DAY 500 - TRANS ECUADOR MTB ROUTE
Day 500 - Toluca, Ecuador - 10081 km
Going off the grid
Through Ecuador I will be mostly following the so called Trans Ecuador MTB Route (TEMBR), which crosses the country from north to south via the Andes connecting the most interesting sights via remote dirt roads. I will be doing parts of the route, sometimes leaving heavy luggage in one place, or ship ahead, to make the ride doable and more fun. It’s different than riding on pavement. The trails are often rugged and steep which make it impossible to do it on my 50 kg loaded bike.
The route is mapped by Cass Gilbert and the Dammer Brothers, who are known for having covered a lot of off-the-grid terrain in the Ecuadorian Andes on their bikes. Many of their adventures are shared on bikepacking.com and were perhaps the inspiration for me to choose a bike suitable for rough terrain. I’m excited to finally be surrounded by these incredible landscapes and ready to ride them.
Day 1 is through the beautiful El Angel Ecological Reserve, known for it’s exceptional vegetation of ‘frailejones’. These plants only grow at high altitude in Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela and can reach up to 7 meters. They have the unique ability to absorb water from clouds and release it in the soil which creates lakes and rivers at high altitude. Their big leaves feel like fluffy bunny ears.
It’s great to be away from the traffic. In the entire day I have seen 3 motorcycles. Understandably, because the road is narrow and rocky, with some deep puddles. Gradually the road goes up to 3400 meters to the top of the park where there’s a lake. The sunset is epic, but there’s still 20 km to go to the little town El Angel where I’ll spend the night. With soft tires I let myself roll off the hills at high speed. The bike flies and doesn’t seem to bother the cobblestones. I arrive in the dark, chased by dogs, but I’m now used to that.