Day 145 – Quito, EC to Banos, EC

Day 145 – Quito, EC to Banos, EC      01/13/11       Mileage: 213

I skipped breakfast and just had a granola bar while I worked on getting another post up and return some emails. Once that was done I packed up the bike and headed south for Banos.

My camouflage parking spot….

I had read about a detour off the main road that went high up into the mountains through some small villages, so that seemed to good to pass up.

I left the main road near Saquisili and started up into the hills. The road was paved and full of twists and turns and the scenery was phenomenal! The best part about it was aside from the occasional farm truck, I had the road to myself.

After about 45 minutes, I came upon a fresh landslide that had buried the entire road and was still in the process of being cleared. They were building a path around the slide, as it seemed the entire hill at slid onto the road.

After about 30 minutes though, they allowed me and the few trucks that were waiting to sneak through.

Here’s a pic looking back at the slide, you can see that part of the hill just slumped onto te road.

The road then began to climb steeply and soon turned to rough cobbles up a series of switchbacks. The bike was floating over them like Muhammad Ali…it was awesome.

The iconic image of Che…

The cobbles soon gave way to a rough dirt road that was in spots full of washboard, holes and very rutted…but the bike was handling it great!

It seems the Ricor parts were working their magic….I know the bike did not handle this well last week on the dirt roads back in Colombia. It was confidence inspiring and it allowed me to ramp up the pace. Soon I was hauling ass over hill and dale grinning from ear to ear in my helmet. That was of course until reality, and the limits of my skill, brought me back down to earth…almost literally. I was jammin around a right hand corner when the front end began to slide out in some soft dirt. Once again my butt was sucking up my bike seat and it was just luck and perhaps a fresh new rear tire and a bit of throttle jockeying that saved it….probably more the luck though. Well, I had my near miss for today, glad I got that out of the way. Ha. The temperature was dropping as the road continued to climb right up into the clouds and topped out at around 12,500 feet.

Once over the pass the clouds cleared and before me was an idyllic high alpine valley with a little town of Quilotoa nestled into it.

The road also soon turned back to fresh pavement and they seem to be in the process of paving the entire road…though I think it will take them some time yet to pave the whole thing.

The road continued to twist and turn and started up one last pass, this time topping out at over 13,000 feet!

Great spot for a break and a granola bar…

 The bike handled the altitude great for a carbureted bike. The only noticeable difference being a loss of power, say maybe 20% for a round number…which still proved plenty to make some passes on the way up.

Just beyond the top of the pass the road came to spot where you could see for miles up and down the valley below and a volcano off in the distance.

At that point the road plunged into the valley below down a series of switchbacks and soon after I was back on the main road south. I pulled into Banos shortly before dark and settled into the Llanovientos hotel. They gave me a great corner room with a fantastic view overlooking the downtown. Once I dropped my gear I went out for dinner and a…eehhmm…few beers.  😛

Day 144 – Quito, EC

Day 144 – Quito, EC      01/12/11      Mileage: Local miles

The coffee that came with breakfast the last few days has been un-drinkable, and I’m not super picky by any means. Today, I figured out why. When my coffee came this morning, there wasn’t any coffee in it….just a hot steaming cup of milk filled to the rim. And by milk, I mean unpasteurized, whole milk as thick as cream….but piping hot. The coffee part of the coffee was Nescafe instant that you added yourself. So, coffee con leche was really leche con however much instant coffee you put in it yourself. Like yesterday, when left alone for a minute to cool, a skin forms on the top that one would need to scrape off the top before you drink it. No complaints though…I’m eating in the super local joints, where my complete breakfast, eggs, bread, cheese, fresh juice and leche con coffee, was only $1.80!

After breakfast I returned to the hostal to get another blog post up and return some emails. I also decided to replace my rear tire now after looking at the roads ahead of me and knowing the next place I could for sure replace it would probably be Lima…which is 2,000 miles from here. I also decided to save the the more aggressive T63 tires I’m carrying for Bolivia and the Altiplano, so I’ll get them put on in La Paz. That was the plan anyway, so I set off for the Kawasaki dealer in Quito. The traffic was horrid getting there, which made me wonder why anyone would drive a car if they could ride a motorcycle. At least on a motorcycle you can splits lanes and weave between the traffic and make some progress. Anyway, I arrived and was greeted by Andres who spoke very good english….probably because he did his undergrad at Iowa State and lived in Atlantic City for a year!!

They had two tires that would fit my bike, the stock Dunlop tire and the Maxxis 6006, which I have on my ’05 KLR, so I knew that tire well. The stock tire sucks, and I had good luck with the Maxxis, so the choice was easy…and I also picked up another oil filter. I was surprised they didn’t have more of a selection, since they sell…get this…over 800 KLR’s per year!

Here are just SOME of the KLR’s they have in stock!

Yep, you read that right boys…almost $12, 000 US dollars for a KLR down here! The price does include tax though…  😛

They had the new Maxxis mounted in half an hour and I was on my way.

That’s Andres on the right…

Ahhhh, nice chunk of fresh rubber goodness….  😀

Back at the San Blas, I parked again in the living room and then went out in search of dinner. Since I only spent $1.80 on breakfast and $2 on lunch, I splurged on a nice (but lite) dinner of tuna tar tar at a wine bar called the The Atrium.

And no comments from the peanut gallery because I’m having red wine with fish…  😛