Bogotá, Colombia (12,232 kilometers – 7,600 miles)
After quite a hefty allocation of time was spent doing everything but actually riding our bikes, the members of Conbigotes finally embarked southward into the depths of Colombia, toward Bogotá. For the first time in what has been a while, we had a more than healthy batch of kilometers to burn with zero real knowledge of what would come to pass other than Bogotá is high.
Quick and unimportant side note: I just witnessed a homeless man toting one of the those Suzanne Summers Thigh Master contraptions. I couldn’t help but ponder, is this dude actually using that? Seems a tad unnecessary to me, being of course that it can’t double as an extra layer or blanket for these chilly Bogotá street nights.
Moving on…sorry about that.
Pedaling away from Santa Marta and the accompanying coastline, the first road sign with Bogotá 958K punched us in the groin. Immediately, we knew this would be at least a 10 day trek and possibly more depending on what altitude of airline flight the capital city rests at. For me, I won’t speak for Ryan here because he isn’t a 7 year-old girl, moments before here first roller coaster ride like myself, but at least 10 straight days in heat and substantial climbing seemed a bit daunting. That said, even after more that 6 months on the road, it still baffles me how short a length of time it takes to get back into a riding rhythm. An overall chunk of distance quickly gets dwindled down much like my bank account. Daily goals become finding a decent loaf of bread, free water and dryish tent space.
Speaking of tent space, we have an interesting situation upon us in regards to the free camping category. It becomes moderately challenging to pinpoint a modest campsite off the road when EVERY centimeter of land is fenced in barbed wire, effectively dividing private ranch land. This minor logistical issue has catapulted us into the arms of 100% pure Colombian hospitality. The folks here are more welcoming than a 4×1 margarita happy hour. The majority of our recent campsites have been found by pushing open cattle gates and explaining our fable to local farmers. In return, we have been gifted with more shelter, food, kindness and memories than we could ever pay for. The first thing we are asked for is an honest answer to “how do you like Colombia?” and the only thing we are ever asked for in return is to travel well. The highlight of my day is simply the anticipation of what type of family we will get to meet that particular evening.
Along with feeling swaddled, we have been fairly goddamn lucky out here as well. After running out of replaceable spokes for Ryan’s rear wheel, we found a bike shop in Aguachica more than willing to contribute 10 difficult to find spokes, free of charge. Additionally, when both of my rear rack eyelets on my frame decided to snap off on consecutive days, we happened to be no more than a sand-wedge away from capable steel welders to laugh and get things back in order.
With my rack no longer hanging by a loose tooth, we were ready to get on the three-day escalator to Bogotá which hovers at about 2,625 meters (that’s 8,612 feet for all of you not operating on the metric system). You guys have already heard all our heroic climbing stories before so I won’t bore you with irrelevant details, but holy shit was the second day grueling. At the end of the day our legs felt at tight as rubber bands after a week out in the sun. The only redeeming quality of ascending into space at the speed of smell is the cold nights. It’s the little things we learn to appreciate out here as getting to be buried in a warm sleeping bag without sweating through it feels like winning the lottery.
That ladies and gentleman, leaves us here in the oft cloudy, misty and refridgerated barrio of La Candelaria. I had forgotten how much I love it here and leaving won’t be easy. Nor will finding a turkey to ram in our mouths today, but we’ll give it a shot.
Happy Thanksgiving all! Please give an unappropriately firm hug to all of our fam and friends you may happen to bump into.