Bicycling here & there around the world, alone. has never fazed Virginia Ururtia. She's been doing it for 30 years: over the Swiss Alps, beside the Norwegian fjords, along the roller-coaster patches of New Zealand, through the snarl of London traffic, in & out of a weaving line of Sunday drunks in Yugoslavia. But when she wanted to tour the Andes of Ecuador, the prospect seemed daunting--not the hills & mountains, she had merely to go over them. However, there were friends' tales of robberies of tourists & concerns over various lethal bugs & snakes that inhabited the highlands. As well, the available hotels were farther apart than she could pedal in a day. So she hired a "support vehicle"--one Sr. Angel Godoy, a local taxi-driver-cum-guide, occasional translator. Thus began a freewheeling exploration of Ecuador where, from sea level to 14,000 feet, Sr. Godoy & his shiny yellow taxi bobbed along with Urrutia & her bicycle, like a balloon tied with an invisible string. Purchasing her bicycle for the trip to Quito, Urrutia had to settle for a single-speed, fat-tired, heavy, men's model whose front wheel persisted in wobbling off the straight and narrow. Sometimes faced with hills too steep to pedel up, Urrutia would have to walk & push the bike, or wedge it into the taxi trunk from whence it would emerge when the grade leveled or the hills tilted the other way. Urrutia & Godoy were an unlikely pair: at age 70, she was a footloose widow with a lifelong travel bug; at age 35, he was the sole support of a wife, 5 sons & an extended family, & had always stayed close to native Quito. Together they pedaled & taxied all over the Andes, sharing the experiences of navigating backroads with maps little better than someone's wild guesses, searching out the best foods in remote villages, taking part in local celebrations & political campaigns. All the while they also explored the similarities and differences in each other's countries, cultures and customs.