Last weekend I was privileged to share a great mountain biking experience with some friends and family; I called it “The Neusa Challenge”. This idea was inspired by the passion of my cousin Victor, whom I have seen many times (thanks to my favourite social media channel FB!) whizzing down a hillside covered in mud with an infectious grin on his face in his adventures with his lovely beautiful partner in crime, Gaby.
It occurred to me that since I was visiting my family this month in Bogota, then I could organize various side activities, such as this one, with help the experts Victor and Gaby of course! The idea was to select a moderate cycling route, to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Cogua, Cundinamarca, and at the same time to have a great family time and exercise.
The route recommended was the 31 km around the Neusa Reservoir, a challenge with an intended audience of moderately fit individuals (I was hoping to fall into this category!).
The Neusa Park and Reservoir are located 67 km northwest of Bogota, in between the municipalities of Cogua and Tausa. The road access from Bogota is via the main north highway towards La Caro, Briceno, Zipaquira, Choconta and finally to the road leading to Tausa.
All set, date was chosen, time scheduled and invitation sent as a Facebook event (as I normally organize my gatherings that way) to start at 7am from the meeting point.
We Colombians, have the habit of arriving late to anything, so we truly only started the challenge at 09:30 ish. With a lot of effort, my group left Bogota at 6:30 am, and according to Google maps, the 62 km car journey to our meeting point: Restaurante la Parrilla del Neusa, should have taken us 1hr 30 minutes, then again, since we had to juggle some hilarious situations with borrowed cycles, loading them into the cars, navigation issues with Waze and on top on that some peers with tummy sickness. In the end we really only started the challenge 2 ½ later than planned, this is not at all bad start! better later than never.
The group ended up being over 18 people, together with Victor and Gaby’s cycling group and some members of my family and friends plus our non-biking peers who joined us in the car and later on in the restaurant.
Thanks to my sweet nephew Tomas I had a bike to use. The bike served well its purpose, well at least during the flat terrain, but not so much on the hills, which I found quite challenging.
Here is where the funny story begins: just over an hour into my personal challenge, I got a bit overconfident and “forgot” to use the breaks negotiating some rocky terrain. This, of course, got me into trouble, and I fell over rocky muddy terrain after doing an odd flip-flop. I fell my right hand, which caused some light wounds and dizziness…ouch!!. Nothing major but it delayed me over half hour.
I didn’t have internet during the cycling route, so I was not able to mark it in my timeline, but this is roughly the route we followed. It did take over 5 hours to complete, which included some beautiful stops. Firstly, at Tausa, for the group picture….
and then on the shore of one of the most stunning views of the reservoir.
Thanks to my wonderful brother in law and my crazy older brother, we had a car following us half of the journey, this presented some hilarious moments, as the guys had to remove some tree branches along the way to create space for the car to pass.But it also brought some relief to some of the guys, who could not continue with the cycle journey, such us my dear friend Josesito. Luckily for me, at that point, I managed to exchange for a better cycle, which was better suited for hilly terrain cycling.
I must say, the journey was challenging for me, however, I was left pretty pleased to have completed it, even if took me nearly twice as long as I intended.! The views of the park and reservoir are truly amazing. This is a nature haven, which covers over 3700 hectares of pine, eucalyptus, and other native forests, a true asset for those nature-lovers, water sports, sailing and mountain bike enthusiasts.
The reservoir provides the town of Cogua & Zipaquira with drinking and also acts to relieve flooding in Bogota by regulating the peak flows in the river basin. The construction works began in 1949 and ended in 1952. The reservoir and park are a well-known tourist destination for those in love with nature.
I arrived back to the restaurant at 2:40 pm, with a great feeling accomplished and full of new travel adventures. Thank you very much indeed to all those who participated, especially Gaby and my dear cousin Victor, and all his cycling friends – not to mention my mother, brother and sisters, and the rest of the family for supporting me in my madness; you truly me kept me smiling during this wonderful adventure.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey