For those of you who haven't seen my updates on Facebook I'm going to give you a recap of how awesome cycling is in Medellin, and hopefully inspire some of you to visit!
Lets starts with the fact that Colombia (especially Medellin and Bogota) has an obsession with biking. We have a rich history of grueling tours that crisscross the Andies through its extreme climbs, descents and climates (yes Colombian mountains do have snow at the top). La Vuelta Colombia (60+ years) and El Clasico RCN (50+ years), combined with our late 80's Cafe de Colombia team, and track world champions have made Colombian's especially fond of the sport. So much in fact that every time I took my bike out to train, I would have people cheering me on!
More Colombian bike nerdage (in english)
Did you see the Giro De Italia? Are you still wondering why the Colombians are coming? Check it out here!
One word, CICLOVIAS!! Medellin's government closes down about 20 miles of roads and highways on Sundays, Holidays and some weekdays to accommodate the thousands of recreational cyclists, joggers and skaters that want to get their workout in. No it doesn't disrupt traffic, roads are closed during low use hours, and this really encourages the everyday citizen to get out and move! Every couple miles you have independent food carts selling water, food and offering bike maintenance. If you want to rent a bike, I would advise starting at Envigado where a mini bike bazaar always organizes itself for the Sunday ciclovia.
The city of Medellin will also shut down roads for themed ciclovias. The Mothers day ride attracted 800 participants!
Every Wednesday, be sure to join El Colectivo Siclas at 7:30 pm in the Carlos E park, for their urban, 15 mile ride around Medellin. You're going to see a lot of expats, as well as every imaginable bike as you traverse different neighborhoods throughout the city (rich, poor, mountainous, etc). I honestly cant even begin to explain the euphoria of parading through some of the cities most infamous neighborhoods, as the locals cheer you on, and join on their bikes. The organizers are REALLY good at organizing the rides and making sure that the 1000 person crew always gets back safely. This is a casual ride, that has one 15 minute beer stop halfway through.
The last Wednesday of the month is reserved for "La fiesta de la Bici", Medellin's Critical mass type ride. About 4,500 cyclists meet at the Mamm museum at "Ciudad de Rio" at 7:30. The ride last about 2 hours and has no stops. As the name suggests, this is a bike party, and if you didnt already know, Colombians are experts at partying! Bring your noise makers, positive attitude, and bikes! Mas amor, menos motor!
Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for Ciclocity. Rides meet at 7pm at the "Suramericana" Metro station near the stadium. Make sure your bike has lights, and you're wearing a helmet, or else you wont be allowed to ride. Tuesdays they ride up the two mountains that dot the Medellin Valley, Cerro Nutibara and El Volador. The views of Medellin from these mountains are always amazing. Thursdays they do a farther ride up the highway to Copa Cabana. Between 20-30 riders always show.
Road riding in Medellin:
Road bike routes
Colombians favorite road ride by far, is going up "El alto de las Palmas". No matter what day or hour you go, your going to find people from all social classes, riding all kinds of bikes up this 10 mile highway out of the Medellin valley. It takes about an hour and a half to ride up and 30 minutes to fly down (if your going 60mph). Once you get to the top, your riding through rolling hills, enjoying the lush vegetation, coffee and flower plantations, and visiting many of the quaint towns that dot the countryside.
When the roadies aren't going up mountains, they're racing crits in our city race track. Every day the Juan Pablo Segundo track (next to the professional BMX track) is open to anyone who wants to ride, jog or skate their way around. On weekends it's reserved for motorcycle and car racing. Every Thursday at 10 am, there's a criterium race that lasts about 45 minutes.
The Velodrome, named after our track world champion Martin Emilio Cochise, is placed in a quaint little neighborhood on the other side of the Metro from our stadium complex. Its an open air cement velodrome with a cafe, and plenty of seating to enjoy the racing. The best part though, is that you can register with the office for about $40 and they'll lend you track bikes to train and race as much as you want.
Check out Barranquero and Todo MTB for more info
To my pleasant surprise, Colombians are also obsessed with mountain biking! They usually meet very early weekend mornings at the San Diego mall gas station at the beginning of "Las Palmas" highway that gets you out of the city. They carpool up the mountain and ride all kinds of courses!