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    Archive for January, 2009

    Day 1.028 – Tarazá -> Planetarica (hotel)

    Saturday, January 31st, 2009

    Tarazá -> Planetarica (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 131
    Time on bike : 5h 51m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 17.15
    Avg : 22.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 70.4
    Total (km) : 41.635
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    Breakfast (free) at my hospedaje in Tarazá, northern Colombia.

    The name of this fruit that a local couple gave me along the road, I've no idea, but the taste was great!

    Hothothot...44 degrees Celsius in the sun.

    Rustic house south of Sincelejo, Colombia.

    Rustic house south of Sincelejo, Colombia.

    My good eatery in Sincelejo, Colombia.

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    Day 1.027 – Don Matías -> Tarazá (residential)

    Friday, January 30th, 2009

    Don Matías -> Tarazá (residential)
    Distance (km) : 174
    Time on bike : 6h 57m
    Brutto time: 08.50 – 17.40
    Avg : 25.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 68.3
    Total (km) : 41.504
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    Pan de queso! Delicioso!

    Horse cart just north of Don Matías, northern Colombia.

    Colombian countryside...

    Colombian countryside...

    Colombian countryside...

    Weird religious monument!

    Enjoying a final mountain view before leaving the Andes range behind...

    Enjoying a final mountain view before leaving the Andes range behind...

    The Rio Cauca at around 400 m.a.s...

    Tropical Puerto Valdívia, northern Colombia.

    Tropical Puerto Valdívia, northern Colombia.

    Rio Cauca...

    Festival in Puerto Valdívia, Colombia.

    Festival in Puerto Valdívia, Colombia.

    It was a very long day from Don Matías to Tarazá, Colombia...

    Chilling with Julio (left), Vanesa (right) and her sister in Tarazá...

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    New Photo Album from Ecuador!

    Thursday, January 29th, 2009

    It’s been another sort of busy day at the WT-office. Still waiting for some bike spareparts to show up here in Medellín, so why not take advantage of the fast wifi and put together some visuals from Ecuador where I spent just 13 days and clicked around 1.000 mountaineous km…


    Photo Album from Ecuador
    (75 photos)

    As usual, I recommend watching the photos as a full-screen slideshow (just follow the link, and click the 4-arrow logo in the lower right hand corner – and click the photo once for a text pop-up))…

    Nicolai

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    Day 1.026 – The Bike Doctors

    Thursday, January 29th, 2009

    Medellín -> Don Matías (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 58
    Time on bike : 2h 38m
    Brutto time: 12.00 – 17.00
    Avg : 22.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 57.6
    Total (km) : 41.330
    Altitude: 2.350 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    Pulley wheel, well-worn after 45.000 km...

    My Koga baby at the doctor in Medellín, Colombia.

    The Meastros at the Bike House in Medellín, Colombia.

    31.5 kgs is the total weight of my luggage, excl. the bike (20 kg) and me (73 kg)...

    New chain rings (middle and small) after 22.000 km and 45.000 km...

    Pan de queso! Delicioso!

    My road side hotel in Don Matías, north of Medellín - Colombia.

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    Day 1.025 – The Masterpiece

    Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

    o km etc.

    Medellín is a great city on all accounts and it warrants several days of non-stop sightseeing and urban exploring. The super modern and effective Metrocable has been a major feat for the city’s transportation system, and it has made it possible for thousands of people living in the poorer suburbs clung to the hillsides to connect with the city and thus take part of the possibilities of the downtown hustle and bustle.

    Medellín's impressive masterpiece, the MetroCable

    For me it’s like a great run at the local amusement park, and at only 1.500 pesos (0.60 USD), the standard metro fare, it’s a real bargain.

    Medellín's impressive masterpiece, the MetroCable

    Back at the Black Sheep Hostal I spend some hours doing some WT maintenance (such as a new photo album from Ecuador – did you see the semi-latest album from Peru as well?) in front of the big screen showing live tennis from Melbourne.

    The former Palacio Nacional - now converted into a shopping centre (what else?). Medellín - Colombia.

    The absolute highlight of the day is the news that my good old friend from university days etc., Rune, is coming to see and travel with me in Costa Rica for some 3 weeks from the 1st of March. Now isn’t that gorgeous?

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    Day 1.024 – What the locals say…(UK)

    Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

    It’s a fairly encouraging thought knowing that I’ve only got one larger climb (up to around 2.700 m from Medellín’s 1.500 m) to do just north of Medellín – and then it’s all (well, that’s what the locals tell me, but years of “listening” to what locals have to say about the terrain of the roads ahead have taught me to be a little sceptical) down to the tropical lowlands and the Atlantic coast…

    It will be a final farewell to the Andes mountain range that’s been a faithful and at times tough follower since I left Santiago, Chile more than 5½ months ago.

    Black Sheep Hostal, Medellín - Colombia.

    Relaxation, reading, a little work-out in a tiny park nearby, the writing of my fortnightly column for the Danish paper MetroXpress, mental and physical preparation for leaving Medellín (am still waiting for my bike parts to arrive at the local bike shop) takes up most of my day…

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    Day 1.023 – My Dutch Lady (UK)

    Monday, January 26th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    View from the Universitario metro station, Medellín, Colombia.

    It’s another full-on day in Medellín with hardly 2 minutes of proper rest from early morning till late evening. Evenly split between updating this site, sightseeing and visiting a bike shop that unfortunately didn’t have the required spare parts (Shimano HG93 quality chain being the most vital thing) for my bike (the staff tried to fob me off with some mediocre quality chain not knowing that I accept only the best for my Dutch lady), and thus I have to “wait” until Wednesday. Quotation marks coz I won’t really have any problems filling out the time here in Medellín.

    Market street in central Medellín...

    Parque de los Deseos - Dream's Park.

    Band of the Day: Kings of Leon

    Reading the Bible in front of a church in Medellín.

    Jardín Botánico de Medellín.

    Jardín Botánico de Medellín.

    As always: cursor on the photos will make a little text box pop up.

    Parque de los Luces, Medellín - Colombia

    Colonial architecture by night. Medellín, Colombia.

    Parque de los Luces, Medellín - Colombia

    The finish of another sweet day in Medellín was this view over the southern suburbs…

    Nice evening hues over Medellín, looking south from the San Antonio metro station.

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    Newsletter from Colombia

    Monday, January 26th, 2009

    Medellín – Colombia, 25JAN2009.

    I’ve always been partial to the statistical material, and to call my interest for the world of stats fetichism is just another way of putting it. That’s part of the reason why the first weeks of 2009 have been tremendously interesting…

    It was a special day for me to quietly celebrate Day # 1.000 on this solo bike expedition the other day. Even for me, it’s hard to grasp; 1.000 consecutive days on the road – now that’s roughly a 140 charter holidays non-stop – if you (like me) should find it hard to put it in the right perspective!

    In terms of distance cycled, my inner statistician has also had reasons to wag the tail. Since I left Denmark on April 10, 2006, I’ve taken a photo each time I reach another 1.000 km in an attempt to try and catch the different moments on the road. Crossing 40.000 km in central Ecuador obviously made my mouth foam proudly (figuratively speaking, that is).

    40.000 km. Just north of Latacunga, central Ecuador.

    Just north of Ecuador’s capital Quito (that I skipped this time in the name of progress) I crossed the Equator from the south, and thus, I’m now back on the northern hemisphere after almost 1½ years of exploration on the southern.

    On a similar note and speaking of the Equator: that chubby latitude around the centre of our Planet Earth is officially 40.075 km in diameter, and passing that point has made it even more appropriate to call myself a round-the-world cyclist.

    This is the official circumference of the Earth...And I can now call myself a RTW-cyclist...

    All this might seem insignificant and self-celebratory, but when you decide to cycle around the world on what is already the longest bicycle expedition in Denmark’s history and in front of you have a snake of asphalt (that’s how my bike look at it, anyway!) that might turn out to be around 60.000 km long, then it becomes mentally crucial to split up the immense challenge in more edible bits, to knock a few milestones in the ground along the way, and celebrate the small conquests of the enterprise once you pass them.

    These self-invented milestones are an important part of the motivating carrot for me, coz they arm me, in a very concrete way, partly with the knowledge that the goal (Denmark, in case you didn’t know) is getting closer, and partly with the confidence that I can do this.

    So milestones – be they fictive or real – are important markers that speak the language of progress, the language of development (mental and otherwise). It’s often like that in life, isn’t it?

    With lots of thoughts and love,

    Nicolai (from Medellín in Colombia, WT-country #30)

    And do keep coming back! WT has now had more than 1.000.000 hits (the stats freak said) and your support still means more to me than my words can explain…

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    Day 1.022 – Stuffed Boobs and Plucked Eyebrows (UK)

    Sunday, January 25th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    One of the main arteries leading into central Medellín...

    The proudness of Medellín: El Metro...

    The proudness of Medellín: El Metro...

    As the photos of today will tell, it’s no surprise that I spent all day touring many of Medellín’s sights and sounds.

    The impressive and state-of-the-art Metro system, Parque Berrío with many of Fernando Botero’s famous and chubby sculptures, Museo de Antióquia (which surprisedly was free of charge thanks to the local mayor who pays for all museum entries until mid-Feb. Muchas gracias!), Iglesia Ermita de la Veracruz (not worthy of a photo), Parque San Antonio (ditto), Parque de Bolívar (with the brick Catedral Metropolitana) and lots of city life made up most of my daylight hours today.

    Fernando Botero's world-famous chubby sculptures

    Fernando Botero's world-famous chubby sculptures

    Medellín high-rise...

    Medellín is a modern, bustling, up-and-go city with a proud and easy-going population of about 2.5 mio. people. As any big city the contrast between the have’s and the have-not’s is great and I see many sad existences lying around, ragged and obviously homeless between the fashionable high-heels primadonnas with stuffed boobs and eyebrows plucked and altered out of all recognition (all of which I find a trifle disturbing).

    It took a whopping 1.12 mio. bricks to build this cathedral in Medellín.

    It’s a great, great day. For me there’s hardly any better way of approaching and getting aquainted with a new city, than simply just walk around, following your instincts and marching to your own drums. The Medellín feel-good factor ranks high on the list of great cities on the WT-journey.

    Hare Krisnas in Medellín...

    Nicolai

    Parque Simón Bolívar, Medellín...

    Chilling in central Medellín - Colombia.

    Museu de Antióquia, Medellín.

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    Medellín update…

    Sunday, January 25th, 2009

    Just a very short update to those (unnecessarily) worried minds out there who may be wondering where I’m at and how things are going.

    Things are very fine here in Colombia. People are unbelievably friendly and kind to me wherever I go. The military presence is strong and at no point have I felt scared or afraid regarding the safety situation in this beautiful country still badly damaged by the image problem in the eyes of the outside world. If only I could change all that…

    Have just checked into a hostal (Black Sheep; yes it’s run by Kiwis) in a residential area in the nice(r) suburb El Poblado, with wifi ad nauseum which means that you can expect WT-updates in the very near future. Will stay here until I get tired of it, and then continue on the last Colombian leg (650 km) that will take me directly north to Cartagena and the Caribbean Coast.

    Meanwhile, have a look at the BIKELITE bicycle blog (below) that might tell a familiar story…

    Lynn’s BIKELITE blog

    Nicolai

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    Day 1.021 – A bit of pain slash pleasure (UK)

    Saturday, January 24th, 2009

    La Pintada -> Medellín (hostal)
    Distance (km) : 78
    Time on bike : 3h 42m
    Brutto time: 09.40 – 14.30
    Avg : 21.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.9
    Total (km) : 41.264
    Altitude: 1.500 m
    Difficulty: 2½ of 5

    Local girls who asked for my photo. No worries, if I can get yours as well! La Pintada, Colombia.

    Distance-wise the day is perfectly manageable at just some 75 km to Medellín. But from the morning’s 400 m the road climbs up to a mountain pass at around 2.600 m and then drops down to 1.500 m in Medellín. A few hundred vertical metres up the road I manage to grab on to the back of a slow and heavily loaded truck that lets me truck surf all the way to the top. It’s faster than normal pedalling, and that makes up for the fact that my left arm got remarkably longer during the surf to the top.

    Nothing like a bit of pain slash pleasure.

    Clouds on the last pass just south of Medellín, Colombia.

    The Panamerican Hwy gets fatter all the time!

    I arrive in Medellín early afternoon, dirty and hungry. In the 1980s the metropolis was ruthlessly controlled by Pablo Escobar, the world famous narko baron that was gunned down in a final shoot-out in 1993. On a more peaceful note, the city is also home to the internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor, Fernando Botero

    Another dirty version of me...

    In El Poblado, a sort of wealthy southern suburb I check into the Kiwi-run Black Sheep Hostal that gets rave-reviews on the web. 7.50 USD ensures me a bunk bed in the house, unlimited wifi, kitchen facilities, lots of spaces to relax, int’l travellers, and a central yet quiet location in a residential area just a 10 min. walk from La Zona Rosa (the bar and entertainment area) and a 8 min. walk from the super-efficient and modern metro – undoubtedly the engineering masterpiece and proudness of the city.

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    Day 1.020 – Pereira -> La Pintada (hotel) (UK)

    Friday, January 23rd, 2009

    Pereira -> La Pintada (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 135
    Time on bike : 5h 29m
    Brutto time: 09.30 – 16.30
    Avg : 24.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 79.8
    Total (km) : 41.186
    Altitude: 400 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Morning coffee vendors in Pereira, Colombia.

    Pereira locals...

    Today’s hot, tropical cycling sees me reuniting with the Río Cauca, one of Colombia’s 3 mayor rivers (the other one’s being the Magdalena and Orinoco Rivers). At some point on a little downhill, a truck rides up beside me and out of the window a smiling lady hands me a sachet of water. Despite doing a good 40 km/h I manage to get hold of the water and send smiles and hand kisses in return for the kind gift. That’s what I call Tour de France road service. More of that, please.

    Crossing the Río Cauca at 400 m.a.s.

    Having a break from the soaring temperatures and a massivde lunch in Irrá, a little road side village next to the Rio Cauca.

    Lunch time!

    A different view...

    It’s another superfast day thanks partly to a difference of about 1.200 metres between start and finish altitudes (in my favor), and partly to a strong and focused Zülle in the saddle. There are lots of – mainly minor – climbs today, most of which I swallow up standing in the pedals with lots of momentum from the preceding minor downhill.

    Nice countryside cycling along the Rio Cauca...

    Down in the hot and tropical lowlands in central Colombia...

    Tunnel through a rocky outcrop...

    All afternoon the Cauca River grows fatter and prouder as many tributaries and waterfalls empty themselves in the muddy waters of the fastflowing river. It’s nice without being outright spectacular.

    Rio Cauca gathering momentum...

    At the busy and loud La Pintada village I check into the clean and cable-TV equipped (think live tennis from Australian Open) Hotel Fonda (12.000 pesos = 5.50 USD) right next to the local reggaeton disco that keeps blaring all night for no apparent reason as the place is totally empty.

    Rush hour in the village La Pintada, south of Medellín.

    I do my usual night time rituals (eating, e-mailing, cruising) before I crash in front of the blue tennis courts on my little TV-set in my room, volume on max. to try and drown the annoying reggaeton across the street…

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    Day 1.019 – Zarzal -> Pereira (hotel)

    Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

    Zarzal -> Pereira (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 77
    Time on bike : 3h 43m
    Brutto time: 09.15 – 14.30
    Avg : 20.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 55.9
    Total (km) : 41.052
    Altitude: Ca. 1.600 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    That bike's even more advanced than mine, shock-absorbers and all...

    Colombian countryside...

    Coffee plantations on my way to Pereira, central Colombia.

    Pereira cityscape.

    Food vendor in Pereira, Colombia.

    Pereira cityscape.

    Policia Nacional sticker. Pereira, Colombia.

    Even the mannequin’s in Colombia have entered the times of silicone!

    Mannequin, oversized?

    Young Pereira girl (flirting, right) and me (tired and too old, left)...

    Simón Bolivar, naked.

    Night time food vendor, Pereira - Colombia.

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    Day 1.018 – Cali -> Zarzal (hotel)

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

    Cali -> Zarzal (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 165
    Time on bike : 6h 52m
    Brutto time: 08.20 – 17.00
    Avg : 24.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 69.5
    Total (km) : 40.975
    Altitude: 1.000 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    My Cali home...

    Mobile coffee vendor in the outskirts of Cali, central Colombia.

    Nice and flat cycling among sugarcane fields...

    Beautiful asphalt!

    Bingo hall. Zarzal, Colombia.

    A long day in the saddle (165 km) deserves a hearty meal...Zarzal, Colombia.

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    Day 1.017 – Chorrera del Índio Waterfall (UK)

    Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

    Uli, Marcela, Martiza, and cousin Paula take me out of the city today (my last in Cali), to a famous – and deservedly so – picnic + let’s-get-some-fresh-air spot just west of the metropole.

    Rio Pance just west of Cali - Colombia..

    Rio Pance runs up into the mountains west of Cali and the area is laid out as a national park. Some 10 km up the river we reach the massive Chorrera del Índio waterfall.

    Chorrera del Indio. Cali, Colombia.

    We have the place all to ourselves, go “diving” under the fall, and just have a thoroughly good time.

    Uli, Marcela, Paula, me, and Martiza at the waterfall...

    The massive Chorrera del Indio waterfall. Check out the bikini under the falls! Cali, Colombia.

    It’s hard not to feel just a little like a true jungle boy. Very impressive forces of Nature!

    The Pose.

    Ants keep marching…Do these fellas ever sleep?

    Busy ants near the Chorrera del Indio waterfall...

    We’ve all worked up a healthy appetite after the hours at the fall, and lunch is waiting us at Mai and Marce’s uncle’s mansion, beautifully prepared by the kitchen maid in the house. I always welcome this kind of luxury in my otherwise pretty Spartan nomadic bicycle life.

    The Mansion.

    Last night + last supper in my Cali “home” where I’ve felt nicely wrapped up in a very hospitable social web thanks to Ulises, Marcela, and Maritza. I feel very happy having met these guys, and – to bring balance on the lever – Marcela tells me that they’ve been honoured having me staying and that I’ve been like an exciting window to the world to them.

    Nice words, warm hearts.

    My friend's house in the La Buitrera Cali suburb.

    Acknowledging the fact that I can’t and don’t want to carry superfluity on my bike, Ulises has made a 2D-painting of my and my bike (incl. the Danish flag that I’m so proud of! :-) ) on his lappie, and gives it to me as a goodbye present (it’s on the frontpage of WT, if you haven’t seen it). It’s the best souvenir for ages.

    Nice acts, warm hearts.

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    Day 1.016 – Cali Zoo & the Jacuzzi…

    Monday, January 19th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    Please let me out, will you?

    Monica and the cute little fella'...

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    The back of a lizard at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    A delightful visit at the Zoológico de Cali, Colombia.

    Uli, Churris, and I in the jacuzzi. Cali - Colombia.

    Jamundí monument, south of Cali - Colombia.

    Cholado - a delicious and advanced fruit salat...

    Unicentro Shopping Mall. Cali - Colombia.

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    Day 1.015 – The B-Day

    Sunday, January 18th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Taking a rest in the rooftop hammock. Cali - Colombia.

    The Mad Duck.

    Our friends in the backyard...

    Another friend in the backyard...

    Monica's 25 year-old birthday party in La Buitrera, Cali - Colombia.

    The Cake.

    Watching my WT-mini-movies at the birthday party. Cali - Colombia.

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    Day 1.014 – Cali, Cali, Cali

    Saturday, January 17th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Backyard friends...

    Lunch with Uli, Marcela, and Imelda in Cali - Colombia.

    Nicolai drinking the best coffee in the world!

    Homenaje de amor...

    View over Cali, Colombia...

    Cerro de los tres cruzes. Cali, Colombia.

    The Bubble Man. San Antonio suburb, Cali - Colombia.

    Bubbles.

    Heart shaped boxes...

    The Cat of Seven Lives...

    Backseat drinking in Cali, Colombia.

    Beautiful Iglesia de la Ermita in downtown Cali, Colombia.

    Green + tree

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    Day 1.013 – Popayán -> Cali (private)

    Friday, January 16th, 2009

    Popayán -> Cali (private)
    Distance (km) : 134
    Time on bike : 5h 34m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 16.00
    Avg : 23.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 71.7
    Total (km) : 40.810
    Altitude: 1.100 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Typical landscape north of Popayán, Colombia.

    Getting closer to Cali, Colombia.

    A new challenger to the Aussie outback trucks: The 4-wagon long sugar cane "trains" in the Valle de Cauca, central Colombia!

    One of the many river crossings of the day...

    Wonderful new friends in Cali, Colombia.

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    A Few Updates From the Bits & Pieces Dept.

    Thursday, January 15th, 2009

    Just scroll down on the links below to see the latest additions…

    The Milestones (now past 40K)

    The Licence Plates

    N

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    Day 1.012 – She Had the Look (UK)

    Thursday, January 15th, 2009

    Tonight a local girl – an a real beauty if you ask me – suddenly comes up to me from behind while I was standing looking at some of the fine architecture here in Popayán. The girl asks me if I’m looking for something (at this point, I should’ve been fast and clear-thinking, but made my first error instead). I’m taken by surprise and plainly answers her that no, I’m fine and that I’m just enjoying the beautiful city.

    The girl doesn’t leave after this rather dull answer, but cracks a gorgeous smile that leaves me even more bashful (not taking advantage of the obvious opening in the conversation is my second error). Another flirting look comes my way, but I still don’t know what to do or say, so eventually she turns around and slowly walks away. Could have killed myself for letting go of such a princess. Anyway, the night-lit colonial buildings show me another (less human, though) kind of beauty in Popayán. It’ll have to suffice for now.

    Spend most of the day online with my laptop at the hostal. For the first time in almost 3 years I watch Danish television live. Seeing an old uni-mate debate with the Danish minister of education (on DR’s program Deadline) is an almost surreal experience. Long live wireless!

    I’ve been eating müsli with cold milk ad libitum since I got to Popayán and found the first real supermarket (Exito) since I don’t know. I suddenly realize how much I’ve been missing that stable food of mine.

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    Schwalbe Test Driver… (UK)

    Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

    On WT Expedition Day #171, on September 27th 2006, I changed my front tyre (after 8.900 km since departure) in what could easily be on of the prettiest spots on Earth for doing just that, changing tyres. I was in southern Kyrgyzstan near Sary Tash on my way to Kashgar in the Xinjiang Province, Western China.

    Having a flat tyre in Kyrgyzstan!

    Little did I know, that it would be another 818 days until I had to do that again.

    On Day 999, after 30.807 km on the same Schwalbe Marathon XR tyre, I decided to call it a day and give the hard-working tyre a final and well-deserved rest. I had just 2 regular thing-through-the-tyre flats on that front tyre in 2 years and 3 months.

    Kyrgyzstan

    There a general consensus among long-distance cyclists that the German company Schwalbe makes the best and most durable tyres in the world which my 30K+ km just bear witness to.

    Thus, I’m very glad and honoured that Schwalbe has offered me a new set of their brand new 2009 model Marathon Extreme to take for a (hopefully long and puncture-free) test drive around the world (and thanks to my friend Ragge for bringing them over to me in Peru).

    This is how it looks on my Koga, and I’m quite excited to see how it performs.

    Schwalbe Marathon Extreme!

    In return for the tyres – and a big thank you to Product Manager at Schwalbe, Carsten Zahn – I just need to make a little stat report and deliver the tyres back to the company for further inspection.

    It feels like a nice thing to add the tag Schwalbe Test Driver to my status. The cyclists out there would know what I’m talking about…

    God Bless and long live my new Marathon Extreme!

    Nicolai (Popayán, Colombia)

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    Day 1.011 – On Colombian Cuisine and Image (UK)

    Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

    One of the surprising joys of entering a new country for me, is to try and get acquainted with the local cuisine. I never (in pre-WT-times) really paid much attention to this culinary part of travelling, but things have changed (said the permanently hungry cyclist).

    Apart from update-writing on this site, I’ve basically done nothing to write home about. Been hanging out at the great and laid-back Hostel Trail all day (raining anyway, so what better idea than catching up on the world and letting the world catch up on you), eating müsli with cold milk, chatting with fellow travellers.

    The rain stopped just a few hours ago, so I ventured out to have a sample of the local south Colombian cuisine. The ubiquitous arepa was first up in a hole-in-the-wall local fast food eatery (comida rápida). A filling and delicious little thing for just over 0.50 USD.

    On a dimly-lit backstreet of downtown Popayán I found this lady selling chicken tamales wrapped up in a corn husk from a plastic bucket. 0.70 USD a piece and I was set for the night. Great stuff, that comida colombiana

    Like everything else, really, that I’ve been in contact with here in Colombia – the people, the mountainscapes, the prices, the optimism. The list goes on.

    The major problem with Colombia, as I see it (after just a few days in the country, but after listening to a lot of second or third-hand stories about the dangers of the country), is the huge image problem that decades of internal conflicts, drug wars, and foreign kidnappings have left behind. All the front-page rage that spread around the world in the 1980s and early 1990s documenting how crazily dangerous and out-of-hand the security situation in Colombia was.

    Whenever (if ever) I see or feel something that just waguely justifies the preconceived mental horror picture that many of us have of the Republic of Colombia, I’ll let you know…

    And BTW, I’ll work my way backwards this time in order to fully update the diary…Keep coming back, will you?

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    The Art of Catching Up…

    Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

    Due to quite a lot of time on the bike recently (since I left Máncora in northern Peru, 26DEC08), it’s been tough trying to keep up with the diary. Here’s a few photo updates from the very end of last year that should fill in the gaps…

    Day 986
    Day 989
    Day 990
    Day 991

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    Day 1.010 – Timbío -> Popayán (hostel) (UK)

    Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

    Timbío -> Popayán (hostel)
    Distance (km) : 15
    Time on bike : 0h 32m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 10.35
    Avg : 27.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 62.0
    Total (km) : 40.676
    Altitude: 1.750 m
    Difficulty: ½ of 5

    Another marathon night! 12 hours of straight and sound sleep in my little 3.50 USD prison cell room just 20 m from the thundering Panamerican Hwy. God bless my earplugs.

    Timbío main drag which is also part of the Panamerican Hwy...Just south of Popayán, Colombia.

    Fictive conversation with myself today:

    Someone: So, Nicolai, what did you do in southern Colombia?
    Me: Well, I slept and I rode my bike, occasionally interrupted by food and drink intake on the 2nd floor, and subsequently about the equivalent output on the 1st floor.
    Someone: Sounds kind of trivial, doesn’t it. Are you enjoying yourself?
    Me: Every single minute of it…

    Horse-cart in downtown Popayán, southern Colombia.

    At the local bakery/cafeteria in Timbío I instantly feel my inner gear box switch to Fugitive Mode as a guy starts striking up a conversation with me, all smiling and enthusiastic. Most of the other guests in the bakery keep staring at me. But I’m not in the mood for chit-chatting at this pre-coffee and pre-brekkie (or at any other, truth be told) time of the day. I get my stuff from the counter, sit down next to my bike parked outside, and try to look as busy as possible, reading my diary, looking at maps, sipping my coffee.

    La Cuidad Blanca. Don't know what all these people were waiting for...

    Today’s ride to Popayán’s an easy one. Even before the sweat, my usual companion, is to be found on my forehead, Popayán’s there. 10.35 AM. I check in at the web-recommended Hostal Trail, where a bunk bed, kitchen facilities, free wifi (a feat I’m going to make huge use of), central location, int’l travellers, and a lovely staff and great atmosphere sets me back 15.000 Colombian pesos, about 7 USD.

    Popayán street scene...

    Popayán is a beautiful, colonial city (ca. 250.000 inhab.) at 1.560 m.a.s. It’s called The White City due to the colour of most houses in the colonial centre. My first walk around town leaves me with the impression the “I’m going to stay here right until the attraction of the road gets greater than the attraction of the city”. Well, it’s normally like that.

    Ludo action in downtown Popayán, Colombia...

    Besides the attraction of the city, the attraction of the contrast between being (or feeling like) a semi-savage, dirty, centre-of-attention, sort of homeless, pedal-pushing vagabond and being a clean, clean-shaven (it doesn’t take a lot, admittedly), more-anonymous citizen with a room for the night, is a great one, and the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation never stops fascinating me.

    Ludo action in downtown Popayán, Colombia...

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    Day 1.009 – El Estrecho -> Timbío (residential)

    Monday, January 12th, 2009

    El Estrecho -> Timbío (residential)
    Distance (km) : 95
    Time on bike : 6h 07m
    Brutto time: 07.30 – 16.30
    Avg : 15.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 64.8
    Total (km) : 40.661
    Altitude: Ca. 1.800 m
    Difficulty: 4½ of 5

    Private parking lot in a southern Colombian village...Near El Bordo.

    Rolling landscape south of Popayán, Colombia...

    Eatery Where the Frog Sings...Poetic, huh?

    Vultures and papayas.

    Cool vistas in southern Colombia.

    A solid lunch on my way to Popayán, southern Colombia.

    Rosas town, southern Colombia.

    My tiny "prison cell" room in Timbío village, southern Colombia.

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    Day 1.008 – Cano -> El Estrecho (hotel)

    Sunday, January 11th, 2009

    Cano -> El Estrecho (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 107
    Time on bike : 5h 21m
    Brutto time: 09.25 – 17.00
    Avg : 20.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 66.5
    Total (km) : 40.566
    Altitude: 600 m
    Difficulty: 5 of 5

    Time for a little drivechain love 'n maintenance at a gas station in Cano - Colombia.

    Clean - I like!

    Spectacular scenery near El Tablón, Colombia.

    More spectacular scenery near El Tablón, Colombia.

    Luckily. I didn't have to go down there...

    Rugged...

    Túnel de la Llana.

    Avocado lunch in El Tambo, Colombia.

    Hacienda El Paraiso, Valle de Cauca - southern Colombia.

    Colombian 5000 pesos note = 2.2 USD...

    One of many river crossings that day...Down, then up, down, then up...

    Rolling farmland south of El Estrecho, Colombia.

    Rural mud hut in southern Colombia...

    Brilliant, ye' ol' Creator of All Things, brilliant!

    Night time in El Estrecho village...

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    Day 1.007 – Ipiales -> Cano (hotel)

    Saturday, January 10th, 2009

    Ipiales -> Cano (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 116
    Time on bike : 4h 36m
    Brutto time: 08.50 – 15.30
    Avg : 25.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 68.1
    Total (km) : 40.459
    Altitude: 1.600 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    Ipiales market getting started...

    Ipiales fruit wagon...

    Ipiales market street...

    Main square in Ipiales, Colombia.

    Horse-cart in Ipiales - Colombia.

    Stunning mountain scenes just north of Ipiales, Colombia.

    Stunning mountain scenes just north of Ipiales, Colombia.

    El Pedregal junction/village...

    Panamericana al Norte - that's my direction!

    Lunch in a little eatery just north of Pasto, southern Colombia.

    style="border: 3px solid #000;"width="500" height="375" alt="View from my room in Cano, my second night in Colombia." />

    20:09, Our Year, yeah!

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    Day 1.006 – Tulcán (EC) -> Ipiales (COL) (hotel)

    Friday, January 9th, 2009

    Tulcán (EC) -> Ipiales (COL) (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 11
    Time on bike : 1h 02m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 14.30
    Avg : 11.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.2
    Total (km) : 40.343
    Altitude: 2.900 m
    Difficulty: 1 of 5

    Fixing an unexpected flat on my new rear tyre. Tulcán, Ecuador.

    Goodbye Ecuador!

    Waiting for 4½ hours to exit Ecuador. How hard can it be, guys?

    Welcome to Colombia, my WT country #30...

    Welcome to Colombia, my WT country #30...

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    Photo Set from Peru is out!

    Thursday, January 8th, 2009

    I’ve picked 200 of my best, most memorable, or otherwise visuals from my 2 months in Peru…

    Have a look at the album right here!

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    Day 1.005 – Otavalo -> Tulcán (hostal)

    Thursday, January 8th, 2009

    Otavalo -> Tulcán (hostal)
    Distance (km) : 151
    Time on bike : 5h 21m
    Brutto time: 12.00 – 18.15
    Avg : 28.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 84.0
    Total (km) : 40.332
    Altitude: 3.000 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    People seem to like queing up in South America...

    The Little Sumo Fighter. Otavalo, Ecuador.

    Just passing through Ibarra, on my way to Colombia.

    The village loco in El Juncal, Ecuador.

    Negritas/negritos in El Juncal, northern Ecuador...

    Burden in El Juncal, Ecuador.

    The weather cleared up beatifully just south of Tulcán, Ecuador...

    Dirty cyclist! Tulcán, northern Ecuador...

    Indoor volley in Tulcán, Ecuador...

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    Day 1.004 – Otavalo Admin

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Brekkie at the local groceries market in Otavalo...

    Otavalo indígenas at the local market.

    Church in Otavalo, Ecuador.

    Doing the laundry at my Residential Sucre in Otavalo, Ecuador.

    Artesania in Otavalo.

    Artesania in Otavalo.

    Indígenas at the Otavalo market...

    Hole-in-the-wall eatery in Otavalo...

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    The Global Peace Index…

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    Just recently I heard about the Global Peace Index. Being a pacifist of sorts this index immediately caught my attention while fooling around the web the other day…

    From Wikipedia:

    The Global Peace Index (GPI) is an attempt to measure the relative position of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness.

    Have a look at the list of countries here…

    The Global Peace Index

    A few comments:

    Isn’t it funny how all the textbook citizens of the Scandinavian countries all do so well in these surveys… :-)

    It does make sense to me that New Zealand are up there amongst the top, but what are the Aussies doing down at #27?

    …and don´t worry too much about Colombia’s position way down the list. This is all just based on statistical material – I’m gonna prove that all this talk about Colombia being such a dangerous country is yesterday’s news and that the country doesn’t deserve all the bad media hype…

    Anyway, I love global indexes like this…

    – The Peaceful Dane –

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    Day 1.003 – Alóag -> Otavalo (residencia)

    Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

    Alóag -> Otavalo (residencia)
    Distance (km) : 135
    Time on bike : 5h 03m
    Brutto time: 10.40 – 17.00
    Avg : 26.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 85.0
    Total (km) : 40.181
    Altitude: 2.550 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    Turning right, thus skipping Quito...

    This is the official circumference of the Earth...And I can now call myself a RTW-cyclist...

    Shelter from the afternoon rains, NE of Quito, Ecuador.

    Volcán Imbabura and Lago de San Pablo in front...

    Otavalo church by night. Pretty sight.

    Me, dirty...

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    How Hard Was Today’s Cycling?

    Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

    Difficulty Level:

    You might have noticed that recently I started putting an extra line in the Stats of the Cycling Day (I like stats). A little comment is in order here. The Difficulty Level (abb. Diff.) is an over-all and highly subjective judgment of the toughness and difficulty of the cycling day.

    The most obvious parameters (for the cyclist) such as distance, uphills, wind conditions are the main parts of the judgment, but factors like weather conditions (temperature, precipitation etc.), luggage weight (it roughly changes according to the general climate I´m cycling in), my personal well-being and mood of the day (often affected by amount of sleep and food in stomach) are also part of it.

    The index goes from 1 to 5, 1 being an easy day, 5 being a really hard one (or perceived as such, ie.).

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    Day 1.002 – Ambato -> Alóag (hostal)

    Monday, January 5th, 2009

    Ambato -> Alóag (hostal)
    Distance (km) : 99
    Time on bike : 5h 02m
    Brutto time: 10.20 – 16.50
    Avg : 19.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 67.3
    Total (km) : 40.046
    Altitude: Ca. 2.800 m
    Difficulty: 2½ of 5

    Meat shopping in Ambato, Ecuador.

    Llapingachos brekkie in Ambato. Delicious stuff!

    Ambato street scene...

    Queing up for whatever reason, getting money or something, I suppose...Ambato, Ecuador.

    Local gangsters in Ambato...

    Old man, new bus. Ambato, Ecuador.

    Ambato street scene...

    Ambato street scene...

    Collecting plastic bottles?

    Ambato street scene...

    Having an ice-cream break in Salcedo, central Ecuador.

    Carrot workers north of Ambato, Ecuador.

    40.000 km. Just north of Latacunga, central Ecuador.

    Getting a little complicated with all the different plugs...But it worked!

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    Day 1.001 – Riobamba -> Ambato (hotel) (UK)

    Sunday, January 4th, 2009

    Riobamba -> Ambato (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 59
    Time on bike : 3h 31m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 14.00
    Avg : 16.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 66.8
    Total (km) : 39.946
    Altitude: 2.577 m
    Difficulty: 2½ of 5

    Rolling farmland in central Ecuador...

    There are eucalyptus friends, pine trees and other aromatic seductions on today’s stage to Ambato.
    The first 2½ hours are hard climbing up to a ridge (ca. 3.300 m) that constitutes the provincial border between the Chimba and Turungua Provinces. Then it’s time for a reward. From the top it’s almost all down to Ambato some 25 km down the valley.

    Hey baby!

    The weather is overcast, gloves, rain gear and woolen cap’s on, and my bike odometer informs that the temperature is around 15C but it makes for a nice cycling weather nonetheless. Impressive views of the mountains all around me.

    Ambato street scene...

    “God, this is so easy”, I say to myself when I’ve found Hotel Nürnberg smack in the centre of Ambato, first try and at just 7 USD for a clean, cable-TV room with private hot shower and the usual little touches like towel, miniture soap and poo paper. Staff’s friendly. I feel like i heaven.

    Another nation mad about the chicken!

    Ambato main square...

    My guidebook was wrong (again, dare we) in stating that: Ambato’s biggest drawback is its choice of hotels. There are a couple of exceptions, but overall it’s a dismal, overpriced lot, and comfort rarely seems to correlate with price.

    Enjoying half a day off in Ambato...

    Ambato is a surprisingly nice acquaintance. The provincial capital city has a population of around 160.000 inhab., but this Sunday afternoon the street are almost empty. Everything’s closed apart from numerous mobile ice-cream vendors that all seem to make pretty good money today, coz all there is to do, so it seems, is to sit in one of the many shady parks and kick back with your kids and an ice-cream.

    Ambato street scene...

    Ambato's newish cathedral...

    The (relative) silence, the green parks, the colonial buildings and churches, the Rio Ambato that cuts through the city (and the generous sunshine) all make Ambato an instant favourite Ecuadorian city of mine. Doesn’t take a lot, does it?

    Ambato street scene...

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    Day 1.000 – Alausí -> Riobamba (hotel)

    Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

    Alausí -> Riobamba (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 96
    Time on bike : 7h 32m
    Brutto time: 08.20 – 17.45
    Avg : 12.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 62.6
    Total (km) : 39.888
    Altitude: 2.750 m
    Difficulty: 5 of 5

    The Big Jesus. Alausí, Ecuador.

    Alausí from above...

    When only the sky´s the limit...

    Roadside argument with the police forces involved...

    A scared little friend...

    Ecuadorian highland farmers...

    Farmers just north of Alausí.

    Farmers just north of Alausí.

    Amazing Volcan Chimborazo, at 6.310 m, Ecuador´s highest mountain...

    A well-deserved pizza-dinner in Riobamba, central Ecuador.

    Riobamba by night...

    Xmas decorations in Riobamba...OMG!

    Some celebration of sorts in Riobamba...

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    WT Day #1.000 (UK)

    Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

    Sitting here in an internet cafe in Alausi (2.350 mas), a Central Ecuadorian village, on the second day of the new year, it fills me with joy and proudness to look at the WT “day count”. It now takes 4 digits to keep track of my worldly escapades.

    Since I’m actually 5 hours behind GMT and 6 hours behind my fellow countrymen in Denmark (it’s 8PM here + the WT day count is on GMT or DK time), I’m still not done with day #999, but waking up tomorrow morning in my hotel bed will most likely feel like some birthday celebration for me. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 1.000 days since I parted Denmark and left (almost) everything behind.

    For a “statistically inclined” person (yes, it’s called fetishism) like me, hitting a thousand days on the road non-stop is quite a special moment. However, I can assure whoever(myself, most of all) that this will be the first and only WT-millenium the world will ever see. 2010 (and probably the first half of the year) continues to be my YOA (Year of Arrival) in Denmark.

    Wish me a happy millennium! :-)

    Nicolai

    …I don’t believe in millenarianism, BTW.

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    Day 999 – Zhud -> Alausí (hotel)

    Friday, January 2nd, 2009

    Zhud -> Alausí (hotel)
    Distance (km) : 79
    Time on bike : 5h 11m
    Brutto time: 09.15 – 16.45
    Avg : 15.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 69.0
    Total (km) : 39.792
    Altitude: 2.350 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    Changing the rear tyre in Zhud, Ecuador...

    Maria Judith showing me the curiosities of the property...

    Having a colourful parrot in the backyard seemed just natural...

    Miguel, my host for the night in Zhud and the furry thing...

    Maria Judith and husband Miguel´s lovely piece of land in Zhud, Ecuador...

    Greasy road side food in Zhud...

    Indígenas kids b/t Zhud and Alausí, Ecuador...

    Clouds rolling in!

    5 minutes later, same position...

    Chunchi village...

    Lunch in Chunchi...1.75 USD incl. a tasty soup and a glass of lemonade...

    Donkeys

    A tired cyclist in Alausí, Ecuador.

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    Day 998 – Cuenca -> Zhud (homestay)

    Thursday, January 1st, 2009

    Cuenca -> Zhud (homestay)
    Distance (km) : 96
    Time on bike : 6h 11m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 17.00
    Avg : 15.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 69.2
    Total (km) : 39.713
    Altitude: 2.834 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    Ecuadorian countryside...

    Cañar town...

    Viva Jesus!

    Nicolai on the misty mountain roads...

    ..and then things got a bit misty...

    Bull fighting in a little village north of Biblián, Ecuador...

    The Village Drunk

    Mother + Son

    Bull (calf) fighting in a little village...

    Bull (calf) fighting in a little village...

    Catching up with the first day of 2009 at my nice homestay in Zhud...

    My homestay in Zhud, 2.834 mas.

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