Section 2, Part 1: Coffee and Cocoa


Bogota

Rest days are usually busy with running errands to replenish toiletries and bike supplies, laundry, and bike maintenance. We don’t really get to be tourists and we might get a nap. We had 2 full days in Bogota and were able to complete our errands and enjoy the city a bit. Right next to our hotel was the National Museum. We walked through in a couple hours, it was a lot of history and art. However everything was in Spanish so we had to guess the information.

One part of the city is bike shop central, within 2 blocks there are at least 20 bike shops that sell bikes, provide maintenance, or the mega bike shops with kits, parts, nutrition, and service. Bruce and I both bought Colombia jerseys.

We had dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city, Leo. We enjoyed the 12 course tasting menu with beverage parings. The chef uses mostly local ingredients from Colombia. A few favorites were tuna topped with cocoa and ants, alligator mousseline, and smoked rabbit croquette with a local pepper jelly.

Day 14: Bogota to Anapoima, 101k

The group was lead by caravan out of the city by assistant tour director, Jacob and section 1 rider, Mario.

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fog as we descend

It was smooth and organized even with morning weekday traffic. At one point traffic was backed up and a car tried to change lanes in the middle of our caravan and hit [Ed. rubbed] Bruce’s rear tire. Bruce screamed expletives and the driver backed off. Everyone and his bike is perfectly fine.

The exhaust and pollution in the cities is choking. I really do not enjoy riding through the cities. Its like closing the garage door with the car running. A lot of local riders have masks to help with filtering the pollution. I find that the exhaust causes asthmatic reactions in me when I ride.

After the caravan, we had a fast and flat 20k and it felt good to actually ride faster than 20kph/12mph.

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Bruce descending

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A view into the valley

Usually we enjoy the descents, but we actually had to take breaks to relieve hand cramping from holding the brake levers through all the bumps.

As the day went on, it became hot and of course we had to climb again. At least our camp destination had a pool!

Day 15: Anipoima to Prado, 146k

So. Hot. Today. The temperature went up to  37 degrees C/ 98F. Even though we were in a “dry tropical climate” and it was dryer, it was still hot. IMG_2253We took many breaks today. It was also very windy, so riding with Bruce and taking turns leading into the wind helped with fatigue.

In one of the small towns we stopped for a Coco Frio, a cold coconut cut open to enjoy the cold water. A man wielding a machete in Colombia is your friend!

When we reached Prado we stopped in the bustling town plaza for an ice cream, soon after Bruce felt very dehydrated and sick. We made it to camp and was able to get a room with air conditioning for the night. IMG_2256As we had dinner in the grass with the group, everyone was attacked by bugs. The mass amounts of red bumps made us look like we had measles. It has taken a few days, lots of cortisone and antihistamines for everyone to stop itching.

 

 

Day 16: Prado to Desert Tatoloa, 95K

Bruce did not wake up feeling well, so he took the day off and road the bus. The day was forecasted to be extremely hot, so it was best for him to rest and rehydrate.

The day’s ride was mostly on gravel roads. IMG_2262The first 30k I hammered it and had a blast. The tour leader made a joke that Bruce was holding me back because I was much faster than normal! I witnessed a farmer chased down a Zorro and her baby. IMG_2265He was so proud of himself for scooping up the baby, he rattled off a bunch of information that I did not understand, but when the mom skulked back around he let the babe go.

At the end of the 30k we had a river crossing. The tour leaders already bargained with 2 small boats to take us across for $1000/$.33USD. The river current was very strong and I was amazed that we made it across! IMG_2267The next little town was on pavement for a while, I made a wrong turn and added about 4k to my overall day, oops. When I made it back to the route on the highway it was a strong direct headwind and  I started to get a headache and found every excuse to stop. The SAG truck pulled up and offered to take me to lunch about 15k away, I assumed I would feel better after eating. Lunch was off a gravel road in the HOT sun and starting to gain dessert conditions. A family of goats joined us for some scraps. After eating lunch I felt queasy and decided to ride the SAG to camp.

I was amazed when we reached camp that it was in fact the dessert and a major tourist destination. IMG_2276So many Americans and Europeans walking around. There was an observatory, so I knew the star gazing would be amazing. Unfortunately, there was too much cloud cover that night to see much.

 

 

 

Day 17: Desierto to Hobo, 104k

I only love the dessert in the mornings and evenings, peaceful beauty.IMG_2282

Bruce and I both felt rested and hydrated and looked forward to a strong day of riding. We enjoyed cooler temps and cloud cover, which I am learning is my enhancement drug. We did get to enjoy insane winds of over 50kph/30mph. Therre were times our bikes were leaning 20 degrees into the wind to stay balanced!

We passed through a large city that had significant road construction. The traffic was backed up for a few kilometers. IMG_2284We followed the example of motorbikes and road on the grass, sidewalks, whatever to get by. When we reached a bridge the congestion was in both directions. After waiting a few minutes a driver yelled at us and a motorcycle for parking in between semi trucks. The motorcycle driver yelled a bunch of American curse words, Bruce and I giggled. After the trucks started moving Bruce wondered aloud that the whole congestion was from 1 semi driver not knowing how to drive, the motorcyclist yelled out “Welcome to Colombia!”

About 10k after lunch we stopped in a small town, Campoalegra, because a roadside asadero popped up. IMG_2368Basically they grill meat on open fire and its amazing. The meat was delicious and the other diners tried to ask us about our bike tour.

Our camp was at a hospejeade, or truck stop. This was so much nicer than the US. They usually have a restaurant with fresh cooked foods and the rooms are clean and run by young families. The best part of this hospejeade was all the hammocks on the porches and a strong breeze made for a spectacular afternoon nap.

Day 18: Hobo to Timana

Sick day for Becky so Bruce is writing this section.  Becky was feeling somewhat nauseous when starting the bike, so she decided to hop on the bus early in the morning and I rode alone for the rest of the day.  It was a mostly uneventful day riding through the hills on our way to Timana, which after the last few days was needed.  It was nice to be able to just put my head down and ride my bike with no other worries.  When we reached Timana we had a little time to explore so we walked around the town.  All the small towns in Colombia seem to have a beautiful square in the center of town and Timana was no exception.

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Statue in Timana

There was a gorgeous old church, a huge tree covering the entire square with shade, and a statue of a naked woman holding a severed head.  This is Cacica Gaitana, apparently when the Spanish founded the city in Timana they told all the local tribes to pay them tribute.  One of the local leaders did not immediately comply with that order so the Spanish had him executed. That rather irked his mother, Cacica Gaitana, so she rallied all the tribes to attack the Spanish and kill them.

 

 

 

Day 19: Timana to San Augustin, 55k

A short day into a rest day is the best day!!! Cooler temps, a few Colombian rolling hills and were were finished.

Today, I started to notice the coffee plants more.

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coffee plant seedlings

Along the road, up the mountains, everywhere. I am very grateful to be able to see where my favorite beverage isn made, to see the plants, and the workers harvesting the beans. There is so much hard work into making coffee that we take for granted.

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road side coffee plants

Even the crappy US gas station coffee is made from the same hard work. So please take a moment over your morning coffee and and be thankful for the hard working individuals that are not compensated fairly.

IMG_2291We made it to San Agustin by noon, so we had an extra half day of rest! We were able to complete our rest day errands and have the next day for exploring the ancient ruins.

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