Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3 days into Cycling through Colombia

I feel compelled to write a blog entry after 3 days of cycling in Colombia.  It's Tuesday, 1/21/14, and I'm writing this from the house of a very generous Colombian men, named Julio, in the town of Honda in the beautiful Magdalena River Valley.

Before taking off from Bogotá to cycle to Argentina, I spent 2 days riding around the city to get my legs warmed up and sort out how my stuff would be attached.  It's probably no big surprise that 2 days of training does very little when you're starting 7500 ft (2500 m) abovd sea level and going up/down through the Andes.  Needless to say, after 2 days of riding from Bogota, I've gotten pretty good at cursing the mountains as I walk my bike up them.

Here's a graph of the altitude change.  I've learned it fails to portray some 1,000 meter inclines while going down in altitude from Bogota:

My legs, lower back & butt are quite sore, BUT I've had an absolute blast.  I feel like a kid first learning how to ride a bike...with an 8,000 ft. tall mountain in my backyard.  The thrill of soaring down these mountains amidst motorcycles, cars & trucks is indescribable.  You've just got to try it yourself!

The first day I rode 90 km from Bogota to Villeta.  Why Villeta? Because it was the town I ended up in.  That's one cool thing about cycling - you end up in towns you would never think to visit.  I would have never attempted 90 km my first day but with the gracious altitude drop of almost 7500 ft, I made it.  I was absolutely spent when I finally got a hotel room & took a shower.  I laid on the bed for 2 hours just staring at the ceiling thinking, "What in god's name have I gotten myself into?  I love it."

I spent the next day resting in Villeta because I was having trouble walking straight and felt the need for my body to recuperate.  The following morning I took off early and thought I was ready to start off with a 1000m uphill ride, fresh at 6:45 in the morning.  About 20 mins into this ride, I was on the side of the road debating what to do when a couple from Seattle comes slowly but steadily making their way up the mountain like it's no big deal.  I'm thinking, "You're also doing this at this hour...here in Colombia??"

I managed to go 67 km that day, from Villeta to Honda.  For that initial climb, I did throw my bike in the bag of a truck and ride about 12 km up (passing the couple from Seattle who still managed to pass me again about 1 hour after that).  I was welcomed very warmly in Honda with the use of www.warmshowers.org.  This is a site for cyclists to post in forums and find hosts who are offering free accommodation/hospitality.

This is my first time using the site and I couldn't be happier.  My gracious host, Julio, who is also an avid cyclist, gave me a guest bedroom, clean sheets & towel & a delicious dinner of brown rice & beef tongue (it was actually very tasty!).  His friend, Carlos, met me in the town square when I arrived, took me to a great local place for lunch & let me into Julio's house before he got home.  Talk about hospitality from complete strangers!

Tomorrow I will be www.couchsurfing.org with a 33 yr old Colombian guy in La Dorada, then staying with another host from warmshowers in Medellin.  The world is full of such gracious people.  Thank you all.


  1. I love what you are doing, thanks for the info, we are leaving in a week in van, probably won't catch you but it would sweet if we did.

  2. Hola, thank you for your message! Are you starting in North Carolina? You might catch me, haha, travel by bicycle is quite slow. I wish you the best on your travels!

  3. Hey Damon, nice set up! We are so excited for you that you decided to pedal. Shame we didn't see you in Bogota and thanks for your kind message on our blog. We are sad that we had to cut our trip short but I am sure we will finish the trip another time. The riding in WA is pretty sweet, Lars is taking me on all the trails, even the ones that are way too technical for my ability! All the best J & L