March 14, 2014
If you enjoy long, slow, epic climbs, I'd highly recommend you conquer The Condor (Paso del Cóndor). At over 4000 meters, it is the highest paved road in Venezuela. If you begin your bike journey in Barquisimeto at the northernmost point of the Andes, you'll have plenty of time to warm up for the big climb.
The road is a beautiful rollercoaster of gentle and a few not-so-gentle climbs.
One evening we weren't anywhere near a town, so we simply asked a rugged, 80-year-old woman wearing an enourmous cowboy hat if we could tent on her farm.
Everything about the photo above felt like the summit. Switchbacks that went on forever, and there was even a sign at the top. But we should have realized that there were too many trees for 4000 meters. We were still ten miles from the summit.
By the time we reached the summit, we were drenched in sweat and on the verge of hypothermia. But the cycling gods were with us. There was a little cafe at the top, and after putting on all the clothes we had in our panniers, we sipped large bowls of hot chocolate. We needed to warm up for the 70 kilometer downhill to Mérida.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.