Almost every country in the world has options for mountain bikers, but one of the coolest places I’ve been mountain biking is Quito, Ecuador. For those that don’t know much about the South American city, Quito lies in a valley surrounded by seven or so different volcanoes.
One Saturday I had some free time and decided to see what the hype was all about. So I signed up with one of the many companies offering mountain biking tours and had an adventure. Here’s how my day trip turned out.
The Day Arrives
I signed up on a Tuesday, so I had to wait a few days before Saturday, when I, along with about 8 other people met up at a local coffee shop in Quito where we boarded some vans loaded with mountain bikes and started the two-hour drive to about 15,000 feet up the side of Cotopaxi, one of the volcanoes, at a place called the parqueadero.
The parqueadero is a flat parking area where we all got out and were quickly blasted by a nice frigid wind that picked up snow dust and scattered it in our eyes, all while we waited for our guides to unload the bikes and figure out which bikes would fit which riders the best.
After all our bikes were down, I received my ride for the day. A nice (but beaten up) Trek that served me pretty good once I raised the seat up a bit.
Once all the bikes were unloaded and matched up to each rider, we were given some very important instructions (“Don’t crash.”) and then told to meet at a rock towards the bottom of the first decent (“Don’t go beyond or else you’ll get lost.”).
Time to Ride
With that it was time to ride and we were off, every man and woman for themselves. There were a few couples in the group who felt compelled to wait for each other as they got the hang of a) riding a bike, b) riding a bik in the snow, and c) riding a bike in the snow downhill on the side of a volcano.
But not me.
Since I was there solo, I decided to take off once I saw our guide start barreling down the mountain. And let me just say that it was a blast. I was skidding out all over the place, doing things on a bike I hadn’t done since my brothers and I marked up my parents’ driveway with tire marks back in our middle school days. Luckily, the technique came back to me pretty quickly.
Needless to say, I was the first down at the checkpoint. What was cool was to see how drastically the landscape changed from the top to the checkpoint. The snow disappeared and was replaced with actual vegetation, and the weather was even getting warm.
After the mountain decent, we all met up again and rode on some flat terrain for a while before we came to a cottage where we were fed lunch for the day, with lunch consisting of some sandwiches, potato salad, brownies, and hot tea.
After that, it was a relatively short trip back down to the entrance to Cotopaxi where we loaded the bikes back on the vans and headed back to town for the best part of the day for me… a trip to the hot tub at the hotel I was staying in to massage my beaten up mountain biking muscles that I didn’t even know I had before this adventure.