Alto de Letras (Colombia) on your own - Tips for planning

Hi guys,

Does anyone have tips on how to do Alto de Letras entirely self-supported (end February/early March)?

In particular from a logistical point of view.
How can I get a time-efficient epic day of cycling and keep my girlfriend entertained at the same time?
That’s the twist to the climbing challenge itself.

Issue I see is that Manizales might be more attractive to stay in, but it’s the wrong side of Letras, meaning I’d have to get to Mariquita first and there’s no easy/flat road to get there quickly.

(She’s not going to be interested in climbing, even on an e-Bike, or providing moto support).

Recommendations on where to rent a road bike then also welcome.

Of course I could do it all with an agency, but I’m not yet convinced that it’ll be necessary/worth the cost.

I’d appreciate your input!

There aren’t any flat fast roads in Colombia! Between the traffic, the mountains and no speed limits above say 80 kph anywhere I’ve been, it takes a bit of time to get anywhere. Around the cities I prefer Uber over taxis or driving myself. Whether Uber (I think they have Lyft too?) is “legal” or not has varied as they wrangle over it in court but it’s always been available when I went and worked well. If the driver ask you to sit up front, its current legality is in dispute again and you sit up there so it doesn’t look like an Uber.

I don’t know that area, I’ve been in around Bogota in the other directions but can’t help you much out there. Personally, I’d be looking to use a following service via car or moto/scooter at minimum. Even Colombians use them some. They do have some events out there riding that route, I don’t know when they are but if they lined up with your visit that might make things interesting/easier.

As for entertaining the gf, Mariquita looks to be relatively low altitude, its 76 degrees there at 9am as I type, so you might take a look for a place with a pool. That’s not a big town but there are usually a few nice smaller places, and the various forms of eco-tourism, glamping etc are catching on in Colombia so there might be some neat spots like that. If lounging by the pool doesn’t work, I’d look for parks, botanical gardens something like that. I think Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country behind Brazil? Anyway, there are lots of plants/animals etc and usually some place interesting to go look at them.

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