Bike (Road) 7:00:00  108.5 km (15.5 kph) +3900m
Colombia has one of the longest paved road climbs in the world - the eastern side of Alto de Letras. Of course this is a little subjective as this climb does have a few small descents along the way making it not a sustained pitch but for the most part you pretty much climb for 80km once you leave Mariquita. We started prett early to avoid the heat at low elevation though it was still very humid. Early on the skies were clear enough to see the volcano (Nevado de Ruiz?). We passed from lowland ranching and farming, to coffee and fruit plantations to ranching again. The climb is so long I've already forgotten many parts... we stopped for snacks at the two bigger towns (Fresno and Padua). As we neared Padua we followed a ridge that gave us views of what I envisioned Colombia to be - steep green hillsides with huge vertical relief and houses in crazy spots. Beyond Padua the climb became more steady (the first 15km were also steep) and unfortunately the clouds had increased and eventually we were riding in fog and drizzle. This deteriorated into rain which wasn't too bad on the way up in terms of temperature but a short 2km descent about thirty minutes from the summit was pretty unpleasant. I can't say I really noticed the altitude rather I just noticed the many hours of climbing and my legs were getting tired (plus some my right knee - jumping right into a huge climb title road biking in the last few months is a great idea).
Finally we reached the top which isn't really a stunning col in the European sense but rather an easily passable broad high point. Too bad that it was still cloudy as we didn't get many views here. As we were all pretty cold (it was 7 degrees at the top I think) we stopped at a roadside stall and changed base layers, drank some hot chocolate, and eventually piled next to their wood stove to try and warm up (which really wasn't that warm but it was a good story). After an hour the truck with our luggage came by and Harvey and Andrea lent us some extra clothes. The rain had stopped so we chanced the descent. It was a still chilly but better than an hour prior. Some people were getting speed wobbles from the shakes so we took it pretty easy. The road down the other side was quite scenic and to me seemed like a weird combination of Swiss alpine pastures and jungle forest. Only a 1500m descent as our destination Manizales was at 2200m.
Big day which was a bit AR-like at times. Probably more type 2 fun than type 1... ;)