WHEN BLOGS COLLIDE: Introducing PAINTED ROADS
I first stubbled across Mike Hayes, or perhaps I should say Mike’s blog, back in 2008 as I trudged through WWW-land looking for any information I could find about cycling through Colombia. I was heading there to begin an expedition south traversing the Andes as much as possible. Colombia was a bit of an unknown as it seemed that no one went there, due in the main part to the sort of sensationalist journalism that sullies peoples minds about many parts of the world. I remember setting out a few years earlier on a motorcycle journey that was to take me through Iran, “oh, you mustn’t go there, you will have your throat slit” said everyone who had never been there and trusted the media. “Absolutely wonderful, the nicest people on earth” said the few who had been there; and guess what, the people who had been there were correct, Iranians are fantastic. And so I harboured little doubt that Colombians would be much the same. But the more I bombarded Google with such terms as “cycling colombia” the more apparent it became that not many people did this, in fact so far as I could see, only Colombians, Mike Hayes and Sebastian and I thought that cycling in Colombia was a wise thing to do.
And so Mike’s Imagination, as Mike’s blog is named, became our sole source or information for cycling the length of a land shrouded in mystery.
That Mike has a link from Leica Canada tells anybody with the slightest inkling about photography that the chap knows what he is up to with a camera, that he often throws caution to wind and sets off on long rides through remote parts of the Andes and journals these journeys with stunning images was all the encouragement I needed to avidly follow Mike’s Blog. For anyone interested in Adventure cycling, fantastic photography, and Mike’s other passion, sea kayaking, I highly recomend checking his blog.
It was a couple of years later as I cycled south through the tropical warmth of Thailand that I first contacted Mike. He was heading north through Argentina and the time had come for him to make a decision as to which route to take next. One of his options would take him across a long remote and desolate crossing of the Andes that has a special place in my fond memory bank. I had crossed the Paso San Francisco several years before. It is beautiful, very remote, high, and very short on water. Carrying food for six days is task enough, carrying water is not a realistic option. When I did this Andean crossing back in 2006 I was fortunate enough to meet a German cyclist who had taken this route in a jeep. He furnished me with all the details necessary to find water once a day; a stream, a waterfall, a gold mine. Each day one source of water, and one only. He was a scientist, he was German, the details then, as you can well imagine, were precise. During the week we spent up there I was struck by a debilitating attack of altitude sickness, had it not been for a friendly chap at the goldmine packing our panniers with biscuits we would have been on a bit of a sticky wicket food wise, but water was never a problem. And so I emailed Mike to pass on this valuable information.
This was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted several years as we exchanged thoughts and knowledge regarding photography, cycling, travel, adventure and the desire to live a life that can incorporate these passions. A year or so ago I followed Mike’s journey through Southern Argentina and Chile longing to be on such an adventure out in the wilds, camping, living wild, free. Mike at the same time was watching my blog whenever he could get on line drooling over the pics of ice cold beer and fantasising about the tropical warmth I was riding through and living in. Mutual inspiration one might say.
And now these two blogs have come together to form one. We will both continue with our own personal blogs, but for the purpose of journaling an upcoming collaboration we shall join up with for what I hope will prove to be interesting and inspirational words and images; the sort of posts that will entice and encourage readers to want to embark on their own bicycle adventure. There are already a few posts there, but I think it fair to say that it will begin in earnest later this week as I set off with my old chum Phong to explore an exciting new route in central Vietnam that follows the historic Ho Chi Minh Trail between Hanoi and Saigon. The journey will begin in Hanoi where I am looking forward to getting out into the streets with my camera.
In the meantime please check out the Painted Roads Blog.
I will leave you now with a selection of Mike’s images, some street, some just good old adventure pics: