This page contains my route and few extra tips on the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route. Make sure to read all the official info from the link below, these are just additional notes!
a little video teaser of the ride
singletrack or dirt road version I would definitely recommend doing most of the singletrack if you travel lighter and like that kind of stuff. I almost always skipped singletrack route if it was uphill but sometimes ended up doing loops to ride it downhill and find a different way to reconnect to the original route (e.x. in the gps track near Antisana and Latacunga). Other times, particularly near bigger cities I ended up going on the pavement to get around quicker.
speed The official website lists approximate times, I often took way longer on these sections since I was not in a rush and did not mind stopping at a good spot. Some places, like around Cotopaxi I even stopped 2 times at 2pm in order to spend more time because it was so nice.
bike parts I´d strongly suggest getting your exra parts (brake pads in particular) from home or Colombia (or Peru if coming from south). In Ecuador the standard shimano pads run $15-30 and you may go through a few, especially if on the singletrack route. Same goes for other parts.
what bike? I really enjoyed riding it on a fat bike and there were many spots where it was great. Especially on cobble stones or free for all trans paramo riding. I would suggest at least front suspension and as big tires as you can! (dirt road version is doable on a normal touring bike but a lot more fun if you minimize your load).
good places to stop
I liked a little town San Jose de Raranga which had a $10 hostel (amazing room!), fresh cheese, veggies and an amazing restaurant (near the terminal)
Camping Los Duendes by Daniel and Jo is a great place to unwind as well. You can either camp or stay in the house ($5 for both). There is hot water, laundry, internet. A little further from stores but its 30 minutes to Saquisilli which has almost everything.
(0998887964, on whatsap as well may need to add ecuador phone code: +593)
Ibarra hotel Miraflores $15 with breakfast and you can definitely get a better price if you stay few days. Same restaurant has a great lunch and I found this to be one of the cheapest, bigger towns that has everything. I edited the TEMBR episode 1 video there, renting a laptop from across the street ($7 a day, also good if you need to do work?) 593 6-295-3144
detours from original route:
Here are the main detours I took, I highly recommendall of them. (All are around the level of difficulty the singletrack version presents so keep that in mind if you are fully loaded!)
1. Piñan. Take a right as indicated by a waypoint after Piñan. You can see the road go up along the hillside. While I did not get to ride all of it, it is in much better condition than the other trail and you can turn off at the top to camp with a view of the lake (or go to the shore).
2. Pintag/Antisana/Ruta Del Condor. From Pintag take the paved road past the mine and into the reserve, it is easy climbing. Tambo Condor Lodge has $10 per person cabins but food is more expensive (there are few very expensive lodges too)
- at the top you can either follow my loop north for half a day and camp closer to Antisana or continue south. There is a ranch where you may be charged $5 for entering. Officially you may need 2 or 3 permits and a ¨required¨ guide from Quito but I did not see anybody on the trail.
-its a great condition trail to Dead Dog Pass (it actually has a name but you will likely see the dead dog there still...) you can ride some of it but I ended up pushing a lot due to altitude and winds. The descend is at first not very rideable but as you get the hang of pedaling and not getting your pedals hooked on the narrow trail it gets really fun.
-from the bottom you can A) continue around Cotopaxi or B) loop back to Pintag for supplies via singletrack route and climb back up via dirt road version
3. Quilotoa/Latacunga/Ambato singletrack. Although touristy, it is a very cool section and worth doing. Head in on the TEMBR dirt road version to the crater (rim trail possible if you take the high trail, see the waypoint on the map). You get to ride most of the way up to the singletrack loop to Latacunga, near the top its a lot of hiking but the downhill on the other side is manageable and eventually you will reach an amazing singletrack. You can cut down to Ambato and follow the road up to 4100m. A turn off (see waypoint) takes you around a ridge and then 100% rideable downhill to the road near Angamarca.
4. Oña. To avoid the panamerican you can turn up along a nice and remote ridge, surprisingly one of the most remote places in ecuador. There were no horses, not cows, no houses for a while. See map for a nice hut at 3000m on the way down to the Panamericana.