Bogota to San Agustin

10. December 2016.
Downpour has left consequences on the roads. Halfway towards the village of Agua de Dios a river flooded the road. It was an obstacle that only trucks and a couple of bigger cars could cross, it was impassable for motorcycles, and what was the case with cyclists was not known until my arrival. The current across the road was strong and depth somewhere up to the knees. I decided to give it a try. After all, I had crocs, footwear designed especially to ford water. As soon as I got into the flow, I realized that there will be problems. Water was pulling bicycle from my hands and curious observers hinted me to put it on the shoulder. Being ultralightly equipped, it was easily done. I proceeded slowly, gliding my feet across the bottom. When I arrived in the middle of the stream I got a log, branch, pipe or something similar between my legs. I had to cross this obstacle, but the current was so strong that I was afraid that I will drift if I lifted one foot. I stood in the middle unable to move forward or backward. If I fell then, you would not read this travelogue. Fortunately I got a help from two youngsters, for which I was very grateful. Water represented the greatest threat to my life on my travels. Currently, the result of the match „Me - Water“ is impressive 6:0 in my favor, ..., but water needs only one golden goal for the final win.

An accident on the road #45.
Brave heroes ready to die for their country? Or just playing dangerous games for grown-ups?
Road #45 in Colombia.
Otherwise, the situation on the road no. 45 in Colombia is excellent. The road is impeccable, with one meter of paved shoulder intended for cyclists. If there were not speed breakers before and after every village, I'd describe the situation as ideal. Colombians are great cyclists on the global level. Now I can give a few reasons for this fact: good roads and tolerant drivers encourage that people take up cycling; an infinite number of short climbs and descents, which require constant changing of rhythm, heat and rain soaking roads requiring skills at downhill; all this shapes cyclists as versatile masters.
Notorious speed (and bone) breakers.

Something I'd not wish even to my worst enemy.
One proverb says that man learns all his life and then dies stupid. Mathematically, this can be illustrated with the inverted parabola as a function of time, with the extreme (ie. a maximum) of knowledge somewhere in the middle of life. It seems that I have already gone over the extreme. Why?  Because of stupidities, which happened on this trip and which were not appropriate for an experienced rider. Firstly, I fitted lightweight and very narrow pedals with pins, which previously I haven't tried out and which drilled holes in the my shoes just after two days. Therefore I practically never stood on the pedals, as a consequence I was constantly sitting on the seat, and soon I got blisters on the back side. At a gas station a mechanic took the pins off, which was of a little help, but I finally solved the problem when I bought new pedals. New pedals also needed a new pedal spanner. Secondly, I started with old tires which were fine on a previous trip. But each journey is a story in itself, and so already the third day the front tire was damaged and a few days later the rear one too. I replaced both and just in case I bought spare tube and a few patches. Thus, the bicycle in Colombia received considerable aesthetic and functional "lifting" and some additional weight, which could have been avoided with a little preliminary planning.

After the lunch siesta.
Colombia is not exactly known for its high cuisine. Cheap daily lunch is available at the restaurants, with a soup and a main dish consisting of beans, rice, fried bananas, lettuce and one type of meat: chicken, fish, pork or  rather tough beef. The first time I stopped for lunch, I got a great appetizer soup in which, swimming among other ingredients, there were chicken legs. Mmmmmm, what a treat it was! I remembered reading few years ago that a businessman won a prize for entrepreneurial gazelle because he exported large quantities of containers full of chicken legs to China. I laughed at Chinese then, but now, when I tried the soft, juicy chicken legs in warm soup, I had a revelation. I can predict that the next Gazelle will undoubtedly bring this delicacy to the European consumer. It's only a question of time - and of aesthetics. Indeed, today, when the cooking product is more appreciated as a work of art then as a dish, the biggest challenge will be how to aesthetically incorporate chicken legs into the culinary creation a la Cézanne.

Rio Magdalena.
A toilet with a view.
Why travel? This is the eternal question. As for me, my greatest motive is to change the scene, the environment, to interrupt routines. One of the goals is also to get into better physical shape and lose weight. I usually succeed, after four days of cycling I'm already slim as an otter. This time however, I had a lot of problems. On the fourth day, when I came into a love nest, a motel which is hired by the hour, a look at my physical appearance shocked me. The motel room was adequately equipped, i.e. with a double bed and large mirrors all around. So I had the chance to assess my current physical-esthetical state. I was quite disappointed. It was far from Hollywood. If something essential will not change until the end of the trip, I will be forced to implement drastic measures such as diet, fitness, radical healthy life. Or break the mirrors.

Central plaza in one Columban town.
San Agustin is a Colombian heritage of ancient culture of megalithic monuments. Somewhere halfway between Bogotá and Quito it was the perfect location to break the cycling routine and indulge into a bit of culturological content. But it was not meant to be. About eight kilometers from this tourist pearl my rear tire blew out. As usual, I was saved by the duct tape, but it was too late for sightseeing. I can not say that I do not regret this missed opportunity, which will not repeat, however, I'm finished with collecting tourist points of the type "been there, seen that". Now I deal with a new, much more valuable collection: "haven't been there, didn't see it, but came pretty close." You can have a virtual look at San Agustin with Google Maps.

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