I patched a flat on my rear wheel before leaving Silvia; our first flat in Colombia, caused by a pin. After a 1000m downhill run we stopped in Piendamo and were interviewed by Gustavo Alzate Zamora for Television Comunitaria. He treated us to lunch and a brief tour of Piendamo. We arrived here in Popayan in time to see the sun set on this nice old colonial city. I’m still feeling weak with little appetite.
Archive for July, 2009
My appetite returned in time for breakfast this morning. I felt fine for the 1,000m climb up to the cool mountain town of Silvia at 2500m. Julie often keeps pace with me, so I wonder if I’m still weak, or has she gained strength? Though we see no Gringos in this tourist town, we paid $25 for a hotel room no better than average. That’s the most we’ve paid in Colombia.
I was sick yesterday for Julie’s birthday, never left my room, and ate nothing; waiting for this 24 hour bug to pass through me. After eating, and keeping down, my breakfast; I cycled weakly for half a day of climbs. We stopped at a nice cabaña midday when the runs returned.
Elias, president of the cycling club Los Tortugos, rode with us for 32 km across the flat Cauca Valley. We cycled speedily on the autopista and skipped Cali, on the recommendation of my old friend Michael Major who lived there at the height of the drug wars. I don’t know how I missed seeing the shortcut to skip Cali, we don’t need to suffer the traffic of another major city. Julie broke her first spoke ever. I have spares for my wheels, but not hers. So we stopped in a small town and got her size spoke and spares. I waited until we got to our hotel to replace it.
An easy Sunday ride today with no mountains to climb. Signs warn of Tren Cañeros, or “cane trains”, which are semis pulling 3, 4, or even 5 trailers of cane sticks from huge sugar cane plantations. I’ve pulled doubles for UPS, and triples around the block in Fargo, but quintuples is like a train passing on the highway. We watched a small parade in La Paila and many racing cyclists passed us by. As we entered Buga, three cyclists joined us to chat as we biked. Elias, Javier, & Victoria directed us to a nice hotel near the Basilica and later joined us for dinner.
Cyclist Orlando Garcia invited us to his house in Dosquebradas for refreshments after passing us on the descent from Santa Rosa de Cabal. He had already climbed 1,000m on a 50 km morning ride. We had a leisurely ride with a gradual slope down to the Rio Cauca. Here the river is in a flat valley 10-20 km wide with mountains on both sides.
We climbed again as we left the Cauca River and entered coffee country. We’ve seen many racing cyclists training on roads around here, sometimes with an escort car or motorcycle. We talked to a young ( teenage) pair who said they compete in 140 km races.
We started the day with a 1,000m drop and coasted for over 20k. Then we cycled up the Cauca River Valley as the canyon narrowed. It is hotter at these lower elevations and a late afternoon shower cooled us nicely. People in passing cars pull over to talk to us. Motorcyclists will slow to our speed and talk while moving.
Four ten-year-old boys are talking to Julie and me in the school computer room. Not many tourists stop in small towns like Santa Barbara in Colombia. I show them this website, and our route here from the US. Their attention soon shifts back to surfing the web. They bring up Michael Jackson, as have many other Colombians. He was truly a world pop star. We had a steep climb out of the Medellin Valley, then followed the spine of a ridge to Santa Barbara, with steep drops on both sides to valleys far below. We can see the Cauca River that we’ll descend to tomorrow, then cycle along it all day.