I am now preparing to leave this morning as I jot a few notes down. The time here went by so fast that I cannot believe I arrived 1 week ago tomorrow. Sandra is full of so much life and her life is very full too. She has several jobs as a teacher and raises two children as a single mom. Her voice can be loud and enthusiastic,and she laughs very easily. I have seen this in a lot of the Colombians, a zest for life that can be seen in their eyes and heard through the passion in their voices. They live from their heart and dancing appears to be a very important part of expression for everyone here. It makes me wonder if music is in their genetic makeup, it seems as though they all make good singers too.
first 30 miles easy, no knee pain, felt great.
I contemplated stopping in Hobo to have a short day but it would have been too short, the day was early and I could make it to Gigante by early afternoon. So I kept going thinking I would make up one extra day too. Along the road there are police checkpoints everywhere, being on a bicycle they don't bother with me, I think I passed 3 today.
There are many small restuarants along the way that people put up on the roadsides in front of their homes. I stopped at one and had a gatorade and some sort of sweet pastry, I wanted a cup of coffee but could not imagine drinking a hot coffee on such a hot humid day. I like warmth and I like sunshine, but this humidity is killing me! Anyway, that cold coca-cola looked good so I got one of those, it felt great to get the caffeine and sugar as a boost.
Not too far down the road all the homes disappeared and no buildings at all, just an isolated stretch of road. For a short distance these little makeshift wooden stands appeared on either side of the road with lots of fish hanging from strings in the trees. One thing I have noticed is that everything seems grouped together, if you are looking for fish, all the people selling fish will be in the same area. When I saw bicycle shops, all of them were side by side in the same part of town. This was true for every type of business.
After about 40 miles my left knee starteed hurting again, then when I knew it would be a quick last 10 miles to Gigante I hit a very long steep climb up the mountain. My pace ranged from 2mph to 3mph the steepest part lasted almost 5 miles. That took over 2 hours! then it leveled out with a lot of up and down hills. My knee hurts trying to push all this weight up the hills, on the level roads I can ride fast and no pain.
At one point while I was taking one of my several breaks cycling up hill, a car stopped and the three guys were very interested in my bicycle and my journey. One of them is a cyclist and they had lots of questions about what I was doing. They asked me about Colombia and when one of them told me where they live, he followed it with "the most beautiful women there".
This may the the one consistent constant theme, "beautiful women" being said by women and men. The women here tend to celebrate how beautiful the country is and its women. They do not appear to be objectified and there does not appear to be sexist behavior. In fact I would think that a Colombian woman is strong enough to stand up for herself and put a man in his place when needed. Just some impressions but their cultural is different from the U.S. and women are not beat down and manipulated, instead honored. That is from my experience of those people I have met, it might not be true to generalize like that, but it is just an observation.
This ride up that hill was the most difficult thing I remember doing in a long time. It was constant uphill with switchbacks, I would turn a corner and think "okay this has got to be it, just around that corner and I'm done", but it seemed like the neverending mountain. According to my altimeter I climbed over 1000 feet on that steepest section of it. The total elevation difference is 1200 feet between Neiva and Gigante, although I climbed higher than 1200 feet in places due to some of the high moutains before reaching Gigante.
The morning started out cool but by 1pm it was getting hot and when I started up that mountain the heat was intense, the sweat running into my eyes making them burn. Everytime I stopped, the weight on my bicycle was trying to pull it back downhill as I stood there keeping one hand on a brake. Getting started was a trick, it can only be done in the "granny gear" and I had to just start pedaling as fast as I could while going sideways across the road. I only did this when there were no cars.
When I got to a downhill, I had to be careful in the turns because there were areas of avalanches covering half the road. Going 25 to 30 mph is a bit fast to make quick maneuvers on a loaded bicycle in turns.
I arrived into Gigante as the sun was going down and found a hotel, inside there was a man named John who spoke a little Enlish. No one else did so he helped me get checked in and when I asked about eating he told me about a restaurant. He started to show me where it was and I said I need to shower first John said "okay meet back in 10 minutes".
It felt great to get refreshed in the shower and although I was trying to hurry, I was still moving slow, everything ached, my knees were the worst. My left knee was perfect at the beginning but that climb with that weight really did something. My feet both felt tingling and numb from all that pushing uphill and my butt was also sore, tingling and a bit numb. I had not climbed anything like this before, all of these mountains are long and steep. In North America I went up and down some steep mountains but nothing like this, not even the Canadian Rockies can come close to comparing to these.
After showering I met John and he started to give me directions to the restaurant and then finally said follow me. He walked with me to the restaraurant and then spoke to the women behind the counter cooking. He translated what the dinner was, fish, soup, rice, and plantain, I said "yes, good". I really did not care what it was all I had today was two apples, the pastry, a gatorade and a coca-cola, I would eat anything! John helped me negotiate who to pay then we talked a bit and he gave me his cell number to call if I needed any more help.
The food came and the fish was a whole fish that was fried. The whole thing including its head with the shriveled up fried eyes too. They even leave the skin on and it was not battered, just a whole fried fish lying on the plate staring back at me, I was hungry and it tasted good! I did not eat the head though but the white fish meat was very tasty.
When I got back to the hotel I laid on the bed to relax and before I knew it I was in a deep sleep. I woke up about an hour later and made my way to turn off the light and crawled into bed, my knee was on fire at this point.
miles today: 52.28
average speed: 6.9 mph
top speed: 32.5 mph (going down hill of course :)
total miles so far: 260.7
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...