Thursady 02 , January 2020 71 km – Total so far: 491,9 km
Today I got up at 6 o clock. The night was not very good. It was hard to find some sleep. These hotel walls are cheap paper walls and a couple next door was going at it all night long. In another room there was really loud music with laughter and the usual party sounds. It was like the choice between discovery channel and MTV…..
At 7am I was already pedaling getting out of El Santuario.
Temperature was a little bit chilly-15°C. The road like usual was going up and down and I already guessed that because I saw a lot of guys on their racing bikes.
l thought about stopping to have breakfast but in the end I was going so fast that I decided to eat some cookies and some chocolats on the road.
The highway was filling with more and more traffic. I arrived at the top of the hill at 2284m and from there it was a nice downhill all the way to Medellin which lies at 1495m.
I was in Medellin at 10:45am already. Really fast.
My wife had checked out some hotel options for me because yesterday’s internet was a desaster and she texted it to me.
I started to check them out but some of them were booked already and finally I found one called “El Porton de San Joaquin” but the biggest room wasn’t ready yet. So I needed to wait until 3pm. Whatever, this time I was determined to get myself a real spacey and comfortable room.
I had to wait anyway and so I looked around meanwhile to see if there maybe was another good hotel. I checked out some others but many had big stairs and I didn’t feel like carrying everything up. In the end I came back and lucky me they had just finished the room and it was waiting for me to move in.
This is the best Hotel so far. A big room, A/C, a small fridge and hot water. Nice.
I did the check in, took a shower and I ordered some sandwich. Heavenly. With stomach full I took a nap and then went to a supermarket.
Later on I did the blog. Here the internet is ok. What else do I need?
I decided to take 2 days off from biking. Enough time to have a good look around.
Wednesday 01 , January 2020 – Total so far: 418,9 km
I woke up at 8 already. “No way” !! I turned to the other side once again and I kept on sleeping until 11:30.
First thing when I got up finalIy I washed my clothes from the bucket and then went to the main square. Here I met Gabriel again. He was charging his phone and told me that he was feeling sick. He has very little money and cannot afford to buy some medicine. So I bought some for him.
I went to have lunch at the same place like yesterday evening: restaurant El Palermo, but it was full, no table. I strolled a little bit around and when I went back I could get a free table. No illusions about the menu…. Yes, 10 points ! Chicken rice and beans.
Back in my room I took a nap. I wrote the daily reports for the blog and edited some images. No chance to upload anything – the internet connection in Colombia sucks.
In the evening I went out again to eat, then came back and packed my panniers.
Hope tomorrow in Medellin I manage to get a nice place to stay with good internet.
Referring the internet connection I’m not very optimistic but miracles happen
Tuesday 31 , December 2019 55 km – Total so far: 418,9 km
Pedaling started at 5:15 in the morning. I knew the road would first go down for 600m and so I expected an easy start. Unfortunately it shouldn’t be like that….After I was sitting for 10min on the bike heavy rains started like yesterday. Oh nooo!! But lucky me also like yesterday I could find a house nearby and I stopped and waited. At least today, after 20 min I already could dare to pedal on.
I went down a valley and crossed a bridge with a magnificant view. Underneath the river was flowing with a powerful stream. It was awesome! I stayed for a while observing the water and enjoying this beautiful spectacle. Many times today mother nature presented to me these special moments when you feel so small in comparison to its strengh and power. I saw a lot of rivers like this one coming down from the mountains, today. Beautiful earth.
I went on and again I had to cycle up the hill. The weather god was not on my side today….. Just after some seconds back in the saddle it started to rain again like hell. I began to curse the weather….At least I was lucky again. There was a house and I found shelter. I stood there for maybe one hour but the rain wouldn’t stop. I had to take a decision because I couldn’t stay here waiting all day.
I put my sandals and my rain jacket on and I started to cycle again. It’s only water I told myself and pedaled in the pouring rain. The temperature at least was ok. About 25°C.
I felt tired the whole day already and so I was climbing up the steep hills very slowly. I was thinking to myself “now it’s really time to stay for one or two days in one place to recover a little bit.”
The climbs stayed steep. I was going maybe at 5km/h. The secret is just keep going and keep the bike straight.
Could be traffic was maybe a little bit less then usually but still there were a lot of trucks and buses on the road. It was ok because on the side there were comfortable shoulders to ride on. Until now I have no reason to complain about colombian drivers.
I finally stopped to have breakfast and I saw a lot of other local cyclists – all with racing bikes. There are so many of them here in Colombia, I never guessed that Colombia was such a bike-crazy nation. Most of the cyclists go for their training from Bogota to Medellin and they all use small backpacks – ultralight.
Before Cocorna I did another stop. I bought some bananas and the owner of the restaurant was nice. He gave me some for free and also offered a drink of sugar cane juice to me. I didn’t want to accept but he insisted so much that I did him the favour to drink it. I knew my stomach wouldn’t t like it very much but I wanted to be nice. I finished the drink and told him bye-bye. The next climb was already waiting for me.
The road went up until it reached the top called “Alto Bonito” at 2280m. In total numbers I climbed today 1540m and on top of it all it was still raining like hell…..
Meanwhile I was all wet and the temperature at the top was only about 14°C. F…ing cold !!! I quickly took a picture and went on. Suddenly one of the guys with the racing bikes catched up with me from behind. He told me that this really was a very strong hill – hard to cycle. I was happy others were suffering, too. (And they had much lighter and faster bikes than me.)
From here on the road was going all down to the city. I freezed my ass off during the downhill. It was so cold my fingers got numb – no gloves.
I arrived at the town and like always I began to look for a room. On the main square I knew one could always find hotels but the one I checked out only had a room on the third floor – I would have to get up the stairs with the bike and all of my stuff. “No way” I said.
I stood there at the square thinking of where to turn to find another hotel. A guy approched to me then. He was columbian and also touring the country by bike together with his girlfried. We chatted a little bit and he told me where to find another hotel. Then we planned to have dinner together at night.
So I checked in in the Hotel Terra Monte, close to the main square.
I took a shower and I met with the colombian couple. We walked to the restaurant and on the way we saw another guy with a fully loaded bike. Gabriel from Brasil. For 8 years already on the road with his bike. We invited him to eat with us. Nice evening.
On our way back we had some beers and “agua ardiente” which is simular to Anis stuff. It’s not my taste. Strong. Like Ouzo.
When I went back to my room at 11pm I put all of my clothes into a bucket. I added hot water and soap and I went to sleep. At least they would have a bearable smell tomorrow. I was extremely tired.–
Monday 30 , December 2019 65 km – Total so far: 363,4 km
I knew a lot of climbs were waiting for me today so I had set the alarm clock very early: 4.30am it was ringing.
I thought it would be better to start very early and so at 5:30 I was already pedaling……Immediately the road started to climb-constantly going up and down, up and down. Exactly as I had expected it.
When I was climbing one of those uncountable hills suddenly some raindrops began to fall. Well, it’s hard to imagine but in just a few seconds rain came down like someone had opened all the gates of heaven at once! It was raining cats and dogs and I was lucky to find this tiny carpenter shop where I could take some shelter from the heavy rain.
Another guy with a motorbike also found rescue beneath the roof here. His name was Alfonso. We chatted a little bit and I enjoyed our conversation. He told me a lot about the times when there was so much violence here due to the cartel and the guerillas. It was interesting.
I stayed there for about one hour until the rain got less.Then I decided to keep going.
The climbs sometimes were real hard but the beautiful landscapes were compensating my suffering.
There were stretches where I was climbing up to 1500m altitude and then again went downhill to find myself at a hight of just 500m. Nice of course, but it’s hard to enjoy it 100% if you already know you need to climb up all the way again.
At 2 pm I stopped at a restaurant to eat and drink something. While I was sitting there some people came up to me to talk and to ask the usual questions like “where are you from ,where are you going, does your bike have an engine” and so on. It’s always nice to talk a little bit and I told them about my stay in Doradal. Their eyes got wide open when I told them about the price I had paid for my room there. Hmm, so I found out this way that I had been ripped off back there at this hotel….It is nothing that bothers me but for sure I will give them a nice review online later on.
I went on and the road kept on climbing until I finally reached my today’s destination and I started to look for a place to sleep. It was already 4pm and already climbed more than 1700m and I felt really tired.
I found a truck stop. Very simple, but with a restaurant – yes! I took a shower and I went to eat. Menu like usual: chicken, rice and beans.
When I then went back to my room and put the key the door wouldn’t open. “What the hell is that” I thought (Not necessary to mention that I use the well known spanish expression in reality…) Shit! I went back and I complained while I was showing the damned key to the guy there…..He looked first at the key and then with this question mark-face at me. “This is not our key senior”. What? I first didn’t understand but then when I checked the other pocket of my pants I found a second key there – the one for my room Oh! I really had tried to open the door with the wrong key! This one I still carried it with me from the last hotel room in Doradal… ….I admit it made me smile….
Ok, but the most important thing for me was I could get inside now. I was so tired that at 8pm I went to sleep
Sunday 29, December 2019 75 km – Total so far: 298,4 km
At 5 o’clock my alarm rang. I finished packing and started to pedal at about 6 in the morning.
I figured out yesterday evening that I needed to return to the main highway going to Medellin.
The traffic was a little bit less then yesterday but still enough. The highway consisted of two lanes going boths directions.The first 30km where flat and always straight – nothing special.
I listened to some music which I preferred to the sound of the truck engines.
On the side of the road there was a guy with his motorbike giving me hints to stop and waving to me. So I stopped to see what was the matter.
Well, he needed some tools. His radiator cap didn’t close the way it should. I gave him my bicycle tools and he was able to repair it. In the end he asked me how much he would owe to me now. I felt embarrased and shook my head in disbelief. “Of course nothing” I told him but I really had to tell him many times before he accepted that I didn’t want anything. Nice people.
I rode on and the highway turned into a normal road – but the traffic was the same….
On top just 2km before town it started to rain. Flashlights in the sky but I was enjoying it. To me it was like a refreshing shower.
I arrived all wet and the small town was full with tourists from Colombia. They all come here because theres a big park which is built on the ex-farm Hacienda Napoles of Pablo Escobar. He used to have a lot of exotic animals that he brought from Africa. Now it’s like a public safari park with different swimming pools and all kinds of entertainment. I don’t wanna go there.
I started to look for accomodation.
The prices of the hotels were expensive and overpriced. In the end I paid 30$ for a small room with a fan. It was hot and inside the room it felt like a sauna. Thanks god I was tired enough to take a nap. Then I did some work on the blog.
After that I took another shower with cold water – there was no hot -and went to eat. The food was ok but nothing special. On my way back I tried to get me some stuff to take with me tomorrow and I found a supermarket. It was very big but the shelves were more or less empty…..
I was back to my room and when I opened the door the temperature had climbed up to almost 31°C…..I took the third shower and I went to sleep.
I know the mountains are starting again tomorrow…..
Saturday 28, December 2019 110,4 km – Total so far: 223,4 km
I had set up my alarm at 5:30am but I already was awake at 5 o’clock. I closed my panniers and was ready to leave at 6 o’clock.
When I wanted to get out everybody was still sleeping and the gate of the hotel was locked with a chain. Hmm. What to do? I looked around and I found a second one that I could open. Lucky me.
I started pedaling and like Fernando said the road started to climb immediately. There was a lot of traffic and some time it seemed to be the rush hour. It was not very nice to cycle although the landscape was really very epic and beautiful with the mountains hiding in the clouds.
The road climbed for about 20km. I was happy to finally start with the downhill but it was a little bit spoiled due to still heavy traffic and the vehicles moved only very, very slow. Trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes – everything. I always could find my way to move between them and was passing almost all of them…. Still I needed to be careful because the road only had 2 lanes. I was fast and after another 17km I was already in Guaduas.
I was happy then because Fernando had told me that from here it would be just flat roads, no more hills. My dear friend Fernando, that’s not what it was, unfotunately!! Could be the columbian flatness of course, for columbian cyclists like you my friend !?! What I found was that the road kept going steadily up and down in small hills. Exhausting but at least the landscape was amazing. Awesome.
Kind of a problem turned out to be that after Guaduas there were no more shops or gas stations where you could provide yourself with water or food. Nothing.
Like always due to the weight I didn’t carry too much water with me. 20km before my destination “La Dorada” I was more than lucky to find a restaurant where I could get something to drink because I already started to feel shitty.
So I did a break, drank cold coke and bought some sugar cane – Panela. The guy there told me this is the best thing ever for cyclists and from this all the colombian cyclists gain their energy. Well I’ve got nothing against it, I guess.
The thing seemed to work…. I was speeding up towards my destination. Cycling was easy, I listened to some music and I was very motivated again.
After 8 hours riding and climbing almost 1600m of altitude I reached the city of La Dorada. I looked for a hotel and finally checked in at the Hotel Bella.
I had a shower and then went downtown to get myself some cash. Man I really was hungry! I ordered some chicken. To my surprise it was fried which is not exactly my favourite but I was so hungry I would have eaten anything.
Back in my room I did the blog and at 21:30 I went to bed. Seems to be my sleeping hour…We will see where I’m gonna go tomorrow
Yesterday night I went to sleep already at 21:30 ; I was so tired….
I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow but at about half an hour later someone tried to get into my room and made me wake up. My door wasn’t locked, so I jumped out of bed yelling and shouting and whoever it was- he disappeared.
I know why I always take my security cautions: my bike was leaning against the door, so if someone would try and move the door it would make a lot of noise like it did right now.
Still I think someone was stupid enough to go to the wrong room….After that it took me some time of course to fall asleep again. I was pissed.
Finally at 6 o’clock I woke up and at 8 o’clock I got out of bed. I really wish that one day I’m able to sleep real long!
I went to have my first colombian breakfast here in my guest house. It was a soup with a piece of meat (that was consisting more of fat then of meat) and a potatoe. I ordered some scrambled eggs with “arepas” – a kind of fusion between a tortilla and a pancake.
I decided to walk to the city and I visited the main square. Like everywhere in South America here is where life takes place.
Surprise! I met Fernando again. I was happy to see him. I was just looking around for a machete and he joined me. Nice to have company! I found and bought one and Fernando sharpened it. He really knew how to do it. Man I was happy with the new piece of my machete collection and we kept on walking around a little bit. We also went to see the river that is called like the town: Villeta.
Back at the main square another premiere: I drank my first “agua panela” a very typical drink here. It is juice made from sugar cane and you can also drink it hot with milk. I also tried a beer that they ferment with sugar cane. It was very tasty, not sweet at all.
On the way back to my guesthouse I passed by a supermarket and bought some bananas for tomorrow.
At 7 pm I went for dinner at the same Italian restaurant like yesterday and also ate the same dish like yesterday: spagetthi a la bolognesa. Lovely.
I got back to my room finished to pack my panniers and at 21:30 – also like yesterday – I went to sleep.
Thursday 26, December 2019 113 km – Total so far: 113 km
Today at 5:30 I already was awake. I felt so ecxited – my first day on the roads of Colombia. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I was ready to start.
I loaded the panniers on my bike, had a coca tea and did the check out . When I started pedaling it was about 7:20am.
Getting out of Bogota was not too bad in the beginning. I was using google map – pedestrian mode – but then it always took me to wrong directions somehow. Finally I was fed up and I changed to Mapsme which was the better choice.
It took me about 24km to get out of town. Bogota really is big….. I passed through areas you don’t want to be when it’s dark…
I cycled a secondary road (Number 15) and then took the main road 50 to Medellin. From there on the road started to climb really hard. It was even more challenging as it was my first day of cycling and my body still had to adapt to the high altitude.
I took it very easy and did a lot of breaks.
It was amazing how many cyclists were there on the roads of Colombia. I never expected Colombia to be such a biking nation! Nice!
I kept on climbing and about 12 o’clock I reached the top called Alto dell Vino at 2840 m over see level.
An old man came up to me and I chatted a little bit with him. He told me he was keepig fit like this and that last year he even did the Pre-Tour the France. Incredible!
Then another guy called Fernando showed up and joined our conversation. Fernando made me change my plans….. Originally I had planned to do the downhill just for about 15kms where there is a small village called San Francisco. As Fernando was from Villeta he convinced me to go there instead of San Francisco. Still 53 kms to go but about 30kms just downhill. After that some few small hills and you are already there. Easy.
He was on his way back home and also going there. So we started to pedal together to Villeta.
The downhill was great, but the few small hills after were, too. I told Fernando to ride up in his own rhythm and wait for me at the top but he didn’t want to. He said “You don’t do that. You don’t leave nobody behind”. So he kept on pedaling my slow pace with his fast racing bike. Very nice.
The last 2 hills then really were killing me. I was just finished. Going real slow and Fernando still trying to motivate me. That was kind of⁷ cool, but I already got cramps in my legs and I needed to walk for some meters. Fernando got off his bike and walked with me. He impressed me.
At 4pm we arrived in Villeta and before he left he took me to a hotel from his family. Very nice experience to cycle with him.
I took a shower and washed my clothes. Later on I went downtown and found an Italian restaurant…I ate spagetthi bolognesa with 2 big beers! Wonderful.
When I came back to my room I did some work on the blog and I went to sleep at 21:30.
Today it was an easy and relaxed day. I woke up at 7am and kept chilling in bed until 8:30 .
I had some coffees and about 12:30 I went for a short ride through town to test the bike.
It was sunny outside. I still was feeling the hight altitude – maybe my body was adapting slowlier because I am suffering a cold.
The streets were closed for normal traffic, just open for cyclists. Amazing! They always do it here on weekends and holidays. It was really nice to ride the bike surrounded by a lot of people that were also biking and skating.
After a while I returned to my guest house. I ordered some chicken and had a nice chat with the owner’s father. He seems to be a very open minded man and he told me the story of his life. It was really interesting.
Later on I went to the supermarket to get some supplies for the start of my biking next day. No plans where I will end up tomorrow – it all depends how I feel.
After packing my panniers I relaxed just watching some TV. I went to bed early trying to get enough sleep. Tomorrow I want to start early….
Unfortunately I didn t sleep too much. At 2:30 in the night I already woke up the first time – that really sucked. Then I hardly could fall asleep again and at 7am I gave up the fight and finally got up.
I organized my stuff a little bit inside the room and put the last few things on the bike. After I went downstairs to the lobby, had some coffee and ate the rest of my pizza from yesterday. Theo, the tiny sweet little dog of the guesthouse was joyning me and he got some pizza, too.
I finished and went to look for a place where I could change money and buy a simcard.
The weather was a little bit chilly but very sunny – I made a first mistake today: I didn’t think of putting some sun screen because it was not hot at all. Besides that I didn’t even wear a hat and so I got my first sunburn today-right on my head. I learned my lesson: colombian sun is really strong guys.
I strolled along and finally found myself inside a mall called Andina. There was a Claro shop located in there where I could get my sim card and it also was possible to change money there. Mission accomplished.
On my way home I passed by a supermarket, got some food and arrived again at my guesthouse. Time for a little nap.
Later on I went outside again to see if it was possible to find an adapter for my charger. It wasn’t: everything was already closed due to Christmas.
So I got back, watched some TV and I started to check out wich route to take when I start touring with the bike on Thursday.
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