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Kat Marriner : February 2nd, 2008

Finding Our Way

The journey starts with a single pedal-stroke, but getting to “push off” appears to require a whole lot of maps. We left home with two full-size Colombia maps and a general idea of where we wanted to go. Once in Bogota, we start asking questions and quickly find help from a young man working at our hotel who, as luck has it, is a mountain bike racer and has pedaled all over this country. He jumps to our rescue and provides a moto-ruta guide complete with elevation charts. Holy cow! The way we intended to start might break our camels back (or Willie´s legs … or my spirit) with it´s extreme grades over the mountains. I feel panic rise and Willie considers getting a cog with a larger ring. Christian recommends it, which doesn´t bode well when the mountain bike racer who rides a titaneum tricked-out bike with NO PANNIERS suggests we are going to be in pain. Serious fret /br /span style=”color:#ff9900;”a href=””img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5162592748928131714″ style=”FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ //aA test ride on the bike paths of Bogota./spanbr /br /Next help comes from a meeting with non-other than the former mayor of Bogota and world-renowned bicycle advocate, Enrique Pañelosa. Señor Peñalosa and Juan Camila, head of the bike network development inBogota, spend nearly an hour with us and a whole lot of head shaking happens. They mark our map and suggest many options. None can say just how steep the roads are, but do say that small roads are safe and the large roads have heavy traffic. This is the opposite information from some other sources, but we take it all in. They do strongly encourage us to get better maps and send us off to the Institute Agustin Codazi — better known as the geographic office of Colombia — where after 2 and a half hours of lines, hand-wringing decisions and more lines, we select five new maps to carry with us. This is in addition to the driving route guide gifted to us by our new cyclist /br /All these maps, optional routes, partial unknowns, shaking heads, and phone numbers in case we need help, only stir the pot. How do we know if we can actually pedal these mountains? Will my knees hold up? We can´t be sure if these roads are paved. We don´t know if the traffic will be relentless and /br /Sleep is a restless muse toying with our dreams–heads spinning with options and no real plan. Our wise and well-traveled friend Zeb likes his beauty sleep, and he offers a zebism to ease our troubled /br /”The way will become the clear when you are on the way.”br /br /To a lesser degree, we didn´t know how we would navigate Bogota. Would it be safe to walk around? Could we trust the taxi drivers? And within these 5 short days, Bogota makes sense. We can find our way around to meet our friend Tom, see museums, get yellow fever shots, buy cycling gloves. All things we didn´t know when we got off the /br /Tomorrow morning, with bicycle escorts Cristian and his wife Ana, we get on our way. They will take us through the concrete maze and send us off in a direction at the edge of town. At this point, we´re ready for any direction just so we can move beyond questions and discover /img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5162589647961743970″ style=”DISPLAY: block; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ /

9 comments to Finding Our Way

  • Marianna

    In my experience, anticipation of something that scares you is inevitably worse than the thing itself. Once you start pedaling the route, you will undoubtedly find your groove. I’m so excited for your adventure!

  • kit

    Cities, and mountains and maps. Oh, my! So glad you are keeping us posted. Brave folks, you two. But, I’ve no doubt, that once the adjusting arrives, you’ll see “where you are” much clearer and much more truer than the waking nightmares of anxiety now hold.

  • Tober-Zambrano

    Hi kids….we met 1 block from your hotel on Sunday as you were about to leave. The couple with the bike trailer. Getting out of the city should have been easy on ciclovia day. If you’re back in Bogota sometime, come and stay with us…I’ve got a listing on ….if you need info phone me at 301 427 0080. If you want I can email you my 3 trip reports I’ve done in Colombia since August. BR/I subscribed to you blog and look forward to the updates!BR/Wishing you an endorphin filled adventure!BR/Steve, Maria and Ramon

  • humanjazz

    Hey, you could be trying to bike over Snoqualmie Pass with 1 – 2 ft. of new snow falling daily…BR/Great to hear of your adventures, though by now I’m sure you are out of the city and on your way, or the way, a way. get AWAY!!BR/ Adios,BR/- Christian (in Seattle)BR/BR/”Compassion is letting someone be who they think they are.” – Ram Dass

  • Ms. Ventura

    Willy and Kat! Already magic is happening ay? Seems like the magic of meeting people at the right time and at the right place happens so much more often the second an adventure starts. Thinking of you often. Love, Marcia

  • eLiz

    Zeb is such a wise soul! BR/BR/BTW: Some days you’ll find me floating around, not too far above you. Some evenings, I’ll be resting somewhere near your toes. BR/BR/This trip is already so wonderful. Thanks for the adventure! ;-)BR/BR/Love you two!

  • Anonymous

    We’re so excited to be able to follow your trip. We’re sharing w/the kids and they are facinated. They are watching for Zeb’s next adventure! BR/BR/Becky

  • Joaquin

    Hello,BR/BR/My name is Joaquin Calle, a friend of Mark Lellman. I am a Colobian born citizen, living in the US, Chicago currently.BR/My father and his wife, Oscar Mary Anne, moved back to Colombia in 2001, settling in El Retiro, just outside of Meddelin in the mountains near the airport.BR/Elevation there as high as 2200 mt, but a beautiful ride I imagine.BR/BR/They live in the beautiful countryside and would welcome visitors I am sure.BR/BR/You can reach hime via email,, or phone 57-4-541-1096.BR/BR/I wish you te best of luck and hope you enjoy Colombia.BR/BR/I was born in Bogota, a truly beautiful city.BR/BR/Regards,BR/BR/Joaquin CalleBR/chicago, ILBR/BR/

  • Kat

    STEVE in Bogota, I´d love to get your trip reports from cycling Colombia. It was a good omen to meet you just as we started our trip. You can email me directly at

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