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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    The animals in the road are sort of cool. I trust the owners to not let aggressive animals be loose. So far so good. Dogs worry me the most. A few have run alongside but none have tried to bite. Very few dogs will chase you. Some even sleep in the street without fear of being run over.

    With big animals I will stop if the road is blocked. The owner needs to leave a path. I proceed through at low speed and low rpms. Be aware of skittish animals, like some horses. So far, all I have encountered were street wise. Never surprise a hoofed animal from the rear.

    Living in a mountainside farmhouse covers a lot of bases. You can adjust your altitude to get the climate you desire. Higher is cooler. Lower is warmer. It gets a little uncomfortable at either extreme.

    Coffee country is in between and may be perfect.
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  2. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    There is more to the story but we lost a rider here years ago when a burro ran out in front of him, always assume they will get spooked and run across the road.
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  3. Tomaso

    Tomaso Been here awhile

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    "There is more to the story but we lost a rider here years ago when a burro ran out in front of him, always assume they will get spooked and run across the road."

    Yes, that was heart breaking, and your advice is right on. And as Champe says, at some point you just have to trust that farmers don't let aggressive animals roam free. Seems I'm always braking for deer and turkeys, but I don't worry about bucks and toms mistaking my Kaw for a rival. Bulls may be another story.
  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    If I assume a burro will cross the road in front of me I will stop and let it go first. If it is standing still, not looking nervous, I would ride on, but slow. Ready to accelerate if need be. Do whatever you can to not hit an animal. The life you save will probably be yours.

    The funniest animal I saw was the donkey / burro / jackass that stretched a rope across the whole road. I suppose that could have been interesting if you were trying to make time at night. For me it was a photo op.

    Generally, Colombia does not have a lot of road kill on the highway. So that is a good sign. Varying road conditions are the issue for me. You can have 140 km/hr highway in some places and 10 km/hr dirt road in others. It is not always obvious from the maps.

    Speeds on the dirt roads are pretty low in general. 20 km/hr is booking right along (12 mph). That never lasts long, before I am down to 10 km / hr again (6 mph). These speeds are very slow by enduro standards. In my area anyway, the ideal average competition speed in the woods is 22 mph. It is not easy to achieve in New Hampshire or Maine woods. That would amount to full race speed for the Duke... no regard for the equipment.

    So the reality is that when going long distance and it includes mountains (usually does), you will average 50 km per hour. If you are doing dirt it will be 1/4 of that.

    So on Sunday I only started at noon and then spent over two hours on a dead end spur. I went back to El Carmen and picked up the right road, but it turned to dirt pretty fast too. And it started to get dark, without a hotel in sight. Again I was thankful for my heavy Klim suit. Closed all the vents and put the collar back on. Closed all the vents except one, that is. The left front leg vent zipper got stuck and the tab pulled off. The slider stuck in the middle with both ends of the zipper open. The pants have virtually no wear but are several years old. Sent them back to Klim... let's see what they say.
  5. falcofred

    falcofred aka Beer Scout Supporter

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    Extreme N.E. Tennessee = Motorcycle Nirvana
    What and leave Sag Harbor, your neighbors P. Diddy, Billie Joel, Richard Gere, Jimmie Buffet, Jennifer Lopez , Alex Baldwin....
    I attended an Aviation School in Daytona FL. In the early 80s, I was in school with a guy named George Butts III, his Father at that time George Butts Jr. was the Mayor of Sag Harbor. He told me his Grandfather was Mayor at one time. I visited him there, went out on his Fathers Chris-Craft and he pointed to the homes of the rich and famous from the boat. You've got some, upscale real estate out there.
    I lost touch with George, but he was a great host, we partied hard back then.
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  6. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Wow! Not too many dog issues. I like that. My daily experience with dogs in other parts of SA is very much the opposite, including the occasional nip. I was genuinely pleased when one yipped while trying to bite my front knobby tire...
  7. Tomaso

    Tomaso Been here awhile

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    "The funniest animal I saw was the donkey / burro / jackass that stretched a rope across the whole road."

    Did you pay a toll to get through? I hear that's how some jackasses make a living.
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  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sometimes the rocks are not so well bedded in the dirt.
    DSCN2306.JPG

    Got into some riding in the dark on dirt roads this evening. It was a very long stretch between hotels. I was told there were several in Sonson. I cruised the whole town twice without finding one though. Finally I asked a cop in the town square and he pointed me to a nearby hostel. What i remember most about that night was the constant ringing of church bells. There were different tones, intensities, and sometimes very rapid strikes. Next morning I saw how they did it. Loudspeakers
    DSCN2307.JPG

    The green sign is the hostel's. It is actually on the second floor. Motorcycle parking in the first floor lobby. A little old lady runs it. Very clean, right on the town square. I was the only guest.

    DSCN2308.JPG
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  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    I liked what I saw of Sonson. Arriving late I was hungry. Walked the square and main street and picked Happy Burger for dinner. It was very busy, with only a very small menu. I only asked for cheese, which was excellent, but I should have ordered bacon with it. This is where I learned the spanish word for bacon - tocina. Unfortunately I only learned this after I already ordered. They were frying up a lot of bacon and doing a great job. The burger came with a thick layer of cole slaw, which was very good so the burger rated an A anyway.

    The other thing about Sonson that stood out was the many cowboys in town with their horses. It was a cool vibe, and not touristy.

    But I did not want to do any more night rides so got going early the next morning. It was dirt again going out of town.
    DSCN2310.JPG


    Locals on the road
    DSCN2311.JPG

    Pretty nice scenery. Regular mountains all around, but in the distance you can see clouds. Those are at the high elevations of Glacier Park, a little beyond Manizales. Hope those clouds go away by the time I get there.
    DSCN2312.JPG

    Stopped for a rest break at an abandoned shack. Looked inside and saw this bat.
    DSCN2313.JPG
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  10. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Back in the old days - 30 years ago - lots of dogs ran loose, and a lot of them chased motorcycles. Most don't want to bite you but some do. I had one that tried to bite me several times on my way to school. So one day I wore my heavy hiking boots and gave him a taste. Never bothered me again.

    I am a dog lover though. Hate to apply such a heavy correction. But it's for everyone's good. I would do it again if needed.
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  11. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    This dog was a pro, though admittedly this was in Ecuador not Colombia:
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    You didn't stop, did you ? Full throttle would be my choice. Little bugger.

    Sounds like you stopped with him hanging on to your leg.
  13. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Just got an email from Klim about my pants vent zipper. It is pretty fancy - no teeth - and waterproof. The slider is stuck at midpoint with both ends open. Tab broken off. So they evaluated it and decided to send me new pants. Wow. That is standing behind your product. I bought them as a year old model a few years back and only wore them a half dozen times.

    This zipper is a long one on the front of the thigh. Stuck fully open it was not doing its job in the cold. Not that it mattered in Colombia. Would have been weird in rain though.

    This suit is my first Klim product. It was crazy expensive but with safety gear you want something really good. They do not know I am writing this blog. But they have just given themselves the best endorsement possible.
  14. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    Didnt stop, that little bike didn't have any power up in the andes, that prob was full throttle, though I was concerned with the next corner so was probably being a bitch and going to slow.

    While a crap shoot, I find stopping sometimes diffuses the situation...of course there will prob be that time where I chose to stop and am wrong....

    i lost my klim jacket outside Santa Marta, had to ride the mountains back to medellin in the rain....that was a cold day! Good to see they are hooking you up.
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  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    The dirt road South from Sonson had some decent views. Back towards Mt Ruiz is not looking good. Lighting is nice for this pyramid of a mountain.


    DSCN2315.JPG

    After a really long time on dirt I was getting tired of it and then made another wrong turn. This is where the story matches back up where I left off while still in Colombia. I did get internet back in the next town and reported about my wrong turn then. I accidentally took a route halfway down into the valley. It got really steep and sketchy. Finally ended. Climbing back out was one of the hardest rides I have ever done. If you start seeing grass growing in the road, and you are on a street bike, it is time to worry. In this case it was already too late.
  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    For next time

    I will be back in 4 to 6 months. Dry season starts around now..not sure how long it lasts.

    Navigation was one of my bigger issues. The phone worked pretty well on the first trip but this time gave a lot of problems. In the end it worked except the keyboard had issues. The J, U and N were very hard to make work. So typing in a destination was next to impossible. So my fix is a new phone from eBay. Something larger so it is easier to type and shows maps better. I am no phone expert but I see it ought to be GSM network unlocked so I can use a Colombian sim card. My present phone is an iphone 5 and I will move to an iPhone 7 plus.

    There are times when the phone is not working. Rare, but service is flukey in the mountains far from cities. For those occasions, a good GPS would be nice. The Garmin Zumo I had needed a new battery so I bought one. I also had damaged the charging connector so now we have a whole new cable. This should get us by in the boonies. I really was not very impressed with the Garmin's routing in the city... being unnecessarily complicated. And you cannot be looking at the panel when in city traffic.
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  17. Tomaso

    Tomaso Been here awhile

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    Champe, good thing you're not returning to Colombia for a few months. Bogota just instituted a lockdown that includes nightly curfews beginning 8 pm. The mayor is concerned that the fast rise in covid cases is due to the new variant of the virus that supposedly makes it 70% more transmissible. I'm canceling my trip to Bogata next week for at least 3 weeks. Visiting a foreign city that's in complete lockdown isn't my idea of adventure.

    So keep the pictures coming. They're great. Cowboys herding cattle on a public road is kind of mind-bogglingly awesome.
  18. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Funny how that happens all around the world at the same time!?
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  19. Tomaso

    Tomaso Been here awhile

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    Weird and funny but not ha ha funny. There's a deep rabbit hole there if you're not one to take media information at face value.
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  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    My information may not be as good as yours... but what i read, was that 3 nieghborhoods are getting more restrictions which include a curfew. I think all are in the south ... Suba is one. The tourist areas are not affected . Neither is the central or northern area, where Dentica has their office.

    Another recent change is a Negative covid test requirement for international arrivals.. You show that for a test within 96 hours, or you can be tested on arrival. I would like to know more about how the test on arrival works.

    Bogota and Cartagena are supposed hot spots. Not that you can tell by looking around. Nobody knows anyone who has been sick. Yet the government is saying otherwise.... Hmmm

    You have to plan according to how you personally read the situation. The medium range... a few months out from now... is very uncertain. I wish I could go now instead. The trend at the moment is more lockdowns so I will be looking at a plan B. Hello, Mexico !

    Some Maine friends are doing the Copper Canyon in March. I might be able to invite myself. Or go later, at my own pace. I am hearing that official reports are not reliable for the Mexican border. Specifically, that it is officially closed. But in reality, moto-tourists are not encountering any border problems at this time.
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