Ecuador Planning Part 3; Choosing the route for the best rides

Route Planning; Mapquest frustrates the crap out of me!

To catch up and know whats happening to this point, please read Part 1 and Part 2 😉

I know you all have this fabulous (!) image of me when you’re reading my posts but let me just spoil that for you right now…..I am off my schedule with updates so I’m taking the opportunity to work on one now as I sit in the hairdressers chair with a head full of tin foil and bleach! Attractive huh? But you know, in case you hadn’t heard, there’s a pretty big trip coming up and I have to look my best for all the photos I’ll be sharing 😉
Shout out to the magical Alexa at ‘The Mod Hue‘ for her expertise in conjuring up a beautiful me!

So, once we finally got sorted out with dates, returning in time to catch lovely Ashtin’s baby and my baby girl was appeased, the route planning began in earnest.
I have to admit, I probably didn’t make this easy on myself! There are likely other, all singing and all dancing, programs that I could use that would have made it all terribly easy. But I guess I like to make life a tad more difficult for myself ~ truth be told, I don’t have the patience to learn the art of negotiating a new program when I pretty much know my way around Mapquest, even though I do get super frustrated and shout at it, a lot! What I do like about it is being able to put in your basic A to B places, then zoom in until all the lovely wibbly windy roads show up, not just the major highways. Then I can drag my route around and create some amazing rides! Again, I’m sure theres some super new fandangled way that I could do this in a specific ride planning program but, contrary to popular belief, I’m a simple girl at heart and just go with what I’m used to 😉

We already discussed in Part 1 that we are renting a motorbike through Freedom Bike Rentals, based in Ecuador. If you remember, they do offer Guided tours but we are somewhat anti social and want to hit the road on our own. We did look at the Self Guided tours, using their routes and while great, none gave us ALL that we wanted. So, using the info from the Self Guided tours, I sat down one sunny Florida afternoon, and spent a few hours with a bottle of wine and my laptop to cobble a route of my own together. After much kerfuffle, mumbling, cussing and another bottle of wine, I came up with a pretty spectacular route, that will take us through the Andes, over to the Pacific coast and into the Amazon jungle. We will pass through several climatic zones, including cloudforests, coastal savannah, beach, desert, rainforests on both slopes of the Andes, and the Amazon jungle. All on a wide variety of surfaces; asphalt, dry gravel, ancient Incan cobblestone roads as well as unpaved farm roads.
An exciting taste of everything…..TA DA!!

The tour starts in Quito, Ecuadors capital. The city sits high in the Andean foothills at an elevation of 9,350 ft above sea level. Obviously, for us sea-level-living Floridians, that’s quite the altitude to adjust to! It was recommended by the guys at Freedom Bike Rentals, that we plan to stay in Quito for at least a day before starting out on the bike, to allow us time to adjust to the altitude and prevent altitude sickness. If you know me well, then you will know that I always prefer to source natural remedies before resorting to pharmaceuticals, so I did research a bit and found that Coca leaves and/or tea was a common remedy available in the area and used to good effect – however, just to be sure I put a call in to my doc yesterday to get a prescription in case we need it. It would be ridiculous of us not to be prepared and end up losing days just because we can’t adjust well to the elevations……and there will be some breath catching elevation on this tour!

After a day chilling in Quito, we will pick up the bike and head out on the roads towards Mindo. Exert from Lonely Planet: “a curvy road descends to a rather ramshackle yet immensely likable town center.” Now, if you do a Mapquest direction search, this trip would be approximately 64 miles and take just over an hour and a half. My way, it’s 164 miles and 5 hours!
You see, this is what I was explaining at the start. I take the route and mess it around! What we are getting, instead of a pretty cool ride (the more direct route), is a stinking awesome ride, full of twists, turns and fun.
To be realistic, we have to be open to changes and we may need to detour en-route but I always try to over achieve, much to my pilots chagrin 😉

We’ll be heading onto the western slopes of the Andes that are full of dense, green forests and steep mountains. According to the tour description on Freedom Bikes info, “the roads have been recently paved and riding these sharp curves is certain to be exhilarating fun.”

Along the way, there are opportunities to stop and take a short hike to a beautiful blue swimming hole, detour to include some dirt road riding, view cascading waterfalls, lunch in the colonial city of Otavalo, famous for its expansive indigenous market.
Elevations will reach 12,000 ft and we will need to be prepared to ‘layer up’ to stay warm. Woohoo, this is already amazing and it’s only Day one!

This is just a sample of a days ride. You can be sure that I have filled every riding day with much of the same; exhilarating rides, spectacular scenery and packed full of memory making moments ~ providing Iain can keep the bike upright (his words not mine)!

Stop towns are; Mindo, Bahía de Caráquez, Guayaquil, Zaruma, Vilcabamba, Cuenca, Alausí, Baños, Tena and back to Quito. We’ll be stopping two nights in Cuenca and Tena to explore the area more!
I will be updating the blog as often as possible to keep you along with us, enjoying the ride and hearing about the shennanigans. I’m sure there’ll be mishaps, laughs and temper tantrums to entertain you with as well as some stunning photo captures! You can subscribe below to make sure you never miss a post ~ it’s free dad 😉
There are a couple places that I’m especially excited to see and experience, will fill you in on those in my next post 🙂
Only 16 days left folks!