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THE AVENUE OF THE VOLCANOES

CASS JOURNEYS ACROSS ECUADOR, THE MAGICAL LAND OF VOLCANOES AND ANCIENT HISTORY, FINDING SINGLETRACK, CRATER LAKES AND THE PART OF THE EARTH CLOSEST TO THE SUN.

At the turn of the 19th century, the intrepid Prussian naturalist and explorer Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt set out on a pioneering journey across the Americas. Aside from compiling a shelf full of scientific tomes on his adventures, Humboldt also coined the phrase ‘the Avenue of the Volcanoes’ en route, in reference to Ecuador’s particularly eruptive geology. Running for hundreds of miles along two Andean cordilleras, it’s a geological thoroughfare containing no less than seven volcanic peaks that tower over 5,000 metres high, out of which protrude the majority of mainland Ecuador’s 30-odd volcanoes.

Not Dartmoor.

Ever the sucker for themed rides, following in Humboldt’s footprints and connecting three of the country’s most iconic examples seemed like an appropriate reason for a multi-day bikepack; an Ecuadorian Three Peaks Challenge, of sorts. We’d patch together whatever singletrack we could find, with the aim of retracing ancient foot and horse trails fast forgotten in the country’s rush for modernisation. Similarly, we’d avoid paved roads at all costs – and we’d do our best not to get lost in the high altitude páramos, Ecuador’s lush, boggy, misty and enigmatic tundra – a Dartmoorian landscape, perched at a lung-depleting 4,000m.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure – Long Mynd: Barney goes in search of long singletrack descents too good to miss. International Adventure – Ecuador: Cass Gilbert goes bikepacking – stunning photography and adventure results. International Adventure – Los Angeles: Chipps seeks out that which is not concrete in the City of Angels. Crash Gallery – A fond look at some crash photos inspired by this issue’s cover. Classic Ride – Exmoor: Barney finds that steep hills and merciless gorse can hide a treasure trove of West Country singletrack. Grouptest: Trail SPD shoes are tested by the team. But do they pass the ‘pub’ test? Bike Test – The Second Coming: We test three second iterations of bikes from Orange, Santa Cruz and Singular. Is it a case of improvement through evolution, or a film sequel style flop? Grinder: A bucketful of shiny components, lovingly mixed with some springtime grit and exuberant riding before judgement. UK Adventure – Orienteering: Chipps tests out his map reading skills in the Dark Peak. Magic in the Margins of the Day: A change in circumstances leads Doug McDonald to discover the joy of dusk and and dawn riding.