Days off of the bike: Cartagena
From now on I will just be uploading images so you can get an impression of this beautiful country. Enjoy!
Final thoughts: bye – bye Colombia
I went to Colombia with mixed feelings. Everybody is like embarrassed that you want to visit “such a country” warning you better not to go because it´s supposed to be so dangerous. All the people think of the history that hit Colombia in the past: drugs, cartels and guerrillas.
Well according to my cycling experience here I have to say they all were wrong. I had a wonderful time cycling this beautiful country. I went through all kind of weathers and terrain; cold, heat, rain, fog, mountains, hard climbs, fast downhills, brandnew pavement and dirt roads. There were difficult stretches that made me suffer, too like going up to Cerro Picacho. Extremly steep and I needed alomost 4hours for the 12km to the top. Unbelievable! I will never forget this.
As for the people I can tell that everybody was always very friendly and helpful. Some were shy first but after some minutes of talking they opened up and I had really interesting and inspiring conversations.
Drivers do respect most of the time and I never had any problem while I was pedaling. Even so when there was heavy traffic or on roads without shoulders.
The world is a wonderful place and so is Colombia, but also it is the perfect imperfection….Of course there also were things I didn´t like too much. First of all the food. In my opinion there was not a big variety of food when you are in the road and want to have a nice breakfast or lunch break. Compared with Asia (my favorite food) there are only poor posibilities. Also it is a little bit tricky to provide yourself with enough water. There are stretches where it is not possible to buy something to drink and in the tremendous heat you easily can dehydrate. So you always need to carry a lot of weight in form of liquids with you.
The espectacular nature and fantastic views make it all worth while, but I will not recommend this Country for unexperienced bike tourers.
Pure riding time sitting on the bike: 80hours
13 days of riding
Altitude difference: 12000meter
Minimum temperature: 10°C
Maximum temperature: 52°C
Steepest climb: 19%
Highest point: 2985m
Max. speed: 74km
Longest daily distance: 138,5km
Rincon del Mar – Cartagenas: Last day of cycling
Wednesday 15, January 2020 139km Total so far: 1217,8 km
I didn´tt sleep very good last night. The rooster started to crow so early. I think for some reason he was totally confused because it was only 2:30 at night. Well, I was confused then, too, but thanks to god I fell asleep again. Still at 4am I was awake 100% and finally at 4:45 I got up. I packed everything into my panniers and one hour later I started to bring down all the stuff. Matthias came also down at 6am already. He had told me so yesterday because he wanted to say good-bye and he was interested to see the loaded bike. I think that was very nice of him and very cool. So after the last good-byes I started to leave El Rincon by pushing the bike through the sand of the beach. Sun was just rising and I enjoyed this beautiful scenery very much. It was awesome.
I knew that the road to San Onofre for the next 16km would be an unpaved dirt road and that it would be climbing up.
At 7:45 I reached San Onofre and I found a bakery and bought some sweet cakes and a coffee.
After I took the road N°90. First there was no shoulder to cycle on and a lot of parts were under construction. There was heavy traffic and a lot of trucks because of the constrcution works.
The landscape was nothing special. Farmland and also a lots of palm oil plantations.Temperature rose constantly until it was really hot: 47°C. Everytime I bought 2liters of water when there was a possibility to buy but I could only drink 1 liter because the other liter was already cooking. Thanks god, today you could buy something to drink every couple of kms. Sometimes they were even selling some cocos nuts.
The road went up for long time and it kept on being hilly as hell. I thought today would be easy cycling but it wasn´t at all. Only about 22km before Cartagena the road finally went down with a nice steep short downhill. Then I started to get closer to the city and the traffic got more dense. It was a chaotic especially after the chilled atmosphere of Rincon del Mar. I was shocked and I missed it already.
There were so many buses, trucks and motorbikes. Everybody was using the horn like crazy and the buses always turned suddenly to the right from the middle of the street to collect people. I had to be so careful with many eyes.
My wife had mailed some hotel options so I was riding directly to one of them: Hothel San Martin. I was hoping very much that there would be a room available. At 5pm I got there and yes! They had a room for me. Cool.
I took a shower and I went to eat to a place where they got spaghetty bolognese. Delicious. After I had 2 caipirinhas which I had definitely deserved today, and on my way back I bought some beers and some snacks.
I went to sleep at midnight very tired after doing the blog.
Rincon del Mar: Second day power chilling
Tuesday 14 January Total so far: 1078,8 km
Today I could sleep a little bit longer – felt so good! At 9 am I went to have breakfast with my new Austrian friends. Just the perfect breakfast location was yet to come. We started our location-research-project about 10 o´clock which turned out to be a little bit late for the Colombian rhythm. Surprise, surprise….. nobody wanted to give us some breakfast anymore. Everybody told us that it was far too late for breakfast. They all were preparing lunch already, but this didn´t match with our holiday schedule !
In the end we could find a place where someone was willing to serve some scrambless eggs and some juice for us. Luck is a relative thing – we at least felt very happy in this moment.
Later we were hanging out, everybody in a very relaxed mood. That obviously attracted a lady that came close and offered all kinds of wellness stuff from massages up to hair cut and even sweets etc. Whatever you liked she got it. Magic!
Lucy decided to get some braids and I booked a nice wellness massage for myself. She did it ok but first of all I enjoyed because of the location and I really could relax a little bit.
After stayed for a while and then went to my room to take a nap. What a wonderful lazy day! I wanted to go for a little walk but then I even was to lazy to do that.
In the evening we all went together for dinner to a small place where they were making pizza.
We had a good time and back in our hotel we chilled together drinking some more beers. At 11pm I went to sleep.
Rincon del Mar: First day power chilling
Monday 13 January Total so far: 1078,8 km
Today I slept real long – I woke up at 8. I went downstairs and had breakfast. That was already more or less the action of the day….The rest of it I actually did nothing. Just chilling in my hammock. Ah, I also went to the sea for a very short time and I enjoyed that it was really warm. Lovely.
In the evening I met a couple from Austria: Matthias and Lucy. We went for dinner together and it was fun.
Later when we got back to our rooms we decided to sit on our veranda for a little while and we enjoyed some glasses of rum.
This is holidays!
Tolu– Rincon del Mar: Heat and dirty roads
Sunday 12, January 2020 55km Total so far: 1078,8 km
I didn’t sleep very well. There was loud music coming out of every door here – amazing. I woke up already at 5 am and at 6:15 I started pedaling.
I reached the main road and after 5km I took a turn onto a secondary road. There was a sign saying no vehicles allowed because the road was under construction but I asked a worker and he said „for bikes it’s ok“. So I went. The road was dirty with sometimes brand new pavement.There was very little traffic. Mostly motorbikes and of course the trucks working for the construction. When they passed me very fast they always gave me a nice shower of dust…..The landscape was mainly meadows and pastures for cattle.
After about 19km I got back to the main road N°90 . After 8km I reached San Ofre. I had a small break there and meanwhile I left my bike standing in the hot sun. Temperature on my tachometer showed 56°C in just some minutes. Summer heat !! Well, I talked to guy there a little bit and he told me that El Rincon del Mar was much nicer then Berrugas so I decided to go there instead of Berrugas. From San Ofre the road went on also dirty and in bad condition so I could ride only slowly.
On the way I met a Brasilian guy also touring with his bike. He was travelling for 8 months now but he was going the other direction. We chatted a little bit, said good-bye each one following his own destination. I arrived in the village of El Rincon at 11:30 and started to look for a place to stay. I went all the way ‚til the end of the village. One option I already had checked out in google before but they told me they wanted 70€/night. Wow! I almost fell off my saddle! Thank you very much, I suggest you wait for the next stupid one. I went back and could find a nice tiny room with ocean view and a terrace with an own hamock. I was very happy because the area here is not very developped for tourism – very basic everything.
I took a shower, washed my bicycle uniform and was ready for a nap.
Later I was fighting hard to upload some images. The internet really is fucking slowly here. No place for digital nomades…..In the end I used my data – that was much faster.
At 7pm I went to a normal house that is made up like a restaurant. I ate my usual plate: chicken, rice and beans.
I came back, had a beer and enjoyed the warm air watching the ocean.
I am planning to stay here until the 15th of January.
Tolu: Letting time pass
Saturday 11, January 2020 – Total so far: 1023,8 km
It felt good to sleep a little bit longer. I woke up at 9:30 and went to the bakery just in front of my hotel. There I got me a coffee and some sweet stuff for breakfast. I wrote the blog and edited images. This always takes some time because the internet is not very fast here.
I took another nap later on and then explored the village a little bit. Just strolling along, taking it very easy. I stopped somewhere to enjoy a maracuya-mango juice while I was watching the beautiful sunset.
In the evening I went to eat a pizza and then watched some TV. Feels like holiday.
Tomorrow will be an easy ride I think. I am going to Berrugas which is not very far from here. Only 50km to go.
Monteria – Tolu: 99,99 flat!
Friday 10, January 2020 113km – Total so far: 1023,8 km
I got up very early today – already at 5 o’clock. I wanted to have breakfast already at 6. But: surprise, surprise! When I came down to the lobby the guy there told me s simple „no“. Breakfast starts at 6:30 only. „La p… m…“
I thought „no way, I am not waiting“. Without breakfast I packed the bike and I left. I was able to buy some fruits – pineapple and bananas. A lady cut them for me and put them in a plastic glas.
Cycling out of the city was ok. There even was a bike path going parallel to the main road for about 15km. As there was a lot of fog in the morning I told myself „ok, I’ll take advantage of it“. No sun! So I was going very fast – about 27km/h.
The road was wide. Four lanes and a nice shoulder to cycle on but also a lot of traffic. After Ceretes I took road N°21. It turned into a small road and there were no more shoulders. But I have to say most of the cars and trucks they respected me.
I saw many dead animals on the road. They just didn’t make it to the other side when they crossed the street and got hit by the cars. Very sad.
At least I must say that this time the road was flat. Just in the end there were some small hills.
In between I stopped to have a coconut and I had a nice chat with the seller. He told me all of his life. He was a simple man but smart enough to know how hard it is to make a living without education. He was the father of seven kids and he said that every day he keeps on telling them they should learn or study something. He himself struggled hard to get by. He told me that during the times when he is not selling fruit he is working as a „machetero“. Hard work from 6 in the morning till late in the afternoon for very little money. About 5€ only for the whole day. I liked him and I hope his children will make him happy one day….
Originally I had planned to stay in Covenias today. I got there very early, maybe 2pm and while I was riding around I got that feeling that I didn’t like it at all. This village was really very crowded and the beach was nothing special. So I stopped in the shadow, checked google maps and I decided to go another 20km to try my luck in another place.
After 45 min I arrived in Tolu. I liked it much better. Quiet and not so many tourists. I found a nice room. Nothing special but clean and with AC. I took a shower and I did my laundry. I really had to.
Later I went to the main plaza for dinner. I had some fish. It was ok but not super tasty.
On my way back I passed by a supermarket to get myself some drinks.
Back in my room I watched some TV and just relaxed.