WEEK #72 HOW ARE WE DOING? The Andes, the jungle & ceviche. Oh that ceviche…

From the high Andes all the way back to sea level. One hell of a downhill, you would think. With a broken back brake, a chain break and rain on your path it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. But hey, you can’t have everything…

After enjoying the ride through the Andes it was time to head down, literally, down the mountain range. The drop went from 4000 meters to sea level in a matter of minutes. The road was wet, the pavement slippery and the hairpin turns were as they should be, steep and dangerous. The thick clouds were dropping heavy rain and ensuring visibility was at bare minimum. Carefully I descended down, passing small villages on the way, people working in fields and on the side of the road. What do they think when they see me pass? One answer I have often heard: “él está loco!”
Yes, I may be crazy, but I am loving it, too!

IMG_0882Leaving the thin air of the Andes and into the oxygen rich jungle was a real change. The temperature went from cool and fresh to humid and warm. Between the coast and the Andes there’s a jungle, and it’s pretty big.
My first estimate was to reach the coast in two days; surely I could make it with the road only going downhill? And with “just” 330km it seemed very likely I could make it.
I thought wrong.
The jungle was brutal. It was hot and humid. Sweat was oozing through my skin; I had to start drinking more and more water to keep up with the quick loss of fluids, I could feel myself dehydrating.
The unpaved paths reminded me of the rollercoasters roads in Alaska, short steep downhill and short steep uphill. Keep your speed and try to do as little work as possible. This didn’t really work out, an unpaved road with mud, rocks and gravel slow you down quickly.
This was going to take longer than two days.
Eventually I made it to the coast in three days, cycling two longer, heavy days and one shorter one. Details of the rides can be found on Strava, the GPS I use to map my rides, calculate my elevation and look back at what I’ve done.jungle road

Why was I cycling towards the coast? This was the quickest way to Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador and the route to a potential project 99%RIDE could help out. What is the project about? I can tell you this coming week, Monday I’ll be visiting the people behind it and see what it’s all about… Stay tuned; I’ll be posting more on our social media very soon!

At the coast a pleasant surprise awaited me, a local cyclist fanatic from the city Manta came up to me at a gas station asking questions about my ride and purpose. After drinking coffee and chocolate milk (best recovery drink ever), he invited me to the local Ciclopaseo; a project organized by locals to promote urban cycling, sustainable transportation and community building. Something I am a personal fan of as well.

IMG_1150The next morning about 120 people, all bicycle lovers, were waiting at the rendezvous in the centre of Manta. During a Ciclopaseo some roads are closed for automobile traffic, in this case we also had a police escort through the city. This was new to me and I actually quite enjoyed it. The people were friendly, there was a lot of chatting, pictures were taken and 99%RIDE got some extra visibility in Manta, too!
After the Ciclopaseo it was time to head off further south, 99%RIDE never stops moving…

There are a few things about the coast I like, and one of them is the abundance of fresh seafood. Well, not always fresh in my case. After enjoying a few portions of ceviche, a local raw fish dish, I found myself in and out of restrooms, on the side of the road bent over the guardrail and pushing down painkillers to stop the fever attack that was caused by the food poisoning.
Oh that ceviche…
My cycling was put to a short stop; I adjusted my eating habit and went back to what felt good, oranges, bananas and crackers. After posting a picture of a local banana vendor on Instagram I received a tip: BART. That stands for Bananas-Applesauce-Rice-Toast. This got me through it fairly quickly and the next day I was happily cycling my way to Guayaquil.

Now in Guayaquil it’s time to get my brake fixed/replaced, as the next couple of weeks of cycling will take me back to the high Andes through Ecuador and Peru, something tells me I will need both brakes to get me through in one piece…

Find out what happens next in Ecuador, I have a good feeling about it!

From Guayaquil,

Dirk Spits

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