January 04, 2010 GMT
Bikers weekend in Ambato

Our mates in Cali were all heading down to Ambato for a big bike meeting, as was our pal Ricardo from Quito, so we had decided to ride back up to meet them all before heading out of Ecuador. We rode back the way we came, and into Ambato, a fairly ugly modern town, and to the hotel where the vent was based, and then we got out first shock. The rooms were $70-per person!That’s what we’d normally pay for a weeks’ accommodation. We looked around for an alternative, but we were left with the choice of a couple of dodgy places that rented rooms by the hour, the original hotel, or bugging out completely. We returned the the expensive hotel and were deliberating what to do when Ricardo the gentle giant pulled up outside. Seeing our stressed expressions, he asked what was going on. We explained our dilemma and he smiled, patted us on our backs, and told us we could double up in one of the rooms he had booked for his Russian friends, and we could split the cost of the room four ways, making it much more affordable. He assured us that it would be no problem, and he would forewarn the Russians of the new arrangements. We thanked him and went up to the room for a shower and to change for dinner. I went back downstairs to the bar to see who was about, and the place was empty. The receptionist told me that everyone had gone to some club to sign in, so I told Jacquie I was popping out and got on the bike to find this club.
As I was approaching the address I had been given, the familiar rumble of a pack of Harleys grew louder and louder, I rounded a corner and saw a pack of about 50 bikes heading in the opposite direction, I spotted our loony French pal, Alain, Jorge and Sory from the Asturias bike shop in Cali, and a bunch of the Cali riders I had ridden with whilst in their neck of the woods.
I span the bike around, passed a bunch of bikers, and pulled up next to Jorge, whose face lit up when he saw me.
A police escort was leading us along the city streets, and Jorge shouted to me over the roar of his engine that they were on a parade through the city and I should stick with them.
I joined the pack as we rolled through the city centre, stopping traffic and turning heads, until we pulled up back at the hotel.
Jacquie came down to the parking lot when she heard the bikes arrived and we greeted our Cali friends with big “moto hugs” as Ricardo liked to call them. The wine came out, followed by the band, followed by the food, and we all enjoyed a really good catch up.
Our crazy French mate Alain greets Jacquie "his Queen" in his own inimitable style

The Bikes and the set up for dinner at the Ambato Bike meet

We ate, drank, danced and partied, and it was really good to see familiar faces, something that doesn’t really happen a lot when you are on the move as much as we had been for the previous year. We arranged to meet up the following day for a group ride up to Chimborazo, and shuffled off to bed, leaving the band playing “Born to be Wild” for the third time, and a hundred or so bikers getting drunker.
We waited for Jorge and the Cali posse to turn up, and even though I had terrible stomach problems, I was determined to go with the group to Chimborazo. The guys finally turned up an hour or so late, and I told Jorge that I had a really bad turn in the night, but just had to grab my bags and we’d be ready, I went back to the room, picked up my stuff, but when I got back downstairs, the guys had left.
Jacquie and I saddled up and tried to catch them up, but in our rush, we took a wrong turn and it was half an hour before we realized what we had done, we doubled back and rode like maniacs to try to find the Cali bikers.
After an hour of riding, we had abandoned hope of finding them , but carried on anyway towards Chimborazo. Just as we were approaching the Volcano, we saw a bunch of bikes parked up by the side of the road, taking photos, and there was Jorge! There had been a confusion with my bad Spanish, and he thought I had said I was too ill to go.
Chimborazo...again! This timw in the sunshine and with mates!

Me and Garth posing at the Base Camp, over 5,000m.

Time for a quick snowball fight

Jacquie trying to recover from a bout of altitude sickness

We hugged, and all made our way to Chimborazo. We rode up the dirt road to the base camp at 5,000m, and played in the snow as close to the top as we could get on the bikes. A few of the riders, including Jacquie, felt ill with the effects of the altitude, so we slowly rode back down, regrouped, and continued riding around the base of the volcano, stopping here and there for more pictures.
The Zig Zagging gravel descent from Chimborazo

We rode with the group for a few hours, before saying our farewells and splitting off and heading on towards Alasui.

Posted by Dan Shell at January 04, 2010 10:15 PM GMT

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