Juan Manuel fine tuning a wheel - Casa de Ciclista, Tumbaco
Ana Lucia, Santiago and Ali on the Chaquiñan, near Tumbaco
Quito skyline from the Basilica clock tower
Street musician pouring his heart out for a few coins - Quito style
Ali no longer has a height complex in Ecuador...beer mixed with egg white and a squirt of berry sauce on top mmm! Quito
Loaded and leaving the Casa de Ciclista in Tumbaco - Ody, Malola, Santiago, Ali, Anna and last but not least Jack
Ali enjoying a quiet moment of sun, beer and 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' at our free campsite in Rumipamba next to the health centre and soccer field among a forest of gum trees on the way to Volcan Cotopaxi
Entering Parque Nacional Cotopaxi via Control Norte and Sangolqui - yep, it's starting to feel cold up here!
Anna enjoying the quiet, rocky and windy road near Volcan Cotopaxi
Volcan Rumiñahui poking it's peak between the golden hills
Whoo hoo! There she is... the glaciated peak of Volcan Cotopaxi, the second highest active volcano in the world. We were at about 3800 metres above sea level
Anna getting comfortable in the camp shelter, Cotopaxi...very cozy and we had the place to ourselves out fo the wind.
Volcan Cotopaxi, at 5897m the second highest acitve volcano in the world
Cotopaxi's glacier, crevasses and walls of ice retreating and revealing the red scree of it's upper slopes...as seen from the climbers refugio 'Refugio Jose Rivas' at 4800m
Then came the epic downhill through the lunar landscape of Cotopaxi's upper slopes, layers of red rock, canyons and a gravelly ride...1000m downhill in 8km woo hoo!!!
Indigenous woman peeling green peas in the 'fresh fruit and vegetable' section of the Saquisili market
Trading in Cuy (Guinea Pig), Saquisili market - this was serious business between the women, each animal is inspected up and down. In this case "Does a brown one taste better than a white one?". Then into the sack with the others.
Who said sewing was women's business? Here at the Saquisili market, it's the men's domain as they work the 'Singers' with proficiency fixing everything from jeans, to bags for a few cents.
Zumbahua's bustling Saturday highland market set in stunning Andean scenery
Beautifully woven shoals and german hunting hats (complete with peacock feather), two older women contemplate the trade at the market, Zumbahua
Fresh food at the market, dominated by tropical fruits from the coast, strange given we were at 3600m, Zumbahua market
Anna and the 'shoe-shine boys', Zumbahua market
Indigenous shepherd women and her flock of sheep, Laguna Quilotoa. This is a common sight in the highlands of Ecuador, a lone women in traditional dress, a stick, and looking after their small flock of sheep, on a roadside, a mountain top, or in this case a volcanic crater lake!
The road back to Zumbahua from Quilotoa, impossibly steep slopes of agriculture
The road between Zumbahua and Tigre, patchwork of green, brown and yellow right up to the craggy peaks of the Andes, farming at around 3800m.
The cutest donkey yet
Anna making friends at the Bomberos (fire fighters) in Ambato during the morning change of shift. In Ecuador the bomberos are usually more than happy to provide an overnight place to rest for weary cyclists, usually in the form of 'floor space' to roll the mats and sleeping bags out, and a toilet, and if we're lucky a kitchen. This was a big station with a built in volleyball court out the back!
Anna making more friends on the roadside - this was a curious young donkey foal
Volcan Chimborazo, glowing in the evening sun, taken from the school we stayed at in a small village on the Via Miraflores
We stayed the night camped out in a school building and shared our modest dinner with these two boys whose dad owned the school, Via Miraflores near Volcan Chimborazo
Anna riding up onto 'el arenal', the sandy desert-like paramo at the base of Volcan Chimborazo with a Vicuña crossing the highway in front of her
Vicuña, the wild relative of the Alpaca and member of the camelid family. These vicuñas were reintroduced from Bolivia and Chile to the 'el arenal' environment surrounding Volcan Chimborazo in the 1980's where they were previously hunted to local extinction in Ecuador.
Pushing bikes downhill! The winds whipping around the side of the volcano were so strong that we were forced to walk several of kilometres of highway as the sidewind gusts made it unrideable. Minutes earlier Ali had turned down an offer from a passing truck driver for a lift as he told us it was far windier than it normally gets up there. Anna was not happy and made Ali seriously rethink the consequences of his decision to ride on.
It´s so windy up there, nothing at all grows except for prostrate shrubs and grasses. I think we were able to ride on from this point as the wind was blocked by the volcano, Volcan Chimborazo.
Anna on the via Arenal and Volcan Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador
Vicuñas grazing the prostrate shrubs on the rocky desert-like 'el arenal' with the obviously retreating mountain glaciers of Chimborazo as the backdrop
Anna near the highest point of our trip so far with loaded bikes at 4370 metres above sea level on the altiplano-like 'el arenal'
The nervous vicuñas kept a watchful eye on us from a distance. This is a larger herd, one male and his harem of females. Lone animals are usually outcast males.
Ali on the descent from 4370m, yep still windy and with a nice dusty beard!
The Incan Ruins of Ingapirca, on the Inca trail between Cusco and Quito. This site was also used by the Cañari indigenous people before the arrivals of the Incans, and ironically is still used by them for festivities.
'El Castillo' or the castle and some of the mortar-less brick walling the Incans were so famous for, Ingapirca Ruins. The castle is 'ovoid' in shape and probably served as an astronomical observatory.
Ali "this one is not really my size!", checking out some of the Incan Stonework at Ingapirca.
Anna mixing it with the boys of the 'bomberos', Azogues. Ready to fight some fires!
Acting all tough and fireman-like out the front of the bomberos in Azogues. Another comfortable place to stay, on the floor in the training room with ensuite and kitchen facilities and some friendly bomberos.
Chola Cuencanos... the flower market in front of .....
La Casa de Sombrero of Alberto Pulla. Alberto is 84 and has been making 'Panama' hats and ....... since the age of 6. The harsh chemicals he used in the early days of hat making have taken his voice away, but he is still enthusiastic and keen to show you around his workshop and museum of hats.
Finally in my hot little hands... the new Rohloff internal gear unit sent from Germany but it was a battle to get it 'released' from customs in Guayaquil. Rohloff were fantastic in their prompt and reliable service when something did go a little wrong. Does Ali look tired? He is. And another all night bus journey ahead!
Ian a fellow cyclist from Vancouver (via the UK) and Ali undertaking some important 'bike love' at the Casa de Ciclistas in Tumbaco. "This is what all Casa de Ciclistas should be about...poking around with bikes and repairs" Ian
Jack checking out the progress of Ali's beard (or lining up for a smack on the lips), and Malola not sure sure what ot make of all the excitement, Santiago's Casa de Ciclista in Tumbaco