Saturday, January 2, 2010

Twisty Turny - Santagueda, Colombia

Route 50, the road we came up. This picture was taken at approximately 2700meters.
3600meters. A small farm we passed on the decent.

A steep section where the bike was beginning to act up.

The summit with the snow capped mountain in the distance.

After a spectacular fireworks display launched from the top of a skyscraper in downtown Bogota to ring in 2010, it was time to make our way back to the hostal in a sea of people celebrating in the streets with cervesas, Colombian rum and whatever else they could get their hands on. Greg seems to attract the drunk old men every where he goes and so we had two old fellows following us around, asking us for a Canadian dollar and who eventually got annoyed because Greg would not take a swig from their rum bottle. They called him a canary and this was our que to leave and head home.

The next morning Greg walked down the street to pick up the bike from the parking lot where we'd been storing it. The extra money that Greg was paying above the stated price on the sign was to his surprise a pool of money used to buy him a bottle of Colombian rum as a New Years gift.

With our bottle of rum stashed in the pannier we began our trek across the city. We made a few wrong turns and managed to find the right highway out of the city just by chance, and it only took us an hour and a half! We took Route 50 heading northwest of Bogota towards Manizales. Unbeknownst to us the highway was a mountain pass that took us to elevations of over 3700 meters. The bike began to run like crap and Greg was worried it was going to stall. The temperature plummetted and the road was laid out like an unfurled ribbon dropped onto the moutain side. We had planned to change the rear tire within the next 1000km however, the mountain pass only wore down the sidewalls thus we still have 1000km of life left in the tire. The maximum speed we could drive was 60km/hr so it ended up taking us 9 hours to cover 347kms. After 5 hours of twisties we became comfortable leaning the bike over more than 45 degrees in most turns.
The scenery was more than spectular...magnificent! It is obvious that explorers familiar with the Americas had seen very similar geographical features in British Columbia as there is here in Colombia. The mountain tops were covered in forests of pine, what looked like Jack or Lodgepole pine. As we crested the top of the highest mountain and turned another tight radius turn a snow capped mountain presented itself to us. It was a stunning sight! It was so cold up there that Greg had to turn on his heated handle bars and I longed for my winter gloves and extra fleecy. Near the summit a car that had passed us earlier was pulled over at the side of the road. The passenger was found on his hand and knees in the ditch vomiting his empanadas.
It was a 70km decent down the mountain side to the town of Manizales. It was getting dark and because of the lack of road signs we had trouble finding the hostal Monalisa where we had booked for the night. We pulled up to a water park outside of town to ask directions. It very quickly became clear to the employees of the water park that our spanish was lacking and after much discussion amongst themselves they would escort us to our destination. Two of the guys climbed onto a 125cc two stroke with no headlight and only a blinking LED for a tail light and told us to follow them. They lead us directly to Hostal Monalisa where the owner Wolfgang had been waiting for us to showup for hours.
The 279km stretch of never ending turns utterly drained us of all our energy reserves. Although it was the most intense and scenic route possible to ride on a motorcyle it was almost too much for one day.


  1. Your pictures and saga give new meaning to the word 'breathtaking'!


  2. Okay, now I know you must have taken writing lessons or something, your descriptions are so vivid, it is as if I am right there!!! Awesome.

  3. Okay, the picture of the chicken foot soup was totally gross, thank goodness you didn't try it Julie, there is only so much adventure to try out, that crosses the line, yuck, the rest of the pictures are awesome!!!!