South American Adventures travel blog

The demon volcanoe Cotapaxi, it almost defeated me!

I heard this look was all the rage this season

Another very early start (I thought this was supposed to be a holiday) and at 7am I found myself being hustled into the back of a jeep setting off to Cotopaxi volcanoe to come hurtling down it on a mountain bike.

We drove out of the city and turned off into the Cotopaxi National Park (Cotopaxi is one of Ecuadors highest volcanoes at 5800m). The drive was pleasant as I met a lovely couple from the South coast and a really interesting couple from San Francisco (he was a wine maker in Napa valley).

We stopped part of the way up to sort out helmets, knee pads and elbow pads as it was too cold at the top to do this (hhmmnn maybe I should have known at that point this wasn't going to be fun). We arrived at 4500m and as I got out of the jeep I was almost blown over, it was so windy and raining and absolutely freezing, I could hardly stand, never mind get on a bike. My hands were starting to go numb as I was waiting to be given my bike and we were all itching to go. I had all my gear on and it reminded me of Ellen and Jack with their new bikes at Christmas. Soon we set off down a very bumpy, very steep, scree covered track. I have hardly ridden a bike since I was about 16 and have discovered that I am not very good. I was skidding everywhere even though I was going at a snails pace (miles behind everyone else) that could have been as my hands were stuck on the brakes as they were so cold I could no longer feel my fingers.

After about 5 minutes I felt I was getting into it and as I tried to get out of a rut I breaked too hard and went sailing over the handle bars. I landed on my knees (thank goodness for the protectors) but hit my right thigh on the handle bar in the process. At 4500m altitude and being so cold I think I was in shock at first - all I knew was it hurt and I wanted to lay down. Anyway I was brave and didnt cry (although I wanted to) and 5 minutes later I tried to get back on although was shocked to see I had broken the handlebars - until Hayley pointed out they had just twisted round (def the altitude). It took me a while to get back into it though, once we were passed the steep bit it was great fun and I really enjoyed it, despite hardly being able to bend my leg due to the huge bruise forming.

We stopped for lunch by a very pretty stream and the mountains and volcanoe in the background and set back off on a much flatter track for another couple of hours. I really enjoyed the afternoon and was sad to have finished - maybe I'm not so bad at mountain biking - just need less mountains!

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