Daily Archives: July 14, 2015

South American Epic: Section 1

Just to give you a bit of an overview of the first section that I’ll be riding:

Section 1

Section 1 (2)

 

The Experience
For many years the beautiful country of Colombia was avoided by travellers as it suffered through civil war. Times have changed for the better and we are excited to start the South American Epic Bicycle Expedition in this magical land. Mountains, jungles, waterfalls, coffee, beaches and thriving cities are just a few of this country’s gifts.

This 14,000km cycling extravaganza begins in the stunning colonial jewel of Cartagena whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We bike down the coast, stopping for cervezas in Tolu’s seaside bars. Turning inland, we’ll then cross cattle pastures and rushing rivers before beginning to climb up into the stunning Sierra de San Lucas Mountains. Following little known backroads we emerge at 1500m above sea level in the city of Medellin, where the cyclists will enjoy a well-deserved rest day.

From Medellin, we spin east and spend a night at Guatape, next to a man-made resevoir, before speeding downhill and across the impressive Rio Magdalena, which drains about 1/4 of Colombia’s area. Then it is a challenging climb up into the Cordillera Oriental, including one 2000m ascent over 50kms. For their efforts, the cyclists will be rewarded by Zipaquira, a beautiful historic town featuring the Salt Cathedral, an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine. The next day, a Sunday, the SA Epic riders will have the opportunity to join local Bogota cyclists as they enjoy their weekly Ciclovia, with many of the city’s streets closed to motor traffic, a fitting end to this exciting and rewarding section.

Categories: Columbia, Information, South American Epic | 1 Comment

Friday – last day before the ride begins!

Sue and I went for a swim at the beach before breakfast. Even at 7:30 in the morning a swarm of hawkers appeared as soon as we set foot on the sand.

A hawker trying to sell me a necklace

A hawker trying to sell me a necklace (again, photo taken from Sue’s Facebook page)

The water was warm but not too warm, and a relatively safe beach.

Beach by hotel with city in background

Beach by hotel with city in background

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The beach in front of the hotel in Cartagena

After breakfast we had the first riders meeting, got to meet everyone and go over the outline of the trip, what was expected etc. It certainly sounds like it is going to be very challenging, from hot and sticky to cold and windy. Through the Andes the temp is expected to be minus 4 at night. The first three days are relatively flat which means we should not have to spend too much time in the lowest gear. Then a rest day and then we start to climb some pretty gruelling hills. I suspect there will be a fair amount of pushing my bike in the first month or so until I drop some weight and get fitter.

The trucks

The tour trucks

After the riders meeting Sue and I went into the walled city to have a last look around. We had lunch at the square in the middle. I had a very good friend whilst I was eating – a small pregnant dog who stayed until I had shared the last scraps, and then she was off. In the time we were at the table we had about 25 hawkers trying to sell us stuff. I have learnt not to smile or be too nice when saying no or they take that as encouragement.

My friend

My friend at lunch

We had to be back at 5pm as someone from the Colombian government (to do with tourism) wanted to come and wish us well. After that off to the bar for a cold beer then up the road for something to want. Than back to finish packing and sorting stuff into my bags – my daily bag and my rest day bag (we can’t access the stuff in that until the rest days).

The ride starts tomorrow!

5:50 am – bags to the truck
6:15 am – riders meeting
6:30 am – breakfast
7:00 am – leave hotel

We are doing a 90 kilometre ride, with the first 30 in a convoy.

Tomorrow night will be my first night in my new tent.

I am unsure what the internet coverage is going to be so there may well be gaps in the blogs, and then 3 days at once.

I have decided that I am going to be a racer – not because I am expecting to be fast – but if you identify yourself as a racer your time gets clocked in and out of camp each day, and I think it will be interesting to collate how many hours I spend on the bike.

Street in walled city

Street in walled city

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Hats for sale (Editors note: Really Mum? This is the best photo you could do? Check out Sue’s photo where you can actually see the hats!)

Categories: Columbia, Preparations, South American Epic | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment