Cycling through Colombia (2) – For the sake of variety flat tire

Katzenbild Wanne
Katzenbild Wanne

After my first serious flat tire I had to hitchhike to a nearby village. I wanted to continue directly towards the next town but the locals recommended their own bike workshop. Okay. They had a compressor. Let’s not complain. Better than nothing and I had my repair kit with me. Replaced the tire, inflated and this exorbitant bulge was there again on the back wheel. Worser than before. Well, once again, tire dismantling and reattaching. Bulge there again. Tried different tube. Bulge still there. Ah, whatever, I will go with it. Continuing to inflate. The compressor made 5,5 bar but at home I ride with 7-7,5 bar. I told them to put in as much air as possible. Cause I travel with weight. Yes, a little more still. A little more. Puff. My new tube had burst. Okay, that’s it. No cycling today, I will hitchhike. Enough of this shit.

I went back to the village. Wanted to hitch to the street and had spotted a nice bar where I could imagine having a beer. It would be two beers. And sausages. In the end it was quite a gathering around me. All the possible specialists inspected my bike. At some point the bus passed. The swarm intelligence occured and escalated quickly. The bus was stopped and negotiations started. Taking bike okay? “Descarga”, disassembled. Before I could have said “Hi” the people had chopped up my bike and stuffed the bus with it. The stress nearly made me forget to pay my 2 beers and the sausages. So we’re riding the bus to the next bike workshop. It’s an emergency and officially I am not hitchhiking. That’s me, whitewashing it.

Well, I enjoy riding busses. I do not do it often and to me it is the peak of comfort. I was kind of happy and satisfied. But didn’t hold for long. After 15 minutes one of our tires blew up. Seems like kismet had to catch up on something with my life. 25 years without blown tires. Now it was coming for me. I couldn’t explain this. It was the 4th accident of that kind within the last 3 months. Story of my life at this point. Switching the tire was adventurous since some blasting idiot had screwed a female screw of wrong size on one of the screws. And we didn’t have a fitting tool for that. We had to stop a helpful trucker. After that we could fix the tire and continue.

Reifenpanne mit meinem Bus in Kolumbien
Flat tire on a bus in Colombia

In the bike shop in the nearby town the boys changed my tire for roughly 1€. There was no new rim, but we could at least analyze the problem. I had had a big hit on the rim and now it had the shape of an egg instead it being round. But: the bike was working. And I was finally in some flat lands. Behind the first of the three mountain ranges that I would pass here in Colombia.

Me, like a bird with tailwind

I rode. With tail winds. In the evening sun. Along the highway. 10km, 20km, … dusk arose. I was cycling into an ecstasy at the end of this breakdown day on this flat, beautiful road in the nice evening atmosphere. Warm wind blowing around my nose. Thomas D. – Rückenwind was sounding in my ears through invisible headphones. Pure serotonin gluttony. I was so happy and had an awesome drive. Satisfied from being “on the move”. I made 35km until I found myself at some kind of service station where I had an opulent dinner from my last coins whilst watching Copa Americana (Chile – Uruguay, nice game, many red cards and entertaining escalation at the end of the game). In the end it was a superb day. All in all I had done 90 km. Only that sleeping seemed to be a problem still. I was awake. 3 days of cycling and no sign of exhaustion. My organism was super active. Like after my Pilates lessons. So this should be a good sign….

Next morning, searching for an ATM. Since I never carried more than 20€ with me I had to get money every day. I started around 8 and it was still cold. That would change soon. Additionally I was going straight for the next mountain range. That again meant: Promising crispy ascents and mountain tops. And pushing. A lot of pushing. Taking a break. Drinking. Pushing further. In between I was hating this shit trip and decided that I should arrive in Medellin the upcoming day. Not another day of this donkeywork. Then I continued pushing.

Contribution to general mental enfeeblement

Somewhere inside a small shop on an ascent I was having a break drinking Coca-Cola whilst the news were on the TV. “News” do – in Colombia – not really deserve that name. It’s more a reality soap. Here a robbery, there a drug lord caught, a crying mom next to a picture to her kidnapped daughter and at the end everything repeating. They don’t show other things here. Quite contrary, each story, as uninteresting as possible, is squeezed until it’s flat. Feeding myself all day with that shit I am, of course, under the impression, that this country is incredibly dangerous. I felt a little like laughing because the news were so cheaply made. But also sad since it had nothing in common with reality. Another episode to the downfall of watching TV and its contribution to public stupidity. Cheers.

Upcoming terrain: “rather flat”

During the next robbery on TV I took the chance to ask around about the upcoming road. It should be 15 minutes uphill, a short descent, up again at some point continuing “rather flat”. I decided to continue pushing to enjoy the flat part afterwards. And then hitchhiking. It wasn’t far but about 25km ascent to more than 2000 meters of height. I was very seldom so much without motivation. But I want step back, not that cheap. That’s why I am torturing up the two last ascents. The way down led me to a bridge, sincerely guarded by the local military recommended as a safe point in the guerilla jungle.

After a worker told me that there will not be ” any flat” but only hilly terrain I unsaddled. Finito! Fuck that shit! Now: Back to good old Hitchhiking. Good decision. A closer inspection of my rear brake showed it had loosened. And that didn’t increase the anyway poor safetyness of my bike. The brake was working but was hanging towards exodus trying to stealthily get off the bike. It took only 15 minutes and a Pickup stopped. Where headed? Medellin. Hitchhiking with the bike: nice and easy. He even had a special platform for transporting bikes where I mounted my front wheel.

Durch Kolumbien mit einem Auto fahren
Through Colombia with the car

His name was Juan, he owned several fruit farms and was producing juice. A young man, had his first daughter born 12 days before, spoke English quite well and was impressed from the journey I had behind and in front of me. I enjoyed the ride in the evening sun with my brain promising me a shower and a bed. 4 days of cycling, sweating, same clothes, that was too much, even for me.

As we entered Medellin the first thing to recognize was size, it is a big city. Also it is within a valley surrounded by mountains and steep ascents. To my surprise many sporting cyclists were fighting their way up here as we arrived in the city in the evening. Juan dropped me at one of the steep roads down to the city. I just had to roll down the mountain. Well…just roll down…. My rear light had been lost since its first use in Bogota. But light is overrated anyway. Compared to brakes. Of which I had only one left. When I realized that, my enthusiasm to ride down there dropped even steeper than that road.

I had to make 2 breaks on my way to the city, cooling the rims. I got lost at first but then I realized, that I didn’t even have a plan where I wanted to go (maybe a hostel?). Tried to find an internet cafe but no chance. I had a burger at a street food snack bar. Something I really enjoyed was that I could cycle anywhere with my bike, to any part of the city without thinking about distance. I liked it to be that flexible. At a restaurant above a car workshop I found a cheap room. I was the only guest. I only checked in because there was a Jazz-Session going on one block further and I hadn’t had live jazz since more than nine months. I was whacked from the tour but still not tired. Because cycling is like doing Pilates and youre so fucking active and it is for sure good for the body…….Or rather, I was so tired, that I wasn’t tired anymore. The only thing left to do here: drinking and smoking. With Live-Jazz in the background I slowly sedated myself until drop into bed at some point. It worked.

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