From Guatape to Medellin we took a dirt track via Alejandria and Conception until we met the pavement, it had rained the night before and lots of baby heads for the whole way
We didn’t take any photos as it could have been a dirt track anywhere!
Egle had a few requests from female and male riders in Lithuania for some videos about riding offroad as there is a certain douchebaggery sect in the form of older male riders who think shouting at people and saying “just do it!!!” “full throttle!!!” etc is a good way to teach, so she was doing fundamental videos about balance and a few other things…they were an instant hit, now she is getting requests to come home and start an offroad riding school
We rolled into the city dusty and dirty and found our Airbnb in El Poblano, it was weird to be back in a very modern city, we had a few weeks planned in the city as we had a few things we needed to get for the bikes, and a few articles that needed to be written for various magazines, motorcycles, cars, horses, culture etc
So here are some views of the city, the lifestyle and people if you haven’t seen it before, I’ll let the pictures do the talking
We only had one strange encounter, at a local restaurant, the World Cup was on and as we were walking by the owner, hands us a menu and asks where we’re from, Egle blurts out “England”, and he comes back with, “sorry we’re full” and grabs the menu’s. Colombia was due to play England in the world cup the next day. England end up beating Colombia on penalties and knocking them out, we walk by the same place a few days later and it was obviously empty, he stuck his head out “still full!”
A few days later, we walked by again, “it’s ok, I’m over it now, come in,” he proclaimed
While we’d been sitting I had saved our ridden tracks to my computer and while doing a few photos looking back at Cepita I look at Google Earth and spotted road that didn’t exist on maps… “lets go back and find it and ride it”, we really liked the little Puebla so we headed back east, which was our plan anyway. The weather had improved and we wanted to ride the El Cocuy area.
So, for the third time in my life I ended up in Cepita, Egle named it the most friendly town in all of Colombia, this time it was empty we sat and chatted with locals and asked about the track from Cepita to San Andres, everybody that we spoke with was amazed we knew about it, as its rarely used. A few weeks later a Colombian adventure rider asked me if I had been to Cepita and was amazed that I’d been there three times, and even more amazed I knew the road across the canyon.
If you go to Colombia this is one road you have to ride, up and down the Chicamocha Canyon, more next post…
The map shows the paved road which is a great ride, but imagine a line straight across between the two towns, that’s what I’m talking about, except its not straight for more than 50′ at a time, search it in google earth or maps and zoom in on Satilttle and it follows the ridgeline and see how many tracks are hidden in there, time frame around the same, we never saw another vehicle
The ride from Medellin to Cepita was uneventful using the paved road, just lots of twisties eventually dropping into the canyon road down to Ceptia
We ate before going there so had an early night to get up and ride this track that’s rarely used and like I said not on any maps (at least it wasn’t until yesterday and now its on google maps, well at least some of it is), the condition of the track varied on who you spoke to, but honestly none made it sound too bad.
If you are standing in the main square with your back to the police station look to the right of the massive tree with the buttress roots and take that street
Its Calle 4, it ends in 2 blocks, then turn right, this is your road for the rest of the day to San Andres, within one block you are on a dirt road, within 5-10 minutes you are here and begin to climb
and these are from the climbs and descents
Somewhere in the middle you ride right thru the middle of a small finca (farm) the owners waved but backed into the shadows very quickly, I guess they really aren’t used to seeing people at all
then it goes back to just you and the dirt
then down to the lower valley, in the middle of nowhere, they are under construction of this amazing suspension bridge that just seemed way out of place, I guess bridge first, great road later!
but for now just avoid the deep truck tracks anyway possible
We rolled into San Andres around lunchtime, we get asked the usual where are you from, where are you going, where did you come from today? We say Cepita. The response is, “that’s a nice ride around the canyon.” We tell them we came thru the canyon up the dirt road and they are surprised we found that track as well…always good to surprise the locals
Somebody stole a few letters!
The days going good, the sun is shining, we are way earlier than expected, so we head back to that road near Guacamayas but decide we’ll try and reach Güicán
time for more dirt…
Here’s another update, last lot of photos I have before having to go thru the next batch and while Egle is clicking away, she did the release of her Indiegogo Campaign for her new book ‘Tales From South America’, you guys know how to google search right? I’ll show you a little more of northeastern Colombia
There’s a non-descript left turn that looks like it could go to nothing but this is the road we need, there are no signs saying where it leads, its just outside of the Puebla of Capitanejo, it keeps you on the north side of the river and in a couple of km its a dirt road…just us and some goats
Today the track is good, the last time we did it, it was raining on and off, wet mud and getting dark, nice to see the view this time.
This is serious landslide country, these rocks in the river, difficult to tell from this angle are around the size 3 bed two storey house!
We were heading to 6.487031, -72.548410, this is where the road splits, we were told not to take the right last time we rode this area, but we spoke with the police chief to ask him why, when we stayed in Guacamayas previously. He told us the climb is very steep and dangerous initially and if it’s not raining or wet ride it, the views are great.
We get there and it was wet and initially weaving you are way thru a minor boulder field
The climb like most things is exaggerated, it was maybe 1km up a steep 40-degree slope, then just an easy track, the views were ok but nothing special sadly, just sheer drops to the river valley below
We made it to Guican late in the afternoon, stayed the night in a little hostel/ homestay for $10 and in the morning headed to the Ritacuba Glacier. I had read somewhere that permits and insurance and a license were required to go up to it….but…if you tell them you are just going to look then its free and none of that is required.
So, we rode the loop clockwise and made the left turn to the glacier
on the way up you ride thru the clouds
until you are in them and then above them
we met a few local adventure riders who told us where we could ride to (there’s a limit even though the track continues) but then had to stop, that was here
As the view was good it seemed like a great place for a tire review
The other riders told us if we turn left when we leave the track might be a little tricky due to the bad weather, they were headed to the right, of course, we went left!
Nothing crazy but I guess on their big loaded bikes two up on street tires it might have been a little entertaining at best
but sadly for them, they did miss some amazing scenery riding the lower part of the valley as we rode the higher sections, we ended up in El Cocuy around the same time
and even a few cows
ending the day taking these last two shots in freezing cold torrential rain heading back down the valley, taking it very steady and in search of a place to get warm.
I had to reload all our tracks to try and figure out where we went, I remember riding that last two photos but for the life of me couldn’t remember where we ended up…it was a little town called Socota, way of the gringo trail, we found a small place and settled in for a couple of days while there was torrential rain outside.
The last few hours into the town in the rain, we came across a few recent landslides which is just life in Colombia
Due to the rains, we had no choice but to ride pavement down to Zipaquira most of the way, a quick stop at the Salt Cathedral, my second time coming here Egles first.
Stange light shows and goofy flags and crowds were the recipes for the day
This place is such a big tourist attraction and not cheap to enter by Colombian standards it makes me wonder where all the money goes, does the church absorb it all or are they really genuine enough to help the families who had former generations working here underground in dire conditions and putting their lives at risk daily…walking around town there seems to be an abnormal amount of people begging so I’m guessing the former. Or is it because of the volume of tourists the begging is more abundant
cut out of the salt walls
We sat in a truck stop eating the absolute best chicken I had tasted in the whole of Colombia for $1.20 a plate, looking at where we were headed, Filandia, there were two options, paved or mystery, we picked the mystery route.
We stopped by the town of Honda for a few days to warm up and actually get to swim in a pool, then it was back to the mountains heading south towards and thru Ibague
As you leave the town there is a small town, almost on the outskirts of Ibague, this is where we were eating chicken and I spot the road 4.41373, -75.26512, a few hundred meters away, its Calle 19, but the locals call it the A Toche road, this is where we headed, it was about 1 pm, there were around 6 hours of daylight to get to Filandia about 110km away…easy right?!
It was the old road across a few valleys and ranges and also had a bunch of old train tunnels to go thru
we’d ridden about 50km and then this…
A local guy stopped asked all the usual questions, and we asked him how far and how long to Salento…”55 km and 3 hours!” As he pulled away we looked at each other, 3 HOURS!!!!, it’ll be dark by then, surely not.
Some of this…
and a lot of this…
We made it to Salento in two hours and 57 minutes, we knew three hours seemed way exaggerated!!!
We eventually made it to Filandia and the Steel Horse, hung out for a few days and our company was @Normlas and @XR Valdeez who are both heading south, we’d met @Normlas in Mexico City and Taxco, he’d ridden Central America while we went to Cuba. They headed off after a few days and are now on a blistering pace south.
We just hung out, Egle loves riding m/c’s but horses are her real passion, so she had a great time
somewhere along the way Egle’s bike started having a few issues, blowing massive amounts of smoke at startup and would for a few minutes till it was warm, I was checking a few different things bt nothing seemed to make it any better. With the DR if you park it on a hill front wheel up it can stop it as the oil will drain from the head, or another option is to lean the bike over to the right once you stop for the day for around a minute to do the same just in case there is extra build up.
None of the above worked, so I’m thinking rings, valves, guides, chunks of clutch disc from Cuba jamming a line somewhere not allowing good flow. I dropped a msg to a guy I know who is super knowledgeable on the DR and he tells me to check an oil breather line under your tank. He said when putting back the hose keepers/ reusable zip ties its really easy to pinch a line that you can’t see as you are standing on the opposite side of the bike regardless of which side you stand, its a double hose with a 90 degree connector under cables and wires usually, and it gives the symptoms you describe.
the following day the bikes is fine no smoke at startup, cool. 20k out of town her right boot it soaked with oil. The case was leaking, and in the middle of nowhere I find out a few of the retaining bolt thread is stripped…great.
Luckily I had a spare liter of oil and off we go to find a town who’ll have a helicoil kit…eah right!
Well, we found a mechanic who builds DR650 supermoto bikes, what are the odds.
I pull the oil cover and the filter and find this
I’d done three oil changes to flush out the remnants of chunks of clutch friction parts that I hadn’t got out of the motor. I guess there were some left and enough to cause massive pressure and twist this Warp9 stainless filter and tear it off its backing plates. If I had a paper filter in there the damage could have been catastrophic…thanks Warp9
Also, I guess the pressure build up with the pinched hose added to reduced flow because of this had enough pressure to make the threads pull enough to open enough to cause the leak.
Not a job that can be done without a drill and the right Helicoil kit, the mechanic did that part because he didn’t want me touching his tools, I get that, and then I put it all back together. An hour later we are headed back to dirt
We had a delivery arriving in Nieva so had to high tail it down there to collect, then we headed back north to continue riding the awesome area we just weren’t done with yet.
On some of the back roads and tracks, there is obviously animal issues
there were others we’d missed, anteater, bears, Jaguars and more…we saw nothing!
We rode north via the Tatacoa Desert, a few people had described it as Colombia version of Bryce Canyon and just as amazing, it was a good way to get off the paved road.
We bumped into another rider, a Canadian called Ron on a massively loaded down Africa Twin who was heading south we chatted for a while, his departing words were “careful you don’t miss it”
I hear thru the intercom “stop, stop, I think this might be it”, I had ridden straight by and missed it!
This was all it was worth, after living in the Southwest for a number of years you see better on the side of the road, maybe 60 meters or so long we were riding again in a matter of minutes
We found a dirt track up to a little town of Chaparral and stayed the night
Then took a few days to ride back to Filandia, finding the smallest tracks we could thru the mountains stopping in little towns that were REALLY surprised to see us there.
In a crazy moment over lunch, we talked about getting rid of the Mosko luggage and going back to aluminum panniers as we liked the local style a lot
We got very remote and even with the 8-gallon gas tanks we knew we were running low and hadn’t seen a gas station in a long, long time
same shot as above zoomed in
We rolled into Filandia on fumes, stopped at the gas station right as he was closing up and he refused to even give me a liter to get to the other gas station on the opposite end of town. I leaned the bike over to get the few drops I had left to the petcock and headed for the next place 3km away.
Made it and filled up my 8-gallon tank…with 9.2 gallons!!!