Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Colombia day 13: Back on top of the world

Today we left the main roads behind us again and regained some altitude. We are taking the secondary road to Manizales, which once again means gravel, landslides, washed out roads, little traffic and breathtaking views
Our first issue this morning was one of mud though. The road followed the river for around 13km before it started climbing and as part of the road construction they were taking gravel out of the river at a number of sites. We had woken in the night to hear a large storm battering rain on the buildings and this combined with the construction trucks had turned the road to muddy gloop. By the time we reached the cafe at the bottom of the climb, the bike and ourselves were covered in it. We haven't got a bike that muddy since a sustrans incident in 2015!

Up and up on the gravel we climbed, there wasn't a great deal of shade in some sections and we both got very hot. Changing from the bike helmet to a sun hat helped a lot - I was no longer dripping sweat like I was doing an indoor training session in June or blinded by sweat. I'm normally of the opinion that the best way of carrying a helmet is on your head, but today was an exception. 

This road is a little different to the small roads we travelled before Medellín in that shops and services are further apart, and the towns/villages are bigger. Our lunch time stop was in Arma, an historic village on the top of the hill. Despite being a little off the gringo trail the town square had a couple of information boards in both English and Spanish giving a little bit of history about the town and the holy relics in the church. We skipped the usual Colombian large lunch for a couple of ice creams and a packet of minature chocolate and banana cakes to take with us. The second climb of the day was around 1000m but unlike the first, was mostly paved. This makes it slightly easier going. 

Our destination, Aguadas, is a reasonably sized town with a lovely town square and a few nice restaurants and panaderías (bakeries). It sits on a ridge and the views make you feel like you are sitting on top of the world. We met a German cycle tourist as we arrived in the square and he recommended the hotel he was staying at. Now we are out of the holiday/tourist areas again the hotel accommodation is much cheaper, AND has hot water for the shower. Luxury! They were also very helpful in letting us borrow a hosepipe so we could clean Dobbin. He should be a little lighter for the climbs tomorrow and hopefully his gears will be a little better behaved.

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