Well friends, it happened again: not ten minutes after uploading the previous post (from thriving downtown Pedregal) my ailing cellphone died once again. The battery went from 100% to 4% and back again, then gave up the ghost permanently.
This would’ve been OK except for the part about navigating into a metropolitan area of 400,000 souls without a map or a clue about where I needed to go. But that’s the story of Day 3, and we ain’t there yet.
Let’s get through Day 2 first: a short, simple story of an ugly, unrelenting climb. Only 2 km past Pedregal, I hit the viaduct you see in the featured image. Just under the right-hand lens flare (there are two because I stitched together a couple of pics) the climb began, and there were precisely 0 meters of flat or downhill riding for the rest of the day. (See the 2nd image for the climb details. Category “HC” means “Hors catégorie” or Beyond Categorization)
I quickly abandoned the roundabout route I had mapped out in favor of the Pan-American’s smooth shoulder. For the non-riders amongst you, climbing is usually a masochistic sort of fun, but it’s way worse when there’s no variation to allow you to rest your legs (and psyche) a bit. A few local riders passed me on what seemed to be a training ride, and one gentleman slipped me 20,000 pesos (about $5US) for lunch–and encouragement. [The world’s hospitality on display as usual.]
Although I still felt strong, and had pounded calories all day long, my legs started threatening to cramp at around the 17 km mark. Even when I got off the bike and pushed a bit, my quads wanted to cramp with every step. It was only 2pm, but when I reached a big service station at the next crossroads I asked if I could camp for the night.
As you can see from image #3, the digs weren’t fancy, but there was a cheap restaurant on the property and I was more than happy to take a long nap and a few photos. Don’t worry, though: image #4 is the view in the other direction and I bore witness to a lovely sunset. There was also a friendly dog to keep me company, and I slept like a log. (This was my first night in a tent in Colombia, and–as always–somehow I always rest better in my tent than almost anywhere else. It was a welcome change.)
Friday morning started with more of the same, as you can see from image #5, but the payoff was a spectacular descent into the Pasto area. I stayed on the same highway until I reached an industrial area with street vendors selling arepas de queso for breakfast. For $0.75US I had my breakfast (coffee included), and directions to city center.
Before long I had found a small shop that promised to install a new battery within the hour ($20US, but beggars/choosers/etc). And they did. I spent the hour riding around–getting my bearings and a nice strong coffee. [NOTE: the coffee in Colombia is as good or better than in Ecuador, and basically half the price. My usual luxury item–double espresso–costs about $1.25US, as opposed to $2.50US+ in Quito. It’s the little things, amiright?]
Image #6 features Maria and Angie–my mobile phone saviors and kind, inquisitive souls.
Armed with my re-functioning cellphone, I was guided by a helpful local cyclist to a mid-priced local eatery, where I stuffed my very hungry face. Image #7 is the second course of the usual two-course lunch (first course is always some sort of soup). It’s a lot of food, and this one was $3.25US (13.000COP). More than I can usually afford, but worth it. (For comparison: today I had time to look around, and found a great lunch for a buck less, 9.000COP.
While I ate, I got in touch with the owners of my hotel from Ipiales. They have a newly renovated property in central Pasto, and I’m one of their very first Guinea pig-guests. Great location for exploring, which I plan to do at least for the rest of the weekend.
And that, my friends, catches you more or less up.
I hope your weekends are unfolding in spectacular form.