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April 25th, 2012 | Colombia

Last ride in South America…!! Cali to Bogota…

Although I stayed up late to work on a few of my old posts, by midnight I was still stumbling around the room, trying not to wake Fabio and Tom, who were sound asleep…

I realised that I would have to allocate more time than I had planned, to make some headway, and resolved to spend the next day banging away at the keys again…!!

Fabio checks my tyre pressures again, and confirms that the pressures are a little shy of where they should be...!!

My friends went out to tour the city, while I stayed behind to do some “work”…!! By late afternoon when they had returned, I had made some progress and was in the mood to ride again… We had dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and spent the rest of the evening discussing our last ride in South America, and replying to emails…

Tom and Fabio bought their tickets to Miami, while I made arrangements to meet up with Adrian the following evening… He had very kindly offered to put Tom and Fabio up at his sister’s apartment a few blocks away from his… Up until then we had been trying to find a hotel close by where they could stay…

Tom and Fabio get ready to swing into action... It would be their last ride in South America too... We all wanted it to be a good one...!!

We would have liked to see Medellin, but time was running out for all of us... My friends had to be in New York in less than two weeks, and I had to get to Cancun in about the same time frame...!!

After breakfast this morning, we made our way quickly out of Cali and onto the motorway that took us first east towards Palmira and then due north to Buga and Tulua… But first we had to search for fuel for the Big Fella, and I came with an inch of running out, and having no spare fuel with me…!!

We refueled and then pumped my tyres to the correct pressures… From that moment I began a really “sweet” ride, which would quickly wipe away the memories of the terrible ride I had made to Cali…!!

The Big Fella felt lighter, quicker and from somewhere, seemed to have found a new lease on life…!! In fact, when I changed up from the lower gears, I was popping the front wheel clear off the ground right through to third gear…!!

To get to Bogota, we had to come down from one range of mountains where Cali is situated, cross the wide valley that runs north all the way to the Caribbean, and then climb another range of mountains up to Bogota…

We stayed on Route 40 all the way to Armenia and then turned east and wound our way down into the broad, flat valley that the road cut directly across…

We wanted to get at least 300 km behind us before we stopped for lunch, and that was still 120 km away at this point... Our lunches had become a leisurely, hour-long affair...!!

We paced each other all the way, and I was able to get some great video footage of both Fabio and Tom, as we ducked between the cars and trucks on the highway, hardly ever slowing down, and almost always finding gaps to shoot through… It was invigorating riding….!!

Riding fast and in close concert, there is little room for error...!! Here we prepare to take another gap in the traffic....

We made very good time, stopping for coffee just as the climb up La Linea began…

We had got into the habit of stopping between 10 am and 11 am for a cup of strong coffee, and today, our last day on the road together, was no different....!!

I left our coffee stop first, pumped and ready to tackle the torturous road that led up to 3 000 m… I am not sure how we became separated, but for the next hour and a half, I rode on alone, never sighting Fabio and Tom, as I concentrated on ducking around long lines of trucks and avoiding others that wound their way down towards the valley behind me…

I kept the video rolling for most of the way, and watching it later, I had to grimace on occasion at the few close shave I had, darting between trucks and riding up the inside of them while they turned into hairpin bends… Once we had the bit between our teeth, there was just no holding us back…!!

Hairpin bends were commonplace, and avoiding trucks on them meant flirting with fate....!!

A new highway is built straight across the mountains, and will cross the deep valleys, making it a lot easier and safer for the trucks to negotiate this stretch of road....

I stopped at the edge of a small town, to wait for Fabio and Tom, but after 20 minutes, they still had not showed up… The long line of trucks that I had passed began catching up and I decided that I did not want to have to overtake them all again, so pushed on to wait up on the plateau ahead…

Many vital bridges are still being guarded by the military, and small groups of soldiers are stationed every few kilometres along the road...

I stopped again half an hour later, bought a soda and waited for my friends… They duly arrived, and we decided to stop in the next town to have lunch…

It's mostly about meat and potatoes out on the road... Quick and simple dishes that truckers seem to prefer...!!

Then it was back onto a wide new highway and an easy ride into Bogota… I knew that I would have to fly the bike with next to zero fuel in the tank, and did not want to stop and refuel again, so even though we were riding fast again, I tried to conserve fuel as best I could…

This turned out to be a waste of time, because nobody asked how much fuel I had on board when I checked the bike in at the airport the next day…!!

The final push to Bogota was made on a dual carriageway, where we "tanked it"...!!

Confirmation that we were on the right road...!!

And when going around a mountain proved too tedious, we were able to go straight through it....!!

Happy to be in full control again...!! And still wearing dark glasses in a tunnel....!! Tsk, tsk...!!

Roadworks inside the tunnel meant that we could not get too throttle-happy...!! The tunnel was a long one, and we eventually got past the traffic by riding around the cones...

The temperature dropped as we began the final climb up to Bogota, just as Adrian said it would… Although there was cloud about, there would be no raining on our parade today…!!

Last climb up to the capital was made under leaden skies...

People who deface road signs, should be sent to the place on this sign...!!

To make our entry into the city as smooth as possible, Adrian had advised us to leave the highway after the final toll gate and take the road to Funza, and from there head to the co-ordinates of his home, which he had given me a few days before…

The short ride from the highway to Funza was through rolling farmland, that reminded me of places back home… It felt as though I had been through there before…

We stopped in Funza to recharge my mobile phone and when I tried to call Adrian to let him know we were close, I discovered that I had his Peru number saved on my phone, and not his Colombian one…!!

We decided there was nothing for it, other to ride to his home and then hope he called me…!!

The end of my South American road....!! Bogota, Colombia....

We made our way through some hectic traffic, and got into the street where Adrian’s apartment was located, but could not find the right building…!! I had to find an internet cafe nearby to check my email to find his local number…

Eventually Adrian arrived on his scooter to show us to his building which was literally only 100 metres away from where we were waiting…!!

We parked our bikes in the basement, and then trooped upstairs to meet Diana… I felt that I was re-uniting with old friends… We had last seen each other in Cuzco, Peru, and here we were, together in Bogota… We spent a few minutes just grinning at each other…!! It was wonderful to see Adrian and Diana again, and after a quick change of clothes, we walked around the corner to Adrian’s sister Lina’s apartment, where Tom and Fabio “checked in”…

The following day, they handed their bikes in for the flight to Miami, taking most of the day to get it all sorted out… That evening, we all went out to dinner at one of the 13 pubs that the Bogota Beer Company owns in the city…

Adrian is in charge of the production at the brewery, and has travelled to many European countries to lean his trade…

We had a great evening at the Bogota Beer Company....!! John, Lina, Diana, Adrian, Tom and Fabio.... Wonderful friends all, and more than charming hosts as well....!! Thank you all for making my last few days in South America so memorable...!!

The following day would be my turn at the airport, and judging from what Tom and Fabio had been through, I figured it was best to get an early start…!!

Diana arranged to take the Italian Connection on a city tour, which I was sad to miss, but had no choice but to be at the airport… It was Friday, and if I did not get the job done then, I would have to wait until Monday…!!

©GBWT 2012

5 comments to Last ride in South America…!! Cali to Bogota…

  • Andres

    Hi Ronnie,

    Great to hear you are comming to Bogota, I’ve been following your trip.. it wil be great to meet you.. will you to the BMW dealer in Bogota?

    Regards

    Andres (BMW R1200GS)

  • GypsySailor

    Exciting stuff, how long are you to be in Panama for?

  • Ha…!! Gypsy Sailor…!! I like it…!! So glad to hear from you…!! I will only be in Panama for two days, and then riding through all the other small countries in double quick time…!! Have to get to Cancun in Mexico by mid-May… Know that I love and miss you more than I can show… D.

  • Dario Fernando Chacon

    hello friend
    visiting your site I realized that you were recently in Colombia and soon rode to your page hope you come back and visit our country and your friends deserve to know more about this country good route

  • Murray

    I hope you will be posting all your Colombian pictures soon.
    On another issue, once this geat journey of yours finally ends (with a happy ending) will you be publishing a book of sorts as a guide for others to follow in your foot-steps…?? Part of or in full?

    Murray
    Bisbane/Australia

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