Monday, February 15, 2016

Riding the "Trampoline of Death"

Making coffee and taking in the view.

I get out of the tent at first light to avoid the heat of the sun. Azure turns around and refuses to move. She got up last night to see the "moment supreme" of the meteor shower while I slept through it. I make coffee and not long after the first rays of sun come over the hills in distance. While I sit there taking in the view I see something move. At first I think it is a dog but as it gets closer it looks more and more like an ant eater. I have never seen one of them before! Azure is out of the tent in no time and we follow the beautiful creature around for a bit. 

We spend the morning riding around the desert. It is a stunning part of Colombia. Parts of it remind us of our ride through Badlands National Park, one of our favorite parks back in the USA. 





Completely dehydrated we make it back to town and prepare for our ride to San Agustin. The town is known for its pre-Colombian megalithic funerary monuments. The ride there is not that long but it is terribly hot and somehow we don't seem to make much progress. 

Stopped to help this stranded family... the kids now know a thing or two about sorting out flat tires.

In the evening we find a hostel where we can camp and we spend the next day looking at beautifully carved rocks, representing gods and super natural beings. It is very impressive but the tourist trap feeling is getting to me and I can't wait to get out and ride our next adventure: 

The Trampoline of Death.

I avoid mentioning the name to Azure while I gather information. Stories vary from the worst road ever with impassible river crossings to it being 'ok' depending on how much rain fell in the last 24 hours. The guy that is sitting across from me at the table is also keen on going there. We exchange information and conclude that it is doable. Azure walks around the corner. "So you're about to ride the Trampoline of Death" he says upon seeing Azure. "I'm about to do what!?!" Damn... Oh well babe, it's just a name of a road... It's the shortest way to the border with Ecuador you see... How to talk yourself out of that.... Hmmm... In the end we agree that it will be an interesting experience and then next morning we set off.

The start of the trampoline is just past Mocoa. The ride there is easy. At the main square we get directions and before long the smooth tarmac gives way to sharp rocks and a road that is covered in deep potholes. 

One of the better stretches of the ToD, but you never know when a truck is going to come around the corner!
Within seconds we understand how this road got its name as we bounce around from one hairpin curve to another. The trampoline climbs and climbs and the drop offs get steeper and steeper. 

We are getting used to the road and slowly putter along. The vans and trucks that come flying down the road is what really freaks us out. Every single driver on the road (but for us) seems to be tired of life. No wonder this road claims so many lives each year.


The river crossing I'd heard about that had me slightly worried turns out to be ok. But there are a bunch of them. Azure somehow manages to get stuck behind a big rock during one crossing and drops her bike. She laughs and everything seems to be ok but her feet are now soaking wet. 

As we climb higher and higher it cools down and Azure's wet feet make her really cold. While I am trying to make a picture of Azure going around one of the hairpins with a steep drop off, I too drop my bike and only just manage to get it back up before an old truck comes squeaking around the corner. 

The going is VERY slow, and we are only killing a few miles every hour. The daylight is diminishing fast. Finally we ride above the clouds and make it to the top off the pass. The views are breathtaking and although the Trampoline is taking its toll we are glad we chose to bounce along it. 

We continue, eager to make it down the hill. After riding downhill for a bit the road starts climbing again. Azure's feet are freezing by now. Another highest point. Is this it? We roll down again... straight into a cloud. We both groan. Enough for one day. It starts raining and we are officially completely miserable. The road turns into a mudslide and it is getting dark. This was not what we had in mind. We chat about our mutual fantasies of platefulls of hot, fatty foods (for me) and soup (for Azure) and how delicious a hot shower would be... And then a light is suddenly visible in the distance. Sections of the road turn into concrete slabs. Whew... we've survived the Trampoline of Death. We roll into the small town of Sibundoy and find a hostel run by a young couple that is willing to empty their lobby in order to give our filthy bikes a dry, safe spot for the night. We enjoy our hot meals and defrost under hot showers. And then happily call it a day.  

Our Trampoline of Death Stats:
"Trampoline of Death" Stats
-Distance: 25ish miles
-Time: 5 hours
-Close Encounters of the Head-On, Moto vs. Truck/Bus Variety: 7
-Africa Twins Dropped: 1
-Transalps Bathed: 1
-Landslides Navigated Around: 3
-Ambulances Staged: 2

Side note: when our friend from the hostel, Mark, rode the Trampoline of death the next day, there was actually a bus full of people hanging precariously off of one curve. The driver had extracted himself from the vehicle and was wandering the road in search of help. 


  1. The bus was crazy! I'm glad you guys enjoyed it...
    You never told me you saw a giant anteater!!! Sooo jealous!

    Safe travels.

    'The guy sitting beside us.'

  2. Seems like a great road. You should consider putting maps of the ride, makes it easier for us to plan future trips. I was trying to find this road on the map but couldn't. Stay safe.

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