23 June 2012

Back to Cali

I had done no road work before getting back into the saddle. Before leaving Buga for Bogota in March I had replaced the drive train and brakes and cleaned the bike and gear and there the machine sat, ready to ride, in the dormitory of the Buga Hostel.

I knew it was flat through the Valle Cauca to Cali. I had ridden that way twice before. I figured I would round into shape on the road. A few days before my departure I began to study the elevations and terrain as the Pan American Highway left the valley and south to Ecuador. There was very difficult climbing ahead and sooner than I expected. I would have only three days at most on the flats of the river valley before going up into the Andes. I was going to be tested and I knew there would be pain ahead as punishment for my neglecting to train.

I set out from Buga knowing two days wasn’t enough to get into shape for climbs up to 4000 meters and I was curious just what sort of legs I would have on the 90 km to Cali. I discovered I didn’t have much. I compounded my fatigue by stupidly passing up a comedor that I should have stopped at for lunch. I was forced to ride across 40 km of sugar cane fields until the next roadside restaurant. I bonked hard and only had a single banana for energy but I made it through and at Palmira I ordered the lunch menu and then collapsed at the table. France was playing Spain in the Euro but I hardly had the energy to watch it or even to eat. I rested at the restaurant for two hours.

I took a different route into Cali thinking anything had to be better than the traffic-heavy, potholed, and polluted--taxis and scooters weaving in and around you--way I had taken into Cali in 2010. But this new route was worse. I first had a long, indirect ride on tired legs through more sugar cane fields taking me around the city to the east, and then the road in was just as polluted and trafficked and bad as the other and indeed worse, because I was entering the city far from Barrio Granada on the western edge. I had a long ride back east through some poor neighborhoods and heavy traffic to the centro and then over the river.

I made the hostal in Granada just as the sun was going down behind the mountains. My knees ached and I had trouble getting up the stairs to my room. I showered, ate some pasta at an Italian restaurant I knew on Avenida Sexta, and went to bed. I wondered if my knees would bend in the morning and the thought of the mountains began to really scare me.


Post a Comment

Copyright © S O U T H