Riding a bicycle with a brain – Duitama to Palermo

Riding a horse¬†felt a bit¬†like riding a bicycle with a brain. ¬†Let me explain. ¬†Whilst riding my bike over rocky terrain, I have had to constantly pick and choose my way through uneven surfaces. ¬†On the horse¬†I felt I could just urge her in the general direction and trust her to pick the way (although admittedly, it took me a while to relax, trust her and let go of the need to¬†control every move). ¬†Steep gnarly rocky surfaces that¬†couldn’t be ridden¬†on my bike suddenly became a possibility. What an incredibly effective form of transport… for roads too rocky to be ridden by bicycle I mean… (video below)

How did I come to be riding this horse. ¬†Well, like most events on this trip, it was totally unplanned. ¬†It started with a pleasant back road route from Duitama towards Villa de Leyva via Paipa and Palermo. ¬†(I could confidently follow it thanks to velofreedom.com¬†who rode it well over a year ago…)

Having finally understood my desire to avoid heavy goods vehicles and lunatic¬†bus drivers, Reinaldo (my warmshowers host in Duitama) escorted me on a pleasant route to Paipa that avoided the main highway. ¬†We parted company partway up the mostly paved climb out of Paipa; I then followed a fun dirt road descent for some mid-afternoon rain and lunch in Palermo nestled in a pleasant valley between mountains. ¬†The rain didn’t stop so I considered a room in the only ‘hotel’ in town where I happened to be eating. ¬†It came in at the same price as my meal, the bargain price of 6000 pesos (less than US$3). ¬†Although mildly tempted by the extraordinary cheapness, it would have been a long drawn out afternoon trying to relax in the somewhat dirty windowless cell on recommendation I headed up to a house that overlooked the pueblo. ¬†Although the lovely owners had a room that they could rent me for 20000 pesos I opted to camp on their lower floor¬†in an attempt to adhere to my ‘budget’. It also had a great view of the pleasantly positioned little town and¬†I ended up staying an extra day; my hosts looked after me showing me a waterfall and taking me horse riding. ¬†The terrain that beast could handle with me on its back amazed me. ¬†Some video action for you follows:

The trip from Duitama to Palermo:

Exploring Palermo – waterfall, horseriding and crops –¬†prepared to be blown away by my Spanish (ha!):

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The blue line is the route for this section…

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