Final words from the other half of fatcycling

Like with whatever else you do day in day out, this trip had a bit of everything; excitement, joy and routine, as well as times of boredom, frustration and anger.

Summarising 20.000k…

It’s been almost two years since we landed in Cancún, Mexico, all happy-go-lucky, no clue what was actually awaiting us. Heat and humidity, long days on flat highways, food poisoning, popusas, taking boats across estuaries, camping and cycling on beaches, in churches, firestations and schools, and yacht-ing to bypass the Darian gap (which we probably would’ve tried with our current experience). After taking five months off in Canada to avoid rainy season we headed back to the Andes; dirt roads, insane climbs, elevation sickness, wind, rain, mud, heat, thirst, sickness, teaching at a local school, hike a bikes, deserts and salt flats, illnesses, robberies, sand, corrugations, green forests and lakes, almost drowning in an attempted river crossing, volcanos, blackberries, glaciers and the cold. We had so many experiences, the memories will last for the rest of our lives. Continue reading

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Expenses in South America

Here a summary of our expenses whilst touring, might come handy if you’re trying to figure out a budget. On top of food and accommodation (although we try to camp whenever possible) we had various other expenses (repairs, illness, shipping down gear, etc) – so don’t be fooled and be prepared to spend (a lot) more than you expected.

As a general rule, things get more expensive as you go south, but I think for us food averages also increased because we ate better (more, and in Chile, for example, more variety was available…).
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Colombia, coming to an end

San Agustin

For many weeks we had been told by various locals to go to San Agustin which was apparently beautiful. So that’s what we did! We tried to find the Casa de Ciclistas in town but found out that it was closed, so we headed to a campsite together with Ana and Adrien, two fellow cyclists we had met on the road for the second time. Continue reading

Finding dirt and illness (Neiva to San Agustin)

When Dan mapped out our route through Colombia on google earth it looked like we would be on paved roads and highways a lot of the time. We were able, however, to deviate from this route for the most part by finding networks of small roads by looking at satellite images in Gaia and MotionX on our iPad. There were sections we were not entirely sure about but asking around (in particular the police is always very helpful) certified some roads’ existence. A great part of the roads were dirt, some in the process of being paved, and some already paved but still with only very little traffic with scenic views.
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Riding through the desert (Suarez to Tatacoa Desert)

How much kindness can you receive in one day? We cycled on dirt from Suarez to Purification, where we were offered free avena (oat) drinks, a free avocado, two free soft drinks and beer if I hadn’t kindly and slightly regretfully turned it down. It’s an awesome feeling when people want to stop us to chat, they genuinely want to know about our trip, and our bikes. Being a gringo is a blessing and a curse, but here in Colombia definitely much more of the first. To me it’s interesting how Colombia has been seen as a place of unrest to many foreign countries, yet the people who are so incredibly welcoming don’t seem to get any recognition abroad. As long as you’ve got your head screwed on straight, (as in any country) this place is amazing and the people even more so.
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Bitten off more than we can chew (Melgar to Suarez)

We had stayed the night in Melgar, a touristic spot filled with hotels and resorts, a friendly fellow saw us biking in and gave us a really good rate at one of the hotels off the main road. The morning forced a decision as to which of two route options to take. In Carmen de Apical we spoke to some tuk-tuk drivers who told us the mountain route to Cunday was paved, and the “flatter” route was dirt. We opted for the dirt road to Suarez. The first 20k were nice, through forests with great views of the mountains. Then we came to a fence and were told that a mountain followed: “up up up up, down down down down” we were told. It was a hiking trail, but we’d seen a man pass us on a horse. I said “if a horse can do it, we can do it”. Well who’d have thought horses were so tough.

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Back on track! (Bogota to Melgar)

Our return flight to Bogota turned out to be stressful; a crew member of American Airlines informed us last minute that we didn’t have an onward ticket which was necessary to enter Colombia. Apparently they were liable to pay 10,000 dollars if a customs officer questioned is for proof, so we were forced to purchase some “fully refundable” onward tickets.
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Warm up, complete (Cartagena to Bogota)

Gina and I hit a few hiccups in recent weeks. Beginning with the realization that we wanted to cycle through the Andes and not mudslide down the side of them, we decided that waiting out the rainy season would be the best option in our given position. Continue reading