Sadly my time on the bike with no name has come to an end (it never did earn a name) and while it’s hard to summarize such a trip and condense all the emotions and realizations into just a few short words I will attempt to wrap it up in one short post.
Total Distance – 2700kms
Total Time – 60 days (47 riding days and 13 rest days)
Average distance per day – 57kms
Longest Day – 121.6kms (Lake Fuquene to Bogota)
Shortest Day – 23.5km (Hike a bike section between Encino and Avendanos
The single hardest thing about cycle touring – getting you head space right. If you think you can’t do it then you’re right.
The best thing about cycle touring – rest days!
Top 5 things I learned on this bike trip –
- Keep your mouth closed going downhill
- My bike computer stops recording speed when slower than 3.8km/hr which is conveniently the same speed I can no longer remain upright while cycling uphill
- Don’t try and dry swallow your malaria medication as you can give yourself a chemical burn in your mouth/ throat
- Click down to easy gears before stopping so when you start again you don’t give yourself an injury trying to get momentum in high gears (especially difficult when facing uphill. There was more than one of us who had to get off, turn their bike around, cycle downhill a ways until they could get a lower gear then cycle back up).
- Use elastic bands/hair ties over your brakes when stopped so the front wheel doesn’t turn and tip your bike over.
Top 3 favourite sections –
- Gilan – Zapatoca – La Fyente
- Sotaquira to Villa de Leiva
- El Angel
Best ways to beat the dogs (and trust me, there will be many) –
- Ride faster so they can’t catch you.
- Use a stick. This usually gets the desired result but can sometimes just give them a new target to latch onto but at least it won’t be your leg or pannier.
- Stop your bike. I know it seems counter intuitive but once you stop they see you as a person again and will usually stop. If not refer to points above.
- If you have time and balance squirt your water bottle at them as it usually shocks them enough to back off for a second allowing you to ride away.
- If you know a dog is coming up unclip from your pedals so you can kick at it if needed.
I often get asked whether it’s better to have cleats or non-cleats on a cycle trip and my answer is simple – personal preference. I like cleats and despite my two falls because of them I am still glad I had them on this trip. To help you make up your mind here are some pros and cons –
- personal preference as I like being attached to my bike.
- they make your stroke more efficient when cycling uphill meaning less effort and anything that means less effort riding uphill is a good thing
No cleats –
- save weight by not having to bring an extra pair of shoes
- Can walk through anything without worrying about damaging your cleats or not being able to clip in
- In traffic or emergency situations normal shoes can be more responsive for putting your feet down quickly instead of having to clip in and out all the time.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. And I would recommend cycle touring to anyone regardless of fitness levels. It is a great way to experience any country and culture and most people would be surprised what their bodies are capable of. I hope I have inspired at least a few of you out there to give it a go or at the very least made it seem more of a reality as an option to travel.