Thursday 09, January 2020 122km – Total so far: 907,2 km
At 6:15 I started to bring all my stuff downstairs and loaded the bike. I was on my way out of the city at 8:30. Temperature was already 26°C degrees and there was a lot of humidity in the air. It felt like a sauna.
The road was quite average-nothing special. Cycling was kind of boring.The landscape was meadow. A lot of cattle everywhere. You could see those big farms with huge farmhouses. This region is famous for its cattle breeding.
I thought for sure the road would be flat today but that turned out to be a nice dream….I mean there were definitely flat stretches in between but always with a lot of small hills going up and down. In the end I made 500m of altitude difference. While I was riding I saw people selling parrots and tucans and I felt for the poor birds. To me a bird inside a cage seems to be a torture for this animal who’s nature is to fly.
At 8 am I stopped for breakfast. Same procedure as every morning: eggs and rice. I still thought about the birds. Crazy.
Also in this part of the country the roadside looked a little bit more dirty than the days before. Sometimes I cannot understand why peole are so dirty. They stop, enjoy the tree’s shadow for a break and after they leave all their garbage. Plastic bottles, dipers etc. Disgusting. Another thing that impressed me very much today was a guy who’s way to travel was hanging on to the back of a container truck. Crazy!
I pedaled on and temperature was rising high. At 1 pm it was real hot. I was lucky that in the middle of nowhere suddenly appeared a “restaurant”. At that time my water inside the cycling bottle was already to cook tea with and I was so thirsty. The “restaurant” saved me. I stopped, enioyed a cold drink and besides had some chicken with rice.
Regain of energy! I kept going as fast as I could but then for about 15km no possibility to get myself something to drink. Again I was thirsty like hell and again the water of my cycling bottle was cooking.This time no restaurant. I had to keep going until I reached the city about 3:30pm. That’s life.
Thanks god I found a good hotel with AC. I first took a shower and then a well deserved power nap.
In the evening I went to an Italian restaurant and had a real big pizza. I felt so hungry like I could eat a “family size” one.
With stomach full I came back to my hotel did some blog work and about 10pm I went to sleep.
Tuesday 07, January 2020 129km – Total so far: 785,2 km
Today I wanted to start early to avoid the heat and so at 6:30 I was back in the saddle again.
I was just pedaling a few minutes when I saw a guy obviously going to the market with a lot of fruit. Lucky me! I could buy my bananas right there from him! I felt happy because it is not like in Asia here where you can buy stuff everywhere – here you always have to look for everything.
The expected big downhill started as soon as I was pedaling and you could call it a real downhill for about 20km.Though I love to let go and speed up when I bike downwards I could not go as fast as I would have liked to.The road was not in very good conditions. I needed to be very careful. One thing were the bad road conditions but the other thing was that there was a lot of traffic, too.
When some parts of of the road were really bad there were guys with shuffles just adding sand to the potholes. Then they asked the drivers for money. I found it very creative, somehow it made me smile.
By the way, today for the first time I could get a coconut to drink. Man that felt so good, I just love it.
After the 20km “big downhill” the road was still leading down in general but in between there were a lot of hills. The steady up and down also can make your legs real tired.
There was a stretch when I was riding very chilled and a guy approched to me with a motorbike. He began to ask the usual questions like always… “Where are you from, where are you going to” etc. Then he went on, but after some meters he turned around and waved at me. So I stopped right beside him and before I could really take my feet off the pedals I already held a cold gatorate drink in my hands. Wow! Then he insisted to buy me some food. He was so happy and proud to invite me and wouldn’t let me pay. For me another incredibly nice experience.
Cycling was good. The road often went parallel to the Caucasia river and I crossed many bridges with awesome views.
At 4pm I got to the city of Caucasia and I found me a hotel that looked ok.
I took a shower and I went to eat like always. This time I really was hungry and the food on my plate left my stomach with quite a big hole still. So I went to a supermarket…. I bought some olive crackers and nachos with salsa. Yummi
So back in my room I continued my dinner and watched some TV till late at night – tomorrow is a day off!!!
Monday 06 , January 2020 88,3 km – Total so far: 656,2 km
I woke up at 05:45 and at 06:45 I already had breakfast.The usual menu: scrambles eggs, some arepas and coffee. I started pedaling at a temperature of 12°C. It was 7:30 in the morning and the new day was dawning.The road went up and down and the landscape once again looked like Switzerland.
Later on the sun came out and it felt so good to feel the warm sunbeams on my body and skin. Temperature rose up to 24°C and it was fun to cycle. Very nice. I enjoyed.
Before arriving at Yarumal I stopped in the middle of nowhere to have a coffee. I saw the woman who worked there was doing some handcraft and I asked her about it. She showed me her work then. She was doing all kinds of handcrafts with bottle caps, very nice. She already won a big price in 2014. It was amazing. She e.g. did all of the tricots, balls etc. of Colombian’s national team. Super interesting.
Today I found a machete on the road and I carried it with me. Then I saw a guy working in the fields and asked him if he wanted to have the machete. Yes, and how he wanted! He really was so happy he almost kissed me when I gave it to him.
My plan today was to go to Yarumal but I already arrived there at noon and I was still feeling fit. After I had some lunch there I decided to keep going on to Valdivia.
Valdivia is just a small village at the side of the road. I was happy that at least they had a hotel there.
After a shower I went to eat. The food was not fresh. Warmed up chicken. Not very tasty.
I went back to my room and did the routine work. Packing my stuff and then going to sleep. It was 9:30pm.
Sunday 05 , January 2020 76 km – Total so far: 567,9 km
I started to pedal at 7 o’clock. Already after 2 km the hills started and the road was climbing up. I took it easy, everything was fine until google maps recommended to take a short cut.This was the start of a night mare…..
The short cut went through very, very poor neighborhoods. All people had pitbulls, stafford terriers, dogos and rottweilers. I felt like in a movie.
Everybody was watching me and sometimes made some comments – but never agressive thanks god. When I was going up a very steep climb a guy asked me where I was going. He said “are you sure you want to go this way?” “Yes, to Picacho Mountain” I said “why not?” He said the climbs are extremly steep. “This is going to be very though” He thought I’d better had chosen the other way….. ‘Well, now it’s too late” I said.
The following 12 km took me 3,5 hours then. This guy had been so f…ing right!! It was impossible to pedal. The climb was so steep like 17%. Too hard to cycle. I had to push the bike most of the time. It really killed me.
The landscape at least was epic. Amazing mountain views but I was almost too tired to enjoy them. This 12km really fucked me up and I lost so much time. I went on climbing up and when I reached the higher altitudes the temprature dropped. 10°C at 2800m – I was freezing my ass.
It was getting late. I knew I would have to cycle in the dark. There were no hotels- not even villages. Nothing where you could stop to sleep, so I prepared my lights.
While I was riding through the darkness suddenly a german sheppard jumped out of a fence along the roadside and ran after me. I got off the bike and the dog went to the other side of the road. There he followed me for about 100m. He looked dangerous but I was not scared at all. I could interpretate his behaviour and ‘body language”. I knew he was not willing to attac me, he just protected his territories. Anyway. My machete was already in my hand.
I kept climbing and climbing. When I got to this small village of Santa Rosa de Osos I already had been cycling for a while in the dark. I could find a hotel, did the check in and took a shower. Thanks god they had hotshower. Felt so good.
After I went to eat. Like always: chicken, rice and beens. When I came back to my room I went to sleep immediately. Tough ride today!
Saturday 04 , January 2020 – Total so far: 491,9 km
I woke up early today at 7:30. I went to have breakfast already at 8:15.
Today the breakfast was much better than yesterday. Maybe yesterday I went down too late and the best things were finished already. Could be.
My plan was to do the guided sight seeing tour. I wanted to avoid walking around and wasting time with looking how to get to each sight. In the hotel they offered tours but they were all booked so in the end I went to Comuna 13 on my own and got me a guide there.
Comuna 13, also known as San Javier, has the most tumultuous history of the city. Once even labeled as the most dangerous community due to its astronomical homicide rates and its forced displacement of thousands of residents.
Comuna 13 Medellin is an over-populated and low socio-economic zone that crawls up along the west hills of the city with thousands of brick and cement homes stacked close one to another. It was a pivotal center for paramilitary, guerrilla- and gang activity. The location offers ideal conditions for crime, as it leads directly to the main highway (San Juan Highway), providing easy transportation of guns, drugs, and money.
Today it’s a an absolute tourist attraction. The young ones do a lot of graffity art here, you can see breakdance performers on the street and all kind of things that belong to a so called subcultural area. A must see if you visit Medellin. You don’t need a guide if you don’t want to. Only if you are interested in the meanings of the graffities it makes sense. I found it interesting, you can learn something and you help the people to make a living, too. It’s not easy here….
From Comuna 13 I took a taxi to Plaza Botero then.
Plaza Botero or Plaza de Las Esculturas (Sculpture Plaza) is 80.729 square feet of public space that occupies the area in front of the Museum of Antioquia and also surrounds the Uribe Palace of Culture .
In this space exists a perfect mix of art, culture and nature in which 23 of Botero’s bronze sculptures are on permanent display and exhibit. Donated by Medellin’s own Fernando Botero years ago and put into place during 2002, they adorn the surrounding area and create an amazing outdoor exhibit. Among the pieces worth admiring are “The Hand”, “Eve”, “Maternity”, “Man on horseback”, and “Roman Soldier” to name a few.
Visitors of this part of the city need to be alert. Like in all the big cities there are many junkies, pick-a-pockets and it is very crowded.
I left and went to eat in a Vegetarian vegan restaurant . It was nice because I could enjoy some vegetables that I had missed long time now and I ate some salad.
After I just strolled along a little bit and about 4pm I decided to go back to the hotel.
In the eveneing I went to eat at an Italian restaurant. I ordered some spagetthis to get carbohydrates for tomorrow.
I want to go to Santa Rosa de Osos tomorrow. It will be a tough ride because I have to climb up to 2600m ….Well, we’ll see.
I went to have breakfast at 9:30. Some eggs, cheese and some toast. Nothing special.
After I walked to a mall not far away from the hotel to change some money. I decided to get up early tomorrow and maybe do a guided tour to take me to all the main sights of the city.Today it is definitely too hot to do it. It’s noon time, about 30°C and I don’t feel very much like walking around a lot now.
I went to the botanic garden to escape from the city’s heat a little bit. Hmm… It was a little bit disappointing – maybe because I had bigger expectationes, but anyway it was ok.
On my way back to the hotel I took a taxi and the driver began to talk to me. Like many people here he talked about the dark days of the past. I think that people maybe still suffer from their individual, partly traumatic experiences back in these days.
I got the impression that here in a big city like Medellin you see more homeless and drug addicted people then in the countryside.But to be honest I think everywhere it’s like this – very sad what the big cities produce.
Finally I enjoyed it very much just to hang out and to watch some UFC on TV. Power chilling.
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.–
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