T – Maybe we were being a little ambitious today, but we planned on a long riding day. Our destination was just inside the Andes mountains 390 kms away. It doesnt sound like much but since the US we have struggled to do much over 250kms. The traffic, the roads or the hills have always slowed us down.
This area of Ecuador in the Amazon Basin was fairly low down in altitude, under 1000 meters, and the road seemed to stay fairly level. So after grabbing a new tyre for Mabel and fitting it up we were off. We wound through the jungle which petered out and became farmland. It was pretty enough and we has some nice views ut for some reason both of us felt the ride today was not as exciting as it had been.
The road seemed to go on forever and the kms ticked by so slowly. Then Chantelle started to feel like Rosies front end was sliding around under braking and all sorts of weird vibrations were coming up through the handlebars. We had a look and found two loose engine mounts, and loose crash bar bolts. After tightening these up the vibrations seemed to dissipate some but Rosies front end was all weird. Again we stopped and checked the spokes, tyre pressures, etc. It was by pure chance that I happened to notice that Rosie was missing a crucial nut on her steering. The top nut that holds the bars down to the triple clamp that everything attached to was gone. No wonder the front end was moving around everywhere. With just two skinny bolts holding the bars to her shocks we limped along for 20kms until we found a bike mechanic. For $2 he fitted and torqued down a brand new nut and we were back on the road.
Finally we started to climb back into the mountains, much to Mabels disgust. We had 60kms to go to the town of Loja and it was all uphill. 2nd and 3rd gear for km after km. The road was pretty amazing but it was frigging steep! With 20 kms to go we were at 2800mt and the road still went up.
Eventually though the bikes got some respite and we sailed downhill the last 10kms and into town.
Tomorrow we plan to head to the Peruvian border and will cross the day after.