After a two-day ride through the mountains we arrived at the one time murder capital of the world and home to the infamous Pablo Escobar. As we rode into this huge city built in a valley we were abused by a local taxi driver. Well at first we thought we were being abused but as he got closer it turned out all he was yelling was ,”WELCOME TO MEDELLIN”.
The first days ride here was cold wet and tiring, it took us six hours in the pouring rain to ride 300km. The roads through the mountains are like frayed twisted ropes that have just been dropped into place. There is a hell of a lot of traffic, mostly trucks shipping stuff to and fro, to the port of Cartagena.
Riding in Colombia is a lot like riding in Asia. The road rules are only there for a guide, the only rule obeyed is the one that states ” the bigger vehicles make the rules”. It’s not uncommon to ride into a corner and find two trucks fighting for position, heading straight for you as they try to overtake each other on these narrow strips of bubbling concrete. You just have to do your best to try squeeze between them and whatever ending may be on either side. At times you have to jam on the brakes altogether and pull over off the side of the road. Its ok in the dry but in the wet bikes don’t stop too quick.
The next days ride was more exciting, the rain had almost stopped and there were dry patches of road we could ride hard and fast on, we were putting these trucks into the rear view as soon as we came upon them. We have also been sucked into the madness of Colombia driving, overtaking at speed into blind corners hoping for a meter wide space to open up if there is on coming traffic.
Along route we were stopped by the police a few times. The first time was so that they could detonate a live hand grenade that was found outside some ones house, about 200 meters down the road. They must have used TNT to blow it up because there was one hell of a explosion. The locals must be used to such sights because they didn’t flinch a muscle as the surrounding sand bags were blown to bits. We were soon on our way through the smoke-filled village. The next time we were stopped was because the police simply wanted a chat, they were only interested in the bikes and where we were going. They were searching other cars and frisking there drivers but laughing and joking with us. The only problem was that while they held us there chatting about twenty trucks we had just overtaken on these narrow mountain roads had passed us again. As soon as they let us go we overtook or should I say undertook a massive truck right in front of them but they couldn’t care less, we were causing no harm to anyone. Why cops in other country’s can’t use similar judgement for stupid road rules I’ll never know.
As we entered Medellin the chaotic city traffic engulfed us like the city smog. In no time at all we switched to “city riding mode” and prepared for the upcoming battle, and what a battle it was. Medellin, a city with a population of 3.3 million people is built in the middle of a mountain pass, it’s pretty narrow and incredibly long. The traffic is all squeezed together and funnelled down this central corridor. We met up with a crazy Russian a few days ago. He has ridden from NYC to here in two months, He can’t speak a word of Spanish not to mind English but has some how made it this far. We bumped into him again as we entered the city. He was bringing up the rear as we rode through the city chaos as fast as possible. Suddenly Mark who was leading (and who had the only working GPS) took a quick left turn without any notice. This left myself and Andre with no choice but to fly across a few lanes of traffic just to stay on track. If we lost Mark we would be swallowed up by Medellin. Unfortunately for the Russian he didn’t make it, he was funnelled into the unknown and we never saw him again. Medellin has him now, she may never let him go…