August 18, 2005 GMT
Cotopaxi's Bottom

Where the roads are good they're very good, and the rest are not terribly good at all.

This means that in a six-hour ride (which is about as much as the shoulder will take without screaming at me) I can manage maybe 250 miles at best. A couple of times I've been down to 150 miles or less. But I'll be having a bit of a rest now, which may help.

The ride from Riobamba is up Volcano Alley, never dropping below 10,000 feet and sometimes up to 15,000 (yup, altitude sickness again). I made the mistake of riding from sea level at Guayaquil to Riobamba at 10,000 in one day so had the inevitable sleepless night; however, with the ride from there to Quito (also 10,000) I've acclimatised rather more rapidly than I did in Peru.

This is winter, which unfortunately means (relatively) low cloud, so instead of the promised spectacular views of the volcanoes I only saw their bottoms; the scenery's pretty good, though. Having ridden for several hundred miles through paddy fields and banana plantations (and been crop-dusted for my pains as the planes don't switch off over roads) I ascended up into the Andes again through tropical jungle-type shrubbery and out on to the high plains, which are clearly very fertile. Even as high as 13,000 feet there are fields of crops like maize and potatoes.

A word about spuds: there are many varieties available on this continent, any of which have tons more flavour than any of the anaemic "standardised" crap we get in the UK. Don't know their names, but I'm sure some must be available from speciality places.

People are STILL asking if what I'm doing is dangerous; well, so far it's the planet and the scenery that's been the danger. That and the delays caused by bike cops stopping me for a chat, and it would be rude to refuse. South America is overall a very polite place, one has to wish absolutely everyone Buenos dias/tardes/noches at all times; this includes but is not limited to the total stranger in the hotel lift, the petrol pump attendant, the man sweeping the street, the aforementioned bike cop, and everyone else in the world.

My respect for Kevin and Julia Sanders' record for riding the Panamericana is doubling daily. For instance, in small towns the road in is generally the road out, so you go straight through. In larger towns the road out bears no relation to the road in, and there are no signs, and sometimes no road surface. The intricate planning they had to do is astounding, as to get the record they couldn't afford to spend half an hour trying to find their way out of labyrinthine one-way systems.

So now I'm back to being a proper tourist. When I arrived in Quito yesterday I went straight to the BMW dealer to throw myself on their mercy. And Hallelujah, despite being a 'shiny' dealer their head bike chap, Augusto, is one of the old school and positively drooled over the Old Lady. So first thing this morning I delivered her into their capable hands and they'll have a list of parts for me by Monday afternoon. Not only that but because by their own admission there are absolutely no parts available in the entire continent they're happy for me to source them (I've bribed Phil H yet again) and have them FedExed out. Ooh, and they even pay for the taxi back to the hotel and everything. I have a date with Augusto tomorrow evening for a drink - he speaks good English and wants to hear all about the trip.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at August 18, 2005 06:28 PM GMT
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!