DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE
Medellín to Los Llanos wood
Distance: 70 miles
Av speed: 8.5 mph
Moving time: 7 h 33
Trip time: 12 h 30
Biking out of Medellín was slow work as we were easily distracted by all the breakfast street stalls, selling a range of deep-fried goodies and delicious coffee. Then the rain started, making it even harder to get on the road but these bikes are not going to get themselves to Cartagena. Knowing we only had one last proper climb to go made today pretty special. We have spent 125 days tackling the Andes and today we have finally completed them. Tomorrow we will drop back down to sea level and remain there until we roll into Cartagena in (hopefully) four day’s time.
Another massive achievement is that halfway up the final 1000m climb we found out we have reached our target of £20,000. Simply the best news there could have been. Both beaming we attempted some blogging to try and show as much of our appreciation as possible. This will never be able to be shown whilst talking to a phone. We honestly cannot describe how happy and proud we are that we have managed to raise such a huge amount of money for four charities so close to both of us.
After yesterday’s disappointment of not being able to find gas we had to settle for chicken rice and chips for dinner before getting back on the bike in the dark to try and find a safe place to set up camp for the night. At least we have hot water meaning we can Yerba ourselves to sleep. Big sleep needed too before a big day tomorrow!
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX
Los Llanos Wood to Guarumo
Distance: 106 miles
Average speed: 12.2 mph
Moving time: 8 h 10
Door to door: 14 h 7
Today started off extremely well and with bright sunshine and 50 miles of downhill ahead of us we were in good spirits! Although it was sad to say goodbye to the Andes after so many moments we will never forget, we were excited for the prospect of flat roads and easy miles. As we descended however it soon became clear that life at sea level was probably going to be a lot harder than life in the mountains. Yes, the road was flat, but the afternoon was spent battling a seriously sticky heat and the feeling that there was no air at all. Things got even better as night draw in as it rained solidly all night. Exhausted it was a real struggle putting the tent up in the rain with mosquitoes all around us.
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SEVEN
Hell hole north of Guarumo to La Ye
Distance: 86 miles
Average speed: 11.4 mph
Moving time: 7 h 16
Door to door: 14 h 14
Last night was without a doubt one of the lowest points of the trip, yet despite lying in a pool of our own sweat covered in mosquito bites, tiredness somehow prevailed and we were able to get some sleep. With the rain unceasing all night, we were forced into having the second canopy on meaning hardly any air entered the tent and the only other option was to stand outside, completely naked getting attacked by mosquitos but at least not facing a painful death in a slow cook oven. We exaggerate but if the Catholics are right, purgatory probably resembles something to what we went through last night.
The good news was that getting out of bed was easy and we were on the road nice and early, racking up 50 miles before the Champions League final kicked off. We managed to find a TV in the town of Planeta Rica, firmly off the beaten track and the huge number of stares that came our way meant that not many ‘gringos’ must ever stop there. This was great fun as half the town came up to us, but at the same time once in the bar we hardly saw a kick of the ball as a group of blokes seemed intent in asking us so many questions and teaching us how to dance and speak to Colombian ladies. True gents though and again all expenses were paid for our troubles!
After the football we were back on the road, putting in a big stint long into the night to make up the miles, finally arriving in the town of La Ye for 10 o’clock. We would have arrived a bit sooner if it hadn't been for our boldness is discussing punctures for the first time since Cusco. It has quite rightly been a taboo area, and 10 minutes after Roo saying 'God, we haven't had a puncture in so long', the inevitable happened and we have both learnt not to tempt fate again for our final few days.
For the whole trip we have far preferred staying in the tent as opposed to hostels; we are normally in an amazing location, our sleeping mats are far comfier than any bed and of course far cheaper than a hostel. For once however we were forced to concede that staying in the tent was a horrible and miserable experience at sea level, and not wanting to ruin our final days we will be opting for motels from now on. At the same time, we would be lying if we said an air-conditioned room and a cold shower haven’t gone a long way in lifting our mood from this morning J .
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT
La Ye to Playon Motel
Distance: 95 miles
Average speed: 11.7 mph
Moving time: 7 h 51
Door to door: 11 h 21
As the penultimate day of the trip, today was all about putting in a big shift so that we have more time tomorrow to enjoy our final pedal strokes and finally touch down in Cartagena by roughly 3 o’clock. It feels so strange even writing this and completely surreal. Roo’s parents have already arrived and are waiting in Cartagena for us, and something we have long dreamt about but that has always felt so far away is finally becoming a reality. After 7,450 miles and so many hours cycling, seemingly always long into the night, our tired bodies and minds and minds only have 150 miles left and finally we can catch up on some sleep after 25 days without a rest day.
Back to the cycling and another day of highs and lows cycling at sea level in Colombia. After an ominous double banana for breakfast, we again struggled with the heat for most of the day which was then replaced by a huge rainstorm that must have lasted for three hours. With many miles to go we just had to plough on through it (although no day time mosquitos in the rain :) ). Roo’s bum also ended up playing a heightened role in today’s misery, and despite endless reapplication of the trusty chamois cream things only went from bad to worse.
On the flip side, we were kept fully fuelled once again by the vast availability of deep-fried goods and watermelon juice at every village, as well as several locals on mopeds slowing down, offering the usual amount of shock and disbelief and then some kind words to keep us going. After three hours of getting soaked, we were then treated to one of the most incredible sunsets of the trip on quiet roads before eventually settling for a motel 50 miles from Cartagena. Extremely excited for a cold shower and some aircon the two hour power cut when we arrived was a bit of a shame but we are so excited for tomorrow that it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately for Jim, he is again a little bit too excited and much like our departure from Gatwick, has just spent 20 minutes throwing up his last minute nerves!
DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINE
Playon to... CARTAGENA!!!!!!!!!!!