It was time to go, and after a full morning of The Bogota Gold Museum (wow!) and Bogota traffic (WOW!), I was gone. Heading down from Bogotas highlands to the Caribbean coast I was expecting some rain from systems breaking on the steep faces heading towards the water. What I wasn’t expecting was the endless torrential rain. Even while riding at 30km/hr with high-beams I could barely see turns before I hit them- the rain and clouds were so dark that my bikes console lights came on, thinking it was night. It was a rough ride down, but after finding a decent little place to spend the night and examining my topographical map it looked like I only had another 50km to go before I’d hit the lowlands and what I assumed would be dryer weather and straighter roads.
Oddly enough, I was right.
After about an hour, I was riding down a perfectly straight road under a shinning sun. I was eating up the miles ,and after a stop in Santa Marta, would arrive in Cartegana with a couple of days to spare before the boat I’d arranged for HP2 and I to take across the Darien Gap was scheduled to depart. Perfect!
But, we all know what happens next…
Riding up to one of the occasional police check points I wasn’t thinking much- same old, same old. After a document check they sent me on my way.
I tried to turn the bike over again.
Crap- this seems to happen ever 40,000km or so. Something goes weird with the bike and I have to disconnect the battery for 30 seconds, reconnect it, and then everything is fine. I do it, the bike starts, I’m gone.
A 100km down the road and I hit another stop. And the same thing happens. Crap. Hmmm… It’s been about a year since I got a new battery, maybe… No- my battery light would go on or the dealership would have seen a low battery during the service. But. But, the last time my battery went the light didn’t go on and, while the Medellin dealer has a great reputation, I felt like they didn’t really care, so…
Another 100km, and this I time I just try to leave to bike running for the paperwork check. No luck- despite getting off the bike and my attempt at an explanation they insist I turn off the bike.
I’ll give the police this- after they really understood why I didn’t want to turn the bike off they started stopping everyone until they found someone with jumper cables and a new enough vehicle that jumping my bike wasn’t too scary. Once jumped, the bike ran just fine. It must be the battery and the bike is running fine because the alternator is just providing power straight through it. Now I just need to find a new battery.
A while later, needing gas, I stopped at a gas station, filled up , and then explained my problem when the bike wouldn’t start. the guys had a charger, so we tried charging the battery. After 45 minutes the battery had enough charge to power a calculator- no chance of cranking a 1200cc engine. After all this delay, I decided to spend the night in the hamlet around the station and then go straight to Cartagena the next day. I didn’t know if I could find a battery in Santa Marta and didn’t want to be scrambling to get to Cartagena in case I couldn’t. Bright and early I got the bike jumped at the gas station and headed straight to Cartagena.
I’ll spare you the rest, but I got to Cartagena, got a low quality replacement battery, and got ready to enjoy a few days of being a tourist before crossing to Panama.