22 December 2010

Kilometer 18

I had some pastries from the panaderia for breakfast, finished my coffee, and packed a small pannier with a spare tube and my rain jacket and I rode out of the hostel towards the mountains. Following the river through the city the road broke higher and I began to ascend. I was riding out of the Cauca Valley on the road to Buenaventura, a port city on the Western coast.


It was a climb to Kilometer Marker 18 at the top of the mountain and it felt wonderful and fast to be ascending without all the weight. I was riding up a grade that would have punished me fully loaded, but which was now easy second chain ring riding.




Halfway up there were fine views looking back down the mountain to Cali and higher the temperature began to drop and the grade steepened. I could then see the higher range of mountains obscured by the clouds. It was where I was going. I dropped into my first chain ring and the climb began to hurt.


At Saladito there were wooden makeshift stands with tarp roofs put up along the road with goats tethered to them. I stopped and asked a girl what she was selling. It was fresh goat's milk and brandy that was mixed in a blender. The drink was a specialty of Saladito. I ordered a small glass and took a picture of the goat that had provided the milk.



I rode higher and up into the clouds where it was cold and it began to drizzle. I passed the Kilometer 18 sign and ahead at the crest of the climb stopped at a restaurant and had the almuerzo menu. It began to rain and the temperature dropped. I could see my breath as I ate and put on my rain jacket for warmth.



video

After lunch it was down, descending, bombing down the mountain out of the clouds and back into the valley. The road was poorly surfaced in places and because of the narrow shoulder the cars passing on the corners could make the descending suddenly dangerous. But it was a good ride and the bike felt fast and light and responsive to ride without the bags.

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