Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rough Road to Medellin

Day 66
Sincelejo, Colombia to Medellin, Colombia
Day's ride: 298 Miles

Woke up late. Didn't really feel like getting out of bed. That damn boat ride really put the hurt on me. I finally pulled it together and got out of town around 10:30 PM. I rode about ten miles and then pulled into a gas station for my first oil check of the day. And was immediately swarmed by a mob of Colombians!

Before I even took my helmet off they were asking me questions: How fast does your bike go? How big is the engine? What model is it? Can you do wheelies? Etc, Etc, Etc. They really, really, really love bikes down here, especially if it's bigger than 250cc. I really felt like a rock star going through Central America, but Colombians take it to a whole new level. After answering the same questions over and over for about 10 minutes, I finally distracted them by asking for a group photo.

As I was talking with my new fan club, a band struck up behind me. Wow, I thought, I'm so popular now that they are going to give me fanfares every time I stop for a piss break! My head almost exploded.

There really was a band playing in the parking lot of a service station. I guess that was their practice venue. They were pretty good; played some Latin flavored stuff which had people dancing in the street (true story). After I escaped the fan club I talked to them for a while. When I was ready to go, they played me out! What a great experience! I did a big wheelie for everyone as I came back out onto the road. And nearly ran down a pedestrian.

The first half of the day was pretty uneventful. Saw some signs of American/Colombian solidarity:

Saw lots of roadside stands near river crossings selling some big ass fish:

And took advantage of the moto lane at all of the toll booths:

Around noon I stopped for lunch at a grocery store. I was immediately swarmed again by a hoard of Colombians asking about my bike. Hmmmm....this might start to get annoying after a bit......

They were cool. All of the Colombians I've met so far speak really fast and I'm having a hard time understanding them. I eventually escaped and went inside for food. When I sat down, I looked out and saw this:

Man, I'm going to be popular down here. I'm going to have to keep a close eye on my bike. I may come out someday and find the Colombians setting it up as an idol or something, right up there with their golden calf. What do they do when they see a KTM 990? Have a heart attack?

After my experience with the street meat yesterday, I played it safe: chicken lasagna, chicken tamale, and red bull (sugar free). It was quite tasty.

For some reason I can never get enough food down here. I'm always starving. So I took the opportunity to load up at lunch, even though the cashier lady gave me a funny look when I ordered two entrées. Apparently Latin Americans don't overindulge like their North American brethren.

After lunch I saw a big bike and had to pull over for a picture:

Holy BMW's batman! I played tag with this bike for the rest of the day. I think it passed me about 3 times; that 1200 totally leaves my little overladen 650 in the dust, especially at altitude.

About 100 miles out of Medellin the road crossed a pretty big river:

And immediately began to climb......and climb.....and climb. The road was horrible! It reminded me of Guatemala, except for maybe a little worse. Large sections of road missing, bike eating potholes, huge gradation changes in the asphalt; I hardly even bothered trying to take pictures. The road conditions, combined with the absolutely crazy drivers had me on edge the entire time! I had about 10 minor heart attacks when I came around corners and found semi's passing semi's in my lane. I had to bail into the shoulder every time!

I eventually stopped and got a picture of the valley that I was climbing up out of:

Here's one of the nicer sections of road:

It was crazy. Plus it climbed from about 200 feet about sea level, to over 9,000 feet! What a trip. It was defiantly nice to get back up in the mountains. I'm so tired of sweating my balls off at sea level. My riding gear smells absolutely wretched. I wouldn't be surprised to see it get up one morning and leave the room under its own power....

As the road was begging to drop down again out of the mountains, I spotted some familiar faces at an overlook:

Kevin and Katerine, the couple on the matching XS 650's who sailed on the Independence with me! They had a two day lead on me out of Cartagena, but I had already managed to catch them up! We talked for a while and I told them they would probably pass me as i was planning on crashing in Medellin for a few days. And then I saw that R1200GS pass me again and I was forced to go chase it down.

He may have been faster, but he wasn't willing to pass traffic on the right, in the dirt. You've got to be committed if you want to win!

Caught up with the GS again just outside of Medellin. A lot of the houses here seem to be made of brick. It was really quite pretty coming into the outskirts.

As I got into the center of Medellin, I began to appreciate just how many motos there are here. They are everywhere! When you get into stalled traffic, even the white lines are stalled with bikes.

After taking a few wrong turns I finally made it to the Shamrock:

Crashmaster was right; this place is pretty damn cool! I'm hoping I can escape before I get sucked in for a month....

Lot's of riding today. I'm taking the day off to hunt for tires, a pressure suit, and a ratchet strap. I may get my valves adjusted too.


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