Colombia is a bicycle friendly land. Lorry drivers toot and wave, folk on the side of the road greet us as we ride by, soldiers at the regular check posts give us a thumbs up as we pass, young lads hanging on the street corner will shout ‘viva Colombia’. Colombians like cycling and sports cyclists are a regular sight on the open road. Interestingly though these are the only people who do not show any enthusiasm for two travellers on heavily laden bicycles passing through their land.
We now make a point of giving these people a big wave and shouting an extra generous ‘buenos dias’ as they pass going the other way; there response 90% of the time is to turn their heads the other way and stick their collective noses in the air. Why this should be we do not know, but it is the case.
Visiting a series of bicycle shops recently looking for some spare parts for Sebastian’s machine we wondered if we should enter the shops in disguise. We reasoned that to arrive by bicycle and enter dressed in what is clearly cycling apparel would be to invite disdain from the staff. ‘Let us adopt the dress of farm labourers’ we said, but unable to find either wellington boots or a donkey and wishing to whizz briskly around the city we did travel as cyclists and were greeted cordially at each shop. Indeed in one shop the proprietor led us to his computer and gave us a brisk peek at his collection of images of naked lades in a variety of impressively flexible poses. Judging by his reddened cheeks and the swiftness with which he replaced the images with those of adventure cyclists we assumed that this was done in error, but it was briefly entertaining.
That was in the city of Cali. Leaving Cali again showed what consideration cyclists are afforded here. The cities streets are noisy and busy with traffic as one would expect from a city of two million. But the car and lorry drivers would always give us space. Soon we came across a wide bus lane running along the centre of the street. This lane seemed to serve more as a bicycle lane that a bus lane and was rather wonderful, whilst the lorries cars and even busses vied for space on the over congested roads The Osmosno Brothers toddled along on their own private little highway. It was great, for 15 kilometres we rode side by side nattering about all manner of silly things as those responsible for polluting the globe became increasingly agitated with each other and as they vied for limited space.