So far Colombia has not met any of my expectations. Which is good, considering the only thing I anticipated was the possibility of a less-than-friendly encounter with the cartel or a paramilitary group. We spent so much time researching and preparing how we’d get to Colombia (over the Darien Gap) that we didn’t have a whole lot of time to figure out what we’d do once we got here. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the ease of bike travel here.
Colombia is quickly moving to the top of our list of best countries to bike tour. The mountains are challenging, but the views and vistas are worth the effort and then we’re rewarded with long descents into picture perfect valleys. The roads are well-maintained and generally have a shoulder. The Colombian people are welcoming and enthusiastic about bicycle travel. And no matter where we are, there’s food venders dotting the roadside serving up delicious meals, fried treats and coffee.
Our biking routine in Colombia revolves around eating, and drinking coffee (as it should!). We start with a breakfast at camp (or the hotel) and then ride for a few miles. We stop for a second breakfast of coffee and fried treats, usually a buñuelo (fried dough ball) and/or pastel de pollo (basically a chicken empanada). We continue on for a bit and then stop for lunch. Lunches are served in huge portions usually starting with a soup then followed by a plate of beans, rice, meat, salad and fried plantain. We try to get as many miles as possible completed before lunch, because we are particularly unmotivated to ride afterwards with our bellies bulging.
Between the mountains and the after-lunch food comas, our progress through Colombia has been slow. We’re riding through the Zona Cafetera (Coffee Zone). As the name implies, there’s a lot of good coffee to be had here. We combat the afternoon food coma with generous amounts of delicious Colombian coffee. I’m surprised in my caffeinated state that I’m not zipping right up and over these mountains!