Day 339 – Dreaming of the road ahead

Day 339 / Cajamarca-Chicoral, Colombia / 50 miles (Total 8080)

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A great part of touring new countries is trying new things to eat and drink. This is a salpicon and it is fantastic! Mango, coconut, apple, wafers, ice cream and other fruit that I have no clue. Doesn’t get any better then this on a hot day.

Well, i’m starting to sound like a broken record here. Once again, another great ride in Colombia. After meeting Marko yesterday, we made a plan to leave town by 6:00 am and make it a 50 mile day. That 50 miles came way easier then any of us expected. We started the day with smiles on our faces and ended the night with even bigger ones. A great descent, awesome food and friendly people left us with another great days memory of this fantastic country.

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Making my way down the 5000 foot descent today. It felt great to be back on smooth asphalt reaching 40+ mph.

We made it to Chicoral by 1:00 pm and had plenty of time to find a cheap hotel and to check out the town. In the late afternoon, I made up a giant plate up noodles and filled my belly till I couldn’t move. Spent the rest of the night talking with my German buddy’s and practiced a little Spanish, something I have been slacking on lately. Called it an early night and fell asleep dreaming about the road ahead.

Always smiling and having a good time.

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Heading towards Neiva. Just look at that flat, smooth road with a great shoulder. A lot different from the other days ride.

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And just like that, the mountains were behind us.

Found these at the panaderia for .10 cents each. My handlebar bag was full with these delicious treats. I have been spending around $8-$10 a day with lodging (about $2-$3 when camping). Living pretty good and cheap each day in Colombia. A bikers paradise.

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We scored a perfect bike path for miles. Mostly downhill and things were going too fast, so I decided to get a flat tire to slow things down. I had it fixed faster then a nascar pit crew. Marko and Anja barely finished their afternoon snack by the time I was done. After 45+ flat tires on this trip, I think I could change a flat blindfolded by now.

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A whole new view today.

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Still descending down, we stopped for a few random photos. 10:00 am came and we could tell we were down in the lowlands. The heat kicked in fast.

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Some major construction going on.

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After seeing too many of these posters of Salpicon, We had to stop and try one.

A few bikes, mango's and a Colombian flag

A few bikes, mango’s and a Colombian flag

Two happy bikers. The smiles say it all. Delicious!

Three happy bikers. The smiles say it all. Delicious!

The owners of the little shop were pretty excited that we stopped and tried their drink. Before we left they handed us all a giant mango and asked for a photo with us and the bikes. I just noticed how short the lady’s are.

One last mountain photo of the day. I was all smiles  with speeds up to 40 mph on this stretch of road.

One last mountain photo of the day. I was all smiles with speeds up to 40 mph on this stretch of road.


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Day 338 – Unexpected day off

Day 338 / Cajamarca, Colombia / 0 miles (Total 8030)

Hanging out in the center of town. Grabbed some food from a street vendor and had about 15 people starring at me while I ate. Pretty weird eating for a crowd.

Hanging out in the center of town. Grabbed some food from a street vendor and had about 15 people staring at me while I ate. Pretty weird eating for a crowd.

Wasn’t expecting a day off today, but felt good either way. After doing some research about the road ahead, I decided to stick to the cooler weather one last day. Tomorrow I head to Ibague, a few thousand feet down in elevation. Which means back to the hot sticky weather of Colombia. Also, I wanted to make sure I had some good internet service for a video chat for my high school 20 year reunion, crazy to think its been that long. Thanks Tammy and Kathi for spreading the word of Pedaling for Pemmies. You guys have been great through all this.

Just walking around with no purpose

Just walking around with no purpose.

This town is small with not much to see, so I spent most of the time in my cool room. I ended up eating a lot, worked on the bike and updated 2 long blog post. Did a lot of research about what I want to see next though Colombia. Wow, this country is going by way to fast. Think there will be some more back roads to ride and mountains to climb. Going to kill as much time here as I can and enjoy this great country. Whenever I did venture out into town, the crazy mountain women were out again. As I walked down the street one lady pointed at me, then to herself, then blew me a kiss. A long awkward stare made me laughing to myself and back to the safety of my room.

Seems to be a popular choice for moving heavy loads

Seems to be a popular choice for moving heavy loads

I keep running into this guy. Walked out my hotel and there was Marko at the bakery. They just pulled into town after 2 hard days of the same road I took. It was fun to catch up and talk about our two day adventure.

I keep running into this guy. Walked out my hotel and there was Marko at the bakery. They just rolled into town after 2 hard days of the same road I took. It was fun to catch up and talk about our two-day adventure through the back roads. We made plans to wake up early and ride together for next next few days. Always a great time riding with Marko and Anja.


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Day 337 – A grand adventure.

Day 337 / Camping-Cajamarca, Colombia / 25 miles (Total 8030)

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You can ride through life on an easy paved road. But why? Take the road less traveled and see where it takes you. Never stop pushing your limits.

Woke up early and packed up my gear fast. It was a chilly start to the morning being almost 9,500 feet high on a mountain top. I thought the rest of the ride into Toche would be mostly downhill, boy was I wrong. Right from the start the road shot straight up with some crazy steep grade. Add some rain from last night and the road was a slippery-muddy mess. My body felt great even after yesterdays hard push and being up at 10,000 ft. I literally had to push my way to the small village of Toche. The road was so steep with loose sand and rocks making for a difficult day. I would try to pedal the steep portions, but I just ended up spinning out my back wheel. Another great day of a challenging road.

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At least when I pushed the bikes I could enjoy the view. While riding I had to pay attention all the time to dodge large, sharp rocks that littered the road.

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Wherever I looked, I was surrounded by this view. This never gets old

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A muddy bridge. The mud was slippery, deep and I was all over the road trying to hold myself up.

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If the mountains weren’t grabbing my attention, the steep cliffs were.

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Waterfalls adding to today’s stunning view

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I was slowly riding up the mountain side early in the morning. The air was still and the only sound was a hawk far above me and my tires rolling on dirt. I turned the corner and saw this incredible view. I leaned the bike up against a rock, sat down and enjoyed the silent moment.

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I was in no hurry to get anywhere today. I pulled over whenever a saw a good photo and set up the tri-pod to captured the moment.

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A few houses built almost on top of the road. Some funny looks when the locals saw me pedaling past their home.

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Always keeping an eye open for an accident waiting to happen. A few times I saw smaller rocks come tumbling down the mountain. Don’t want to see anything like these falling.

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Sweating and smiling. Heading up the switchback with the volcano Machin far off in the distance.

 

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I finally made it to the decent after a few thousand feet of climbing. About 5 miles of downhill riding laid between me and the village of Toche, where I wanted to take a nice long break. I’ll just say that riding downhill was twice the work as riding up hill. The road was so incredibly steep and rocky, I almost flipped over the bars a few times.  I had to stop and relax my forearms and hands from cramping up every 1/2 mile from death gripping my brakes. I have never worked so hard riding downhill in my life. I was relieved to finally make it to the village.

A bridge that I had to walk across

A bridge right before Toche that I had to walk across

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I turned the corner into Toche and there was a dad playing with his kid in the street. Two horses trotting down the main road and a lady sweeping of her patio. Everything came to a screeching halt when I was noticed. Even the horses seem to eye me up. I walked into the small tienda (convenient store) to grab a snack and to refill my water. As I walked out a group of 8 road workers were floating around my bike, even the local dogs seemed to circle the Mother Trucker. First they were shy, then as soon as one person asked where I was from, the entire group rattled off questions. One worker asked if he could pick up the bike and grunted at the heavy weight. He told everyone to try and lift it, there was soon a line of people picking up my bike. After a while everyone left for work except these two. They decided to stay and watch me eat and drink water for a while.

 

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The road was constantly changing with every corner.

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This tree stuck out like a sore thumb. There were no other trees around that resembled it. A solo tree out on its own

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This is how they deal with water crossing over the road. They cant divert the water under the road, that would weaken the road leaving it susceptible to mudslides. Every couple hundred of feet you could see a mudslide that wiped out the road in the past. So glad it wasn’t raining hard today.

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Many of these today.

Thick jungle around every corner the closer I got to town.

Thick jungle around every corner the closer I got to town.

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After Toche, I thought the road quality would get better since it was only 10 miles from a major city. Once again, boy was I wrong. If anything the road was worse and more steep. Some of the jeeps had troubles climbing the steep hills. I ended up pushing  the Mother Trucker over a 1000 ft in elevation

Cajamarca,only a few miles away and all down hill. Still took me over an hour to finally reach my destination. Laying on a bed never felt so good.

Cajamarca,only a few miles away and all down hill. Still took me over an hour to finally reach my destination. Laying on a bed never felt so good.

By the time I made it to Cajamarca, I was tired and beat up from the feet up. Every hill for the last two days took all my strength and energy, whether I pedaled or pushed. To me, it’s important to have days like these. Days that you question your strength, physically and mentally. It’s too easy to fall into the rut of life where you choose the easy life over the challenge. Life seems to open new doors when you put yourself in the state of the unknown and push your limits.


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