July 25th 2015
Machachi to San Miguel de Salcedo
Start 7.15 and finish 3.15pm
Total time – 5.02hrs
Distance – 72kms
Today was one of those days you just want to get done so you can get off the bike and try again tomorrow. After a restless sleep thanks to noise from the bar across the road and the wind smashing against the window all night making it rattle and shake I knew it was going to be one of those days. Sure enough the wind maintained its relentless strength from yesterday and stayed all day which was exhausting and at times it was so cold my knees were sore despite moving them and supposedly warming them up.
We knew we had another pass to get up and over today and while it was uphill for several kilometers the grade was manageable and we managed to knock it out over several hours.
There was nice views to distract yourself with on the ride up and we were all disappointed at the thought we had missed seeing Cotopaxi because of low clouds until once at the top and you’ve ridden into headwind for awhile it suddenly appears on your left like it snuck up on you.
Conveniently there is a local food market here so we stopped and had some rather tasty lamb whilst staring at the highest active volcano. We actually found out later that today was the day they issued warnings over the volcanos activity and stopped people climbing to the summit but it seemed calm enough when we rode past.
Once fed and watered we were all cold so got on with the rest of the ride. It should have been a great downhill but the wind was too strong so we had to pedal the whole way – boo! You know the wind is strong when you are pedalling down off a 3500meter pass instead of freewheeling and overtaking trucks. It flattens out at the bottom with mostly flat or with slight up and down hills which made no difference as we had to pedal every inch of today.
During one section I again got a flat tyre from a massive nail going through my tyre. After stopping for repairs and applying 2 patches while having the conversation on which side of a patch actually goes face down we were back on the road in no time. Once riding I thought it was all abit too easy and sure enough a few hundred meters later my back tyre starts getting wobbly again. Bike flipped and tyre off we discovered a third hole from the nail but sometimes it just easier to fit a new tube which is exactly what I did.
Back on the road and it was more of the same mind numbing highway riding. Today was all 2-4 lane highway with wide shoulder that varied between really clean and very dirty depending on when the last road crew had been through. Apart from Cotopaxi and the climb up the pass the scenery while nice wasn’t spectacular so it was just head down and fight the wind and get it done.
We finally made it to San Miguel and had a conversation about taking the back road to Banos or keeping to the highway. When we left this morning we were all for the back road as despite knowing nothing about it we like keeping off the highways. After today’s ride most of us had changed our minds to just following the highway and getting it done to get to Banos as if the wind is the same tomorrow it will be a big day regardless.
Riding into town we saw the Bomberos directly in front of us and decided to ask if we could stay. We had just pulled up out front and hadn’t even asked yet when we were invited in and shown a perfect patch of lawn for our tents. This crew seemed a lot more friendly and interactive than the last place and they entertained themselves by watching us set up camp.
With our respective nests built we wandered into town to find a supermarket which is conveniently just off the main square and after buying some sweet treats at the bakery, loading up on supplies at the supermarket and sitting in the park for awhile we wanted back and got on with cooking.
Dinner done we even had a cup of tea then lights out after a big day. Fingers crossed there is no headwind tomorrow.