Thursday, December 10, 2009

Doradal, Colombia to Bogota, Colombia: Bat Snuggling, Floods, and the Toughest Climb Ever

Miles Per Day: Day 4=75; Day 5=47; Day 6=REST; Day 7=REST; Day 8=REST; Day 9=52.

Total So Far: 256

Inspiration: the smell of clear mountain air (it smells different somehow); Colombian women; the many rivers along the route; Guns n' Roses; the natural beauty around Honda.

Spirits: HOT; strong; amazed; pensive.

Things Seen on the Road: a bat in my motel room; the Magdalene River; flooded roads; hot, hot hot Colombian women; snakes crawling along the road.

Favorite Quotes: After telling a local that I was heading to Honda: “Oh, so you are heading to the furnace of Colombia.” [translation] After telling a hotel guest in Villeta that I was climbing up to Bogota via La Vega highway on a bike: “Only a Gringo...”

What a crazy week it's been. This short trip turned out to be the toughest, most intense I've ever had. But it has made me realize that I can, in fact, tour outside the US without too many problems. The one thing that I need to better plan for is the mountainous terrain of countries like Colombia. Gone are the days when I could cruise 70-80 mile several days at a time. If I am to do more trips in this region I have to be prepared to slow down on distance and embrace the inevitable, unending elevation change.

Natural Beauty of Honda
Heading into Honda, Colombia, I witnessed some of the strangest natural beauty I have ever seen on a bike. On both sides of the road, for miles around, I saw what I can only describe as mountain sculptures. They looked like rocky outcrops that have been weathered over time and that are covered with the greenest of vegetation. I had to stop a couple of times to take a closer look just make sure I wasn't on the set of a Jurassic Park movie.

I think I was just stupid, but coming past the Magdalena River I saw that the road was flooded in several places. There was never a place where the road was completely flooded, but it is clear that recent rains had flooded the entire countryside and water was now spilling over the main highway. Just check out the video below...I probably should have gotten off the road. But everyone that was driving past didn't seem to mind. Not good on my part I think.

Of course, snuggling with a bat in Villeta was a highlight this past week. And just to be clear, I left the bat in the motel room with the window open. I just hope the critter was able to leave on his own.

Climbing to Bogota From Villeta
Total elevation change=>2,200 meters (>7,000 feet) in less than 18 miles; road temperature change= 90f to 45f; change in climate= hot and humid to freezing rain.

Absolutely, positively, undeniably the hardest thing I have ever done on a bike. Period. Man was it fun!

Photo ROll


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