Barichara … And Some Detours

We left Zapatoca with lumps in our throats. We knew it would be a long time (if ever) before we would see Sonia and Armando again, but we wanted to continue our journey. So onwards and downwards (and upwards again) we rode to the the picturesque colonial town of Barichara.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-27-008.jpg

It was an easy descent from Zapatoca to La Fuente…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-27-014.jpg

We passed Los Pozos, the finca of Pipo, an incognito WarmShowers host who Jenny sang to in the hospital of Zapatoca.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-27-024.jpg

A long lunch and snooze in Galán meant we had the shadows on our side for the otherwise hot climb after the bridge…

Detour #1 – Getting Lost

Whoops! This was the first time it had happened. Lars was ahead and going a little faster than usual (he always does this when there are other cyclists around) but he didn’t see the split in the road. He went left and I went right. After about two kilometres downhill, manoeuvring myself over two river crossings, I started to wonder if Lars was ahead of me. I decided to turn around and as I twisted my body I saw Lars charging down the road chasing behind me. Another two cyclists followed. Luckily one of them had noticed the predicament and cycled after Lars to tell him, otherwise I might have been very lost indeed!

Tour In Tune-2013-11-27-029.jpg

… the shadows soon turned to dusk and we found ourselves climbing into the darkness …

Tour In Tune-2013-11-27-031.jpg

… arriving in Barichara in the pitch black around 630pm …

Tour In Tune-2013-11-28-034.jpg

… the same interesting door the next morning.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-28-040.jpg

Barichara certainly has character… and some steep streets!

Tour In Tune-2013-11-28-044.jpg

Full of beautifully maintained old buildings, but also cycle friendly new cobblestones – a rarity in colonial towns.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-28-051.jpg

Houses comes in mainly shapes, guided only by the contours of the land.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-29-059.jpg

From Barichara, we rode an easy 25km to San Gil, where we crashed for the night…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-071.jpg

Escaping the relative bustle of San Gil, we rode to Charalá – home of the famous guitarists Los Hermanos Lopez…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-066.jpg

… a massive tree in the plaza looks like a Ceiba, but is actually known as Samán de Arabia …

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-077.jpg

… with branches so massive that they need proping up!

Detour #2 – Admitting Defeat

So, the big plan was to take a beautiful, three to four day scenic route all the way from Charalá to Villa de Leyva through Parque Iguaque. The winding roads on the map looked spectacular, a typical Lars route. In reality, the road was incredibly difficult and I became discouraged. After speaking to a few locals we realised we would be enduring this terrain for a long 120km!

As the sun was going down, we stopped at a house and to ask if we could camp. Elsa kindly kindly let us pitch our tent in her garage. That night, tucked up in our sleeping bags, I gently persuaded Lars that we should turn back in the morning.

NB: This could be a spectacular side route if you are hard as nails and bring plenty of food! Ask for directions in Charalá for Virolín.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-082.jpg

We stopped for a quiet lunch across an old bridge.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-083.jpg

Getting caught in the rain doesn’t dampen our spirits, as long as we have enough chocolate!

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-087.jpg

We’re becoming experts in finding shelter…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-090.jpg

… and new ways of entertaining ourselves.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-099.jpg

We turned off to the right before Encino on our way up to Virolín…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-101.jpg

… the road became more rugged as we continued to climb.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-118.jpg

… and we encountered lots of goats!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-01-135.jpg

Our legs wouldn’t take us all the way to Virolín, so we camped in a garage with some peacocks…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-01-136.jpg

It was the house of Elsa, who kindly let us camp and treated us to homemade queso, arepas and tinto.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-131.jpg

Elsa’s parrot took an interest in Lars’ head!

Tour In Tune-2013-11-30-134.jpg

Enjoying some fresh cheese Elsa made that same morning served with panela and hot tinto.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-01-139.jpg

On our back track down to Charalá, we stumbled upon a cock fight training session…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-01-140.jpg

… they were exercising these gallos for an upcoming fight in Bucaramanga.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-02-154.jpg

From Charalá, it was a dirt road climb and descent to Confines.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-02-158.jpg

Once we reached the top, the flats and descent were fantastic fun.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-02-164.jpg

… fast rolling dirt tracks.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-02-171.jpg

Freshly made cheese sold in banana leaves, free of plastic packaging, a perfect post ride snack.

Detour #3 – Mechanical Shmanical!

Well, not exactly a detour in our route, but rather in our daily routine. Lars’ rear hub began to disintegrate, requiring us to hunt down a decent bike shop. I’ll let him tell the story below…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-03-175.jpg

What began as some metal grinding noises developed into a comically wobbly wheel; I took it apart to find that the ball bearings were shrapnel. Fortunately, I was carrying spare ball bearings.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-03-179.jpg

Tiny shards of metal ground down to dust…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-03-185.jpg

Re-packed with new bearings and ready to go!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-03-189.jpg

Oh how amusing it is for the shopkeepers…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-04-197.jpg

Unfortunately, the new bearings began grinding down to dust within a few kms. Luckily, we made it to Barbosa and found some  friendly mechanics who were happy to help.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-04-198.jpg

On closer inspection, I found a badly worn outer cone and dodgy freehub (again). Although only the freehub and outer cone needed replacing, the shop only sold complete hubs! I sighed and faced the realisation that I would need to rebuild my wheel … again!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-04-202.jpg

Aaaaahh, yes! A complete wall of beautiful Park Tools!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-04-204.jpg

Much to the amusement of the mechanics, I wanted to keep my spokes organised for the rebuilding process. According to my wheelbuilding bible, used spokes have different bends depending on whether they are inside or outside facing. I learnt this the hard way after rebuilding my front wheel in Guatemala after a crash!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-04-206.jpg

A big thanks to the Bikeshop in Barbosa for my new rear hub. I also replaced both our chains and cassettes and my wobbly bottom bracket. It’s like riding a new bike!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-210.jpg

We met Pantera, the perro bravo guarding our hotel… he was very interested in our coffee!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-215.jpg

… Pantera kisses!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-223.jpg

Our new drivetrains were not without a few ‘teething’ issues. Our slightly worn chainrings didn’t play nicely with the new chains. *sigh*

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-225.jpg

Another local guard dog offered his assistance with the bike maintenance…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-231.jpg

… but couldn’t seem to keep his eyes open!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-232.jpg

It was a steady, intermittently gravel climb from Moniquirá up to Santa Sofia, where we came across this bizarre church…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-05-238.jpg

… and storm clouds loomed over the plaza. We asked around for an hospedaje and discovered some secret rooms owned by a local restaurant owner.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-06-244.jpg

… with a morning view of Villa de Leyva, our next destination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: