Mountain biking in Colombia isn’t always like it is back home in Canada.
First of all, we don’t have trails in Canada that end at the Caribbean.
Secondly, I have yet to find a mountain bike trail in Canada that has 2000m of decent.
Thirdly, the ‘average’ Canadian mountain biker will own at least one bike worth over $3000.
Well, when you are mountain biking in Colombia the rules back home don’t apply. This was clearly evident in Easter weekend’s Avalanche downhill race near Santa Marta, Colombia.
This past Easter Sunday my good friends at Elemento Outdoor put on a downhill race from Los Pinos, a former para-military lookout (another thing not found on Canadian trails) high above Santa Marta. down through the jungle descending 1700m to where it spits the riders out on the access road far below.
Once I arrived at the start point there was a large group of skinny Colombians in spandex. These spectators had been much more motivated than myself, and had climbed the 2000 vertical metres from Santa Marta to Los Pinos.
The atmosphere was full of cycling fun. One of the things I love about the sport is how it unites people across cultural boundaries.
There were a few guys on big downhill bikes jumping off of a small ridge. There was one guy in his mid forties doing trials tricks on the bike he was preparing to race down the mountain, and there were a bunch of onlookers waiting to witness the mass start.
While they were preparing to start the race, my friend Tom sent me down the hill to help at the finish line. He gave me the keys to the jeep, and asked me if I knew how to drive it.
Seeing as I didn’t think there was any special requirements on driving it, other than the ability to drive a standard, I said ‘yup’ and was on my way.
Well, I made it about 200m. . .
After about ten minutes of digging, the jeep was free from the grasp of the muddy mountainside, and I happily handed the keys over to a British friend to drive the remaining 11.9kms down the mountain.
While we were driving to the finish line, the mountain bikers were off racing down Clockwork Orange, one of the Coast’s best mountain bike trails.
We arrived at the finish line about 10 minutes before the first rider appeared. He broke the tape at 31 minutes.
Yes, the guy in the above photo, on a front-suspension (kind of) bike won a downhill race. These guys have serious skills.
Back in Canada the cheapest bike of a contestant in a downhill race would be around $3000. The above bike’s value, if it were brand new?
Colombian mountain bikers are passionate about their sport, not about the cool toys that accompany it.
That’s what I find so refreshing about mountain biking in Colombia – the fact that people do it for the love of the sport, without the financial ability to buy the newest flashest gear.
At the end of the day the first annual Avalanche Downhill Race was a grand success. Everyone enjoyed the race. Many smiles were across the competitors mud covered faces at the finish line.
Some things are true wherever mountain bikers are found.