One of the top tourist recommendations I received even before leaving for Colombia was to take the Bogota Bike Tour. I had not gotten around to it until this week, when my language school offered it as a free afternoon activity. Yay! I get to do something I wanted, with fun people from school, for free!
Here are my two takeaways from the experience:
1. I survived intact. This was not a given.
When I was 13 years old, I spent four days in the hospital recovering from a bicycle accident in which I flew over the handlebars and landed on my face. (Word of advice—don’t carry clothes in a plastic bag on your handlebars or it might go into the front tire when you turn the corner and stop your bike cold while you continue moving in a forward direction.) It was amazing that I didn’t break anything and didn’t even need plastic surgery. (Another word of advice—always wear your helmet and fit it properly.)
I had a minor accident in high school as well. (A final word of advice—be careful when riding on wet, dried pine needles. They are slippery.) I haven’t biked a lot since then.
2. I reconfirmed my decision not bike in Bogotá. The bike tour was a lot of fun and I enjoyed covering a lot of the city in a short amount of time. However, it felt like riding through an ever-changing obstacle course in which my task was to dodge moving pedesitrans, other bikes, and four-wheeled vehicles (taxis, cars, trucks, buses, TransMilenio buses).
I feel lucky that I only hit two things: my pedal on a curb and another bicyclist, which was completely my fault. I was making a left turn to enter the road that he was already on. Fortunately, neither of us was going very fast, so there was nothing to the encounter except my total embarrassment and his total confirmation that extranjeros (foreigners) should not be allowed on bicycles, especially in tour groups.
I might consider biking on Ciclovia if I am in Bogotá on another Sunday. But aside from that, I am completely comfortable with my decision to forgo the opportunity to become a bicycling commuter.