Daily Archives: August 4, 2015

Day 17/164: Rest Day One in Bogota

Yay no roosters, no loud music, and yay being able to get dressed upright, and have a warm shower 🙂

I  skyped with my daughter Shellbe last night who is currently in Vietnam, it was great to catch up with her and all her news.

Writing my blog in bed this morning (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Writing my blog in bed this morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I had to be downstairs at 9am to go and drop off the laundry. There was a laundry just up the road who will do it for you and charges by the kilogram. 24,000 pesos for 4 kilos, which is approximately $11 NZ.

I forgot to take my towel, so I will have to wash it by hand back at the hotel. Then off to the bike shop to get inner tubes, tyres and more brake pads (I suspect the two I bought with me will not be enough). I caught a taxi to the bike shop, which was about a 30 minutes taxi ride away. The traffic, even at this time of day, was gridlocked. The taxis though are surprisingly cheap – the trip cost 16,000 pesos which is less than $8 New Zealand dollars!

There was a group of four bike shops in a row. I managed to get everything I needed. I bought 6 inner tubes, 2 patch repair kits, as well as the tyres and brake pads. I paid by credit card and signed the receipt. When I left the shop they came running after me as they thought I had the signed copy. Who knows where it went, as I didn’t have it and they couldn’t find it. They wanted me to repay and sign another one, which I had no intention of doing, as it had already been approved electronically. Given the language barrier it was a bit like a scene from Faulty Towers! Eventually after I had turned out all the bags and pockets, and shaking my head each time I was offered a pen, they let it go.  There were a number of other riders also trying to get parts for their bikes, and some having real difficulty. Phil was having no luck getting what he needed to fix his two bottom gears.

I got a taxi back to the hotel to have something to eat, and skyped with Kelly and Lucy, and Lizzy and Xavier. It was great to have a good wifi signal.

View from our hotel window of the national museum (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from our hotel window of the national museum (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I went down to clean my bike and sort out the tyres etc. I discovered I had a heap of grass in the cluster and generally the bike was pretty caked with dirt. I got the new tyre on the back, so fingers crossed the issue with flats is sorted. I was not able to get the same type of tyre, so bought two different ones with a slightly smaller tread that I will use on the road. The ones currently on the bike are heavy and better for off-road, as slower on the paved road. I still have one brand new spare of these tyres.

Once the bike was sorted I went off to buy water and other supplies. I needed to get some more lip cream and went into what I thought was a pharmacy type shop and mimed lip stuff. Not surprisingly they had none as I was reassured after I came out that it was actually a pet store!

When I got back to the hotel I bumped into Phil who had just arrived back in a taxi. The bike shops were not able to help him, but would you believe the taxi had been a professional bike rider and managed to get his bike sorted.

I went for dinner at a meat barbecue type of place. On the way there I was looking at the tallest building which had a very colourful light display, including cyclists riding around the building and dolphins swimming. I was more concentrating on this than my surroundings, and got a hell of a fright when a small homeless man jumped up into my face and went boo! My reaction caused general merriment with the surrounding locals. Sue had an encounter of a different kind during the day, when she was in the Bolivar Plaza she was asked if she wanted some cocaine!  Sue is very partial to coke but not that variety!

Ever changing lights on a skyscraper (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Ever changing lights on a skyscraper (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Off to bed now, at 9:30pm.

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Day 16/164: La Vega to Bogota – 60 kilometres

1,271 km down: 12,370 km to go (End of Stage 1)

We had to get up at 4:30 as getting into a large city is always difficult. Having been awake most of the night with the music and with the puncture issues, I decided to forgo riding 60 kilometres, including a 2,000 metre speed trial up hill, and the convoy into Bogota.  A convoy is difficult enough anyway when you are one of the slowest riders, without an almost 100% certainty of a flat tyre or two. So, I decided to ride in the truck.

We got to the lunch spot and set up lunch, by the time we had finished it was about an hour before the first riders were expected. The road we were on is a main road into Bogota, and one that the local cyclists use for training, and it is Sunday. Cycling is big in Bogota and there were hundreds of cyclists out that morning.  There was a constant stream of pelotons (groups of cyclists) individuals, dads and sons etc. Most were brightly dressed in cycle gear, but some were in jeans. The bikes ranged from top of the line to old.

The 30 kilometres ended up being 27 kilometres due to parking availability. I wandered about 500 metres down the hill. I was watching one cyclist with a very old bike that had a rusty chain, and it broke twice within a couple of hundred metres. I tried to convey to him that there was a bike mechanic just round the corner who could help, but it was lost in translation.  As the riders were expecting to do another couple of kilometres I stayed where I was, letting them know the finish was just around the corner.

After they had all come in and rode off again to the convoy spot I was helping clear up lunch, watched by a couple of hopeful local dogs. As we were going into two rest days and left overs needed to be chucked, they became very happy local dogs, with a big bowl of shredded chicken tipped out for them.

Once we got the truck packed we headed off to the convoy spot. The constant stream of local cyclists continued. Outside every cafe and coke stop there were dozens of bike. The convoy start was by a big café, inside were about 40 cyclists as well as the TDA riders.

Amazing atmosphere at the cafe (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Riders congregate at the cafe (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Amazing atmosphere at the cafe (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We had three cyclists from Bogota to help led the convoy. We had a TDA truck at the front of the cyclists, and another TDA truck behind. The traffic, as you would expect in a city of over 7 million, was crazy but much more tolerant than Wellington drivers.

One of the riders got a flat and him and his bike had to be hauled up into the truck. Then another rider’s bike broke – he is still on track for EFI, so the sweep gave him her bike and then the sweep and the broken bike had to be hauled into the truck.

The riders got to a bike only lane (Bogota shuts off inner lanes on Sundays, the same as Medellin, for public use, only Bogota started this). There is a complicated one way system in the city and we ended up going around one part twice, taking about an hour due to traffic.

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Convoy into Bogotá (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Finally we got to the hotel which is Hotel IBIS. The riders got there well before us. We collected our daily and permanent bags and set off to get into a warm shower. Warm shower – the joy! Then into my only remaining clean clothes. Just as well Sue and I get on, as we have a really small room. The beds are two twins pushed very close together, and not a lot of other space.

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The hotel room Sue and I are sharing at the Hotel IBIS in Bogota (Photo credit is obviously Kaye, as it is blurry again)

A group of us went to an Italian restaurant just around the corner called Archie’s – found out later it was a chain. The food was good, I had a medium pizza with jalapeños and anchovies, it was delicious. I also had some red wine.

My plan for the next two days:
Monday – laundry and sorting bike and bike gear
Tuesday – a tourist.

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