The weather wasn’t in my favor again. As I packed up my things to leave Salinas, the rain started coming down. I wanted to get to Cuenca which is a 200 mile ride. The route would have me pass just a few kilometers by Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest peak and one of the tallest volcanos in the world.
I was holding out hope that the sky would clear enough for me to see Chimborazo but when I rode by I couldn’t see through the thick fog.
While passing the volcano I looked down at my GPS and was riding at 14,500ft. That’s 400 ft higher than the highest paved road in North America. And it was raining! I didn’t know it was possible to rain at that elevation but being so close to the equator and in the subtropics it makes sense. I had the road to myself. Well, except for a few llamas hanging out along the side of the road.
Even with my heated grips my fingers were frozen. It was that feeling of thousands of needles poking your fingertips. I just tried to think of something else. Like how cold my toes were. The rest of me was warm. Now I know why people spend hundreds of dollars on heated gloves and gear. I am going to have to look into affordable options down here.
The road met up with the PanAmerican Highway which would take me to Cuenca. Except for a few short stretches the rain didn’t stop. The fog went away so I could at least see the beautiful green mountain landscape. I’d pass through small towns and be tempted to stop for coffee and a meal at the small roadside restaurants but I just wanted to get to Cuenca so I kept going. The signs here started to confuse me. My GPS said I was 60 miles away but then a sign said it was 193 kms. It better not be that far. Turns out my GPS was right.
The road went up and down the mountains going from 8,000 ft to 12,000 ft. I could only think how warm it would be at 7000ft or 6000ft. I knew I was getting close to Cuenca when the highway turned into 3 lanes. They are repaving the road just before the city and there a couple sections of the old scraped highway. I hate these sections as my tires can’t get good traction on the deep grooves. A few minutes later I was at AlterNative Hostel and out of the rain. They have secure parking here and it’s only $9 a night for a bed in a 5 person dorm. Of course 30 minutes after I arrived the sun came out. It made for a nice afternoon checking out the historical district along the river. More on Cuenca in my next post.