Wednesday, September 26, 2012

South America Adventures Week 1

Well, it´s been one week so far in Colombia and I´m still alive!  Mostly that´s thanks to my University of Vermont friend Matt Buckley, who is the only one of us who can communicate with the locals in Spanish.  We have be been to Bogota, Villa de Leyva, and San Gil so far, with an epic six day mountain trek planned in the next week or so.  While we are still completely mystified by the incomprehensible bus system, and are unable to make much progress with our bartering skills, we have successfully been able to sleep, eat, and travel without breaking our shoe string budget.
Below are some photos that I´ve taken so far, despite my utter lack of photographic skill.  Hopefully that (as well as my non existent Spanish) will improve in the days ahead!

Day 1, acclimatization be darned, Matt and I hiked the first big mountain we saw to well over 10,000 feet. 

My introduction to paragliding.  My instructor, called "Monkey", assured me he was "mucho loco", and granted my request for extra spins and dives, before flying through a tree.  Good thing they don´t waste time with safety instruction or waivers.
Paragliding through the clouds

playing the local Colombian game of "Tejoh". Heaving heavy metal objects at mud filled with gunpowder explosives while drinking cheap beer, what´s not to love?

the Gold museum in Bogota was full of truckloads of ancient South American gold work

Down the hatch; dried ants

looking down the stomach turning drop at the Angel Step near Santa Sofia

Noticed we had a passenger up top when I spotted this leg hanging down from the bus roof.

A three hour bus trip turns into much more when we are sent via the very scenic and out of the way route, followed by mechanical troubles.

"Colombia cycling team; inspired by climbing". Plenty of climbing to be had up here!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Season of Change

After stepping off the plane that brought me home from Belgium a few days ago, it didn't take long for me to notice the crisp smell of falling leaves and the honking of migrating geese that indicate the approach of fall.  I've always loved fall here in Vermont, as the state's landscapes, flora, and fauna dramatically transform themselves in preparation for winter.

This year, the weather isn't the only change in the air for me. While I was completing a solo racing trip in Belgium last month, I learned that my team is without a title sponsor for 2013, and I have yet to find another team for the coming season.  With a trying season behind me and an uncertain future ahead, I'm left to focus on the present.  Since sitting around and worrying about situations such as these is a fast track to insanity, I am thankful that I am leaving in a few days for an epic backpacking adventure in Colombia,  Ecuador, and Peru.  With only a departure and a return date planned, I'm hoping that everything in between will be an exciting adventure!  If I can, I'll do my best to post photos and updates of my exploits during the trip.

Change, not knowing what lies ahead, and big decisions, can all be quite scary.  I guess if there's one thing that I've learned from these past seven seasons of bike racing, it's how little of the future I can predict, and even less of it I can control.  So perhaps the best course of action is to just not worry too much and trust that it will work out in the end.  Until it does, I plan to enjoy the changes, challenges, and opportunities that this autumn brings my way. Thanks for reading!

Soaking up a sunny late summer day in Belvidere with my dog  

Training on the Muur in Geraardsbergen  
 and racing up it a few days later.

No Cliff Bars, no problem! Found this classic race food in a Belgian grocery store.