Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1557, Ipiales – Pasto: War Zone

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Jan - 14 - 2015

Distance: 84.54 km
Ride time: 5.09.08
Average: 16.40 km/h
Max speed: 53.75 km/h
Total: 32615 km

I had heard mixed stories about the part of Colombia I was about to cycle through. There are warnings out there that it is not advisable to travel by bus at night – the FARC still has some power in the southern provinces.

On the other hand I had met a couple of cyclists in Ecuador who had just come through and said it was safe enough to cycle there during the day.

As soon as I left the border town of Ipiales I noticed the huge amount of military personnel on the road. At every bridge there would be guards walking around with machine guns, and there was even sand barricades at each side of the bridge. Furthermore I saw vehicles from both Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders on the road. In one way it certainly reminded me of a war zone, on the other hand I actually felt very safe cycling through the beautiful and quiet landscapes.

The day started with a long descend into a deep valley. After crossing a bridge it was straight up again. The views over the green mountain sides were spectacular. I remember dreaming about green landscapes when I was cycling in the coastal deserts of Peru. Now the surroundings were as green as they can get.

My goal is to cycle every kilometer from Ushuaia to Canada. So far there were only two tunnels in Chile where riding was not allowed so I had to take a lift. On the steep climb towards Pasto I did however get some inspiration from the local youth. On their bikes they were racing down the mountain, only to look for a truck to hang on to on the way up again. I had never tried truck surfing before, but thought it looked cool…

I waited for the next slow truck coming up the mountain. I then accelerated as fast as I possible could and got a hold. I’m not sure what the truck driver thought of the idea, but I was now rolling up the mountain at 25 km/h – feeling slightly guilty that I was not actually cycling myself even though I was still in the saddle. The fun lasted for a couple of kilometers, then the truck driver stopped and I continued by myself.

At the top of the climb it started to rain. Luckily I spotted a bakery serving hot coffee and strawberries in cream. I also met Juan, a local cyclists who had just been doing the same climb as me. Cycling is popular as a sport here! As the rain stopped we rolled down the mountain together and Juan showed the way to a cheap but nice hotel in Pasto. Friendly bunch the Colombians!

Categories: Colombia
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