February 2017

CYCLING TOURING Columbia's Coffee Triangle

We started off the month in the city of Medellin, we needed a rest after the first assault on the Andes, the first two passes kicked our butts. Sixteen days off in the city seemed like a great idea to us.

Julie attended Spanish school for two weeks, I updated the vlog/blog, and drank stupid amounts of good coffee that it turned the colour of my teeth to an attractive yellow hue. That aside, I like Medellin a lot, it’s one of those cities which seems to be putting its citizens first, and making a conscious effort to become sustainable, much like a progressive European city. Wednesday night we were excited to join the  ‘SiClas’ night bicycle ride, dubbed the Ganja Ride because of the hazy smoke which is billowing from the mouths of the participants. This weekly ride attracts all manner of people, bicycle fanatics, curious tourists, and locals who want a new perspective on their city. We set off on a 10 mile ride, taking up entire highways with our lights blinking under the nights sky. The whole city was cheering us on, well except for a few irritated drivers who had to wait for the procession to ride by.

Leaving our comfortable Airbnb house in the neighborhood of Laureless, we spent three days at the equally comfortable and fantastic Casa Del Ciclista. Manuel and his wife Marta have opened their doors to cycle tourists since 2010, we were number 749/50 to pass through the Casa’s doors. A week before we arrived they had eight cyclists stay, it just shows how popular cycle touring is at the moment in Colombia.

We left the city to the South, heading pass hordes of tourists visiting the graveyard where Escobar is buried. Then it was a 35 mile descent, dropping 4000 feet to the Cacus River, which is one of the main waterways of Colombia.

The Cordillera Occidental mountain range stood before us, drifting on forever into the blue horizon. We knew that we had a mammoth climb ahead of us up to the town of Jardin. Half way up we met a bunch of cyclists who persuade us to join them for a BBQ in the mountain town of Ciudad Bolívar. We slowly climbed to 5000 feet, passing the industrial size coffee plantations of Juan Valdez, the Starbucks of Colombia. Later on in the afternoon we arrived in this magical little coffee town which is hidden away in the steep valley walls of the Andes. The town receives very few international tourists, so it felt an honor to be hanging out here, drinking fine coffee on the main plaza. Apparently one of the best places to drink coffee in the whole of Colombia is one of the three cafes around the plaza. I won’t tell you which one, you’ll just have to visit them all, like we did.

The last climb was 20 or so miles up to 5300ft to the beautiful tourist town of Jardin, which is nestled in yet another picturesque valley that is split in two by a fast flowing river. Coffee and banana plantations cling to the valley walls, the lush green peaks drift in and out of view from clouds which are pushed along by the trade winds from the Pacific. The town’s main plaza is a joy to behold, colorful cafes line the edge of the square, fresh flowers and old trees grow out of the manicured flower beds, and old men sit at tables sipping fresh strong coffee whilst listening to the endless Salsa music which is blasted from the cafes speakers. It was a great place just to sit and do nothing for three days. And that’s what we did.

Total so far: 6175 miles.  Colombia
Current Location: 3.464057, -76.532746

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Medellín

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Street Art of Pablo Escobar

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The house where Escobar died

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Street Art in Medellín

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Street Art in Medellín

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Route 60, Antioquia

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Route 60, Antioquia 

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Co-Motion Equator – Ciudad Bolivar

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Casa del Ciclista

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Manuel Velazquez and Us

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Selfie with Alvaro Perez Ramirez (He’s been touring for 8 years)

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Casa del Ciclista

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Crossing the Cauca River with a bunch of Weekend Warriors

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Coffee & Banana Plantations outside Jardin

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