Why Colombian cyclist climb so well?
Well that’s easy: Because we have mountains. But really why? Why are they able to ride up with so much panache, (We are looking at you Nairo and your outstanding on the pedals position).
Well there are a number of reasons but we have taken a deep look into it:
Reason #1 Colombian cyclist are so good at the mountains
We have mountains, we have some very very big mountains. We climb them, that’s our thing. The kind of mountains that when on a ride they tell you is 1000 mts of vertical climbing, on just over 80 kms you chuckle and call that a flat day. Conversely we aren’t that good at descending them, but that’s another subject.
We are used to ride/race bicycles, often more so than riding cars in some areas. Really, it’s not something that happened overnight or 30 years ago with the legends of Herrera and Parra, but before them, long before them, we used to ride bicycles and ride them in some pretty ugly roads. It’s not uncommon the story of any colombian cyclist in full riding kit being overtaken by some campesino with a very large load on a very heavy dutch bike and out climb him. I know, I’ve been there.
When in doubt it's always up. That’s what we tell our customers on our tours and is a motto that stands true about 90% of the time. The other 10% might seem that’s going down but eventually will climb up again.
Your aren't a cyclist unless you can climb. Over here your aren’ taken seriously as a cyclist unless you can climb fast. Flats and time trials? Not enough places to train. Sprinting? What’s that about (unless you are Fernando Gaviria and your roots are on the velodrome). For the rest of us it was more like here’s a bike, there’s a mountain, go ahead and ride your behind off.
We develop some massive lungs. Most of the large cities in Colombia, specially those that have a large cycling community are well above 1000 mts or just about 3000 ft, and that’s just about as low as we will get, others we begin our cycling journeys way up; Bogotá, the capital, is located at 2600 mts, way higher than the highest peak in the Tour de France.
Those are for us the reason why colombians can do so well in the mountains. The good thing is that now you can join us for a short tour and gain some experience and confidence climbing mountains.