Monthly Archives: November 2011

The 11 Day Pilgrimage to Bogotá

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.

– Conbigotes



Filed under Uncategorized

BIG Thanks to BIG Agnes!

I am going to put on my consumer hat here for a few minutes and do what I can to share some potentially unnecessary to all of you, gear knowledge.

Upon gearing up for this trek, Big Agnes, out of Steamboat Springs, CO was the winner for all of our tent and sleeping pad needs.  The Emerald Mountain tent has taken a goddamned beating, but continues to not bitch and complain while keeping us dry and comfortable on a nightly basis.  Her only hiccup was needing some new zippers in Mexico which fashioned her up a bit when we went with cherry red!

Additionally, the only flaw in the Insulated Air Core sleeping pads is their tendency to get a little leaky when used as much as your mattress at home.  This is where the exceptional customer service shown by the Big Agnes team and Mr. Glenn Davis in particular has come into play.  Even though not purchased directly from the company, not once, but twice did they send brand new mattresses along the way.  Notably and the most recent to Colombia, free of charge.

For this, Big Agnes gets my high-five and a pat on the ass award for Exemplary Customer Service in the Outdoor Gear Department.  A trophy is being whittled out of wood and sent their way.  Clearly, they will consider it one of the highlights of the year and possibly even feature it in their holiday greeting cards.

Speaking of the holidays, please send any inquiries or large dollar amount purchases directly to Glenn at  He will be thrilled.  Hopefully.

– Conbigotes


Filed under Uncategorized

Roadkill of the Week – Volume 6

I realize we are going to catch shit from everyone (everyone being most likely just my father) for the lack of intensity in this week’s passage, but there just hasn’t been that much newness to the roadkill lately.  It has actually made me fairly upset that Colombia seems to keep their roads in pretty damn good order when it comes to rotting carcasses.

That being said, this gal, a Colombian Garza (maybe? see below) named Tricia, met her inappropriate end while rushing to get to her hair appointment.  It’s unfortunate because I don’t think she needed to have her hair cut at all.  It’s really a growing problem of vanity with the local herons, garzas and egrets.  Too much importance on feathers instead of just finding a good dirty marsh to stand in, stationary, for hours.  Tricia paid the ultimate price and now there are bugs crawling out of her eyes…that’s not very pretty at all.

INTERACTIVE PORTION – If you can prove me wrong by correctly identifying Tricia’s species and phylum here, you win a pair of unwashed  bike shorts used for 11 straight days.  They will go fast so hustle.

– Conbigotes


Filed under muertos en la calle

We Were Sailors. We Were Born Upon the Tide.

Santa Marta, Colombia (11,290 kilometers – 7,015 miles)

As previously stated in an earlier and equally irrelevant blog post, the Conbigotes gentleman embarked on a mini-adventure inside the adventure via the Caribbean Sea (that’s the Mar de Caribe for all of you more versed in Spanish than I).  After being slightly sedentary for a week in Panama City, we dusted off the water wings and white boat shoes, and headed for Portobelo, Panama.  En route, we hit a bit of a snag.  Unfortunately, the over-protective Panamanian private toll-road workers had nothing else to do than throw a fit upon witnessing two unsightly men passing by on their well kept tollway.  This situation would have called for the oft-used “I don’t speak Spanish” retort, but sure enough, they brought Police to drive the issue home.  Therefore, our horses were not so delicately lodged into a pickup truck and driven 30 kilometers to the end of the upper-class highway and left to join the common folk.  To be fair, they were chatty gents and seemed interested in our exploits, but it was a bummer as that it will most likely be the only non-leg powered advancement we have during this outing.

Once in Portobelo, Captain Jack and his self-titled hostel served as the rallying point and bartender for all of us heading out on the 64 foot Wild Card sailboat the next day.  The grizzled old vet loudly serenaded everyone late night, asleep or not, with his version of “Unchained Melody”, but made up for it the next day by serving up possibly the best wasabi (none of this horseradish bullshit) bloody mary I have ever been fortunate to suck on.

While we were at the dock, diligently WD-40’ing the bikes to prevent salt and sea monster damage, it was fairly obvious what kind of a trip this was going to be as the 10 deep Aussie crew strolled up with enough booze to fuel a Guns and Roses reunion tour.  While everybody else lugged a plastic bag of rum and beer to the dingy, these folks wheeled shopping carts.  Quite an impressive achievement and I probably would have done the same if I wasn’t already sweating in anticipation of the eminent seasickness that was sure to kick me in teeth.  Ryan took the high road with a positive train of thought by vocalizing that  he will not get sea sick.  I couldn’t be so confident as my last bout of deep sea travel/fishing ended with my Mother drugging me to sleep for 10 hours in an attempt to stop me from crying and/or vomiting continuously.

I have been sitting here for the last 38 minutes staring at a blinking cursor wondering how the hell to explain the following 5 days on Wild Card bound for Cartagena, Colombia.  I’ve got nothing.  Or too much.  Shit, I don’t know.  It’s borderline impossible to explain everything and the process of even doing so feels cheap and gross.  There is probably a better way to inform our reader(s), but we’re going to offer detailed bullet points and a shit-ton of pictures.  So here goes…

– 1 Kiwi (Captain), 1 Belgian (crew), 1 South African (crew), 11 Aussies, 2 Brits, 1 Swiss, 1 Portuguese, 1 American, 2 Conbigotes

– 2 days island hopping/snorkeling/plank jumping/sunrise and sunset watching in San Blas.  I’d venture a guess that Colombus didn’t come across islands more serene and picturesque than these.   (I just realized that maybe he did and that is why the country is named after him)

– About 847 pounds of fresh lobster, crab, octopus and fish.  This bordered on gluttonous, actually it was gluttonous.  Far and away the best seafood meal of my life.  And probably in the top meals of the trip, alongside the slabs of beef we were given early on in Washington.

– 10 push-ups for saying the word “mine”

– Spiking the gatorade cooler with rum and/or vodka on a daily basis.  Additionally, luke-warm Balboa beer.

– 36 hours of open ocean, highwater sailing.  There is something to be said about waking up as the sun comes up over 360 degrees of ocean horizon line.  Makes you feel quite insignificant.

– Watching dozens of curious pilot whales circle the boat as we idled in an endless sea.

– 3,609 cigarettes (probably more accurate than not)

– Being hand and foot with 20 new strangers on  a 4 square foot section of bow, sharing 6 bean bags, sweating on each other for 5 days.

– The intense and stale heat below deck mixed with the overriding stench of a backed up septic reservoir.  Really stung the nostrils and was quite enough to put you over the edge if you hadn’t yet lost the battle with sea sickness.

We sincerely hope that based on those bullets and the marginal photos below, that you can grasp 1/5th of how goddamn great this was.

The one thing that does need a bit of light shed on it was the feeling while slowly trolling into the port of Cartagena the final night.  With most of the team too exhausted to stay up for the South American welcome, the bow was left to a few willing enough to take it all in.  Selfishly, we will state that it was possibly a tad more special for us knowing we had just arrived on the last continent of the our sojourn and as the cool night breeze blew us in to the lights of town, we had an opportunity to reflect on where we had come and where we are going.  It was one of those moments where time seems to stop, a stillness fills the air and the memories feel so thick that it is hard to breathe.  At that moment, we both couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

Hugs and high-fives were given as we left captain, crew and the rest of the Wolf Pack.  I already miss everyone’s bullshit and would pay good money to be back.  We’ll see you when we see you bastards!

So after a couple of days wondering around Cartagena and its accompanying heat, we got back on the bikes and now find ourselves here in Santa Marta in the arms of an old friend, Katherine Wedler.  It’s damn good to see her again as we spend time seeping in the natural beauty of her bio reserve Caoba.

Next stop…..not sure.  Somewhere southward in Colombia.  We’ll keep you informed.

– Conbigotes


Filed under boats, the trip