Meet Omar. Loyal companion. Trusted friend. Brother from another mother. And another father, just to make it absolutely clear.
Girardot - Ibagué 67 kilometers
Omar is a small man with a big heart. Generous, patient and smart.
We have by now been on numerous adventures together, and departures are always a frustrating issue. He has so many gadgets to pack. And then he must stretch a bit. Then he must fill his water bottle. Oh, and then he forgot to turn on some app on his phone. Of course he is wearing gloves that are not compatible with a touch screen. So off with the gloves. Off with the bacpack. Look for the phone. App on. Backpack on. Gloves on. Sip of water. Maybe some stretching again. And we are ready.
I think I've grown used to it now. For this trip I hope to take advantage of another of his abilities, the never give up attitude.
Omar has a very rigid exercise regime. For maybe one month each year, he goes all in at the gym. Weights are supplemented with swimming and biking. And then for the remaining 11 months, he enjoys good food and tasty beer. He has been between jobs since December, so for this trip he has been particularly rigorous. First he spent three weeks in Colombia dining and drinking. In January he went to the gym in average four hours a day. I don't know what he does there all that time, but I'm not sure this intense approach will have reaped any great benefits.
Omar will get through this month on a bike not because of stamina, technique or attention to weight on his bike, but because of stubbornness.
That is also an advantage for me. He hauls me uphill when I'm tired. Such as today. 67 kilometers going up, and always Omar's reliable back wheel to focus on when necessary. Asking him how he is, he says "I'm exhausted", yet he keeps on going. And when I release him and do the towing, he follows whichever the speed.
Great guy. Great company.
Today was brutally unforgiving. 67 kilometers with an ever so small upwards angle, only interrupted by two kilometers of steep climbing. The excruciating heat didn't help at all. We made a stop at a pool.
For a day and a half we've been following the main road. Luckily there's a shoulder, because no one even tries to maintain a distance. It's rather the opposite: It seems like many try to pass you as close as possible.
For two days we've been under the sun. Omar is darker than normal, while I haven't tanned at all! What does the sunblock contain?!