Lean forward, side sway to see the tops of buildings, taxi accelerating to stop bicycle hard cases clunking behind us. Concrete and the trees, maybe the fences make it look like a brick Miami, it’s cool but not cold. White trim lights gild tracing the houses. Honking horns, curious flags fluttering from passenger window, cars covered with flour? the Bogota futbol team just beat Medellin for their first championship in more than two decades, festive.
Two in two suitcases, one by design the other not but can, a welcome evolutionary spandrel. Mountain bikes for a revised plan, one that involves airlines, buses for some big spans between altitudes, deserts, jungles, coffee plantations hillsides. Tracks, trails, gravel, accidental asphalt, village or through city day rides, mostly unlost.
Tabletop, coffee cup silverware candleholder aside. 1:1,400,000 paper map in tandem with the pinch and zoom and swipe of National Geographic’s iPad atlas, MotionX GPS road and terrain downloads, Bogota Maplet, Google Earth whir of the desktop machine then I’ll trace possibilities on ridewithgps. More detailed maps we’ll get there to combine with asked directions, locals’ advice. Two downloaded guidebooks, yet another with a tactile heft, each always wrong but together allowing for triangulation, like Borges’ character who simultaneously reads several history books to vector add toward truth. We type in place names but scan hardly read, we images search but only look at the first two dozen so as not to be oversaturated making places falsely familiar when we get there. Contacts and correspondence, a phone call. Holiday high season, fancyplace reservations. A sheet of paper with ruler pencil lines and cursive writing, where-ish that day, where to sleep, whether any travel.
Structure and scaffolding, irony of planning so as to allow the important parts not to be.
Returning to South America to Colombia’s glorious history and present, not least of which is bike culture but then again culture in a thousand more ways—a highlight for so many. A short holiday span, 1100, dirt tracks asphalt Bogota Medellin Cartagena mountains heat Caribbean Christmas sunshine dance breath eat, the slow speeds that traveling fast and light afford, is credit card cyclocross bikepacking a category yet?
If you’ve been, let us know your favorite places.
Next month I’ll be giving a talk and sharing photos at the REI Soho store in New York City. Join me to chat about Fat Bike touring in South America on 18 October at 7pm. Space is limited and by free preregistration. Many thanks to REI for hosting me.
Graced with layers of differently colored dirts, pulling off the Revelate bags exposing patches from hard to say when back. Hose it down, new wear marks showing bare steel, needs a repaint, and affording a chance to drill those bosses. Neglected repairs: rear shifter housing split at a bend exposing the cable so the last week with only front gear changes, and even those had to be done with a heel kick to get the granny, front derailleur sticking reluctant, every day thinking I only have n days so whatever. Some large part of the caliper on the front brake — that red dial and the steel bore it is attached to — had gone missing awhile ago. Luckily Avid evidently adds all that mass as decoration, so it wasn’t relevant for stopping the bike, more or less.
Now sun dry, Pugsley looking forlorn and discomfited without the luggage, hefting it about like a road bike. Pull off the parts that are so worn that there’s no point dragging them home: chainrings, chain, tires bald with tiny cuts I’d been monitoring, cracked bottle cages, dented aluminum bidons, manky grips, cogset. The cyclist on the hostal staff accepts the bits to see what can see reuse.
Then packing, twisting it apart absently automatically while also trapezing over emotions images recollected sensations. All positive including this instant, not a reed of sadness, couldn’t see it if it was there underfoot what with looking forward to walking those last few steps to my doorstep confidently in boots.
Freeze thaw hissing breathe head down shielding body mood against hypothermic rain hours. Or searing piercing spike sunpunish heat sweat burn. Reflectance surface spectral anger froth ocean retreating to grey infinities. Men on horseback wearing berets without irony. An impossible green textured fern dazzle. Racing old testament pestilential cloud of paperclip sized flies. Grit dust choking blinding blinking through a car truck working memory. A lunch watching women and men drinking lager with the meal completely normally. Realizing it’s 5pm with 70k to go to time a ferry right, tension my seatbelt for high speed air guitar and karaoke practice. Entropy glacier crack carve landscape and hearts. Time through circles in linear spatial movement.
Codes in the moonglow’s shadow’s hours and above.
These two weeks.