Page Contributor(s): Luke Hise, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Cycling Alto de Letras
Ride 50.5 miles gaining 14,526’ at 4% average grade (7.5% climb only)
Colombia #2 road bike climb (behind El Limonar) and in the World Top 100.
Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.
This is an extremely difficult out-and-back and we do not recommend that. If you do go for the out-and-back, beware that there is 4,025’ of descent on the “out” which means 4,025’ ascent on the “back” the sum of which is 18,551’ climbing day. The 14,526’ gained on this ascent is the second most of any other climb in the world only slightly behind Ecuador’s La Muerta at 14,670’.
50.5 miles (third longest bike climb in the world)
And the top two adjectives to describe this climb are: Long and Lush.
See also - Luke Hise, Phoenix, AZ, USA Summary Here.
We stayed at a very nice hotel in Mariquita -
Hotel Brisas La Gaviota - highly recommended.
Luke Hise also has a recommendation from his stay: “We stayed in the Casa Marilla, Casa de Huespedes (casamarilla.com.co) in Mariquita. It was without air conditioning but I would recommend it heartily for anyone looking for a more local flavor. The Best Western, this was not. Ha.”
PJAMM leaving the hotel in Mariquita and the start of the climb on Hwy 50, Mariquita.
Beginning elevation 1,585’
The climb is also very, very long (third longest in the world behind Mauna Loa from the Kona side and Wuling Pass East). It is a bit of a trek to get to - we fly first to Bogota (there are many nonstop inexpensive flights from the U.S. and even Europe [Heathrow has nonstop to Bogota], but most travel from Europe requires a layover), then drive 175 km/110 miles to Mariquita where the climb begins.
Photos from Luke Hise’s (Phoenix, AZ) January, 2021 trip.
The roadway is in excellent condition, has a shoulder for the most part and, while it does have a fair amount of traffic, felt safe to us, in spite of the fairly dramatic road warning signs we saw along the way.
O.k. - there is a bit of traffic along this route.
Not sure if that is a statement or warning . . . ?
Be prepared for the altitude as this one rises to nearly 12,000’. Since this climb is generally known (incorrectly) as the longest road in the world, it does get a fair amount of foreign cycling traffic, and rightly so. However, beware that it is very difficult for an average rider to do this trip in one day as an out and back because its length and because there is nearly 3,000’ of climbing on the way back - it is a 100 miles 15,000’ day riding to the top from Mariquita then back to the start.
Many roadside fruit stands and little cafés along the way.
Much agriculture in this part of the country
Beautiful scenery along the route.
Colombian camouflage . . .
Colombian coffee fields
Riding through the narrow streets of Fresno at km 25
Founded 1574; elevation 1,465 m (4,806’) population 30,750 (2005).
Long and windy road that is very steep in sections.
82 km later . . .
That was ONE HECK OF A RIDE!
We mistimed the our return ride and misjudged the weather
Javier was kind enough to give us a ride back from Fresno.
Steepest Gradients by Distance
We stayed at Hotel Brisas la Gaviota in Mariquita - the hotel is very nice, reasonable priced and just a couple kilometers from the start. It is down some fairly obscure back roads, so be sure to have good GPS to assist you in navigating to this hotel.
Colombia Bike Tours: if you are interested in a cycling tour in the wonderful country of Colombia - email@example.com We have used this company and they are exceptional - we highly recommend using hiring them if you are interested in cycling in Colombia.
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