Stats: 57.65 miles, 11.7 avg, 38.3 max, 5 hours
Henri and I left at 6 am on his motorcycle. Henri had put my bike in his friend’s delivery truck the night before to be dropped in San Gil. On the ride, Henri kept talking and pointing things out along the way, but I couldn’t really hear him with the wind, or understand him when I did hear him — Spanish.
We rode up steep, winding roads through the Chicamocha valley. I saw some cyclists descending, but I didn’t see anybody climbing it.
We got to San Gil and picked up my bike and bags. Delivered as promised! Great convenience.
I followed Henri on my bike, as he brought me through San Gil. We stopped at the intersection where we’d be splitting up, so we could say goodbye. Henri had tears in his eyes. I told him how good he’d been to me, and that we were amigos. We gave each other a big big hug, and I told him to send Henri Junior to me in Philadelphia – that he’d be welcome anytime. He really appreciated that, and we gave each other a few more strong pats.
As I rode off on my bike, I got really pumped up. I guess it was the new freedom I felt on my bike after staying with Henri and his family for a few days. And I was pumped about the mountains. I was jamming on my iPod, and dancing on my bike, singing along. I got goose bumps listening to “Undone (The Sweater Song).” It brought back memories of earlier days and I loved how American it was (“Are you going to the party after the show” … “Take it easy bro”).
There wasn’t any traffic on the road. It had all been cleared off because of a cycling race. Luckily the guards at the checkpoints didn’t stop me. I got out of the way as the peloton of cyclists came down the mountain. I think they enjoyed seeing me crawling up the mountain on my pack mule as they were going about 40 mph passed me.
I made it to Santana just before it started to rain. I found a $5 room, and took a shower. I wandered around the town and got some pastries and beer at a panaderia. An old drunk guy wanted to talk to me. His name was Jose Maria. He spoke really quickly, and I kept pardoning myself for not understanding. He kept talking to me anyway.
Then a stumbling drunk named Miguel came in and sat down with Jose Maria and I. Miguel shook my hand and held onto it as he asked me about what I thought of Venezuela. All I told him was that I thought Chavez was loco, as I didn’t know much about what was going on between Colombia and Venezuela. They enjoyed that.
Miguel was really weird though — holding onto my hand, keeping me captive, and trying to pull me forward. After a bunch of questions that I didn’t understand, I excused myself, paid, and said goodbye.