My Christmas Motorcycle ride Part 1

122413-111I might be crazy.

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.

notes from Loja 1?

Tuesday 12 June 2012


A sunshiny day in Loja. This is the third day in a row. Looking up at the mountains they are clear of clouds as well. Have to really watch for sun burns.

This is the last week of class for this cycle. Finals are thursday and Friday.  Friday night I hope to be on a night bus to the coast.

It will be 12-14 hours to get there… With one or two changes in buses. I will be traveling with Mr B.

He plans to find a place and just hunker down for 7 to 10 days.

My plans are to…. Well I really don’t have plans. I do need to be back in Loja by Wednesday to do some more work and promo on my photo course.

Sunday 10 June 2012

13:53 Taking a break from editing my course material….
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

15:22 listened to hear Bob Seger, Men without hats, and Gloria Gainer….. while shopping at a supermarket in Ecuador…. ???
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

Saturday 9 June 2012

13:56 I read a blurb in the NY times about Cuenca. It was a PR piece.  In it the weather was described as ” nice”.  Not sure how they define this.

The truth about Ecuador‘s weather ( in my limited experience) can be called many things, but I don’t think that nice covers it.

Some things to consider.

Ecuador is ” down wind” of the amazon. This means that the wind is very damp.

Ecuador is on the equator. This means that the sun is hot.

A major portion of the populated parts of Ecuador are in the Andes… High in the Andes. Higher altitudes means cold dry air.

So what does this all mean, weather wise?  If the sun is shining, it is warm… Maybe hot… When the clouds come in with their damp warm air they tend to loose their moisture… Sometime very quickly and suddenly

Also when the clouds cover the sun, or the sun sets ( which it does every day at the same shortening or lengthening of days) it cools off very quickly.

There is a saying in the Serra that you can experience all four seasons in a day…. But they really don’t know winter.

The interesting thing is, you can find micro climates that are wetter dryer warmer or cooler, but a change of 40 KMS can be a major change in climate…

Thursday 7 June 2012

14:00 I have been working hard on my course material for the Introduction to Photography workshop. It is at 50 pages right now….. need to do some editing.
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

17:02 The more experienced I get at teaching English…. The more I realize how screwed up it is.
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

Tuesday 5 June 2012

14:53 I have been feeling in a funk for about 24 hours…. And it shows signs of deepening… Trying for figure a way out

I did find a way out. Took me 2 movies and some music to pull me out but a couple of days later I am back to my more level self. Really glad that movies only cost $1.50 here.

The reason for the funk was I know some of my students are not going to do well on the up coming tests, and I find it very frustrating.

Sunday 3 June 2012

10:06 it’s 10 oclock… have my sunday shopping done… spent $2.50… it was heavy carrying it all back to my Casa… now what to do with the rest of the day…
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

14:31 Spent a couple of hours at the zoo… Ok for a small zoo

17:15 A few years ago a Colombian friend brought me a small amount..just a taste… and I was hooked. Luckily I could not find any in Canada. Now I am in Ecuador and it is readily. Will I have the will power to turn away or will I become addicted…..Manjar de leche con Coco is what I am talking about
by Glenn Specht via Facebook