You join me today sunburned, and at the start of what should be a pretty epic adventure. Me and Karli are back in Colombia, 36 mile from our start point after ‘Operation Leave Town’. The weather is a pleasant 90F and humidity like my foot after a 10 mile run. It was hot, and to add to the excitement, between the two of us we are hauling 150 pounds of mountaineering equipment which is destined to follow the course of the Andes mountain range all the way to the southern most tip of Argentina.
What’s that you say? That sounds unpleasant, sweaty, pointless and bound to fail? Well, yes, it is pointless, and the chance of failure is pretty good. But we are trying anyway. We are on our way to what we consider to be the start of our trip, the northern most tip of Colombia and South America.
This next years trip- South America by bicycle following the Andes and climbing as many cool peaks along the way as possible. The first part is the part I have been least looking forward to, I hate heat. But if we make it through the daily torrent of heat stroke and exhaustion the climbing rewards should keep getting better and better. It’s rather ironic that for a cycle tour of this weight we are actually travelling rather light weight, with only one spare set of t-shirt and shorts per person.
THE COUNTDOWN TO THE TRIP
For literal months now we have been trying every conceivable type of bicycle pannier setup and trailer to find what we think fits our trip best, hundreds and hundreds of dollars later, trying to find a best of all worlds for rough non existent trail as well as smooth road, We settled on a Burley Nomad we ordered the week before leaving with it arriving a couple of days before departure untested.
We found two one-way tickets from Denver> Fort Lauderdale> Cartagena for 115 dollars a piece, plus 3 checked bags for about 35 dollars a piece. Plus two bike boxes for transport at 75 each (with more gear inside each) totaling less than 500 dollars to get 2 people, 2 bicycles, a bike trailer and 150lb of climbing and cold weather gear to a different continent. Getting to the airport at 9pm, with three hours to spare in case of problems, we found the flight was delayed by a further 3 hours, so we pulled out our camping pads and slept better than most. We arrived in Cartagena at about 1.30pm the next day. We were glad that the layover between our two flights was 5.5 hours, seeing as my visa for the States expired the following day, and missing the flight could be detrimental.
morning of the flat tire-
We spent the afternoon and evening re-assembling our bikes from the heavily battered cardboard boxes smeared in oil , quite relieved the bikes were in one piece, and grabbed a Colombian sim card for one of our phones to have navigation ability and contact with the world. Thinking we were done and ready to ride the next morn, we went to sleep nicely dehydrated thinking of just how ugly all that weight looked and questioning if this trip was even possible. When we woke on this, day one of our trip, we looked at the bikes and realized we had a flat tire before even setting off. We waited for our air bnb host to collect our key then set off into Cartagena traffic. A lot of people have asked what route we will take and to be honest, until we were sat on our bikes ready to cycle we didnt really have a way set. This is a kind of ‘wing it’ trip.
The plan was never to get too far today, but just get out of the city with a 10am departure. Cycling into the middle of the day is always unpleasant, but with roadside shacks every couple of miles carrying water was not an issue and there was good food that felt honest and less questionable than most American Dinners.
We pulled into our hostel (the first few nights along the coast we are stopping in rooms for a cooler night sleep and a cold shower each day) and stood under the trickle of water as a reward for a job well done. We sat outside playing chess, waiting for a meal to be made while finding ourselves entertained by hostel devil dogs with possibly the sharpest teeth i have had the pleasure of being bite by.
Welcome to the new edition of bensgame. Something more interesting coming very soon. Also going to fix the mobile view when i get a chance. for now, ditch the phone, go retro and view on a laptop 😉