Colombia is a country that is loco about cycling. They love it. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, as well as Sunday mornings, they shut down half of the city’s roads in their three largest cities just so cyclists (and other recreationalists) can use them exclusively. It’s called Ciclovia. However, on Sunday while cycling in Medellin, I had a run in with a different type of Colombian cyclist: a professional. The professional Colombian cyclist is a different breed: they were born to climb. Their country is full of some of the craziest, steepest, longest climbs you could imagine. One’s even 82kms long with 3300m of elevation gain (La Letra.) The country’s largest race, La Vuelta a Colombia, has climbs on it that put every climb in Europe to shame (fact, not an exaggeration.) Eat your heart out (once it slows down) Giro de Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a Espana.
Me and my pro friend Daniel Vasquez.
Notice how I’m the one who looks absolutely beat, and Daniel looks fresh? Daniel had just finished riding 175kms with about 2600m of elevation gain. I won’t tell you how many kilometers into my ride I am. Let’s just say it’s not 175kms.
Here’s my bike posing in front of some palm trees and a gazebo in the town of Caldas. It’s a beautiful town square to ride to on a Sunday morning. I took the opportunity for a break. I guess I’m not going to be on the Colombian cycling team.
This is a sample route of what the “average” professional Colombian cycling in Medellin would accomplish in a good day of training. What this map doesn’t show, however, is that there’s two climbs of over 1,000m on this route. Ya, “average”. There’s nothing “average” about a professional Colombian cyclist.
I love cycling scenes in every country. It’s something that can be a common ground, no matter where you and your bike are. Colombia is the seventh country that I’ve cycled in, and definitely the most challenging.