I bought a motorcycle, and after having riden it for 600 Klms, I set out on a trip to visit my friend Geri on the coast of Ecuador. Google said this trip would be 800 klms and 11 hours. Yeah right.
I thought I had prepared for the trip… was I mistaken.
Issue 1. How to keep my stuff on the bike. My concern wasn’t that I would lose my bag, but that it would come losse, shift, and make me fall. This caused me to stop every 75 to 100 klm to tighten and inspect my ropes.
Issue 2. Knowing where I was and where I was going. I am so used to road signs that tell you where you are and where to get where you are going. Not so in Ecuador. This, and the losing of my map, caused me to take a wrong turn that ended up adding many hours on to my trip… more on this later.
Issue 3 Asking for directions. When I traveled with Ecuadorians, they had this infurating habit of stopping every few minutes to ask directions. Now I understand why… after my first really wrong turn I started asking muiltiple times until I got a consensious of opiions as to the way to go. My spanish really sucks, but everyone was extremely helpful…. sometimes really wrong, but always very helpful
Issue 4 Condition of the roads. 90 % of the roads I traveled were in very good to excellent condition… well built, smooth and just great to ride on. The problem is that when the roads turned bad, they did so with little or no warning, and they were really really bad. One of the worst parts of the trip happened on the first day… I came up over a rise with a curve and the road disappeared… not to gravel but to rocks on a steep downhill. I locked up my front brakes ( mistake) and slid and fell. The good thing was I was in full rubber rain wear so there was no road rash, and no traffic… It was at least 15 minutes before the next vehicle… so no concerns that way. There are some scratches on the bike, and I already had a banged up shoulder from moving some chairs at school the day before, so this didn’t help…they only serious damage was to my pride.
Issue 5 Ecuadorian Drivers When I first came here I thought the drivers were crazy… but a high percentage of the drivers here are very good… they just follow a different set of rules. For example, my speed was about 60 to 70 on average. ( The bike can go faster, the rider isn’t comfortable above that) This was in the middle range of what little traffic I encountered..some faster some slower. My place on the road, as a motor bike, when there was traffic, was next to the shoulder, or if there was a clean hard shoulder, riding on it. This allowed for drivers to pass..either me or in the other direction while giving space. I also rode with my lights on all the time, which seemed to bother other drivers even in daylight. The first couple of times I had two vehicles coming towards me was a little disconcerting, but I soon got used to it…feathered the throttle and had no problems.
The lights, and especially the horn are used to tell other drivers “I am here” so it is more of a greeting or friendly gesture… not like North America where the horn is “get out of my way.” So when I heard a beep on the highway it was letting me know that they were passing…maybe in the other lane…maybe in our lane
Issue 6 Weather I travelled along the edge of the rainforest, up, over and through the Andes, and along the coastal plains. I did not encounter any Ice and Snow. I am too close to the equator for that, but everything else from hot, blazing sun to cold damp high altitude cloud/fog and torrential rain appeared. All of these conditions could appear within an hour or two so much time was spent packing and unpacking.. adding and removing layers of clothes.
And the wind.
Issue 7 Pictures and camera gear. Actually this might be part of Issue 1. Part of the reason for this trip was to take pictures, but, it was such a PITA to pull out my camera and then put it away that I didn’t bother very much. What this means is parts of my journey will have to be revisited in order to capture the amazing beauty I saw and experienced on this journey.
So overall it was a worthwhile trip..I learned a lot about riding, Ecuador and most importantly about myself…I can be a stubborn idiot sometimes, but I can keep going when I need to and keep my cool.
I will add another post to this later…It was a 5 days trip so there is much more to add.