We awake in Medellin, the city of eternal spring, on the first morning of The New World Ride. Eight riders from around the globe have joined filmmakers Ben Slavin and Andreas Munksgaard along with tour guide Mike Thomsen of www.Motolombia.com on an eight day motorcycle ride through the heart of Colombia. After loading up the bikes and the chase truck, we climb out of the Medellin on amazingly twisty roads with stunning views of the vast city of skyscrapers and red tile roofs as far as the eye can see. As we climb up the northern Andes mountains we fly by heavily laden trucks and buses that can only how to crawl up the steep grades.
With the valley behind us we meander through the lake district on route to Guatape. The ride takes us through several landslides where mud and rock have made a new home on the tarmac after the heavy rains the month before. As we round the bend, the 700 foot tall giant granite monolith, known as Piedra del Peñol, juts incongruously out of the landscape. Locals have built a sketchy 697 step staircase that precariously clings to the rock face. With more than a little huffing and puffing we summit the climb and are awarded with 360-degree panoramic views of the lakes. Back down at the base we lunch on the local lake trout and then continue our journey.
Colombian roads are filled with military checkpoints, a sign that the government is taking great steps to clean up its troubled past. Amazed by a fleet of armored vehicles on the roadside we stop for a closer look. The young soldier is more than happy to show us around and answer all of our questions about the vehicles. With a large caliber machine gun turret and a tank barrel we're in awe. Boys will be boys...
Another mountain range filled with beautifully paved twisty roads takes us down into the lovely Magdalena Valley. Colombia's most notorious drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, once had an elaborate ranch set in these hills. Ironically, today, the brutal gangster's home is now an amusement park, museum and exotic zoo known locally as Hacienda Napoles. It's the highlight of our day as we stay until sunset exploring his private airstrip, partially burned remains of his mansion, and the fleet of rusted and bullet ridden import cars. As the moonlight rolls in we retire to the refreshing swimming pool at Campo Verde in Doradal. It's been a great day with 7 more amazing days to follow!