Day 366 – Heading towards Cotopaxi

Day 366 / Tumbaco – Ranch, Ecuador / 20 miles (Total 8725)

Woke up to a bowl of granola, fresh strawberries, bananas and cold milk. I think I miss having cold milk the most on this trip.

Woke up to a bowl of granola, fresh strawberries, bananas and cold milk. I think I miss having cold milk the most on this trip.

I always seem to have a tough day after a long break, and today seemed to be extra tough on me. I woke up around 5:30 in the morning and peaked my head outside. The first thing that grabbed my attention was my shiny, almost new bike. She looked good early in the morning with the sun just starting to rise over the horizon. Once again, I over packed with food. I was cramming all the food in any little opening and my bike was weighed down from all my extra goodies. I said goodbye to Santiago and thanked him again for all his help. I would not be rolling out today if it wasn’t for all his help. Thanks again Santiago!

Saying goodbye to my great host.

Saying goodbye to my great host.

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Cotopaxi, far off in the distance and looking massive.

Getting out of Tumbaco was easy enough, even leaving during morning rush hour. Thought I would be cursing all the way through the big city, but that came later. Marco and Anja left yesterday, so we said our goodbyes and maybe I will see them down the road. The way I keep running into them though, it just might be a day or two. We agreed to meet up for the border crossing into Peru if we by chance don’t see each other. I have ridden with them all through Colombia and a week into Ecuador. It’s time for a little solo riding for the soul I think.

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Isn’t that sweet

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I was slowly making my way towards some back roads when I took a nice long break in San Padro. It was perfect. The locals were friendly, I had some shade, and free WI-FI in the park.

After leaving my lengthy break I got back on the main highway and traffic was crazy. I started to even stress out with so many bad drivers on the road. I was wishing for my back road with no traffic. Traffic was gridlocked in some parts of San Rafael. Cars and trucks were using my shoulder to pass other vehicles. I just ended up walking my bike for a half hour so I didn’t have to deal with it.

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A mini semi. My shoulder came up to the top of the cab. That would be so fun to roll around in.

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This was as fun as it looks.

I finally made it to my back road and the thought of fast-moving traffic didn’t seem so bad now. The next 10 miles was a complete pile of rubbish. Ecuador loves to throw large rocks on their dirt roads. I am starting to realize that if it’s a dirt road in Ecuador, it’s going to be god-awful. I was already feeling beat down from the day, but wanted to keep pushing on. As the afternoon went on, I was going nowhere fast. The road turned worse and then steep. I ended up pushing my bike for almost two hours up steep grades from 10% to 13%. By 3:00 I was shot and looking for a place to crash. I am literally in the middle of no mans land, with no accommodations around.

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When the rocks were not present, deep sand took over. Almost took a few spills today with my weak legs.

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So many random side roads with no signs around.Good thing I downloaded a great offline map for my I-phone called Maps.me. It shows every road that I passed. One of the best offline maps I have used.

All the land was fenced off, so stealth camping was impossible. By 4:00 my legs were burning and I was ready for dinner. I stopped at a ranch and asked the owner if I could camp out and he had no problem with it. I set up the tent and made a huge bowl of noodles that seemed to solve all my problems. I watched the stars come out on a perfectly clear night with a cold beverage in my hand. I can always crack a smile at the end of a day, no matter how tough it was. Everyday I move from town to town, but I always seem to be at home wherever I am. Goodnight everyone.

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I think it’s been since Nicaragua since I have indulged in a cold one. It sounded good after today’s tough ride


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Day 360-365 / One year ago today!

Day 360-365 / Tumbaco, Ecuador / miles (Total 8725)

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Hard to believe I left one year ago today! I feel like a different man.

The Mother Trucker needs some love

After 4 years and 15,000 miles the Mother Trucker has finally said enough. The teeth on the sprockets and cassette are worn down to a nub. My chain has nothing to grab onto anymore and my gears are slipping. My rear rack has two cracks in it and my tires are bald. I have beat her down on some rough roads these past few months and she has held up great. It’s finally time to give her the love she deserves.

I was lucky enough to break down at the Casa del Cislistas where Santiago is taking care of the items I need. I have been here a few days longer then what I have wanted, but sometimes life has different plans for us. So I have been using this time to get caught up on the blog, gaining some weight back and traveling to the great capital of Quito.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I ended up going with a smaller gear size to help out on the bigger mountain climbs ahead of me.

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Huston, we have a major problem. The right crank arm was seized on tight while trying to take it off. This led to a major pain in the butt. Santiago gave blood, sweat, and I almost gave some tears. After 4 hours of hack sawing and hammering we finally got it off. Words cannot describe how thankful I am to Santiago’s help. I couldn’t have done it without him.

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Santiago putting some time into the Mother Trucker

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We were both excited when the crank arm came off. High-fives all around the shop. Thanks Santiago.

Quito, an unexpected love for a large city

La Compania or the Church of the Society of Jesus is considered the most beautiful church in Ecuador.

La Compania or the Church of the Society of Jesus is considered the most beautiful church in Ecuador.

I ventured off to the Capital of Ecuador and was completely blown away by the beauty of this city. We took a bus up to the second highest capital in the world at 9,350 on a quiet Sunday morning. Our first stop was the museum Nacional Ministerio de Cultura. Hands down, the best museum I have ever visited. The outside of the building looks plain-Jane, making me wonder if we made a wrong choice in coming here. Walking inside the museum it was heavily guarded by security. I had to flip my baseball cap around so they could always see my face, security cameras in every corner and no photo’s were allowed. We walked into the first section and every piece of artifact left us speechless. Amazing that there was no entrance fee. Here are a few photos from the internet since photos were prohibited.

We then made our way to the old city where the streets were full and the buildings were grand. Like I said in the past, Barcelona, Spain set the bar high for me and Quito definitely is one of my favorites now. Glad we ventured off to the capital to do some sightseeing today.

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La Compania from far away

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Inside the large church and no photo’s aloud once again, but……

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Another great view in Quito

The crowded streets of old town

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Visiting the Presidential Palace. I would hate to have their job. People always pointing and laughing

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They love their gold in Quito

I was doing the dance for too long. Good thing we found this store. It was a store like REI from back at home, called Tatoo, and I was in heaven. For the longest time I have been looking for winter underwear and a pillow. Found them both here for a great price

Casa del Cislistas

Santiago has been helping bikers for over 22 years now and I was the 394th person to stay at his amazing place. I am leaving here fully recharged and ready to hit the road again. I am still amazed at the number of people who has shown such great hospitality and kindness on this trip. Thanks again Santiago for the great stay.

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Our great shelter at Santiago’s. We had shade during the day from the blazing sun. Shelter at night from the cold winds coming through. Absolutely perfect.

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My new amigo! He would sit by our tent at night as if he was watching over us. I would wake up and he was right there ready for our morning game of catch. Going to miss this guy

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Old school washing machine.

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Santiago is amazing! Besides hosting traveling bikers, he helps neighborhood kid to learn how to ride. He spent 2 hours this day teaching these kids control of a mountain bike. This guy glows with good karma.

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#394

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Thought it was time to clean up my act.

Pedaling for Pennies

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One year ago today, I left for the greatest ride of my life to raise money for cancer research. I have been blown away by the hospitality and support along the way. Thank you everyone that has been apart of this ride!

Random tidbits 

This is from my old neighbor back in Zimmerman. Thanks Cindy and everyone that has donated. Talked to the Snow Ghosts, our snowmobile club, tonight about Pedaling for Pennies and Jim Rienstra‘s ride for cancer research and they donated $250.00 to Pedaling for Pennies. So thankful for their generosity. All of Pedaling for Pennies donations go to Randy Shaver’s cancer research fund.

Maybe there are other groups out there willing to donate if anyone out there are members. For instance, church’s ( our church in Cass lake are doing their own Pedaling for Pennies. A couple of our older women are going to ride their bikes around the parking lot for donations which will go to Pedaling for Pennies. There is The Lions club, the VFW, or even The Shriners club. Think about it people.

The Rambles of Raggle Taggle Rosie

My friend Mike OD from Oregon sent me this message on Facebook.

Hey Jim! My friend/coworker is embarking on her own pedaling fundraiser.  raggletagglerosie.com.

Love seeing this! Words from Rosie. ” Cancer sucks. Breasts are beautiful. Let’s save those ta-tas together.” Good luck Rosie

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Don’t mean to tut my own bikes horn, but sh’s looking good. I feel more dialed in leaving Tumbaco then I did the first day I left for this trip. All packed up and ready for the rest of Ecuador. Such an amazing year! Thank you everyone.

 


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Day 360 – The middle of the world

Day 360 / Cayambe – Tumbaco, Ecuador / 35 miles (Total 8725)

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From Minnesota to the Equator. Almost one year in the making. The toilets swirl in the same direction here.

If we were traveling by boat today we would have lost our nicknames of “Poly-wogs”, but I don’t think there is a nickname for traveling bicyclist crossing the equator. A quick 12 kilometers to the imaginary line that stretches 24,9o1 miles around the earth. I crossed over the Tropic of Cancer during my boat ride across the Baja to the mainland in Mexico, but I can’t count that since it was by boat. We made the pit stop at the equator to snap a few photo’s

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Walking the thin line of North and South.

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All zero’s. This is the first and only monument that is place correctly on the equator.Random fact – You weigh less at the equator.

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Crossing the line today. Less the 20% of the world’s population lives south of the equator.

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A giant sundial.

After our little pit stop, we started to make our way to Tumbaco. We will all be taking a nice long break at a Casa del Cislistas ran by Santiago. He invites traveling bike tourist to stop, relax, and make any repairs they need at his house.

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These kids were a riot. At first they stared at us around the corner. I decided to give them a growl and flex my muscles to break the ice. They got a kick out of that. I told them to flex their muscles for the photo. We got a great send off by them when we left.

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That’s Volcan Cayambe in the distance, nearly 5800m high. Ecuador’s highest volcano

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Up close and impressive.

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Taking it in.

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Up high on a view-point

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A photo I liked during today’s ride.

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Heading towards Tumbaco.

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A popular form of transportation around here.

We decided to take a slight detour and ride down an old railroad track. It was nice to get off the busy Pan American highway for a while.

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The adventure began with a rough road and a very dusty path.

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A dark tunnel waiting for us to enter. None of us had working lights on our bikes making for a blind ride for a minute or two. Fun in my books

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Flash on the camera and a dirty lens. Anja far up ahead. She had a little spill around the corner.

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A raging river under us, but no water to be seen

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The only remains of once a thriving railroad

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Miners caves off in the distance

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Looking back

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Stopping for a photo

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The end of the tracks. Marko had a spill here also. I had one earlier in the day, so that made 3 for 3 on crashes today. No injury’s, just a couple good laughs.

We made it to Santiago’s house and he welcomes us in as we were family. We set out tents under a shelter and enjoy the rest of the evening relaxing, eating, and talking to Santiago. This will be a perfect place to get some well needed work done on the bike and rest the body for the next few days.

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$19 in food and this will not last long with my bottomless stomach.

 

 

 


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