Compared to Panama, I already cycled a lot here in Colombia. One of the reasons, I guess, is the presence of a cycling culture as I know it from my own country, and this inspire me to go cycling too. Also, there is a much better infra structure (smaller roads) suitable for cycling.
Camino San Miguel – Cepitá
We got to Cepitá by accident, but the Camino was an interesting section to ride my bike. The Canyon in which Cepitá lies has a very unique atmosphere and flora, compared to the main road that we left to get here.
Actually I wanted to make a loop (I always do) over the mountain back to Cepitá, but that proved to be impossible: the remainders of the narrow track appeared to be suitable only for walking. Anyway, it was washed away and no longer used. So I returned the same way. But there was lots to see: some small settlements, a rough track along the untamed Rio Chicamocha, some tobacco fields and lots of other interesting plants and vistas.
Desierto de Candelaria
I took a route from wikiloc to guide me around this area. This area is just a bit South of Villa de Leyva. After climbing I discovered quite a dry looking landscape on top of the mountains. It’s not a big area, and it is actually lower than the surrounding mountains, but the surrounding mountains are much greener. That was kind of strange to see.
The area is famous for it’s pottery (and clay). And this area is of course part of where the find this clay.
Cycling was challenging, especially the first part going down, because it really was a partly disappearing single track. But hey, that’s what I like.
At the end of the day the weather turned bad. Luckily I was back “home” before the thunderstorm broke loose.
Raquira, Ruta Zaquenzira
Again, I took a route from Wikiloc. When there’s a suitable route available, this is the easier option of course. Also in that case I expect that it is really cycle-able. Or so. When I pick a route myself it is always a surprise what I can expect. To my surprise it followed a section of an IMBA route. I’m not sure what the requirements are to make it an IMBA route, but this stretch just followed the main (gravel) track. No single track or dedicated cycle track was encountered. Ah well, it was interesting enough anyway.
First I encountered a nice waterfall, and later on, the route went up, all the way into the back country before returning to Raquira.
Raquira is the epicentre of pottery in Colombia. Even before the Spanish arrived this was the place to be, and things only got better after the Spanish took the European know how here: turntables, paints, etc.
Rolling down the mountains I reached Raquira again. This little town is rightfully so quite a tourist attraction: very colourful and there is so much to see outside and inside the buildings.
Although Bogotá has quite a lot of cycling paths and separated cycling lanes, Every Sunday from 8:00 to 14:00, a lot of main streets in Bogotá are closed for motorized traffic in favour of cyclists, skaters, walking, and any other form of human propulsion. Since I was here, I had to experience it myself.
The event is quite professional. There are a lot of medics on the streets, using a bike to get around. There are also stands to repair your bike: basic ones from the city, and commercial ones as well. Bike and other sport shops along the route are open. You can have coffee or something to eat at numerous stands, and at some places there is street aerobics as well. My not surprisingly because they have these ciclovia Sundays since 1974.
I found it had a very relaxed atmosphere and participants range from the semi-professional cyclist to the complete family-with-kids. All kinds of cycles can be found too: BMX, single speed messengers, utility bikes, race and mountain bikes. People use (understandably) whatever they have.
Bogata, Alto de Patios y Alto de la Cruz
Apart from the Sunday cycling I wanted to do another cycling trip. one of the most popular climbs in Bogotá is the Alto de Patios. It starts right from down town Bogotá and is a 6km climb out of the city. Every day lots of cyclist go up here. it is not a quiet or relaxed climb: this is one of the main routes to enter and leave Bogotá on the East side. Luckily there are signposts to warn drivers that the road is shared with cyclists. Makes me feel a lot safer…
From the top you can of course extend or go back. I decided to do a loop to Alto de la Cruz to get some off road as well. I was a bit surprised to see a completely different landscape at the top, around 3340masl. Also, typically the wettest part or the route was at the highest point too. And on the way back I found myself on a stretch of an IMBA route again. Not once it was a single track but it was interestingly enough because of the steepness (going down) the loose gravel and bigger rocks.