568 km down: 13,073 km to go
Christiano told us at breakfast that the plan was to continue to Medelin. So off to Ventanas take two.
It had rained quite heavily during the night so I had to pack away a damp tent. I must buy some water proof bags on the next rest day to store it in.
So off (again!) for 102 kilometres of rolling hills, then 36 kilometres to climb 2,000 meters. Not sure I will do it all, as my legs are still very tired from the 12 hour ride on “mud day”.
We had been asked to ride in at least pairs due to the rebel and military activity. I started off with Sue, but was holding her back so then teamed up Nelson who was having a slow day.
There were military and policia everywhere, and all trucks were being searched. About every two kilometres there was a solider with a rifle standing at both sides of the road.
We got to about 90 kilometres and came to where the sewer pipe under the road was blown up, it had done quite a lot of damage. They must have had a large workforce to get it reopened overnight. It was just before a bridge. If they had blown the bridge this would have caused much longer delays to the traffic as it would not have been able to be fixed overnight, it would have been at least another whole day. The general feeling is that it was a statement by the rebels to be noticed, but not cause total chaos.
There were three tanks parked at the side of the road – first time I have ever seen tanks in actual use!
As you go along the road the locals have washing drying along the paddock fences, as well as the front of their houses. Even at the most modest of the houses the paths are swept and there are flowers out the front. Not all the houses have water, and we saw a number of woman walking along the road with water.
The temp got up to 32 degrees, so we stopped for more water a few times. There are still endless dogs, cats, chickens and livestock. I am a bit wary of dogs standing at the side of the road in case they rush out, but we came round a corner and there was a cute little puppy trying to break into a rubbish bag. Well, he must have thought I was interested in it, as he rushed out at me very ferociously. I was half nervous and half laughing.
The locals were still mostly smiling and waving out at us but as we got to closer to where the explosion had taken place we were greeted with total silence. Must have been really scary for them, and no doubt they are worried by the really heavy military presence.
Along the road there are hoses with water coming down from the mountain, and they have holes in them with water spurting into the sky. This is where the locals wash the passing trucks and cars for a fee. Turns out they also wash foreigners on a bike unasked and for free, but with delightful smiles whilst doing it.
I went through a couple of towns where there were lots of locals on horseback. I saw a couple of horses along the road carrying two milk urns one on each side. I have seen a number of cows being milked by hand.
I got to the lunch stop in good time so I decided to have a go at the hill. The gradient was not that steep, only 6 to 7%, but my legs were very tired and there were trucks constantly going up and down.
I saw two local boys latch onto the back of a truck to ride up the hill – very dangerous, but not as dangerous as the family going up sitting on top of the trucks with their toes tucked under rope!
The traffic is totally crazy, they pass on blind corners with double yellow lines. How the road is not littered with wrecks I don’t know. There were also two trucks broken down, and a couple just stopped where they had nipped across the road totally blocking the traffic, leading to even more crazy passing.
After 5 kilometres I decided enough for the day, what with tired legs, scary traffic, and I had a big sting/ bite on my legs so I decided to sit it out and wait for the lunch truck. Just after the lunch truck picked me up, it got foggy and you could barely see where we were going, so I was pleased I had called it a day. It took over an hour to go the remaining 33 kilometres to camp.
When I got to camp the choices of where to put up the tent were a soggy paddock or tarmac by the side of the road. I chose the swampy soggy paddock.
Just after I got the tent up it started to rain. All 35 riders were cramped under an awning for the rider’s meeting and dinner. Even though the temp was 17 degrees it felt chilly. I had dinner and went straight to bed. I had a choice of an open shower with a main road passing, or wet wipes – I chose the wet wipes.
We were not sure what the plan was for the next day as we had lost a day and had to be in Medelin in two more days riding. The rain started to pelt down just as I got into my still damp tent, but it was cool enough to tuck up into my sleeping bag.
We were about 2 kilometres from a military base and they had advised they were going to be doing a practice exercise that night, so not to be alarmed if we heard gunshots etc. We did check they knew where all our tents were. As it was I heard nothing, but the sound of the trucks going past would have drowned most things out.
The place that we camped was where the owner had put in toilets especially. He and his family were very hospitable and were bringing out small cups of coffee to the riders as they arrived.