Ecuador and Galapagos Islands Mountain Biking
Ecuador offers some of the best downhill rides in South America. The cyclist can enjoy endless back roads and trails to explore. The Incas, who were legendary road builders, and their living descendants, have been carving scenic paths for centuries. Today, in many areas mountain bikes are used by indigenous people and campesinos as a major form of transportation - hey, they know what's up.
For most people, the extreme cycling environment of the Andes is best enjoyed going downhill.
The Andes create a playground of huge vertical descents and gut-wrenching climbs at altitudes where the snow line and the equator meet. Descents of 10,000 ft (3,000 m) in a single day can be obtained in several areas of the country. The world-class descent directly down the slopes of Cotopaxi Volcano, the technical descent down Pichincha Volcano, and trips that take riders from the heights of the Andes to the Amazon Basin are all highly recommended.
Riding in the Galapagos Islands
Mountain biking is also possible in the Galapagos Islands you can find bikes for rent on Santa Cruz Island in the town of Puerto Ayora. Trails may be limited but it is a great means of transportation as roads are mainly unused and the highlands have some attractive paths. Don´t be fooled just because you are on an island, there are many hills and unleveled terrain that can be used to your advantage.
Self Supported Rides
Biker-friendly buses and pickup truck taxis, plus readily available lodging and food in most rural areas, make cross country self-supported bicycle travel in Ecuador extremely appealing
For the experienced mountain biker or long-distance adventurer who can handle intense altitudes and climbs, a thousand adventures await.
Careful planning is key. Maps of varying scales can be found at the Instituto Geografico Militar (IGM) behind the Casa de Cultura. Don't bet your life on directions given by locals, as they'll send you off on a wild goose-chase rather than admit that they don't know which way to go.
The lesser-traveled back roads make the best routes. Avoid the Inter-American highway, and most other paved roads in Ecuador, as you will encounter reckless truck and bus drivers that are not used to seeing bicycles on the road. Most parts of Quito are extremely biker unfriendly, and should be avoided like the plague. Traditional cobblestone roads will rattle your bones loose. Also, it's better to go in the dry season, as rains can get frigid in the Andes.
The South American Explorer's Club will be happy to give you loads of useful information to help you plan your biking adventures in Ecuador.
Bike rental is available in Quito and Baños , but quality varies widely, so check your bike carefully before heading out.
High quality, strong bikes are recommended. Shocks are a good idea for the extended descents. Strong aluminum rims are essential as the high speed descents on potted terrain will otherwise bend your wheels.
Packing up your bike up at home and bringing it with you on the plane is a simple alternative. Bring a strong lock and always leave your bike locked in a secure location.
Pack wisely and bring plenty of spare parts, including extra tubes and a tire, don't forget a first-aid kit as you'll probably be pedaling in remote areas.