Today was expected to be a really tough driving day as we made our way between Colombia’s 2 largest cities. The reason for this was not so much the distance, although at 275 miles it certainly wasn’t a short leg, but more of the problem was the extreme terrain. As you may recall from the previous blog, Medellin is located at about 1,500m above sea level, but Bogota is a kilometre higher at 2,500m.
“So? What’s the problem in climbing a kilometre?” you may be inclined to ask. Well, it’s not that simple because from Medellin you automatically climb to 2,500m before descending to 300m, and from there, there is about 3km of total vertical ascent to get up to Bogota! This is due to the up and down nature of the road, and this kind of terrain takes a heavy toll on the amount of energy needed to complete the journey. This holds true for electric cars just as much as other cars; steep inclinations like we were experiencing is the absolute death knell for range.
But that’s not all; the type of road and traffic conditions can play just as much a role in how far you can expect your car to last. In the case of today’s road, it was all very twisty single lane roads. Lots of curves are also bad for your range because it involves accelerating out of every curve. If this sounds a little odd, try it for yourself; if you want to maintain your speed through a bend in the road, you have to press harder on the throttle.
Furthermore, the type of traffic on this road, which is the main transport artery between Medellin and Bogota, is dominated by large trucks. So you can imagine that they trundle extremely slowly up the slopes and round the bends, typically at around 30-40km/h; far too slow for us to make any decent progress! So for us to keep our average speed up, we are forced to do very rapid overtaking, and this too increases our energy consumption, especially when going uphill.
So with all the above issues, we were very concerned about whether the car would be able to make it or not. In addition, we were also expecting the journey to take a very long time, so we made sure that we were ready and on the road for 8.30am. On our way out of Medellin, we were accompanied by a whole bunch of guys from the university, and we gave as many of them as we could rides in the SRZero. It was a real shame to have to say goodbye as they are a really great group of people, but that’s the nature of the trip unfortunately; we meet so many people and see so many great places, but very rarely do we get to find out much about either!
After leaving the guys on the outskirts of Medellin, we headed south east on our journey, accompanied by our ever present police escort. In fact, this is something we have been very impressed with. Throughout our driving in Colombia we have been given a police escort to show us the way and help us through the traffic, and yes, to whip out the guns if something bad were to happen (which it hasn’t)! In fact, they are most invaluable when trying to overtake on these narrow and twisty roads as they drive ahead and signal us through when there’s no oncoming traffic. Anyway, it has to be mentioned how friendly, professional, smart and well dressed these men in uniform are…they do a real credit to their country.
So, onward with the description of the journey. From a scenery point of view, it was incredible and amongst the best of the entire 40 days of driving! Occasionally there were a few roadside shacks and stalls, but for the majority the road cut through a pretty remote region. Frequently the view stretched for miles down the valley with no sign of human settlement apart from the odd cow here or there, quietly munching away on some grass. Aside from the trucks roaring past, it was tranquility at its finest.
And for the third day in a row, the weather decided to be kind to us by raining in places where we weren’t! What was very interesting though was how the weather changed as we changed altitude. Higher up it became very much colder, fresher, and cloudier, while down in the valley it was typically hot and humid with clear skies. During the last few hours of the drive, we could see massive lightning flashes in the distance, but somehow clear skies above us…it was a wonderful feeling! Couple this with a generally good road surface and fluid progress, and you have a very happy team RGE!
So, after 14 hours on the road (including lunch, changes in our police escort and other quick stops) we arrived in Bogota at around 11pm. We headed to the KPMG office to park and charge the SRZero, after which we headed to our accommodation for the next few days. What we have found out is that it is by far way cheaper and more enjoyable to rent an apartment than stay in a hotel. This is what we did in Cartagena, and what we are also doing in Bogota for the 4 days that we’re here. And, courtesy of KPMG, this is how we found ourselves in the most amazing penthouse ever! This is where I am writing this blog; in front of a huge window overlooking Bogota, and all of us in the team feel so privileged to be treated in such a way and to be able to have the experience of such an incredible trip!
In summary, the day went just as planned and was, despite the long hours of driving and dangerous conditions, extremely enjoyable. The car performed flawlessly and made it in to Bogota with around 10% less and surprising us in the process! Along with the very eco driving styles of Nik and Clemens, it was clear that the car’s extremely high efficiency both when driving and regen-ing (regenerative breaking) contributed to this feat of endurance. We can safely say that no other electric car has completed the Medellin to Bogota route, and we would like to challenge people to try it…if there’s anyone in Colombia with a Tesla, give it a go and let us know how it goes! It’s a fantastic drive!
And on a completely separate note, all of us are completely falling in love with Colombia. This trip has completely shattered our preconceived notions of this country, and the people, scenery and general atmosphere is incredible! There are still problems here of course, but it seems like the country is really making strong strides to combat this. All in all, a really positive and enjoyable day!