05 October 2012


The hotel at Canar was along Ruta 35 as it ascended through the town. I left the hotel in the morning and resumed the steeply graded climb of the previous day. There was no warm-up. The road wound through the town and out of it, higher and higher, sweat dripping head down in my lowest gear higher, until finally I could see Canar no longer.

The temperature dropped and then clouds covered the sun and it was cold. I stopped and put on my rain jacket and leggings and resumed the climbing. I felt good on the pedals but was glad I had decided to stay the night in Canar instead of riding through it. I would not have had the strength for this punishing climb. Behind me thick clouds were again pushing up the valley. Like the day before it was to be a pursuit race, the clouds chasing me up the mountain.
It was cold and overcast when the ascending ended. There was a long, mostly flat stretch of road through pastureland and then the road descended steeply and I was bombing down the mountain now, head down, my rain jacket zipped up against the cold wind, and Ruta 35 dropping quickly into a deep valley. There were farms and cattle grazing and further south I could see many houses and what I figured was the town of Biblian.
I descended for almost 20km, barely using my brakes, leaning deep into the turns, passing trucks and slower moving cars, and through evergreens and thick forest and the mountains I had come down from now very high behind me. To descend so far and fast had meant I had ascended high. All that suffering had earned this descent. I only hoped I would not soon need to climb it back.

I descended through Biblian and continued for Azogues, the road still dropping. The sun was back out and it was hot in the valley and I stopped to take off my leggings and rain jacket. As I did a pickup truck pulled alongside me and a man got out and asked if I wanted some Coca Cola. No one had ever stopped for me in Ecuador I was quickly on my guard. Then I saw he was traveling with a woman and a little boy. I told him I was okay and thanked him for stopping and he told me it was all mostly flat and downhill until Cuenca.

I realized I could make Cuenca today. It was not even noon and Cuenca was only another 30km. But I had no map of the city and I had done no research on places to stay. I did not want to ride into a big city with no idea of where I was going. I decided that if I saw a hotel or hostal along the road I would stop and stay the night, but if I didn’t I would ride straight through to Cuenca and figure it out when I got there.
I passed a turnoff for Azogues and then ahead I saw a hotel on the opposite side of the road. It looked like a luxurious place but being so poorly located I figured it might not be very expensive. I secured the bike outside the reception and went in and asked about a room. $15 a night and there was a swimming pool, cable tv and internet access. I took the room, a large room with a balcony looking out at Azogues and the mountains. I could use the rest of the day researching places to stay in Cuenca and mapping out how to ride into the city. Tomorrow morning I would be in Cuenca.


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