Colombia Is the nicest and most tourist friendly place ever, it has even more road side juice bars than Peru and the scenery combined with the eternal spring like weather makes it heaven the cycle tourist.
I can see why so many great climbers come from Colombia, the locals ride up these near vertical mountains like it’s nothing, and they all seem to have a pro rider physique and attitude about them even when they’re just riding to work.
The Amazon is a massive part of Colombia, most of it is virtually untouched like in Peru. Riding through these mountains carpeted in green forest is really nice especially after a morning rain storm, but for the first time ever I came across the strange phenomenon of my camera steaming up on the inside.
Moving north after what seemed like an infinite landscape of undulating trees and forest dirt roads, I felt like I had seen my fair share of wilderness in this 3 month adventure so changed the original route to include a few cities this meant I could soak up some culture and human vibes towards the end of the trip.
Medellin sits in the bottom of a very steep valley and approaching the city usually Involves riding up something around 1:4 for about 5 miles making the first view of the city feel rather majestic.
My viewing (and recovery) experience was Interrupted by a really nice local guy who was on leave from the Army. He was extra smiley and although we couldn’t speak the same language we got on pretty well. After smoking what I thought was a strange cigar or expensive roll up I realized why he was laughing so much and joined him for the next hour or so giggling at funny looking tourists and taking in the views of Meddelin.
On Descending into Medellin the traffic noise started to sound like screams from the forest. At that point I realised that I was still a little high from whatever I had smoked so headed straight into Medellins modern art museum. The staff there were exceptionally cyclist friendly and let me keep the bike behind their reception desk whilst I wondered off to check out the four floors of amazing artwork.
This was all all quite a huge contrast to the constant wilderness I had become accustomed over the last few months but a welcome dose of city life.
After an awesome flyby through Medellin, it was back on the road north towards Cartagena. The road from here on was undulating with a nice surface but quite busy and far less wild.
On the approach to Cartagena after a few days of this, the landscape opened up to lovely salt water forest lined lagoons for a day or so then I was there…. On the Caribbean coast!
The sight of local fishermen casting their old fashioned nets amongst hoards of Cormorants looked like a scene from pirates of the Caribbean and was a powerful sight in terms of reminding me how far I had actually cycled.
I let my thoughts drift around with the sounds of the waves and the salty sea breeze, it was nice and seemed a long way from the cold apprehensive thoughts I was having at the bottom of the world just a few months ago. This was also the first time I had stopped to take a moment to reflect on the trip as a whole.
Travelling up through the uninhabited wilderness of Patagonia then onto the Atacama Desert and the salt flats of Bolivia, crossing gigantic Andean mountain ranges and then dropping down into the hot steamy Amazon Jungle all seemed like a dream now and it was……. but now, a dream lived.
Tuning back into here & now though I realized that I had one more place to cycle to. I had previously added a Google maps marker to the coast when I was planning the trip. That point was on my phone glaring at me so in my head… that was the official end to the trip wherever it was, so I headed up the coast to go and find this point and hopefully stand there in real life.
The actual point was slightly below sea level for once which in turn made a cool finishing shot. Then it was time for the dreaded ‘hunt for a bike box’.
Cartagena has one bike shop with no bike boxes on offer so I opted for the new way of travelling with your bike by air…. transparent plastic!
Once the bike was packed, I had my final Smoothie, went for a twilight stroll on the beach then off to the airport for the 30 hour flight back to home.
Indeed a dream lived.