Kilometer 1000

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Cycling over the Ecuadorian Andes has such romantic notions attached to it, the kind of adventure that could easily be sold to the unsuspecting cyclist; images of snow capped mountains, of volcanoes lining a solitary road which snakes its way through lonely mountain passes, a land where time stands still, the clock strikes midnight and ushers in yesterday, yesteryear, a slow pace of life captured in the endless sweeping of dust from countless floors in unknown villages, a land of tradition where ancient cultures still cast their shadow, springing forth is lively markets and friendly people, a place to lose yourself, a place to find yourself. The romantic quickly gives way to reality when you are on the saddle. Deep valleys give way to even deeper valleys, each is entered in a tremendous high speed swoop and exited with the slow turning of pedals, burning up energy, sweat dripping, legs aching, head pounding. High mountains are topped by those higher still, a domino of ridges as far as the eye can see, the energy sapping altitude made more uncomfortable by a cold rain, sometimes hail and sometimes biting headwind or roads which have deteriorated to mud and stone and dust. Today we passed Kilometer 1000, a event indicated by a scrawl on the kerbside but momentous none the less. And enjoyable because today was one of those days when the unsuspecting cyclists feels like they are in a dream, an early morning start climbing up a sweeping curve of road contoured into a mountainside, a blue sky, a low sun casting long shadows across the immensity of the Andes, high above clouds which seep into every nook and cranny down below. The mountain which you stared at yesterday with a sinking heart is today a joy to ride, the wonders of a good nights sleep, so not an issue today that you can look up with ease, take it all in, enjoy the day unfold around you, exhilaration, feeling the romance come flooding back, the romance of  the adventure sold to the unsuspecting cyclist, "Cycling through the Ecuadorian Andes". And these pictures might just sell it to you…

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