I was invited to the local velodrome today for a ride with Daniel Vasquez (the young professional from previous posts.) I showed up about 15 minutes late, but I didn’t think that would be a problem, I mean we are in Latin America, and time punctuality isn’t really a part of the culture here. I was, however, mistaken and Daniel was not there. This, however, was not an impedance for me to cycle around the velodrome track. Nor was the fact that I was on a 30 lbs (14 kgs) touring bike. I figured “why not?”
The beautiful Medellin Velodrome.
Yes, the above picture is an actual photo of the setting of this fantastic, modern, and free to use velodrome. One more plus for cycling Medellin. It’s in the same complex as the Olympic-size swimming pool that I use frequently. I enjoyed my first time on a velodrome track, and I wanted to get a photo of myself cycling on it, so I stopped to ask one of the fine gentlemen that were resting on the side of the track to take a photo of me. Needless to say, we started talking, and I never got the action shot that I was looking for. I did, however, meet some interesting local cyclists.
Here I am talking with Luis. Luis has been cycling for over 40 years. He knows every route around Medellin like the back of his hand, and was informing me of the safest routes to ride. I appreciated this knowledge, and felt lucky that I got out of one neighbourhood that I rode through with my bike.
Delfin, on my right has cycled all around the world. Even having cycled in my home country of Canada twice. He once went from Vancouver to Calgary, and another time from Niagra Falls to Montreal. His longest trip, however, was from here in Medellin to Buenos Aires. I was obviously out of my league. And that was just Delfin. The man on my left, Moncada, is 80 years old. He’s been cycling for over 60 years. A former professional, who’s probably put on more miles in his lifetime than the average airplane.
So I didn’t have a chance to ride with my young professional friends today, but I was privileged enough to meet the old guard of Medellin cycling. These three men have more combined knowledge about cycling in Colombia than a 50 year old mango tree that’s ready to be harvested has mangos (that’s a lot.)
I’m constantly surprised by the warmness, and friendliness of the people in this country. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it never gets old. Everyone wants to share with you the country that they so dearly love.