November 26, 2011




Today was the earliest I had to get up. I woke up several times in the night and could not sleep. I just laid in bed waiting for that early morning knock to wake me up. It wasn't until about 20 minutes before 7am, the time to get up, did I start to feel tired enough to fall asleep again.

I quickly got ready, we had a quick breakfast and then out the door. My bike was on its first ride while fully loaded. I immediately felt the difference and was wondering is I made the right choice this time. Last time I pulled a trailer and the bike handled very well, this time the front was very wobbly with all that weight. I did not use the cleats on the pedals just in case I needed to put my foot down quickly. Pilar and Ciro wanted to ride with me on my first day so the three of us set off.

Our first stop was the corner stand where they get their fresh juice squeezed to order. Our next stop was to get air in my tires, they were a bit lower than they were when I had the bike shipped here. I wanted 90 psi and I have no idea what the guy put in there. Ciro said it was "22" and I do not know what the conversion is and what kind of pressure is in my tires, but they were low and it seemed to ride better.

Riding through town it was very busy and a bit of a nightmare negotiating traffic, the thin air and the thick diesel smoke was not a good combination. Along the way there were a couple of traffic jams due to two motorcylce versus bus accidents within one mile of each other. I took a photo of just the motorcycle on the ground at the second accident and a police officer came over and said I was not allowed to photograph accidents or it will implicate me in the accident. Ciro helped translate what he was saying and he stood there while I deleted the image off my camera. Ciro said that is not true and he was trying to "be a big man" and "show his power" as Ciro put it. He went on to say: "what they say is if you don't want to study become a police, it is real easy to be a police, no study".

riding thorugh town, weaving in and out of the traffic jam

We climbed up close to another 1000 feet being passed by buses struggling up and spewing thick black diesel smoke that I was sucking into my lungs. I don't tink I've seen such black diesel exhaust before. The thin air and that thick black smoke was making me sick and I had a very difficult time breathing. Ciro would say, "only 1/2 kilometer more and we will be at the top", 1 mile later he said "about 1 kilometer more and we will be at the top". I am struggling with breathing and managing this heavy bicycle that gets very wobbly as soon as I try to look around. Ciro is very enthusiastic and keeps pointing out many things to look at, I try to look at many things but I had to keep my focus on the bicycle and the terrible road condition.

Just a little bit of light rain going up the mountain

We reached the top and had lunch there, it had rained a little but, just a very light rain not enough for me to pull out my rain gear. When preparing to leave Ciro said "no more rain now". So we started heading downhill and entered the worst downpour that surpasses those awful Oregon rains I do not really care for. Two things I do not much care for is rain and cold, this had both. I was visibly shaking in this cold heavy rain. My hands had a death grip on the handlebars as both my arms were shaking due to the cold. The road turned into a muddy river as we were headed 3000 feet down the mountain in mud and a very rough road with rocks and holes everywhere. Small avalanches were covering parts of the road and in some places half the road was completely washed away down the steep mountside. We had to ride our brakes the whole way down trying to avoid all the little disasters along the way while splashing through muddy holes and hitting large bumps that had me concerned about my wheels with all the weight on my bike.

Before we reached the bottom, I noticed my brakes had a lot more play in the levers, I had to squeeze them further to make it slow down. Ciro's brakes got completely worn down and the metal post the goes into the pad was scraping the side of his rim. Pilar's disc brakes were also beginning to fali on here and the rear one quite working at ont point. I had new brakes on my bicycle and by the time we reached Fusagasuga(say that 3 times real fast), my brakes were completely worn and we stopped at a bicycle shop and we got new brakes. I had gone 6200 miles across North America on one set of brakes, now one mountain in Colombia destroys my brakes.

Before we reached Fusagasuga, a line of cars started coming up behind us, one of them stopped and Ciro talked to him, apparently there was an avalanche that we just got past. Lucky us or we would not have made it through this day and lucky yus we were not at that spot when it happened.

at the top and no more rain, or so we thought

I stopped at a lake so I can put a drop of the sacred water in it that was given to me by Marci.

riding into Fusagasuga

We arrived at the friends home of Ciro's and was treated to a very nice lunch which consisted of several courses, inclucding fish, rice potatoes and a few other things I do not remember, all I remember is that it was a big meal just after eating a big meal. We relaxed and spent the evening in conversation. They have a mulitgenerational household with a lot of people living in this house. later in the evening is was another big meal and at some point before that there was coffee served. Coffeee is served frequently, not sure at what times of the day is tradition but I enjoy a good cup of coffee.

the brake pad turned to mush

Ciro's brakes worn down to metal on the top one, he was really squeeking coming down.

my new brakes

Ciro's friend Edgar and his whole family, a multi generational household.



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