This last stage from Cuenca to Vilcabamba was a lot of fun to ride but it had me in virtual tears for the penultimate day. Not quite the same altitudes as the previous sectors but it certainly passes through pleasant farm valleys / canyons and has the usual very steep dirt sections to challenge one’s calf muscles.
This section included a deviation from the TEMBR for further exploration of the old abandoned Ecuadorian railway line that passes through most of the country.
Volcano avenue – This route included: some exhilarating and nervous moments passing through closed Cotopaxi volcano National Park via a back route and some private property; enduring hailstorms, fording streams and hiking through mud on the north side of Ecuador’s highest peak Chimborazo (which I resolved to return and climb); and following some manmade water channels by a somewhat treacherous drop off (real heart in the mouth moments). All part of the norm crossing Ecuador’s mountains
After crossing several fields, running low on water, negotiating a massive wall and locked gate, a few days with an upset tummy (again) and passing through several tunnels on a old scenic railway I found myself at the Dammer farm for some much needed rest. Another spectacular section on the Dammer / Gilbert route.
Having ridden with Cass in Colombia over the tough (and prohibited!) pass of Volcano Ruiz, I was familiar with the kind of riding he likes… Just to get to the start felt like a hike to Everest base camp… I found myself in Imantag with no money, exhausted and no decent food. A Jehova’s witness saved me with $5…