Colombia, Popayan, 7-8 Jan 2012

I left Bogota at 0800 found my way onto the highway not much traffic in the city but it started to build up as I got closer to the outskirts, its a long weekend and everyone was heading out of town, slow going then an accident up ahead, road blocked for 45 min and the vehicles on my side of the block filled up all 3 lanes so the ambulance coming from the other side could not get through eventually did after a lot of backing up and squeezing, making 4 lanes out of three, crazy.

Finally got moving again and just as I was going past a bus around a corner, this is a four lane road now my lane was blocked with one of those red traffic barriers, no warning, I grabbed the brake, bike was leaned over, front wheel locked and down I went, according to my GPS it happened at 1019, speed 53kph, altitude 1442m, trip distance 51.47km and I got moving again at 1034, I tumbled leg came off but stayed in my riding pants slid to the side of the road and got it on again, a bike rider asked if I needed any help, no thank you, cop asked if I needed an ambulance, no, a couple of locals picked my bike up and moved it to the side of the road, the left hand guard was bent slightly, enough to prevent the clutch lever from being pulled in fully, got my tools out and removed the guard and put it in the pannier, GPS and mirrows askew, left indicator broken, left thumb stuffed, right wrist, ribs, hip and knee stuffed, camera and phone which were around my neck had scratches but still worked, when riding off I noticed the cop had removed the barrier and traffic was using the blocked lane?
After that it started to rain and some very steep and winding roads over 3000m for 2 hours, busses used the whole road going around hairpin bends, 2 stops of at least 30min for road works, one the road had fallen away, Quindino came up at 1500, 7 hours of riding stopped for fuel and a Pepsi, still a long way to go didn’t think I was going to make it to Popayan and decided to stop at Cali, joined the Autopista and speed crept up to 110-120kph police and military checkpoints every 10k’s making random stops.
All the roads had tolls but bikes are exempt, you just have to ride past the toll booth down a special lane for bikes, I forgot to do this once and had to pay $3.25 because there are sensors in the road. There must have been at least 10 toll stops which makes this place nearly as expensive as Mexico.
Made good time and arrived at Cali at 1650 andother 150k’s to Popayan so decided to keep going as the room was booked road narrowed to 2 lanes with villages still doing 100kph most of the time, started raining and the road started climbing and winding upto 1800m, about 20k’s out slowed right down to 35kph blinded by oncoming lights and drops of rain on my visor got to Popayan at 1830 in the dark, turned into a side road and stopped, rain had stopped so got the Nokia N8 out and checked my location used it to navigate to the hotel, it has proved invaluable on this trip with its offline maps, checked into the hotel at 1900, for two nights, 571km in 11 hours. Ibuprofen for dinner.

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One Response to Colombia, Popayan, 7-8 Jan 2012

  1. UNREAL! Give this man a medal, someone! I will, once you come back! Bravo to you on your incredible travels on bike through questionable terrain and challenging weather! Very nicely done, but please don’t feel the need to be too macho all the time; you can ask for help, you know, and everyone will be so happy to feel they are a part of something special!

    BTW, no idea why this post landed in my SPAM folder– just found it and read it.

    Happy and safe riding. Take it easy for a while now!

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