2 Months on a Bike in Colombia - 2019 and 2020

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Champe, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    I really appreciate the tales and photos. Fantastic! I must also admit the 390 Duke has my attention.
  2. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Back in business. Airlines have been flying into Bogota for a few weeks now but the Covid restrictions have been changing. The latest is that you need to complete a tracking form but they dropped the test requirement.

    So I leave the frozen North in two weeks (Nov 19) to spend another glorious winter month near the equator. Same general plan as last time. Daily excursions around Bogota on the bike for the first two weeks. Then West and South (instead of North, like last time) to coffee country, big mountains, deserts, Cali and Medellin.

    The first week in Bogota I will be farkling up the Duke a little. Not available in Colombia, I got a Chinese made aluminum skid plate and luggage rack from the internet. Also got a couple of clutch levers and a stock, under-tank fuel filter. I may try some regular gas and need to be prepared for some contamination.

    Mode of travel is pretty light. No camping gear. Usual accommodations have been around $10 / night. I am also bringing a lightweight riding suit with a mesh 3 layer jacket. The Klim Adventure suit was too hot to wear sometimes.
  3. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    So glad I was looking through the forum and found your report again @Champe! This is going to be fantastic to follow again.

    And @Quindio - not to be harsh, but what the hell happened to you? Checked on your thread several times, thought something bad had befallen you whilst down there. Obviously, none of my biz, but wondered about your safety.

    Looking forward to seeing what you get yourself into on that Duke Champe; glad the travel restrictions have eased. Given the current state of uncertainty in the US and how far we've fallen as a country when it comes to respecting different opinions and views; I envy your travel and escape.

    Safe travels on the 19th and beyond.
    Ohio_Danimal and Champe like this.
  4. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    YES! I have been waiting months for this.
  5. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Choice of bike.

    Long distance trips can be done on anything. But you always want the best tool for the job at hand. Nothing is perfect in all situations. So I respect whatever method you choose for travel, especially if it is a motorcycle.

    Currently I have 3 bikes registered at home in New Hampshire : BMW R1150GS with Jesse bags, a 2013 KTM 690 Enduro, and a Honda CRF250L. Any of them would do, but I expressed a particular interest in the 690 last year so I bought one. Thought I might upgrade my Colombia ride to one of these. Not so sure anymore, Now that I have had a chance to ride one for a while. It is overkill. What it can do, I should not be doing so far from home. It is also a bit tall for me ( I am 5'8") but totally fine when rolling. The 390 Duke is much more comfortable on the road, especially two up. The performance is sporty enough for my taste. And the cost is only half of a 690. So we will be keeping the Duke.
  6. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    On the launch pad at the airport in Boston. Had a struggle with the Colombian immigration/tracking form so had it ironed out at the ticket counter. The agent had problems too. Took him a half hour with assistance from others.

    One of the problems was that my birth country was not listed as an option. No Germany on the list. No Deutschland either. They asked me to pick another one. I came up with “Alemania”, which is Spanish for Germany and that was on the list.

    So I am past the ticket counter and TSA security now. Have my boarding pass and sitting at the American Airlines gate.

    The airport is very quiet. Everyone wearing masks.

    While standing at the ticket counter I made a new Colombian friend. Luis Cruz is flying in to Bogota for a medical surgery. Will cost about $1000. Would have cost $4000 in the US. He is traveling with his wife and. 2 kids and will still save a ton of money.
    liv2day, roadcapDen, pro69ss and 4 others like this.
  7. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Grampy

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    Good luck to you. Colombia is a beautiful country with very nice people.
    I love this quote from you. "What it can do, I should not be doing so far from home" ... very wise!
  8. youngforever

    youngforever Adventurer

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  9. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Am having some internet issues, but made it to the hostel with no problems. Bike was fine but with a dead battery. Got a new one already but still need SOAT (insurance) to ride legally. The hostel owner had a bad motorcycle crash 2 weeks ago so that reminds me to get that insurance. Claudio broke a shoulder and 5 ribs- - he is hurting. He hit a big pothole at night. Front wheel made it over, but the rear did not..

    Bogota was Covid hotspot. It is the law to wear a mask in public here now. My dentist , Juan, told me that it is a $300 fine to get caught without one. Ask him how he knows - ha ha.. If you pay within 5 days it is only $150. And I am talking dollars here, not pesos.

    The hostel is doing a good business - pretty full. My new roommates are night people, while I am a morning person so I am switching to a private room tonight. Will cost double. But I can handle the $20 per night.. BTW the hostel is for sale again. $75K.. Now has a pizza restaurant included.
  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Glad you made it down there without any issues @Champe! I'm quite curious - what's it like down there as a foreigner with covid running rampant? Political bs aside, it's good to see them enforcing masks.

    That sucks about the hostel owner having a wreck - broken shoulder and ribs is brutal. Hope you're able to get the insurance sorted shortly and glad the battery was easy to source.

    Keep the knobby/sticky side down after you're settled and heading back out to explore! Look forward to seeing pics of where you go and what you see...winter doldrums have settled into the PNW (mostly).
    Champe likes this.
  11. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Pics coming soon. Meanwhile this ride report is taking off.

    Yesterday I fixed the dead battery by replacing it. Walked about 5 miles carrying the old one. Got shin splits from all that walking. Today I wanted to,make sure it was all ok before buying insurance so I rode it one block to the hostel. Bad move. Cops pulled in behind me at the hostel. Had to pay a 200,000 peso bribe to avoid further issues about the insurance. My first bribe ever. The hostel had offered his insurance contact to me earlier, and came out to defend me from the cops. Good guy, but the cops were on a mission for donut money.

    Of course I bought the SOAT right away. 545,000 pesos for a year....roughly $175.

    My Colombia phone could not be reactivated due to too long of inactivity. So it needed a new SIM card. But the phone would not accept it. So it needs repair....I should get it back Monday.

    The Covid hoax has destroyed a lot of businesses here. I would rather have the flu than lose my business but these poor people have no choice. Street vendors are active and I am giving them some business. Had my first ever shoe shine, bought an empanada, and an arroz con Leche...rice with milk.

    The people here are as nice as ever. Glad I am here.
  12. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    Hell yes!
  13. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Got the Chinese luggage rack and skidplate installed. Cost 20,000 pesos ...about $6. I like to do my own work, but was anticipating fit issues. I brought a self chosen tool kit to supplement the stock one, but was worried it would take a little modification to make the parts fit. So I let a shop do it. Turns out the Chinese quality was ok, and they were straight bolt ons.

    Met a lot of the tenants here at the hostel. I am trying to avoid English speakers to some degree, but my little police scene out front made me famous here. There are several older guys here from all over the world looking for Latin women, and I do not mean hookers or one night stands. No wonder. There are a lot of cuties here. Especially if you like big butts. Personally I do not care about big butts or big tits, and I still think there are a lot of good lookers around.

    Does the police bribe story interest you guys ? It played out kind of classically, but I thought they were cracking down on that sort of thing. Claudio says ... no way... bribery is alive and well here. And it is not all bad. The same violation would have cost lot more in the US, with the money going to bad things. I will tell the story if there is interest.
    roadcapDen likes this.
  14. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    OF COURSE WE WANT THE STORY.


    I have gone on record stating that Colombian women are overrated, I agree there are some beautiful women there, but definitely overrated. Worst part is, many of them think they are the most beautiful as well.
    Champe likes this.
  15. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    ^^^^^^^^
    To the 1st one, YES

    2nd one, ?!?!
  16. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    This part of the report is in real time, so I am using an IPad with a photo dongle. Not very convenient, but let,s see how it goes. Saturday I had my skidplate and luggage rack installed by a shop that does not speak a word of English. This is it
    DSCN1688.JPG


    The repair shop is right next to a motorcycle accessory shop ... FullMoto... and there was a long line...maybe 100 people ... waiting to get in. I asked someone if they are giving something away free. He said yes, but did not explain it. Claudio...the hostel owner... told me later it was “tax free” day.
    DSCN1687.JPG
    Cal likes this.
  17. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    This is a little Honda pulling a big trailer.
    DSCN1690.JPG
  18. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    I changed rooms to a private one with bath. There are wall murals all over the hostel but this is the wall I see when I wake up.
    DSCN1693.JPG

    The hostel has added a pizza restaurant. This is their menu.
    DSCN1692.JPG
    Cal likes this.
  19. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Today I tried the hostel restaurant. I was prepared for a disappointment but was pleasantly surprised. One of the best Hawaiian pizzas I ever ate. Really loaded with ham, cheese and pineapple. Had a vanilla smell/taste to it.
    DSCN1698.JPG
    WileyRTW likes this.
  20. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Yesterday I went for a ride toward La Calera, a small town in the mountains to the West. I intended to ride the dirt road at the top of the pass to the left that I saw last year. There was a fork with one option marked private so I tooK the other one but it led right back to the main highway. So I continued on the highway for another 1/4 mile and took a right on another dirt road. This one was what I was looking for. It went for miles, and was pretty rough, with even a water crossing more than a foot deep. It had numerous forks and dead ends but went past a lot of farms in mountainous terrain.
    DSCN1694.JPG

    DSCN1695.JPG