10-La Paz || Cuyabeno Lodge
Ecuador is a small country with vast geographic diversity. There are many areas to explore. From furthest west in the Pacific there are the Galapagos islands; then the Pacific coast lowlands on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, then the cordillera of the Andean spines in the north-south 2500m elevation Avenue of Volcanoes in the central highlands; then east descending to the headwaters of the Amazon in the equatorial sweltering heat of the lowlands .
On this trip we focussed on rides along the Avenue of Volcanoes near the capitol of Quito to the southern colonial town of Cuenca. We didn’t ride all the the 31 volcanoes. Cotopaxi was closed due to its recent volcanic activity, some were too remote. We did get a good idea of the diversity of riding in Ecuador.
We were hosted on this trip by Mateo Cuesta of Ride Ecuador. Ride Ecuador is a new company offering a selection of multiple trip combinations. We were on Mateo’s 10 day trips featuring a selection of trails built and maintained by locals.
Day 1 – Local Quito Riding – Ilalo and Lumbisi.
Our first day found us joining Mateo and Cuervo for a ride. Jose “Cuervo”‘s place has a house with a big yard on which he built dirt jumps for use by the local community. Campo Bici hosts kids camps, jump clinics and events to encourage youth mountain biking. Cuervo lives just below Ilalo.
The extinct Volcano Ilalo at 3194m divides the Tumbaco/Cumbaya Valley from the Los Chillos valley and was a strategic spot for the native Inga (not misspelled) people. They mined obsidian and had agricultural plots here from hundreds of years ago. It was also a 360 degree observation viewpoint. Now it is a pretty busy local spot used by hikers, bikers and dirtbikers. We accessed from the Tumbaco valley via steeeep dirt roads and rode down the Angamarca trails. This turned out to be a nice relatively gentle way for us to acclimatize to elevation. Quito itself is about 2600m. For us sea-dwellers this meant that even going up stairs left us breathless. Hiking up to Ilalo itself was an exercise in patience and deep-breathing.
2935m – we start our ride
Views are not bad!
Top of Ilalo – 3194m View of Quito in the background
Then we go down
Good diversity of trails!
Trails are in good condition considering how popular this area is for motorbikes, hikers and bikers!
Lower sections are more impacted
Our next spot was a quick hit on a series of trails legitimized by Mateo and his friend Manuel through years of advocacy in the Lumbisi commune. It’s one of the rare Quito-area purpose built bike tracks with a variety of small and big hits. There are a combination of six different trails in the area and they are used mostly by locals. It’s a fun mainly downhill rip, although many also do pedal the road to access the trails.
We were being chased by afternoon thundershowers so just had the chance to sample the one track getting our lap in just before the afternoon rains and thundershowers.
Elevation Profile Ilalo
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Elevation Profile Lumbisi
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Where to stay – La Jimenita
Our first two nights we stayed at the Hotel Casa de Hacienda La Jimenita. This property has been in the family for generations and recently converted to a hotel and bird sanctuary. Daniel and his family have done a great job welcoming people into their homes, in newly modernized rooms. The garden surrounding the property is a great space to walk around, and has fine views of volcanoes (including Cotopaxi) from various viewing points. Jimenita is also close to the airport and is popular with those transitting from Quito to other destinations in Ecuador as you can be close to the airport without being caught in the often overwhelming traffic and hustle-bustle of Quito..
The grounds and map of the area including a volcanic tunnel!
Daniel in the main dining and meeting area