Saturday, January 23, 2016

Breakdown in Pablo Escobar's (former) Backyard

We are on our way to Guatape. It is freaking hot but the road is in great condition and winds its way through the rain forest. We stop to buy water and a liter of oil. After re-hydrating ourselves and the bikes we jump on again, eager to get some air flowing through our jackets. Trrrrrrrt, Trrrrrrrrrrrt. NOOOOO! The Twin wont start. Damn, what could it be. We are stopped on a steep incline so I turn the bike around and let it run down the road. I release the clutch and vroooom. The engine runs but it does not sound good. On a long curved bridge I come to a stop. I call Azure over the SENA headset and I start working my way to the battery.

I quickly check the battery connections with my finger. No problem there. I go through all the options in my head. The starter relay, the battery, the regulator... We try to start the bike with the starter cables we are still bringing along since our battery issues in Maicao. Nope! I take off the side panels and look at the relay. It has been in bad shape for a long time so I start checking it. It does what it should at first but than it stops doing anything. I have a spare and change them out. In the meantime I am overheating on the bridge and the noise of the trucks, coming up and down the mountain, and the roaring river below me is making me crazy. Azure is directing the trucks around us but a few come frighteningly close.
A dump truck driver stops to check in on us. He insists on calling a tow truck as it is not safe to be here. Great! We seem to have broken down in Pablo Escobar's former backyard and his "spirit" is still around. I am about to throw the relay over the railing but take a deep breath and look at our situation. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance comes to my mind. Let's find a better place to work. I push my bike off the bridge onto a sandy patch in the shade of a tree. Much better. I start focusing on the regulator. I had a similar situation back in Australia so this must be it!

Cables, cables, cables... :hmmmmm

Road side tinkering.

The friendly dump truck driver returns and is surprised the tow truck has not yet arrived. I am determined to ride the Twin the rest of the way to Medellin, so I put away my manual and change out the reg with my spare... the trucker and his friend observing every move I make. They are waiting to make sure we are ok. Such nice people here! My eye falls on Azure's arm. She is dotted with red bumps. I look down on my own. WOW! There are tiny little flies floating all around us. The little buggers made us look like we caught some kind of disease. Gotta love working on a bike in nature.

Colombian sand flies are sneaky little bastards!

After 5 hours of thinking and working we try the starter cables again. YES! The bike roars back into action. Although it is still not sounding the way it should I pack up my stuff, thank the guys and we get on the road. It is getting dark and we need to get away from here.

Thanks for helping out and making sure we were safe!

The ride is beautiful but with the bike not being a 100% I am not enjoying it. Every pothole and bump in the road make  the engine play up. It has to be a wire problem or a connection. It is really getting dark now and I turn on my lights. The bike almost dies on me. I quickly turn them off and the engine roars again. I ride close to Azure for a while to use her lights but it gets too dark and dangerous. I try the Rigid Industry lights... They seem to be working just fine where as my headlights seem to use to much electricity.  I can't get my head around it but as long as we are moving towards Medellin I am happy.

We pass a police checkpoint. They are pulling everyone over without headlights. A lot of people here use bicycle lights to be visible after dark. I guess it is better than nothing but it's not OK with the coppers. A big thank you to Kurt and Martha from Black Dog Cycle Works for My Rigids! You saved the day and kept me from being fined.

Slowly but surely we are getting closer to the city. We wonder why all this happened. There has got to be a reason. We are not going to Guatape anymore. I need to get this sorted out in Medellin. Maybe it was about that. Maybe we were not supposed to visit the lake... There was a lot of military and police presence, so perhaps it was a little too dangerous to be there and the Twin was "re-directing" our route in a safer direction. The road curves to the left and we look out over an ocean of light below us in the valley. Medellin, you are beautiful by night! Azure found a hotel with safe parking on iOverlander, which is an app overlanders use to designate hotels, mechanics and restaurants that are good for people like us. According to the descriptions of other travelers, we know this hotel will have secure parking (#1 priority), is clean (tied with #1) and cheap (also ties with #1). In this instance, it's such a relief not to have to stop and ask around at different hotels. We roll into the garage and put the bikes to sleep. It was a long and exhausting day. Before we go to sleep we send our friend Luis, the representative of SENA in South America, a message asking for help. I hope we can get this problem sorted here and still enjoy what is supposed to be the best city in Colombia.

1 comment:

  1. That sucks but glad you managed to get going. There's always nice people to help no matter which country.