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Tour Operators : Biking

Cycling and Mountain Biking in Ecuador

DSCF1884There is just a huge amount to see, but also a few things to remember. Firstly, if you are cycling in the Andes you can spend a lot of your time at considerable altitude -cycling uphill at 10,000 ft is not a task to undertake lightly, you will need to be fit and to acclimatise. There are extensive tracks over the mountains left by the Incas, the traditional cobbled roads can be uncomfortable at best, and in rural areas you will have to put up with occasionally being chased by dogs (carry a stick if this troubles you). Avoid the Panamericana and other major highways where traffic is fast, noisy and not used to bicycles.

Prepare well and you can have some amazing rides -if visiting both highlands and the coast or the rainforest, it goes without saying that you should start at the top in the high Andes. There are some ear-popping descents down through the cloud forest. For mountain bikers there are noted routes down some of the major volcanoes -Cotopaxi, Pichincha etc. For an idea of the sort of scenery you can expect, visit the destination360 page on mountain biking in Baños.

Do get good maps from the Instituto Geografico Militar in Quito -available online from Omnimaps.

Local bike rental is possible in Quito and Baños, but if you are travelling long distances you will want to be sure your bike is up to dealing with the terrain. Either view before booking or get references if booking from overseas. If you bring your own bike be mindful of security and bring a strong lock and all the spare parts you will need.

Prepare well, and don't forget the weather -rain in the high andes can be very cold, while it can be very hot in the steamy tropical lowlands.

The Ciclopaseo in Quito

Every other Sunday in Quito, roads are closed along a 10km route on the north south axis, from 9.00 to 15.00, for cyclists of all ages and abilities to reclaim the streets. As well as cyclists, you will also see people on roller blades, skateboards, scooters as well as joggers -in all about 40,000 people take part each time, and the Municipality also organises various free events -concerts, open-air aerobics etc -in squares and parks along the route.

The Ciclopolis foundation, which organizes the event, has combined forces with the FONSAL (Cultural Safe-Guarding Fund) to offer tours to churches and sights of the Old Town by bike. It also organises an annual mountain bike race through the historic centre.

If you want to take part part, you can hire bikes and helmets from Ciclopolis -you will need a copy of your passport and one other ID document:
Fundación Ciclópolis, Equinoccio N17 -171 y Queseras del Medio
00 593-2-3226502 / 2234475

Useful Sources:

Arie's Bike Company -bike tours from Quito for 1-6 days.
Backroads -US tour operator offering biking/hiking tour to Ecuador.
Bike Tours Ecuador -bike tours in Ecuador for over eight years from their base in Quito.
Biking Dutchman -the mountain biking specialist in Ecuador.
Biking Spirit -mountain biking division of Alta Montaña -offer rides including downhill from 4,800m on Chimborazo and two day mountain bike tours from Riobamba to Chimborazo and Baños.
Down the Road -the Ecuador pages of Tim and Cindie Travis' account of their seven year bicycle trip around the world starting from the USA in 2002 (Ecuador came early on in the programme!).
iBike - International Bicycle Fund's tour of Ecuador -iBF are a non-governmental, nonprofit, advocacy organization, promoting sustainable transport and international understanding.
Pro Bici -mountain biking in the Chimborazo province.
Tenback -Ine and Robert Tenback's account of their cycle tour to Ecuador.

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