In preparation for our third print issue, we spent 10 days exploring Bogotá and riding the 300 miles to Medellín. Our goal was to get a fresh and raw impression of the country by simply riding our bikes around, sometimes with a plan, mostly without. We invited contributing photographer JP Bevins and our new editor Robert "Chip" Constantino because there is nothing like riding and sleeping together for 10 days to really get to know one another. This is a behind the scenes look at the trip, from mountain top empanadas to duct taped achilles.
When we landed in Bogotá our 1st thought was to go and climb the
legendary Los Patios. Despite feeling tired from the flight, the thin
air, the smog and the humidity, we immediately put our bikes together
and headed there. Thankfully there are tons of cafés along the road to
stop for drinks or food, this is one of them.
This is Bogotá back at ground level (but 8300ft above the sea). On our second day exploring Bogotá we rode around a bit randomly, it's hard to believe, that according to the local police, if you rode 1km south from this city square you'd likely return with your wallet missing, wearing nothing but your underwear.
Every Sunday they close the largest road running north to south in Bogotá and leave it open just to cyclists (and dog walkers & rollerbladers) It's called Ciclovía, and it's a shit show but we loved it.
The 1st day of our 4 day ride to Medellín finally arrived. All smiles before we realized the day's "flat" profile included a 15 mile climb. As far as we are concerned: nothing is flat in Colombia.
David & Chip in the aftermath.
The following day we woke up in Mariquita, a small but bustling town some 200kms from Bogotá. For the ride from Bogotá to Medellin we were joined by Gigante & Juliana as soigneur & soigneur-ita who followed us in a car. We saw a mix of admiration and perplexity in Gigante's eyes, who typically works with local pro teams.
We think they had fun watching us from the car, climbing 6 hours a day at an average speed of 15mph.
Resident photographer JP Bevins taped his busted achilles with industrial strength duct tape every morning. The screams could be heard for miles.
David & Chip frequently stopped to discuss nutrition strategy with the locals. Panela or Bocadillo de Guayaba?
Alto de Letras is a 84km climb that you start at 485m above sea level and end at 3663m, it is considered the longest climb in the world. It's no joke. Our soigneur Gigante lied to David repeatedly, the finish was always "around the next turn" This time he didn't - this is David reaching the summit.
At the top a tiny store sells the best empanadas known to man.
We descended off Letras to the town of Manizales in the rain and then the dark.
The bikes slept as well as we did that night.
The next morning: this is not an ad for Volkswagen, it's a street scene in Manizales - the coffee capital of Colombia. The city is WIRED.
God love JP. Even as a practicing vegan, he didn't just survive in Colombia, he thrived. Here he is enjoying the best rice, beans & plantains of the trip before we leave Manizales.
Pool time in La Pintada. By far our most indulgent treatment so far in the trip. We're now a day away from arriving in Medellín. You can take the gringo out of the USA...
David was entranced by both the flora & fauna of Colombia.
Not a bad view from the shower though.
James gave a quick homage to Manual For Speed and we're hitting the road again, direction: Medellín.
The cafe stops were plenty but David found the lack of croissants perplexing.
But the juices? Fantastic.
Ever the American, Chip was content with Gatorade. Here he is recuperating after a slide on the local topsoil.
Shit got weirder and weirder as the trip went on. The soundtrack to this strange scene - the gentleman next door watching American porn for 5 hours straight.
But hell, we did make it to Medellín (though at this point we had no idea how we were going to get back).
Every road in Colombia is either uphill or downhill, even here in the middle of Medellín.
We sat down at a café in Acevedo, Medellín next to these fine gentlemen and briefly imagined ourselves in a few years.
Cyclists never smile for the camera. Stoicism is a cornerstone of the sport.
Colombia is literally crawling with professional cyclists. We ran in to Sebastian amongst the clouds near his hometown Rionegro as we drove back to Bogotá from Medellín.
When we stopped for lunch in Honda, Paco Colorado, recent winner of the Vuelta Mexico (and who had graciously agreed to drive us back to Bogotá) showed us how to eat a balanced diet. JP not pictured. What a fine meal to cap of a crazy trip.
We'll continue to release content from our Colombia trip leading into the publication of our 3rd print issue later in 2015.