For us, Colombia is one of the best kept secrets, and underrated destinations in cycling today. Of course, you have the European greats, with their prestige and history; the Alps and Pyrenees will always provide drama and refinement. But for a country that has cycling deep in its soul, Colombia stands out in a way unique in the world.
CYCLING IN COLOMBIA
It’s a country of incredible geographical and biological diversity, with so many unique characteristics that make it a paradise for cycling. Colombia is a country cut in half by the Andes, a stunning mountain range that provides numerous climbs and descents that would make France’s Cols jealous. To the North these mountains dive into the Caribbean Sea, with semi-arid desert at the very top, whilst at the south the lush Amazon rainforest dominates the landscape.
Combine this with high altitude and a sport-obsessed population, it’s no wonder that this country has produced a disproportionately high number of professional cyclists, with Bogotá’s Egan Bernal being the most recent in a long line of Colombian riders to wear the yellow jersey. Often, they’re master climbers, trained by years of mountain riding at high altitudes.
More than just this, Colombia is of deep significance to Signature Cycles. Abraham, the Co-Owner of Signature is a Colombian native, with a love for his home country and a strong connection to Colombian cycling (his father was a member of the iconic Cafe de Colombia team throughout the 1980s). For all of these reasons, it should be no surprise that Colombia is the first destination we’ll be travelling to this year as part of our Signature Cycles travel series, partnering with Thomson Bike Tours.
A 7 day cycling camp, you’ll take advantage of the famed altitude that made some of the great Colombian cyclists. You’ll be based in Hotel Movich, a hotel used by Team Ineos, Bora-Hansgrohe, Soudal Quick-Step and many other top pro teams. After arriving and being briefed by the team, Day 1 will see you get straight into the action, with a shorter ride to La Ceja, hometown of two time Grand Tour stage winner Fernando Gaviria. Now warmed up, Day 2 is the first big ride, travelling deep into the Parque Arví, a rollercoaster of short, sharp climbs with very little flat in sight.
Day 3 takes you off to the east, to the beautiful and colorful lake-side town of Guatapé, stopping off to climb the Peñón de Guatapé, a 200 meter high rock formation, only accessible by 740 dramatic steps. The magnificent views from the top make it all worth it. You will find yourself riding routes well known by local pros on Day 4, climbing to Santa Elena, then down again into the Parque Arví. This afternoon, we’ll be visiting close friends of ours, conducting an exclusive tour of Scarab Cycles, one of our very favourite bike brands, only a few miles away from the hotel. After being inspired by Scarab, Day 5 lays out why they are based in the beautiful surrounding of Antioquia. This rollercoaster ride of almost 10,000ft of elevation sees some of the best riding in the Andes, with rural, traffic free and quiet roads for you to get some strong training in.
Day 6 takes the intensity down a little, with a shorter ride through rolling Antioquia terrain, eventually taking you into El Carmen de Viboral, a centre for artisans working with ceramics. For our final day, we saved the best and longest ride until last, an epic ride taking you to Alto de la Union, a key climb for local riders like Rigobert Uran when training for Grand Tours. The tough climbs will be rewarded by thrilling descents, before heading back to the Hotel, and sadly heading home.
For us at Signature, we can’t imagine a more ideal training trip to get you back into the cycling season. For Abraham, the region of Antioquia we’ll be exploring is “the most beautiful place to ride a bike.” He describes it as “challenging and beautiful”, and area that is called “the eternal spring, because it is always springtime with a climate perfect to ride. Unfortunately, Colombia's reputation has been unfavorable in recent history, but that could not be further from reality”
But more than a perfect, hidden-gem training ride, we’re excited to share the wonderful people and culture of Colombia. “We Colombians are a prideful people that love our country and want everyone that visits to take home the best memories possible” adds Abraham. It’s a country full too of great food, dancing and high spirits, somewhere that you’ll love just as much as the great cycling it has to offer.
We can’t wait to welcome you on this trip of a lifetime, exploring this country with us.
Click here to book your place on our Colombia Training Camp, running from April 14-20, at the price of $4,495. Hurry, there are only a few places available on this exclusive trip!
All images courtesy of Scarab Cycles