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Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Saturday, December 1, 2012

We were rudely awoken at 4am when Colombian music was suddenly turned on loudly. We had no idea what was going on but put ear plugs in, and easily went back to sleep.  By the time our alarm went off at 6am, the music had changed and when we took our ear plugs out we heard Jingle Bells (in Espaņola), which seemed fitting for the first day of December.  As we had breakfast, we looked out at the early morning mist covered mountains and were excited to see the views on the ride this morning.  As we set off we climbed for a further half an hour up into the clouds.  As soon as we started to descend into the valley on the other side of the mountain, the views were spectacular.  We were no longer in the desert; we were surrounded by lush, green mountains and were amazed by the agricultural techniques used here.  There were rows of crops on the tiniest of squares of land, and even remote, difficult to get to areas were being farmed, there was even a greenhouse positioned sloping down on the side of a hill. There were numerous stalls selling huge watermelons along the road, so we presumed that they were the main crop in this area.  We couldn't even imagine the difficultly of carrying a load of them up the hill from where they were farmed and presumed they must have horses or donkeys to help them.  As we descended for half an hour, we stopped numerous times to take photos of the road switch-backing down the hill.  We could see the river running along the valley floor and were hoping that the road wasn’t going to descend all the way down to cross it.  Of course, it did though. 

We cycled up, up, and up over the next few hours, stopping every 45-60 minutes for some water and to take a photo or two.  It was tough going but the scenery was beautiful, with the same high mountains all around us, but now they were too steep to farm.  The road was really quiet and generally well maintained, with only a few gravel areas and potholes.  There were no villages or facilities along the road for a few hours, but thankfully we had lots of water and some snacks.  By 1pm we arrived at a small town and got a big lunch and refilled our water bottles.  We were both getting tired as we had cycled 50km, of which 30km had been uphill and knew that Pasto was around another 25km away.  We decided that as the weather was still fine, we would continue on and try to make it to our destination for the day.  We hoped that the remaining road would be generally flat or at least not as steep as the climb had been all morning.  We knew that Pasto was at 2500m elevation, which was around 1800m above our starting point for the day but thought that we had ascended the majority of the climb over the morning.

We set off again but as soon as we were through the town the hill climbing began again.  The road snaked up another valley and continued to ascend for the rest of the afternoon.  The difficult part was that we could only ever see a couple of hundred metres ahead of us, and could never see what the road would be like after the next bend.  Due to the clouds and the winding nature of the road we had no idea when we would summit the ridge but just had to keep plodding up and hoping that it would level out soon.  We should have realised that as every third car driver was giving us an encouraging toot, a flash of their lights and a cheer, it meant they were impressed and probably could have been taken as a sign that the climb wouldn’t relent for ages yet.  In fact we climbed for a further 3 hours, and covered about 20 of the remaining 25km before we reached the top of the climb.  We knew that we were high as the air was cool and damp and once we reached the ridge, we weren’t surprised to see that we had climbed way up above Pasto.  We could see the city sitting in a valley at least 500m below us and were happy to enjoy a long downhill to reach it

The cycling day had been long and tiring but we felt like we were getting stronger and probably wouldn’t have managed to complete it a few weeks ago.  So, I arrived into Pasto tired but with a sense of satisfaction, Kory on the other hand only had one thought on his mind and that was FOOD!  We stopped on the outskirts and he devoured a burger, chips and a drink within minutes.  The city seemed busy, with lots of traffic, hundreds of shops and music pumping from load speakers.  With the last light of the day we found somewhere to stay and carried our bikes up a few flights of stairs to our room.  We were both exhausted in the evening and wanted to find the easiest dinner that we could; take away pizza eaten in front of the hotel room TV.  It was a challenging but good day, with beautiful, changing scenery which we felt lucky to experience over the day but we were pleased to have reached the city so that we can have a rest day tomorrow with home comforts.
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Karen on

GORGeous scenery!

Grandma on

Very nice scenery, but I can't even imagine how tired you's were at the end of the day!!!! That's when we can appreciate a shower and a comfy bed. Oh so greatful for the luxuries in life, eh!!!!!

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