We arrive in Cuenca to find Joe and Dean and Dang and Scott. Our first stop is for a new rear derrailleur. Mine is old and the spring doesn’t spring right anymore. Between a broken shifter, a worn out drivetrain and now this, it’s been ages since I have had all my gears. Now I do, at 50% off. Perfecto.
A day and a half in Cuenca is enough. The six of us leave town together, riding through the hills to Tarqui and the PanAm.
The paved miles click by fast with company and ice cream stops. Mid afternoon, our six becomes eight. It’s a regular bike gang. Five tents fill the volleyball court in Jarata.
On the descent into Loja three dogs chase Joe. He’s going so fast they slam on the brakes, skidding and rolling over in the road. Dogs zero, Joe one. I laugh. My ears pop.
For one night our group grows to 12 in Vilcabamba. We cook and eat and drink and laugh, celebrating Scott’s birthday whether he wants to or not. We’re a mobile mass on 24 wheels.
The hills roll to the border.
Landslides cover the road. Fresh dirt fills my nostrils.
A warning about the heat ahead has us leaving Zumba early. But then I lolly gag, hoping if I stop enough our friends will catch up. They don’t. I pedal on.
Coffee and cacao dry in the road. Political ads cover buildings. Mototaxis are of a tougher breed here.
The power surges on and off in San Ignacio, but the bakery has coconut macaroons and the Chinese food fills our empty bellies.
Welcome to Perú.
Where we rode: Cuenca – Jarata – Saraguro – Loja – Vilcabamba – Palanda – Zumba – San Ignacio
We stayed at the Casa de Cyclistas in Loja. Pablo started it two months ago. It’s located at 04-56 Bolivar y Quito. His phone number is 593984763441.
It’s all paved in Ecuador until Bellavista. Without rain, the road is hard packed dirt. In Perú, pavement again.