Daily Archives: July 28, 2015

Day 10/164: Rest Day in Medellin

Even though we could sleep in I was awake at 5am. It rained heavily again during the night. The hotel is built around a small courtyard, when it rains you can hear it pouring down through the floors.

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The inner courtyard of the hotel (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We had been told that the hotel had organized to get our washing done at special rates but we had to bring it down at 9 pm. When we bought it down the people at reception knew nothing about it and wanted to do it at usual hotel rates which would have cost approximately $100 NZ, so now we have to get it sorted today on a public holiday. It’s national Independence Day today in Colombia. Lesson learnt from this is that unless something can be done right away, don’t count on it.

I went down to breakfast, had cereal and fruit, and strawberry juice – that was a first! Interesting but not a convert.

Last night we went out to eat, I forgot the name of the place but it was Colombian food. I ordered a dish that came with a spicy vegetable soup, beans, rice, a potato cake (which was like a bread cover with potato inside), dried beef (it was like beef dust) and pork crackling, set off with a fried egg and quarter of an avocado (which is three times the size of NZ ones), cooked plantain (which is in the banana family), and a banana. It was interesting but way too much. There were 6 of us and we shared a jug of sangria. The bill was 35 pesos, which is approximately $16 NZ.

Today we had to meet in the lobby at 10am to go to a bike shop. It had been organized in advance for us to stay open today. A number of the riders needed to get various parts. One rider Eric could not get the parts he needed and ended up having to get another bike to be able to continue.

I needed new cleat clips for my new biking shoes, a magnet for my speedo, drink bottle (I bought a spare also), some bike lube and more chamois cream. I also bought a tube which is something you can wear as a hat or as a scarf around your neck or over the bottom half of your face. I figure this will be useful as we go further south. Nothing worse than having a frozen nose.

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The bike store that opened specially for us (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Ended up doing the washing by hand in the bath. I hung it up on the roof, and no sooner had I done this than it started to rain again. Hopefully the sun will come out again soon.

Trying to dry stuff ip on the roof ((Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Trying to dry stuff up on the roof (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia. It is located in the Aburra Valley, in the Andes Mountains. Situated 1,500 meters above sea level it is cooler than some other parts of Colombia.

As it is close to the equator it has pretty the same temperature all year round – an average of 22 degrees. The climate is tropical rainforest, so lots of rain and sun. Not great to keep a tent dry but excellent for growing.

The population in the city is 2.44 million, and with the surrounding areas it comes to 3.5 million. I have not seen any stray dogs in the inner city, but have seen some homeless people on the ride in.

The poor people live up high in the hills and there are a number of chair lifts operating so they can get to and from work. Whilst Medellin is considered a safe city it is not considered safe to wander around in the poorest areas.

We spent the rest of the day getting sorted for the next 6 days riding, before the next rest day in Bogota. My clothing is 95% dry. We went out to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner, I had half of a very nice bottle of Cab Sav from Chile – only my second wine on this trip – Colombia does not produce any wine, and some excellent ribs.

(Photo credit: Sue's blog)

View from the roof (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

General Update – 21 July 2015

Some general comments and info I have not put in previous blog updates:

Tent
I like my new tent much better than the last one. It’s a MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2. There are 3 other riders with a Hubba Hubba tent also. The tent has a feeling of spaciousness because it has a pole that goes across the top diagonally, as well as the length – this makes it seem bigger than it is. In the last tent it felt like the walls were closing in on me. The one issue is putting it down in the wet, it is really hard to get the poles to unfold. I will have to come up with a solution before it gets frosty as well.

Offers of help
I have had a number of helpful locals stop and offer to give me and my bike a lift as I am struggling up yet another hill, including a couple of large trucks who have just stopped going uphill – blocking traffic while they converse. The people are really interested in having a discussion, which so far is limited on my part to:
Hello – halo (don’t pronounce the h)
Buenos Dias – good morning
Buenos noches – goodnight
Gracias – thank you
Muchas gracias – very much appreciated
I como esta – how are you
Aqua – water
And of course “No Spaino” – no speak Spanish
So it’s pretty limited but a lot more than when I got here!

Most of the local people have no idea where New Zealand is, and a couple of times after trying to explain, I apologize but I have to admit to this: I have said I am from Australia. Sorry but I would rather be considered an Aussie than being from America!!

The daily life when not on a rest day
Alarm at 5am, pack up everything into the daily bag, organize water and snacks, sunscreen etc for the day onto the bike.
Riders update at 5:45 with anything new for the day or changes to the route.
Breakfast at 6am – cereal, bread, fruit sometimes boiled eggs, sometimes porridge , tea and coffee.
Apply sunscreen, bug screen and on the road by 7am.

The lunch truck is generally half to two-thirds of the way to the next campsite.

I generally have one or two stops to refill water (am drinking about 7 litres each morning and afternoon) – and then consequently stops to pee. Plus reapply sunscreen at least once.

Lunch truck has sandwiches – generally only white bread by the time I get there, with meat, cheese, fruit, water. I stay clear of the meat as has been out for a while by the time I get there. Watermelon is delicious when you arrive hot and thirsty. I fill my water bottles and reapply bug and sunscreen.

The idea is to limit the lunch stop to less than 10 minutes and not sit down – otherwise your legs start to seize up and then it’s 20 minutes riding before they warm up again.

I stop once or twice as in the morning for water, sunscreen etc, and of course it goes without saying: stop and look at interesting sights.

Then into camp which is anywhere between 2pm and dark (6:30pm).

If there are showers then I’ll have a shower, otherwise it’s wet wipes and reapplying bug spray.

After that I sort out my gear, clean my clothes if possible, check over my bike, put up the tent, and get ready for the next day.

On a good day I have an hour or so to drink tea and rest. Other days I spend with the bike mechanic sorting out the day’s bike issues.

We have another rider’s meeting at 5:45pm to discuss the next day and any issues from that day. We all take down the directions for the next day’s route, and also take a photo of it with our phone as a back up.

Dinner is at 6pm. Then the plan is to have either Spanish lessons, or a basic bike workshop, but with the extended days and issues we have had so far on the trip, these have not happened, apart from one Spanish lesson.

We have been having really long and challenging days but the days for the tour staff have been much longer. They are still sorting out the trucks and cleaning up well into the night and are up at the same time or before us in the morning.

Generally I am in my tent attempting to sleep by 7:30 pm. Then the next day it starts again.

The other riders

I still don’t know everyone’s names, by best count there are 30 people doing the whole ride, plus a number of section riders.

Most of the riders have done at least one TDA tour before so had some understanding of what to expect.

There are five woman planning on do the whole ride:

  • Sue – a retired vet, age 59 from England, who has already done the South African ride: Cairo to Cape Town this year.
  • Annegrete – age 59 from Denmark, who has done the tran Oceania and one other ride. She is currently planning to finish about Santiago but may change her mind)
  • Jacquline – who is from South Africa but spends half the year in Sweden, and has done a couple of previous rides.
  • Johanna (Jo) – from Melbourne, I am pretty sure this is her first TDA ride but she has done other riding tours.
  • And of course me.

Team New Zealand

The New Zealand team

The New Zealand riders

From left: Phil is from Christchurch, he has done one previous ride – the South Africa ride, and Peter is from Palmerston North, he has done one previous ride – the trans Europa (not the same year as me).

On this ride there is a race component, and Phil will often win – if he doesn’t win, he is still in the first 3. He is missing the bottom two gears (where I have spent most of this ride) and still manages to win.

Today there was a speed trial from Camp 27 kilometres over a 2,000 meter climb and Team NZ was well represented with 1st place going to Phil and 3rd to Peter. Sadly the woman’s team of one is not of the same standard.

Made it to Medellin!

Made it to Medellin! From left – Jo, Sue, and Kaye (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

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