2 Months on a Bike in Colombia - 2019 and 2020

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

  1. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    This is the paved road into Cocorna. and a "Hosteria" at the outskirts.
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    Steep streets downtown. Typical. San Francisco people would be right at home.
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    Cocorna town square and church.
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    Some of the streets are a little rough
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  2. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Typical street in Cocorna.
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    Left town on the dirt road. Back to the animals. This horse is bored with his field. He is looking around. Must be an adventurer too.
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    Bottom of the valley, following the river out of town. I could live here.
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    Cow
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    The stream. There is an abundance of water in this area. Water is under pressure coming out of the mountains. One business has sprung up because of this.. lavaderias... laundromats.
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  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    A resort along the road
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    The river runs along this road
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    Here is a little beach and swimming hole
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  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Junk on the side of the road. Good luck picking any parts off it now. Not much of this in Colombia. Scrappers are everywhere.
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    Muddy section of road. this car is wearing it.
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    OK. This is the spot I want. In the middle, in the shadows, is a stone building resembling a fortress. Looks abandoned.
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  5. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Riding along... see two bikes parked in the middle of nowhere. time for a break anyway. You can see the road surface well in this photo. Totally fine for big bikes.
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    There is a little trail here leading down to the river. At the start of the trail is this bee hive.
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    At the end of the trail is this cable crossing over the river.
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    No, I did not try it out.
  6. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    I would not try this water crossing.
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    Not any easier upstream
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    The water is clear and cold.
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    This area is all within walking distance of the bike. Here is a closer shot of the big stone building by the river. Notice the inside fences are down. The outer fence is good , and locked. Better not trespass. I wonder about that rooftop. Looks like it could be a deck. Uh maybe not. Is that a big tree growing in the middle of the building ?
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  7. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Yes, there are actually several businesses like this within a few hundred yards. I think David's is the busiest and has the best takeoff and landing spot. A first flight is only $35. I will do it next time.

    I return here on Sunday and take some really great video. But by then I am itching to get on the road again.

    Here is their business card.
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  8. itinerant wool stash

    itinerant wool stash Inveterate optimist Supporter

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    Re Colombian food:

    There are various ways to end up with tasty food. Some of them involve spices, others elaborate preprations, but my impression was that a lot of great Colombian food runs off of something much simpler: Quality ingredients, the fresher the better.

    It turns out there's a rather straightforward way to leverage this, and in addition get to know a great many local folks.

    Especially in small-ish cities or communities in the countryside -- big cities like Bogota or Medellin obviously are different -- there are still very much functional market squares and halls frequented by the locals. It is where the locals get their fresh fruits, vegtables, meat, diary products, if they don't buy it directly from farmers.

    Plaza del mercado or some variation it usually is called. Go find that. Usually, there's some sort of food court/hall directly nearby, which often takes the form of just a long hallway with tables and banks running down the center line and various kitchens to both sides of it. Often those stalls don't have a menu, and even if they do, its certainly not in English -- but that isn't a problem even if you're a gringo whose Spanish is quite limited like me.

    "Un menu del dia, por favour" are the magic words, menu of the day. Entree, main dish with a side (I am a sucker for fried plantain), desert and some sort of juice to go with it. Some places don't have that, but the locals are happy to parse it into the "daily special". You may be asked questions, like if you'd like to have a soup or a salad as entree, but with a couple common words like soupa (soup) or pollo (chicken).

    Don't expect anything fancy; this isn't something like La Perla where the local middle-class may go to every now and then. This is the place for the workman's every-day lunch. But it'll be cheap (In Bogota I paid 14.000 pesos for the whole menu, including the drink, right in the middle of Chapinero, and on the countryside it can go down as low as 8.000 pesos), it'll be plenty, it'll be good and the people will be very friendly. Additionally, you won't have to deal with any of that 'gringo' nonsense; more often than not the locals will be as happy as a kitten in a box that you'll eat there with them.
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  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Bogota reportedly has one of the best markets. I have not been to any so thank you for the recommendation.

    I did find all the sopas to be good. You can even order them "solo" in restaurants for around 3000 pesos. Kind of handy with recent dental work.

    And for sure...freshness is everything. So you want to go where there is a lot of turnover. That will be a busy place. Lots of locals or trucks is a good sign.

    Fried plantain is one of my favorite sides also. But it can be screwed up. Probably half or more establishments serve the pancake form, which is fried hard. The other major kind is sliced lengthwise and fried, but is soft and sweet inside. Those are the good ones.
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  10. itinerant wool stash

    itinerant wool stash Inveterate optimist Supporter

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    Specific to Bogota (or larger cities in general), don't just look at street level. Especially in shopping districts with mixed commercial/residential units, look at what's in the second floor, and then once you spot it look for the entrance. ;)
    There are two eateries in this picture:

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  11. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Another very good suggestion I have not tried. But I can confirm the value. Sometimes these second floor restaurants have signboards at sidewalk level and they show great deals. Makes sense - likely lower rent on the second floor. And they often offer 3 grades of meal... basic, executive, and deluxe.

    The restaurant scene has changed a lot from a year ago. Almost half the restaurants are gone, including some of my favorites. Others barely hanging on. covid, you know. How are these poor, hard - working people supposed to survive ?

    Those that are still in the hospitality business are grateful for any customers. They make sure you get good value too. So it works both ways. In this case I am glad to leave them some dinero.
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sometimes this road is cut into the dirt on both sides.

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    No signs. Good fixer - upper.
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    The main house
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    Uh oh. there is a sign.
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  13. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    What is that in the distance ? could it be a bridge ?
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    Why yes, it is.
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    Shall we check it out a little closer ?
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    It's ok. well, good enough. I hope. Stay over a cable, and try to stay on the non-rotten boards. Actually, it felt quite solid, with very little sway. 4 cables under foot so that helps stability.
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  14. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Cocorna river
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    Bridge. go ahead....you go first
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    Another cable crossing down the road a bit. This one had a basket of sorts. No, I did not try this one either.
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    Backwater from a small hydroelectric dam
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  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    This is most of the dam. There is a guy dumping a wheelbarrow load of leaves onto the spillway. Dilution is the solution to pollution.

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    Job well done.
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    House for sale. The bricks you see are typical here.
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    Just in case you want to make a call
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    Attached Files:

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  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Back to the Medellin-Bogota Autopista. Bet you didn't know that Bogota and San Francisco were this close together. This SF is down a longish dirt road...saving it for next trip.
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    Zeuss gas station. Corriente is regular gas. I am supposed to run "extra". But since only a few stations have it, I have stopped being so religious about it. These prices are pesos per gallon. amounts to a bit more than US prices.
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    Cocorna river.. as far upstream as I got. This would make a great water crossing for trials.
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  17. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    This section would be fun ! Up or downstream of course. Across is too easy.
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    You already knew this is the Cocorna river. Right where it crosses the Medellin-Bogota Autopiste.

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    A sideroad. a little rough. whaddya think ?
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    Here is some passing over the double yellow line, on the outside of a curve. I do this a lot, but in safer conditions. While I consider myself a master at this, there are also wizards. Quite a few, in fact. Some of them even drive cars. Never did see one squished up against the bumper of a Kenworth.
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  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    That was probably a fluke or a camera trick. So here is another. I greatly prefer the inside pass.
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    Cocorna from the Medellin-Bogota Autopista. The blue area in the lower right of town is the soccer field. The right hand portion is unfenced and makes a good landing field for paragliders when there is no wind for lift.
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    Another paragliding launch site
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    This kind of town sign is kind of traditional now. Required for tourist destinations.
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    Could you stand being cooped up in this little farmhouse ?
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  19. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    I have previously said I am an idiot, and while there were chunks of bone in my Pazole, am not ashamed to admit I have recently learned that I did not eat chicken vertebrae. I did however get the claw in my chicken soup in Colombia, but did not even think about trying that! :dukegirl


    Great report as always Champe!
  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Happy New Year.... Feliz Ano Nuevo

    As you know, I am back home in NH, where we have winter. And we got a plateful upon my return. But most of that melted and I was invited to ride about an hour away for New Year's day. Trials riding, that is. The shop where we all buy our bikes is in Maine, closer to the ocean, and 10 degrees warmer. The owner of the shop (Stu of Jack's Cycles) often invites people over to ride. So this was a special mid-winter ride in good conditions with a bunch of friends and the grand master of the region. Great way to start the year.

    And now we return to Colombia.

    Finished the Friday ride to Cocorna. Back to La Perla again. This is Jorge's car. Late model Chinese. Gas power, manual shift, 4 doors. Perfect and typical.

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    Saturday ride with Ana. First stop was a small plaza with lots of souvenir vendors. Every decent plaza has a church. this is on the way to Guatape, the famous rock.
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    The view from the parking lot of the plaza. This is first sight of the big lake that is just North of the rock. This lake has lots of long thin arms...this is one of them.
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    The whole plaza
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