ROAD TO: HOT WATER SPRINGS IN MANIZALES
The «Feria de las 2 Ruedas» – 2 wheel fair, Colombia’s biggest motorcycle show – brought a lot of news from our sponsors, amongst them the new PRISM camera and the new 10C the Intercom/Camera combo from SENA, we’ll talk about them in another article, but with them came someone we did not expect to see. Sena’s Marketing Director came all the way from California to oversee the product launch. This was Jay’s, our Korean friend, first trip to South America so we wanted to show him a little Colombian adventure.
We chose routes along Antioquia’s southwest for it’s unique landscapes and entertaining roads.
Usually our friend rides off road motorcycles, and also a Triumph Scrambler, but this time he’ll ride a KTM 1190 Adventure and the controlled chaos that Colombian roads have to offer. We teamed up with Juan Manjarres from RDC and drew up a very special route to Manizales, mostly on secondary roads. We invited a couple friends for the ride and picked up a Duke 690 loaner that KTM wanted us to test. Great!
«Los Termales del Otoño» is the perfect place to rest after a long ride through Antioquia’s secondary roads.
The weather didn’t see to be on our side, but luckily there was no rain. We rode to a local restaurant called «La Curva del Gordo» and had the most amazing spicy sausages, they sting! «People drive like crazy» was the first thing out of Jays mouth. I already had the usual encounters with a couple of cars and a very questionable bus who was overpassing in curves. Asshole. We Colombians have to drive better. We gave Jay a couple pointers about riding and driving in Colombia and we were set to go.
I, on the other hand, was getting used to the Duke. The driving position is comfortable, and the 690 single cylinder engine has spunk. «Spicy» is the best description I have, and a crazy smile appeared on my face every time I twisted the throttle.
The «Spicy» Duke 690 just begs for you to keep twisting the throttle.
The trip all the way to La Pintada was very relaxed, we stopped often to take pictures and to tell Jay more about Colombia and the places we passed. We picked up the pace all the way to La Felisa, where we stopped to check on Ana’s tyre. False alarm thanks to the GS’ tyre sensors. From La Felisa and Filadelfia we found an amazing road, a little dirty, but amazing anyway, twisty full of amazing landscapes. No one could grow bored here. We even found a couple cool spots where we’ll return to have a picnic or go swimming.
After riding for 7 hours we got to our destination. The check in process at the hotel was very quick, we got to our rooms and then to the hot water springs. The hotel has 2 pools all fed by the natural hot water springs, perfect for relaxing after riding, specially in this cold weather. After a couple hours it’s time to call it a day and get some rest.
Day 2 started with a big breakfast and, as usual, «moto blah blah blah», we discussed at length our thoughts about the Duke 690, the 1190 Adventure Jay was riding, and about the Beemers. Jay told us about riding in the U.S. and how different it is from Colombia. To be honest we like the Colombian chaos a little more. We got our gear on and we started our way back. Manizales – Arauca – Anserma – Riosucio – Supia – La Pintada – Medellin for a total 252 kilometers.
The day was clouded and rain seem imminent, although for a while we thought we escaped the rain. A heat wave came and stick to us for a long while. I found myself in a twisty road and feeling very comfortable on the Duke 690. I was surprised at how comfortable it is, more than it appears to be, the only issue however is the engine vibration, common in this single cylinder engines. I do have to say that I didn’t like the lack of a gas meter. Not knowing how much gas I have and depending on a «reserve light» is annoying at best. It’s 2015 KTM, please. Suspension is great and comfortable, and the «power maps» are a welcome feature – however the whole knob system beneath the seat is a little tricky. We loved the bike and we are very curious as to see how the Duke 690 R behaves with it’s better suspension and the Akrapovic system.
The Duke 690 is not a touring bike, however short trips and sporty escapades are perfect for this KTM.
Back at La Pintada we stopped for a quick rest and thanked for the fact that we escaped the rain. We geared up for the last length on our way home only to find ourselves in the middle of a monsoon, heavy rained tested the 1190 traction control and ABS systems, while I had to do most of this by wrist. Slow down, be careful and count down the kilometers back home. We found ourselves again with reckless drivers along the way, but everything turned out ok. However we want to salute the couple truck drivers that closed the road for the best part of an hour after they almost collided for overpassing in a tight turn. Nice driving guys!
Ana Lema, motorcycle adventure rider and amazing company and myself.
We stopped back in Medellin, said our goodbyes and thanked the guys at RDC for coming with us and showing us this amazing routes. We said goodbye to the Duke 690 and took our crazy smiles back home.