Ecuador – Avenue of Volcanos, Inca Trails and a burgeoning mountain bike scene.
Overview || Day 1-Ilalo and Lumbisi || Day 2-Pululahua || Day 3-Chota Trails || 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
Day 4 – Rucu Pichincha
Today we’re off to one of the two Pichincha volcanos – signature mountains of Quito. Rucu Pichincha is the non active twin to Guagua aka Baby (which is burping out smoke). Because we didn’t want to die (either from volcanos or altitude sickness) we used the Teleferico to get to 4000m. Then we climbed further to approx 4400m, 400m shy of the summit then rode down trails towards Quito. Despite the volcanic activity tourism in Ecuador is still alive and well as is the mountain biking.
These two volcanos are popular acclimitazion climbs; used to prep for climbs for higher mountains. It’s a signature of Ride Ecuador’s preparation that we started with smaller mountains (recall that Ilalo was “only” a little over 3000m) and then slowly but surely built up to higher elevations. Today we topped out at elevations that was oxygen-depriving for sea-level dwellers but were still able to pedal. We would have fared far worse if we had tried to ride this on our first day off the plane to Ecuador.
Of note, we chose to ride Rucu because one can get there easily from Quito and make it a more relaxed outing. You can ride Guagua but it entails a longish drive a fair bit west of the city of Quito and then up a jeep road to then hike/push bikes to the summit. Either ride is worthwhile and makes for incredible views.
Today we rode with Suca and Julia who run the company WIP – they make customized bike clothing both for men and women. Their clothing is designed and made in Ecuador – rather a nice touch!
View of Rucu Pichincha from Casa de Hacienda La Jimenita with Quito in the forground
Loading the Gondola
Waiting at the top, they only load 4 bikes per gondola, and not all the gondolas could carry bikes.
View of Quito from the top station
We start riding towards Rucu at 4050m
hmmm maybe we could take horses to the top
We push up the Paramo – the Ecuadorian Highlands.
Then we ride down, the views of Quito City ever present
Water and people forge their path into the Highlands
Rucu in the back
Culuncos abound in the Highlands
Chatting and enjoying the view of the sprawling city of Quito
Ruta de Humbotld – a trail named after the scientist Alexander von Humboldt who climbed the Pichincha in 1802, during a research trip through South America.
We continue our ride back down to the Gondola
Julia and Suca’s poster for their Jerseys. They’ll deliver to Canada!
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Where to Stay
This night we stayed at the Casa Hebling, a Hostel in Quito. This hostel is walking distance to the Old Town and very near the Night scene of Quito. We were there on a Sunday so it was quiet for us.