Results for

Lost Nevados Day 00: Don't Be Stupid

Click to view whole series

Day 00 Objectives & Points of Interest

 

  1. Build and prepare the bikes for our trip.
  2. Collecting the necessary provisions from local vendors.
  3. Visit multiple ATMs in order to secure enough cash to pay for our van/truck ride.
  4. Treat ourselves to a famous Colombian “Licuado.”
  5. Make it to Mariquita at the base of Letras.

It is likely that most of your friends, parents, coworkers (that dude you hate in shipping, or the VP you can’t stand because she thinks she knows everything from skimming the front page of the WSJ) have misinformed opinions about how safe it is to travel in Colombia. They’ll also probably think it’s spelled “Columbia”.

Has Colombia had its struggles with drug lords and militant communist freedom fighters? It has, but there is a very real feeling that those days are in the past, or at the very least they’ve moved out of where you and I would want to ride our bikes. Turns out cocaine production is suited to a thick, wet jungle, the kinda places you go to film Predator or Aguirre, The Wrath of God. We’re talking the mosquito-heavy, snake-ridden, millipede-infested, dank, dark, writhing parts of the country. Hey, we’re all for adventure, but give me a volcano in space over jungle fever any day. But seriously, for the most part this place gets a bad rap11Disclaimer: we haven’t taken a single dollar from a tourism board or any form of private sector resort conglomerate so don’t go telling your friends that Yonder Journal sold out to Embassy Suites because we haven’t. This is the truth, this is coming from the heart and based upon our in-country on-the-ground experience.

We’d like to encourage you to take a trip to Colombia. There are so many reasons to visit this place that we could spend all day just running through the list, and we know you want to get on to the photos and story below, so we’ll confine ourselves to listing three.

Three Reasons to Visit Colombia

 

  1. The People: Typically this is such a banal generality used by travelers to describe the population of a foreign place in total that when I hear it, it just goes in one ear and out the other: “Oh the people are just so happy,” or, “The people were so primitive!” or, “The people here just get it.” This feels like a bland overture towards a foreign culture that is simply not understood, and therefore we apply/create a systemic ebullience to a culture where one does not exist. HOWEVER, I would like to report that nearly every one of the Colombians that we meet were genial and hospitable, the drivers encouraged cycling and graciously shared the road, and the folks we encountered went out of their way to help us get or find what we needed. It is possible that we met the only nice people in Colombia, like a 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 chance, but it’s more likely that the folks here are just cool.
  2. The Fruit: You know those high-dollar smoothie fruits, for example the mangosteen? Yeah they literally grow on trees down here. The bananas, mangos, avocados. This is a smoothie-makers paradise.
  3. The Roads: They take care of their roads in Colombia and it shows. Potholes, washboard, and washouts were for the most part non-existent, especially considering the amount of rain the country receives. It’s worth noting that bikes largely depend on roads/paths/trails to get around, and any rider can tell you that a full day spent riding washboard is equal to three regular riding days.

Also, a piece of general advice: like any other place in the world, when you go to Colombia don’t be stupid. Watch out for your gear, watch out for your friends, and if a stranger is offering something that is too good to be true, like a free back massage or a free spa treatment, it probably is. We started this trip trying not to be stupid. Which is hard, because if you’re inside of your own stupid box, it’s not like you know you’re in a stupid box—and we’re not talking about a literal stupid box here, we’re talking about a big ol’ fully-immersive total experience stupid box: everything you know, see, and believe is founded in this stupid box—so how can you possibly avoid being stupid? To illustrate, I’d like to quote David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water.”

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”

So please, try to be aware of your stupidity while enjoying the fruits of Colombia.

A Chronological Breakdown of the Day’s Events

 

  1. 7:00am: Kyle wakes up to text Andy that if possible, an 8:00 am meeting would be super painful seeing as how the crew got in really late the night before and that there is a time change consideration, meaning the crew from the West Coast (all excluding Benedict) would be running on nearly no sleep. Andy accepts and suggests 9:00 am.
  2. 9:00am: No Andy.
  3. 9:17am: It is acknowledged and understood that once used, toilet paper must go in the little trashcan next to the toilet—not into the toilet itself. Sorry used TP, it seems that in Colombia you don’t get to take the waterslide!
  4. 9:37am: The crew starts to come alive. We breakfast in the hotel’s cafe. Some fried eggs, rice, meats, and arepas.
  5. 10:07am: The #lostnevados crew officially takes over the patio at Hotel Casona del Patio. This means our bike boxes, bikes, and gear detonate all over the hotel’s namesake; adventure bike shrapnel is spread all over the place. Fortunately, this would be our first taste of Colombian hospitality. Rather than be upset about our patio takeover, the staff instead frets that they are not doing enough to help us, continually returning to our de facto base camp offering coffee, water, and snacks.
  6. 12:33pm: For the most part the crew has finished building and prepping our rigs. Transportation is meant to show up at 2:00 pm, so we have time to grab a bit of lunch and hit the grocery store.
  7. 12:45pm: We settle on a little festive restaurant located around the corner from the hotel. Food cooked a la plancha (on the skillet) is a big deal here. So is food that was formerly an animal. It is at this point that those of us choosing a vegetarian lifestyle became acquainted with the beans, potatoes, rice, and plantains off-menu meal that will be our caucus’ meals for the remainder of the trip.
  8. 12:46pm: Andy and Kyle head to the grocery store in order to procure an adequate amount of dark chocolate –70% Cacao MINIMUM– to sustain our party , both physically and emotionally, through the upcoming adventure. As it turns out dark chocolate is as rare as good coffee in Colombia, and the fancy grocery store located close to our hotel only had a few bars available. We bought them all, heeding Andy’s warning that once we left Bogotá there was zero chance of finding more.
  9. 1:28pm: Men don’t wear shorts in Colombia, at least in the city, at least where we are. Our entire group is wearing shorts. It was awkward.
  10. 2:07pm: Our van shows up.
  11. 2:07pm: We immediately recognize that there is NO way we’re going to be able to fit all seven of us and our seven bikes in this van. Of all the possible issues on our entire trip, this commute from Bogotá to Mariquita where we’ll begin riding was the most tenuous and stressful part of Andy’s fixing. “This is just how things are in Colombia,” he said with resignation. This wouldn’t be the last time he says this.
  12. 2:08pm: Collective “DAMN IT.”
  13. 2:09pm: Our driver gets on the phone with her dispatcher.
  14. 2:15pm: Turns out we have two options. One is to be sent another large van to take us and our bikes. The other is to be sent a separate truck into which our bikes will be loaded—this option will double the transportation fee.
  15. 2:33pm: There will be no second, bigger van. A truck is being sent our way.
  16. 3:15pm: Cole and Benedict change costumes. Corner Man and Bigote de Azul have a photo shoot showdown in the infamous garage patio.
  17. 3:23pm: It is discovered that some of the potted plants didn’t survive our bike building onslaught fully intact.
  18. 4:03pm: Still no truck and our driver is passed out in her van.
  19. 4:13pm: No.
  20. 4:23pm: Nope.
  21. 4:45pm: Nada.
  22. 5:16pm: Truck turns up. Fortunately Henry the truck driver’s skills at packing seven fully-loaded AWOLs into his truck are like nothing any of us have ever seen before, and 20 minutes later we’re ready to depart.
  23. 5:17pm: Kyle (me) spends the 4 to 5 hours from Bogotá to Mariquita riding shotgun alongside Henry. The rest of the team rode in the van. Kyle and Henry discussed their families and Colombian music. A safe guess as to the topics of conversation in the van would include Benedict’s hair care regime, Daniel’s dietary goals, and Cole’s night at the Oscars partying with Dave Grohl.
  24. 6:23pm: The ocean is dumping on to our vehicles. This is jungle rain and my stomach drops with the realization that it is highly possible that we might be spending our entire trip underwater.
  25. 8:47pm: We stop for dinner at a roadside joint. The only memorable things are the playful cats, the little grotto/fountain, and the lack of a toilet seat on the toilet. Turns out all three would be noticeably scant during our time in country. That’s right: cats, grottos, and toilet seats would be as rare as a bad hair day for Benedict.
  26. 9:14 pm: It appears that dogs in Colombia like to play in the street.
  27. 11:03 pm: We arrive in Mariquita.
  28. 11:04 pm: The first hotel that Google Maps directs us to has a very distinct “Theft & Murder” vibe to it.
  29. 11:07 pm: We ask some police officers who appear to be loitering at a bar where the best place to stay in town would be. We’re directed to Hotel Brisas.
  30. 11:17 pm: While we’re checking into the Brisas, the two cops pull up and let us know that we should definitely contact them in the morning for a police escort out of town. There is no sense that this is a good sign.
  31. 11:35 pm: Turns out our rooms are very hot and humid like being stuck in an armpit.

Three Words & Phrases to Know

 

  1. LICUADO: smoothies. Often times the blended fruit is combined with milk so it’s kinda like drinking the best possible version of melted ice cream.
  2. EFFECTIVO: cash. In Colombia, especially outside the major cities, CASH IS KING! Be sure to have enough cash on you to pay for things like hotels, taxi rides, dinner, etc. ATM’s can quickly become tedious but necessary treasure hunts.
  3. AREPA: dry, round corn pancakes that come with nearly every meal.

Bogotá

Casona del Patio deployed their courtyard as a de facto Dead Reckoning Garage.
"Who/What/Where/Why/How?" For most, dealing with long travel days and time changes can leave you feeling like you've been on a NyQuil drip.
Poppi, however, greeted the morning with a radiance that shamed the sun.
Banging.
"From thine eyes doth pour forth the cold horrors of a ancient sea."—Fenster Neckwald
Totem: A spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.
The eagle-eyed among you readers might notice a Golden Buffalo on that man's chest there. And you're thinking, "How do I get one? Where do I get one? I won't survive without one. Please help me survive." Don't worry, we've got your back... er, chest. But you gotta read tomorrow's post!
It's amazing what happens when you unzip these things. Your future just spills out all over the place.
AWOL. For riding over Volcanos.
"Anyone need extra nuts or bolts? Somehow I wound up with a few."
Who's to say what's good for you and what's not?
Stocking stuffers of the best kind. Thanks CLIF!
Patrick still feeling that existential who/what/where/why/how buzzzzzzzz!

Off to Lunch

AKA learning that men don’t wear shorts in Colombia.
That guy on the right, you can read his face like a book, and his face is a book that reads, "If I see a man in shorts it makes me want to kick a puppy." Shit is real in Colombia.
A wise man once said you can tell a lot about a man in the way he eats his lunch. Suffice it to say, Patrick is a sensitive artist with a refined and curated aesthetic sensibility.
Benedict eats like a bulldozer.
Micro-biology is a fascinating field of study.

Cornerman vs Bigote de Azul

AKA how to kill time in Colombia when your ride is three hours late.
Introducing CORNER MAN! Able to blend in with only the most benign color palettes, Corner Man uses his uncanny ability to fight all white collar misdemeanors: someone stealing toner cartridges from the supply room? Call Corner Man. Have a feeling that Brett is taking too many coffee breaks—but can't prove it? Call Corner Man. Missing your flash drive and you're pretty sure it was Debby who stole it? Sounds like a job for Corner Man.
Signature pose.
Bigote de Azul was once Corner Man's devoted sidekick, but he got sick of always being stepped on. Now they are sworn enemies, and Bigote de Azul has devoted his life to disrupting Corner Man's clerical investigation business.
Did you know that there is a shamanistic dance for sweat? Cole in the throes of expression.
The feud between these two is savage and unpredictable.

The Road to Mariqiuita

It was kinda like driving on a waterslide.
These policemen tracked us down to let us know that we should definitely call them in the morning for an escort out of town. We didn't. They kinda creeped us out. At first you're thinking, "yeah that guy on the left is kinda creep." But then you realize, "Wait no, it's the guy on the right whose really doing the creep work, what's he so happy about, he knows something we don't know. He's up to something." #deadreckoning
Our two drivers displaying Colombia's top two hand gestures.
I'm sure those spots on bro's shirt are well-earned.
"Oh you hunt too? Cool cool. Well let me know if you want to get out and hunt together sometime, could be fun."

GOING TOPLESS IN HOTEL BRISAS

Trying to beat that jungle heat.
Trying to beat that jungle heat.
That bottle, that specific bottle right there. Whatever you do, DON'T DRINK OUT OF IT!
If you're "throwing horns" in Colombia you might as well be speaking a foreign language. Colombia does the "Thumbs Up" and the "Peace Sign." It pays to study the language before you go.
Andy just found out that he's going to have to square off against Benedict in a best of three rock/paper/scissors tournament. These two have known each other since grade school and it was truly a treat to see two titans square off against one another.
It appears Andy won. Or did Benedict let him win? What's a winner anyway?

Lost Nevados Threads: Erik Nohlin

A Systematic Breakdown of The Dark Prince’s Clothing
01
Buff (not pictured)

Black and merino—can't live without it. Great for riding, camping and sleeping in (plus keeping Colombian truck diesel out of your system).

02
Black Merino T-Shirt

Ultra-thin, rather tight. Breathes, protects skin from the sun, looks proper, wearable for days on end.

03
Shorts

Black, short, quick-drying and light without being "sporty." Cut-offs work just fine. No bibshorts, with the right saddle it's no issue.

04
Proto Yonder Boot

I only want one pair of shoes for travel/hike/bike. A no-BS boot for all conditions. Pair with tall, thick merino socks—hot during the day but comfortable, and warm at night.

05
Arm & Leg Warmers, Gloves?

Fuck them. I'd rather use a thin button-down or ride in a baselayer if it's cold or super sunny. Same with gloves.

06
Sunscreen

Kids stuff, 30+ SPF.

“Wool, wool, wool and wool. Spandex don’t work for adventuring, period. Hardly any plastic gear works for me unless it’s that 400 dollar high-tech plastic rain jacket. Cycling-specific apparel in general is a no-go for me on big rides. I think holistically on the gear I choose. It should work for riding (warm and cold), camping, sleeping and being casual. Disclaimer: Don’t buy cheap mulesed merino (yes, Google Image Search it NOW). Buy the good certified stuff or ride in shitty plastic stuff—there is no such thing as cheap merino.”

—Erik Nohlin

next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next      next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next     next