Imagine cycling at 4,800 masl (almost 16,000 fasl) on the highest mountain in the world from the center of our planet, the closest point to the sun. All this is possible in one place and in a single race: the Chimborazo Extremo.
The cycling competition labels itself “extreme” because it is the “highest” race in Ecuador… it takes place at a staggering near-5,000 masl. The starting point of this tour of the emblematic Chimborazo volcano, the highest in the country, is the town and canyon of San Juan, at 3,200 masl. From here, the route passes indigenous villages, down (and up) impressive trails before reaching the San Juan Canyon to finally end at the first refuge of Mount Chimborazo at 4,800 masl.
With a total 42 km traveled and a spectacular range of 1,900 m between the lowest and highest points of the course, it is, for sure, one of the most special and demanding biking competitions in the world.
In its twelfth edition, the Chimborazo Extremo brings together some 400 participants. It is already considered a “classic” on the mountain biking competition circuit that includes the iconic Vuelta al Cotopaxi, Papagayo Mountain Route (known today as “Illinizas”) or the Zuleta Route, among others.
Its unique Andean landscapes and an imposing colossus like Chimborazo make it one of the most unforgettable rides in Ecuador. Edison Baldeón, the race’s organizer since it was first created, says that its participants claim with pride that it should be:
“Added to the list of the most prestigious biking races in the world, like the Tour de France or the Tour of Spain.”
It is not that kind of race, of course, but it could certainly be considered one of the most epic short races in the world. In terms of elevation, we’re not too far from the world’s highest mountain biking competition, the Yak Attack, where cyclists travel the Himalayas for 10 days at 5,400 masl. The difference, of course, is that in Chimborazo, at 4,800 masl and along the Equator, we are just a little bit closer to the sun!
Edison’s vision from the outset was to promote tourism in Riobamba, the town of Urbina (the starting point of the previous route) and now San Juan. The ancient route passed by the ice-route, tracing the footsteps of Baltazar Ushca, the famous “Last Iceman of Chimborazo”. But this year the organizers sought out more impressive landscapes and trails better prepared for mountain biking.
Every April, bikers eager to get their adrenaline rush and challenge themselves amid an unforgettable backdrop gladly take on Ecuador’s most imposing mountain.
Chimborazo Extreme takes place on april, every year. Contact its organizers on Facebook: @ChimborazoExtremo for more informations.