Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2 wheels + 4,265 ft of downhill = Perma-grin fun

I had the fortune of meeting a couple of Norwegians (Magnus and Jan) at the climbing area in Quito. On the way to Old Town that night they asked if I wanted to join them on a mountain biking trip in Cotopaxi at 7am the next morning. Was I game...? Of course!

We got to drive through the park with stunning views of Cotopaxi, the world´s highest active volcano, RumiƱahui, Loma Gorda, and Pamba. There is a lot of flat grassland (paramo) with stunning peaks rising up to incredible heights. Not like the mountain ranges in Washington at all.

We had a brief stop at the museum for a little info on Cotopaxi and the park where we were all informed that Cotopaxi is overdue for an eruption, but not to worry as we had bikes. Apparently there are 50 to 100 seismic events a day that they monitor and warnings are issued if they think it´s going to blow. The big risk to everyone is not lava flow, but water running off the mountain (glacial melt) and picking up all kinds of debris along the way. They believe that the last time it blew, the water took only 24 hours to reach the Pacific Ocean, which is really far away...exactly how far I´m not sure, but it´s far.

When we arrived at the parking lot, 100 meters below the climbers refuge, the wind was blowing so hard you had to lean into it to stay upright. After a brief conversation about do´s and don´ts (like don´t go flying into a blind corner because we´re sharing the narrow road with cars) the fun began, and oh did it ever.

We did 8km of good downhill to the first flat then got off the main road for a little singletrack action. After about 16km, we stopped near a picturesque river with wild horses grazing for lunch. After lunch we wrapped up the riding with another 16km of mostly downhill and flat terrain. I was pumped for it all and had so much fun! It´s great when your guide says stay between mountain x and mountain y.

Big thanks to team Norway, they sure know how to have a good time.

Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14158549@N02/sets/72157622484413256/