The next adventure has been booked.
Colombia, this December. I’ll be seeing the sights with my other (not better or worse) half, but a generous vacation schedule around the holidays (thanks, boss!) means I have some extra time to play with. After waffling back and forth for a couple weeks, I’ve decided to go out a week early, solely for the purpose of riding my bike in one of the top cycling destinations in the world.
Why did I waffle? That’s a question any sane person would ask. Why not go early to ride for a week in hill climbing paradise?
Well, I’ll be going alone. Mom loves hills but not travel, my few friends who ride are busy, and setting up a tour with a company down there is not the most affordable thing in the world. So that leaves…nobody besides myself.
Colombia is safer than in the past (don’t try to tell my dad that), but still intimidating for a gringo like me. I took Spanish in high school, but that was a long time ago. Strava heatmaps provide a good idea of well-traveled routes, but you never actually know until you’re out there. Alto de Letras, one of the world’s longest climbs, is close to Bogota, but still a confusing bus ride and overnight stay away.
So I had lots of reasons to make the leap, and lots of reasons to play it safe and just go down there with my lady companion. Ultimately I weighed the fear of the unknown against the beauty of the unknown, and beauty eked out a victory. By a small margin.
A rough itinerary: arrive in Bogota, get to my hotel, then sleep/eat/ride for a week. Besides Letras, I want to do some of the big climbs within riding distance of Bogota, and maybe check out Ciclovia. Instead of laboring on the trainer in the dead of winter in Pennsylvania, I’ll be sweating my way up 15% pitches in the sunshine. Two different forms of suffering, I guess.
I still wish I was going with some other people, for the company and the added security of navigating a new place with some people at your side. It’s hard to overestimate what the presence of others does to alleviate our apprehension. Maybe I’ll find someone between now and then who wants to join (DM me on Instagram if interested! Just kidding. But not really.)
The reality is that I probably won’t, and in a few months I’ll be boarding a plane (hopefully Delta isn’t as bad as internet memes make it out to be) and arriving on foreign soil with my bike stuffed into an expensive flight case, and I will feel scared and alone. And as I wait for an Uber, hoping it isn’t an axe murderer, I’ll likely wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. It would have been so much easier not to do this, I’ll tell myself.
But a few days later, breathing clean air atop an Andean peak after laboring against the incline and my own insecurities, hopefully I’ll think differently.