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Old 01-26-14, 08:08 PM   #1
RoboIsGod
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Training in Colombia for a month...

I'm in Colombia training for a month and I figured I'd let everyone know how it is over here and the riding that I'm doing (lots of spare time, why not).

I'm a bit outside Medellin (second biggest city) in a town called Don Matias. The elevation here is a bit under 7,000ft; Medellin sits around 4,000ft and the highest I've gone so far is a little under 9,000ft. The landscape is beautiful and quite intimidating. Lots of lush green jungle/forest and big grassy hills everywhere you look. There is absolutely no flat land, so you're either descending or climbing, with the climbing being pretty insane. Today I did probably the longest/toughest climb in the area called "Matasano" (the verb matar meaning "to kill" and sano meaning "sanity" or "health", so Matasano basically meaning to kill one's sanity/health,etc). It's a killer 8 mile climb with an elevation gain of 4,500ft! I've never climbed anything so tough or long. The view is amazing too. I plan on taking pictures which I'll post here. You can check out the data from my ride here: http://www.strava.com/activities/109...nts/2379877402

The people here are super friendly. Everyone greets each other on the street and it is a common for people to talk to complete strangers as if they were your best friend. The food is good too, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (avocados and bananas galore!). I'm definitely missing peanut butter though, and surprisingly there really isn't much good coffee. I did find soy milk and almonds at the store the other day, which I was very happy to find. Also, everyone rides motorcycles/scooters/dirt bikes, and they do so like maniacs. All of the roads are single lane, and everyone passes in the on-coming lane. It's pretty insane to watch and I'm surprised there aren't more accidents, but I guess everyone is just used to it here.

I'm here until Feb 18th. My focus here is training, basically my base riding and obviously lots of climbing (not a choice, just the reality of riding here), and resting so I should be able to add stuff to this pretty frequently. So far I can definitely say if you are looking for a solid place to train that isn't over the pond, definitely consider Colombia. Oh yeah, did I mention it was really cheap here?
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Old 01-26-14, 08:13 PM   #2
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More about the Matasano climb: Strava rates all of the climbs and it rated Matasano as "HC". I had never seen that before so I google'd it. Turns out "HC" stands for "Hors categorie", which is given to climbs harder than category 1. Damn.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hors_cat%C3%A9gorie
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Old 01-26-14, 08:19 PM   #3
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Oh yeah, and cycling is really huge here (if you didn't already know that by the awesome cyclists it produces). I've seen locals out riding every time I've gone out, especially today (Sunday is the most popular day to ride, I saw groups out everywhere). This is especially good because everyone is friendly towards you, even the cars!
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Old 01-26-14, 08:25 PM   #4
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Nice. Sounds like fun!

The Manual for Speed blog has done some cool posts about the junior racing program down there, neat stuff. (I'll post links if I can find 'em)
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Old 01-26-14, 08:39 PM   #5
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Awesome! Sounds like a great time, I hope your Spanish is decent so you can meet some other riders.
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Old 01-26-14, 08:39 PM   #6
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I'm going to medellin around July. Did you ship your bike there? Good to know cars are bike friendly. Ill be with my wife visiting her relatives.
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Old 01-26-14, 09:09 PM   #7
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I'm going to medellin around July. Did you ship your bike there? Good to know cars are bike friendly. Ill be with my wife visiting her relatives.
I used a bike suitcase and checked it on my flight. I believe my friend who I'm staying with has successfully shipped his bike here, but I'm not sure how expensive it is or how long it takes. I can say, though, that Jet Blue is super bike friendly. They allow packed bikes and don't have a size/weight restriction and charge a flat fee of $50 (they actually forgot to even charge me!).
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Old 01-27-14, 11:24 AM   #8
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The predictable ignorant american question: do you feel safe there? I mean you are (presumably) clearly identifiable as a (stereotypically rich) yank, and you're likely riding a multi-thousand $ bike...

I have always wanted to go riding in Columbia but was afraid..
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Old 01-27-14, 11:27 AM   #9
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That's awesome, thanks for posting your experience. Do you speak spanish and if not, is it much of a problem? I'd guess having a friend to stay with makes a big difference.
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Old 01-27-14, 11:50 AM   #10
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The predictable ignorant american question: do you feel safe there? I mean you are (presumably) clearly identifiable as a (stereotypically rich) yank, and you're likely riding a multi-thousand $ bike...

I have always wanted to go riding in Columbia but was afraid..
I feel very safe. Everyone is super nice/friendly, probably more so than in your average US small town. Not at any point have I felt in danger or threatened. I'm sure the bigger cities have some not so safe parts of them, but that basically goes with any city in the world.
I have been told, though, that there are some roads that are best ridden not alone because there is the threat of getting jumped/your gear stolen. Not sure about that though, haven't ridden anywhere like that yet.
It probably helps though that I look hispanic (my father is from Mexico), but I still stick out like a sore thumb. Having spent time in Mexico and now Colombia, I can definitely say that US ideas/stereotypes of other places, especially of central/south America, are quite unfounded and ignorant.

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That's awesome, thanks for posting your experience. Do you speak spanish and if not, is it much of a problem? I'd guess having a friend to stay with makes a big difference.
I do speak a good amount of spanish but not perfectly. In smaller towns like where I am I'd say it would be quite hard if you didn't speak at least some spanish because people here know little to no English.
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Old 01-27-14, 12:03 PM   #11
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When you are asked by a local to bring back a package to his cousin, what will your answer be?
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Old 01-27-14, 12:08 PM   #12
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a guy I know designed this. It's starting to be used by lots of folks, and apparently none of them ever get charged a bike fee using it

http://www.gavilanbff.com

that said it's a soft case and requires more break down of a bike than I'd personally be comfortable doing.
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Old 01-27-14, 12:49 PM   #13
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Are you self employed that you are able to train for a month overseas?

Just a curious question because I'm sure 90% of the population are jealous you get to do it. I'm one of the 90%.
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Old 01-27-14, 01:03 PM   #14
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I feel very safe. Everyone is super nice/friendly, probably more so than in your average US small town. Not at any point have I felt in danger or threatened. I'm sure the bigger cities have some not so safe parts of them, but that basically goes with any city in the world.
incorrect. bogota is the dodgiest city i have ever lived in, and by all accounts, medellin is worse.

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I have been told, though, that there are some roads that are best ridden not alone because there is the threat of getting jumped/your gear stolen. Not sure about that though, haven't ridden anywhere like that yet.
a few months ago, on one of the main routes out of the city (a climb) a half a dozen cyclists were stopped at gun point and robbed. and this was on a busy road.

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It probably helps though that I look hispanic (my father is from Mexico), but I still stick out like a sore thumb. Having spent time in Mexico and now Colombia, I can definitely say that US ideas/stereotypes of other places, especially of central/south America, are quite unfounded and ignorant.
which?

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I do speak a good amount of spanish but not perfectly. In smaller towns like where I am I'd say it would be quite hard if you didn't speak at least some spanish because people here know little to no English.
the same can be said in the big cities.

btw - if you're training with some locals, i hope they're not as squirrely as the ones here.

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Old 01-27-14, 01:22 PM   #15
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Are you self employed that you are able to train for a month overseas?

Just a curious question because I'm sure 90% of the population are jealous you get to do it. I'm one of the 90%.
I'm a mechanic at a bike shop. Winter's are slow so I can basically leave for however long I want. I live pretty simply/modestly, so swinging stuff like this is doable. I'm staying with a friend (another mechanic at the shop I work at) so all I'm really paying for is food (which is pretty cheap).

Botto, I'm assuming you live here in Colombia? Whereabouts? Hearing the story of the robbery sucks and makes me a bit more worried about riding. I'm sort of surprised that would happen though, most of the locals' bikes I've seen aren't especially nice. I'm mostly riding with my friend who is very good and experienced cyclist (he's 45 and has been riding/racing since his teens). He still kicks my ass on the climbs, but as I acclimate and get some training in my legs I'll be beating him.
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Old 01-27-14, 01:25 PM   #16
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Are you self employed that you are able to train for a month overseas?

Just a curious question because I'm sure 90% of the population are jealous you get to do it. I'm one of the 90%.
Yeah, I want to hear more about the situation. Also, what are you training for?

Don't take taxis or busses between cities in Colombia. It's not safe. I've heard a few scary stories from co-workers and friends.
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Old 01-27-14, 01:47 PM   #17
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Yeah, I want to hear more about the situation. Also, what are you training for?

Don't take taxis or busses between cities in Colombia. It's not safe. I've heard a few scary stories from co-workers and friends.
depends.

op - bog.
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Old 01-27-14, 01:59 PM   #18
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ps - http://cyclinginquisition.com/
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Old 01-27-14, 03:19 PM   #19
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Awesome man thanks for sharing! I'm assuming this is your blog?

Also any other tips/info concerning riding here, or things in general are appreciated!
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Old 01-27-14, 03:34 PM   #20
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Yeah, I want to hear more about the situation. Also, what are you training for?
Like I said I'm a bike mechanic, so in the winter time when there isn't much work I'm free to travel or do whatever. In a lot of ways it sucks because I don't have much income, but if I play things right it isn't really a problem. For example, if I save some and then sublet my room while I'm gone (I live collectively with a bunch of people, meaning my rent and cost of living is cheap) I basically have no bills to pay and only have to worry about travel expenses. Coming to Colombia, all I had to really pay for is airfare (~$500 if you find a good deal) and food. A lot of my meals have been cooked by my hosts, so I'm spending even less than I thought I would. When its all said and one, I'll probably only have spent ~$800 for this trip.

I'm training for the road season, of course! 2014 will be my third year racing, made it to cat. 2 last season and looking to see how far I can go this year. Seeing that coming here to train would be so easy, it seemed like a no-brainer (especially considering that I'm coming from Massachusetts where riding base at this time of the year is almost out of the question (almost)).
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Old 01-27-14, 04:53 PM   #21
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Awesome man thanks for sharing! I'm assuming this is your blog?

Also any other tips/info concerning riding here, or things in general are appreciated!
not my blog, just one that i like a lot.

as far as tips, sounds like you've got things well sorted. only thing i'll say is that if you go to medellin, be careful, and never take your mobile phone out on the street.
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Old 01-29-14, 06:22 AM   #22
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http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/...olombia_315094
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Old 01-29-14, 02:13 PM   #23
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Saw that article, I'd say I'm having a pretty similar experience to what he had. Seems like he was in the same area too.
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Old 01-29-14, 03:00 PM   #24
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sounds like a real pleasure.

so is it like vacationing in Cancun, where you stay away from the bad parts of the country, where they kidnap people and make cocaine?
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Old 01-30-14, 05:20 AM   #25
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Hey Robo ive got a cousin down there that I was hoping you could pick up something from and bring it back with you.....
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