Thursday, 17 November 2011
I´d had a nice 2 days rest in Cali, South Western Columbia, where I had enjoyed the hospitality of Miller and his family at their Casa De Ciclistas (the morning I left Miller wasn´t there to see me off, and the girl in picture is an Argentinian cyclist who arrived the day after I did). From Cali most touring cyclists head roughly North via Medellin to Cartagena on the Columbian Carribean coast. However, I took a major diversion, heading East towards the Andes Range again, and to the capital of Columbia, Bogota. Before reaching the Andes I cycled through the picturesque coffee-growing area around the town of Armenia, where I camped in the rain in a field close to a farm house (and the people came out with supper for me, as well as breakfast the following morning). Then it was the mean steep climb in the rain up the Mountains again - called La Linea in these parts. As if the hill wasn´t enough, I has some trouble with punctures, going through all my spare tubes in the process. Just after the summit at an altitude of 3 300 m I had to repair a tube, and I took shelter in the simple house of some mountain people in order to do the job (they were very friendly and excited about this chance visit, they called me ¨Señor¨and kept offering me coffee). But that wasn´t the end of the mountains! Typically the road went way down again past Ibaque, and then I had to climb up to Bogota which is situated at an altitude of 2 600 metres. It was raining again as usual, but I found refuge at the wonderful La Candilara branch of the Fire Brigade (they moved one of their trucks so I could camp in the garage, they gave me food, and when I left the following morning I was presented with an official Bogota Fire Brigade T-shirt and cap). After another climb out of the city, the road dropped from 3 000 metres to an altitude of 100 m in about 100 km to the city of Villavicencio. From Villavicencio I had a wonderful new flat road of about 200 km to the bustling river port town, called Puerto Gaitan. I knew that my good-road experience was about to end, but nobody could give me any decent info on what lay ahead to the East. I bought 2 off-road tyres anyway, because I had a feeling that I would need them. (Cycling distances are included in the following post).