Guest post: Sea level to 15000 ft in two days

I agree with my dad on all counts- mountain biking on Cotopaxi was one of the most crazy fun things I’ve ever done! We had a lot of interesting conversation with fellow bikers from Holland, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. The tour group we used, The Biking Dutchman, was all around fantastic. I’d highly recommend them if you want to do any cycling in Ecuador- they do everything from 1 to 15 day long trips!

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Our mountain bike ride from 15000 feet up Cotopaxi was outrageously fun. They say you should prepare for all four seasons in Ecuador, and this trip proved it. At the top the wind was blowing a steady 40 mph and icy rain was sideways. The first six kilometers was harrowing between the varying head and tail winds, reduced visibility and the washboard road. And then there was the altitude! We are only two days in country and not acclimated, so 15000 felt like Everest. Allie wisely hopped in the van for this part and the rejoined as we went off road.

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We were both under prepared in terms of our clothing. I had neglected to bring my outer shell jacket so was left with two shirts and a vest. Allie was smarter and brought windbreaker to put on top of her outer garments. Fortunately for all of us, there was a small store at the entrance to the park selling various clothing items. We both purchased a Cotopaxi ski hats to put under our helmets.

As we descended through the park, the elevation was less of an issue, except when we had to climb. The temperature warmed up and we were able to shed some of our outer garments by the very end of the ride.

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A couple of the most interesting aspects of the ride were the lava fields that we rode through (Cotopaxi last erupted in the 1880s I believe) and the Inca ruins site where we stopped for lunch. The outfitter prepared terrific pasta and quiche lunch with black tea and ginger which we inside a hut.

This hut was intended to replicate what is thought to be the structure of buildings that existed along with Inca Trail. The location of these ruins is tied to Cotopaxi in some religious sense. It is believed that the Incas thought the Volcanoes were related to a higher power.

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Among the many fun parts of this adventure was seeing how much Allie enjoyed the ride. All of these years I’ve been trying to get her interested in mountain biking, but she would never go along with me. It took a trip to Ecuador and the Cotopaxi for her to realize what a blast it can be. Better late than never I say, but as with life itself it isn’t always down hill and wind at your back… Sometimes you have to climb! Hopefully she will want to go again!

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