Hard final sprint

Until late in the evening, a talented and powerfully vocal trio belted out Colombian diatribes on a neighboring balcony of our hotel for a couple who were believed to be celebrating their wedding anniversary there. I thought it was nice because I was still looking at my film material from yesterday's stage anyway. But my passengers were bedridden after another dinner and therefore complained during breakfast this morning about the previous evening's babble. You can't argue about art. Our breakfast is always similar here in Colombia: fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and something that is called that here, but would never be called “bread” in German-speaking cultures. No sumptuous brunch. But that way we don't have to dally in the morning either, so that we can quickly get our things together in our rooms and start the engines at eight o'clock. Our bikes definitely look like adventure. There is also a small spot of hydraulic oil under Sean's 850 GS. Not much is dripping anymore, because the seal on the rear shock absorber burst yesterday while driving over the track with deep potholes and bumps. When standing, he was always enveloped in a small plume of steam and smoke, which created the oil that dripped onto the hotter parts of his craft. For the remaining few hundred kilometers of the last section of the Vuelta Colombiana tour through Colombia, he would only have the coil spring at his disposal for suspension.

We drive out of the courtyard gate of the hotel into the still manageable city traffic of Popayán, cross the Cauca River, which is still young here, via the Puente Río Cauca. He accompanies us on our final sprint today. Here it is still young and sprung not even 100 kilometers ago on the slopes of the Puracé volcano. We now leave the outskirts of Popayán behind us via National Road 25, changing a little later to the winding National Road 26, which leads east up into the mountains. In the town of Totoró, however, the asphalt is already over. We turn north onto a gravel road through the plateau. The destination is the Indio community of Silvia. On the way, a farmer is leading his young cow on the right side of the road on a long rope and while I want to quickly leave the two behind me, the animal decides to switch sides of the road and suddenly runs in front of the motorbike. After my near descent into the jungle a few days ago, I got used to turning off the ABS on gravel and thought about it this time too. I brace myself, honk my horn, prepare for the impact and then come to a stop half a meter in front of the cow. But the streak of bad luck is only just beginning: Sean, who drove ahead, is waiting at the entrance to Silvia. When I reach him as the second of our entourage, I want to stand on his right. At that moment he brakes and my left handguard hits his top box. It snaps my handlebars, I hit the footrests with my legs that are already down and I fly off the bike. Both she and I come to an unspectacular halt, but the left footpeg has smashed into an exposed spot on my left shin. It takes a moment for the burning pain to subside enough for me to sit up and pull up my pant leg. Nothing is broken and not even bleeding. Disproportionate to the pain and terrified attention I'm receiving from my teammates and rushing locals. In the days before, we'd been joking about getting a band-aid with dinosaurs or Mickey Mouse on it if you got injured. Now it's a mean white wing plaster. Mike gives me a painkiller that first takes the pain away and later gives me a relaxed, relaxed feeling. Sean also notes that my cornering technique seems a lot more relaxed under the medication. That only partially flatters me, because in principle I would like to be able to ride a solid motorcycle without the influence of drugs.
After the moment of shock, I've been the center of attention enough and we drive the few hundred meters to the town center. Silvia is the next largest place among the hamlets of indigenous rural people scattered around. Wearing bright blue cloaks and black hats resembling bowler hats, they walk around in front of the church. They drive from their villages to Silvia in brightly painted, antique buses, on whose roof a longitudinal beam has been screwed as an additional seat, to visit the church, shop and offer their own products. At the edge of the square we have a coffee in a place where the urinals and the guest area share the same space. Sean says this is modern interior design. The principle of the kitchen-cum-living room has been thought through to the toilet.
We leave Silvia heading west. An asphalt road with countless curves in all radii leads us about 70 kilometers at an altitude of about 1200 meters on a chain of hills back to the Río Cauca. It is dammed up here by the Salvajina Dam over a length of 26 kilometers to generate electricity. An ideal place for our lunch break, in an open plan restaurant overlooking the lake. Even as our hulking Dane, Mike, takes off his helmet, the three young women who run the place start giggling and haven't gotten over it before we're long gone. Even a joint photo with the girls and our leader did not bring them to rest and so we leave three languishing hearts in this restaurant.
We now drive down to the Cauca River, to cross it a short distance after it has been released over a bridge and meander into the city of Suárez. Here we are already on the flank of the westernmost of the three Andean Cordilleras and the ethnic composition is completely different. There are hardly any indigenous people to be seen here. But a lot of African-born people. Mike explains that the city of Suárez was once founded by runaway slaves fleeing the region's sugar cane plantations. We were forewarned that downtown would be a mess and it's an indescribable swarm and wonder that we five motorcyclists don't get lost in it. Mike signals to me if we want to linger a bit and my shaking of my head is signal enough for him to escape this confusion of people, animals and vehicles of all kinds. Another 70 kilometers of relaxed motorcycling through the now flat Valle del Cauca to the north lie ahead of us to get back to the starting point of our motorbike tour in Cali. Detached and relaxed we do this last part. Jonathan once again struggles with the rush hour of the metropolis. But suddenly we drive into an underground car park, turn off the engines - and the Vuelta Colombiana is over.