Medellín – and the beginning of my cycling trip

I arrived to Medellín on Wednesday, 9th August, in the evening. There was a large queue in front of immigration, but once through the luggage was already there, including my bicycle. I was a bit worried about how to find a taxi big enough for me and my bicycle, but in the end that wasn’t a problem at all. Soon I was on my way to Medellín, where I stayed with a friend. I was very tired, and couldn’t be bothered to do anything with the bike. We talked a bit, and I went to bed early.

My first night I could hear some gunshots from one of the poorer neighbourhoods further up – most likely some struggle about the control of the drug trade in the neighbourhood.

I stayed a few days in Medellín. The next day I first unpacked and inspected my bike, and everything was fine. I only had to adjust the front brakes a little, nothing more.

I spent the days partly with friends, and partly exploring Medellín on my own (it was not my first time in the city). One day I went by bike to the centre of the town, to see if everything was really functioning well, and to try out moving around in the traffic of the city. Medellín is a city of three million people (officially), and sits at the bottom of a narrow valley, with high mountains on both sides. The poor neighbourhoods are higher up in the mountains, and often they consist of illegal and substandard constructions. Further down in the valley are the more affluent neighbourhoods – but now they are also constructing high-rise apartment buildings in the lower parts of the mountains.

On Sunday I finally left Medellín. I was lucky to have chosen a Sunday, as on every Sunday they close part of the main motorway that crosses the city from the south to the north and convert it into a cycleroad. I had been a bit worried about the traffic, but the cycleroad allowed me to get out of the city without confronting the traffic. After leaving the city, the motorway (bicycles allowed) also was not too busy, and there were lots of cyclists (sport cyclists – I didn’t see one cyclist with luggage). And so it was pretty easy to get to the exit shortly before Barbosa where the climb of route 25 to the coast begins. My plan was to only get to Don Matias, at 50km from Medellín and about 20km from that exit – almost 20km of ascent (900m). Climbing up was hard, and at times the traffic – above all the lorry traffic – was pretty annoying, but I never felt in danger.

I stopped at a viewpoint with an impressive view over the valley, to have some lunch, and later I finished the last 6km to Don Matias. It was pretty easy to find accommodation (Hotel Las Orquídeas in the centre of the village – recommended and economical). There is not much to see in the village, and I did not have the energy to go on a longer excursion...