Day 372 – Mountain photos

Day 372 / Laguna Quilotoa, Outside of Angamarca, Ecuador / 30 miles (Total 8850)

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Usually I say, “pictures just don’t do it justice”.  I think this photo sums it up pretty good. Some amazing mountains today

 

I wasn’t going to let my last dirt road experience get the best of me (day 367). Time to jump back on the saddle and get off the smooth pavement once again. I wasn’t sure how the road south of the Laguna was, so I stocked up on plenty of water and food, just in case it took a few days till I hit a bigger city.

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My last section of paved road for a while. I stopped here for a quick snack, and an elderly man walked up to me, didn’t say a word, and just stared at me. Awkward.

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High in the sky and above the clouds today. Windy and cold up here. Decided to add a few more layers of cloths to warm up.

I found a nice home for my old air mattress. As I was talking to the owners last night, I saw where their little boy slept, and I know the air mattress would be a lot more comfortable with what he had.  I left it on my bed this morning with a nice little note, saying thank you and to enjoy the new bed. Feels good to drop the extra weight and give it to someone that needed it. I was waiting for the right time and I believe this was it.

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Two thumbs up for today’s amazing dirt road. I was so excited to ride a smooth dirt road for a change. This is touring for me.

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I could have headed west on a smooth, paved, downhill road, but why?

It was a chilly start to the morning with the wind howling once again. Three layers of clothes later and I was on the road enjoying the fast decent back into Zumbahua. After 1000 ft of climbing, I found my dirt road and I jumped on it excited to see where it leads. I was loving the smooth back roads with no traffic to be seen or heard. It was a perfect days ride for me. I stopped plenty of times to enjoy the silence and the views. The wind eventually stopped blowing and there was a deafening silence in the air. Throughout the entire day maybe a half-dozen cars passed me, other than that the road was all mine. As the day went on the mountains seem to grow taller and more beautiful with each corner.

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Instead I choose this

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Every once in a while I space out and forget where I am. Till I come across moments like this.

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Farmers living in tiny little huts far off the road. They must love their solitude, cause this is the boonies.

Grinding up the mountain side all day took a toll on my food supply. I ended up eating so much food, I was amazed on how much I was shoveling into my mouth. I ended up climbing almost 4,000 ft and the sun was also taking a toll on me. One minute I was sweating bullets, the next I was shivering cold. No happy medium today. Sunburn and freezing, gotta love it.

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Hours later, I still have a smooth road. I was wondering how long this would last.

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I couldn’t take enough photos here

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The road was all mine today

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By 2:00 I finally saw some humans. This was crazy to watch. Women planting their fields on very steep mountain side. It looked much steeper in person.

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A locked up church in no man’s land. Almost set up camp here, but ended up pushing on.

Always hogging my road up.

Around 4:30 I was starting to look for a place to camp and that came easy for me today. I could have camped on the side of the road if I wanted. I saw an old, washed out side road off in the distance and checked it out. A landslide blocked any kind of traffic going in or out of this side road, so I picked up the bike and climbed over the fallen rocks. It was a perfect place to set the tent and have a fire. With so much fog rolling in I wasn’t to concerned about people seeing the smoke from my campfire. Other then the small landslides of the side of my tent, it was a very peaceful night.

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A nice fire to keep me warm. I wasn’t to concerned about how big the fire was. Not a chance anyone could see the fire with all the fog surrounding my camp area. Couldn’t ask for a more secluded spot to set my tent

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As soon as the tent was up the rain started to fall. Perfect timing.

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The sun was setting and the clouds were rolling off the mountain tops. I watched this till the stars came out. A perfect way to end a hard days ride


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Day 371 – Clear your conscience and ride away.

Day 371 / Zumbahua – Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador / 10 miles (Total 8820)

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It was hard to pull myself away from this place. One of the most amazing places I have been to on this trip. Well worth the 40 mile detour

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I was amazed at the views heading towards the lake. Deep canyons hugging the roadside.

After a year of writing a blog, things can get stagnant real fast. I got into a rut of writing about the people  I meet, the views I see, and where I sleep at night. The truth is, this trip is much more than that. It’s about remembering my father and all he has done for me. Friends and events that have shaped me and changed my life. Moments that constantly swirl through my head while I pedal each day. There has been great days, and days where I have wanted to throw my bike off a cliff and not look back. I will always focus on the positive, no matter how hard the day is. Sometimes it’s hard. But, this world is filled with fears and doubts, and I do not want any part of that. Never in my life would I have thought I would inspire others. It was never part of my plan. After my father passed away, my only thoughts were to honor him and raise money for cancer research. Over time I slowly noticed that I have a way to show others the positive in this world, and how to push on past the pain. I have a chance to use my photo’s and words to help others, just like others have helped me.

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View to my right

Taking a small break, I saw these kids peaking around the corner. I pulled out the camera and they were more than ready for their photo to be taken. It seems as all the lady’s in Ecuador wear the hat that the little girl has on.

After yesterdays hard push, I woke up feeling almost ill. My muscles have never felt like this in over a year of touring. It was hard getting out of bed. I forced myself to pack my bags and that even felt like work. I knew immediately that the altitude was getting to me. I was over 12,000 ft and still had another 800 ft to climb today. The funny part of altitude sickness is, that it can hit anyone at anytime. It all depends on how you maintain your body. I over did it yesterday and I knew that was the reason.

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Looking behind me and saying goodbye to the little village.

I was back on the road and the wind was piercing right through 3 layers of clothing. I knew that the next 10 miles would be mostly uphill and my motivation was thinning out fast. I grabbed my music player, threw on the headphones and hit shuffle. The bad “Hot Water Music” was the first to play and I was flooded with thoughts and memories of long ago. A day that still fills my soul with incredible memories.

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The winds picked up and this elderly lady was walking just as fast as I could pedal

It was years ago when I took a road trip down to Florida to promote my company “Aspire BMX”. A video contest to help the underground BMX riders that couldn’t make it to contest or magazines. I jumped in my Astro van (the van I lived in for years touring the country) and did the long haul down to Gainesville, Florida. I finally made it around 4:00 pm, and decided to wait for my friend Mike to get off work. I wanted to kill some time, so I hit the local watering hole for a cold one. Sitting around I got to talking to one of the locals. We hit it off and talked the afternoon away.

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One more view that will last a life time

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When the sun peaked out the water turned a bright blue-green color

The wind was so strong today that it took your breath away. I would have to turn my back to the wind to catch my breath.

We eventually got to talking about our professions and I told him about my BMX lifestyle, then he dropped a bomb on me. He told me that he sang in a band, a band called “Hot Water Music”. I almost lost it. Another band that has changed my life with their powerful lyrics. I couldn’t believe I was talking to the lead singer of a band that has helped me through some tough times. That day will live with me forever, talking to a man who brings positive words into music. Music that I can relate to. Today was another day that music brought me out of slump. For the first time, I felt what high elevation can do to the body. My muscles felt stretched out, each turn of the crank felt like 5x the work. Only 10 miles to the Laguna and I felt like I was going to collapse. Once again, positive words pushed me forward. Surround yourself with positive wherever you are in life. Whether its friends, work, or the music you listen to. I would like to share the lyrics of Chuck from the “Hot Water Music band”. Thanks Chuck for the beers and the inspiration.

My legs were crossed, eyes slightly open, and following my breath. Everything seemed to calm down and my thoughts became extinct. 30 minutes later this guy came up to and plopped his head down in my lap. We sat there together for an hour as I petted his head. Every few moments he would let out a soft grunt to let me know that he appreciated the rub down.

My legs were crossed, eyes slightly open, and following my breath. Everything seemed to calm down and my thoughts became extinct. 30 minutes later this guy came up to and plopped his head down in my lap. We sat there together for an hour as I petted his head. Every few moments he would let out a soft grunt to let me know that he appreciated the rub down. I went for a walk down to the shore and he tagged right behind me. Good to have some company today.

Hot Water Music – Manual

Go your own way, rid lies,
Burn the stitches that held your eyes shut.
Vacate and wonder, rid time,
Take off reminders and strive to shine.

Taking a stroll around the lake with a friend that tagged along for the ride.

Taking a stroll around the lake with my friend that tagged along for the ride.

You said you’ve got it, and I believe that you’ve got it,
And that you’ll survive.

Our hearts have exchanged the gifts that carry
Carry us over the walls,
The walls that blind us, the walls that bind us,
The walls that stand too tall to conquer alone.

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The sun was setting…

Bring back your wisdom to trade, bring back the words you’ve saved
And teach me so that I may teach on.

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giving off more spectacular views

We reach, we learn. We don’t, we burn,
Burn on the inside as well as out.
we search to solve how to not dissolve
On the inside as well as out.

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Fire in the sky

So you’re at war with yourself
With space (and time) you’ll find a breakthrough.
If you don’t lose what’s real
You have our blessing.

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It was freezing cold outside and I was wishing for some wood to fill the fireplace. Later in the night the owner came by with some hot coals and a pile of firewood to last me through the night. I kept the fire burning and cooked dinner over the fireplace. One of my best nights sleep on this trip.

Clear your conscience and ride away.


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Day 370 – A 40 mile detour

Day 370 / Latacunga-Zumbahua, Ecuador / 40 miles (Total 8810)

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Life is short. Make the most of the time you have here. Live your dreams and laugh your life away.

It’s always a treat to ride on Sundays in South America. Most the shops are closed and the roads are empty. I was heading straight west out of the city and heading towards Zumbahua. A 40 mile hill separates the two towns, and I knew it would be a long day on the saddle today.

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Not really sure what’s going on here.

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A mellow switchback. I met a biker coming down the hill and he was all smiles. He told me it would take me around 7 hours to climb the hill. We shook hands and wished each other a good day.

Out of Latacunga and the hill starts right away. After the past few days of rough road, this felt like a cake walk. The road had a mellow incline, a nice shoulder and the little traffic was a treat. The day was pretty relaxed and that was fine with me. It was a perfect day to ride with some music and I was enjoying the peaceful ride.

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I could smell these flowers before seeing them.

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For you Holly. Missing you.

I had a little action that woke me up 10 miles out-of-town. Out of nowhere, 4 dogs came racing across the street and surrounded me from all sides. Vicious little guys, with hair standing up and getting closer with each bark. Then my hero showed up from nowhere. A girl around the age of 6 ran across the road, and started to scream with a high pitch, that only a 6-year-old girl could hit. The little girls scream almost scared me off. She grabbed some rocks and started to throw them at the attacking dogs. I was dumb founded at what was happening. Finally, the dogs ran off and I thanked her for her heroic act. She turned around, smiled, held out her arm and gave me the biggest thumbs up.  I asked her for a photo and she nodded her head, then ran off fast. I was speechless at what just happened and needed a moment to laugh it off for a while. Seriously one of the funniest moments on this trip. I guess a hero doesn’t need acknowledgment. Thanks little girl

 

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Taking a break at 12,600 ft. Took me a few attempts to get this photo with the wind blowing hard. Got some really nice photos of the dirt and sky the first few times.

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“Check me bum out!”  Sorry, that’s the only caption I could think of.

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I was in my own zone, listening to music and enjoying the views around me. Up ahead was a couple out of their car, clapping, and cheering me on. I pull over to talk to them and they came out with a bag of goodies. Fresh bread, oranges, apples and a fruit drink to fill me up.

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They asked why I was doing the trip and I gave them the normal response. To have an adventure, to honor my father and raise money for cancer research. They busted out a guitar and sang a song for strength and luck for me. I was already in a great mood and this set the bar higher. With bread in my hands and mouth I gave them my best Jimpanzee dance. I always heard that nothing beats the kindness of Colombia. Well, Ecuador is right up there.

The rest of the day was slow going pedaling up the never-ending hill. Only two small downhills to enjoy throughout the day, then the road climbed back up to the high elevation. Finally made it to the highest point of the road at 12,600 ft and it turned cold, windy and rainy. There was still a long way to go to Zumbahua and the daylight was running out.

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As the nice couple drove off I started to eat some of the fruit they gave me. Of course, I turned around and two K-9 friends were waiting for me to share.

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Coming down one of the hills and the valley opened up to this view.

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Took sometime here for some photo’s

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Still a long ways to pedal…

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and I keep climbing higher and higher

but the views were breathtaking

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Now the fun descent into town. You can guess I was all smiles now

Around 4:00 I started to look for a place to stealth camp and I was running out of options. Started to ask around to camp in the locals yard and I was shot down numerous times. I just decided to push it into town. I finally rolled into town around 5:00 and it was a ghost town. Paid for a small room in a hostel, and the owners gave me the key to my room, and then left me all alone in the hostel. Almost creepy staying in the big, old building all by myself. Thinking I was a big boy, I watch a scary movie on my laptop, and did that mess with my head. Crazy sounds all around tonight from the empty hotel and I learned my lesson. Good thing I was beat from a 7 hour hill climb.

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I took a 40 mile detour for some great sights tomorrow. Hope you can check out day 371. Wow!

 

 


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