What a day full of (great!) surprises!!
Everything started with me waking up late. I stayed for the second time in one of those “international” hostels, and it happened to be halloween. So there was a big party at the hostel and nobody could go to sleep until 2am…
So yes, I started late that morning (10-ish). And surprises started straight away!
1. Leaving Cuenca you a find a very nice valley where cycling is great!! The hard shoulder is painted with a sign of “only bikes”, views are nice, the road is quite flat. Great! Obviously, there is some traffic, but I didn’t find it excesive. And it dissapears after the crossroad towards the coast. So first 26 km were great! Probably the best cycling kilometers in Ecuador (I only say this because the route from Baeza to Tena was really easy, mostly downhill; otherwise, that day would’ve been it).
2. Uphill. After km 26, the road goes up. And I found it very hard!! So be ready. The “worst”, maybe, is that once you reach the top it doesn’t go down, but there are some hard and short uphills all the way until La Paz. Going up, anyway, you see a very nice valley. Switzerland kind of environment, maybe.
3. The top. The views above 3000m are great. Not spectacular, but I really liked them!! Specially the “left” part (I mention that for those travelling by bus!).
4. Downhill. The downhill starts few kilometers before La Paz, and it’s just great. The views are awesome, lots of curves… Maybe my favorite downhill so far, along with the one mentioned before.
5. Uphill. To finish the day, some hard uphill. Be ready!!
There’s lots of camping spots this day also. One specially nice is at km 94, by the river at the bottom of the valley: sandy, there’s a natural swimming pool, and since it’s pretty low (below 1900m), feels hot!! The paramo can be good but cold, and the pinetree forest after La Paz can be a good spot too.
I think this was, along with the crossing of the Paramo in Colombia on the 3rd and 4th days, my favorite day so far!! The stories of the owner of the “hotel” in Oña (and the charm of that old place) helped as well…