Sunday, October 9, 2011

Clasico RCN

Today was my introduction to Colombian cycling, and what a cool day it was. One of my Colombian contacts, Alejandro Jimenez Moreno, hooked me up with his cycling friend, Mauricio Leyva. I had the chance to meet with Mauricio and his wife, Tatiana, last night for dinner in Medellin. They didn't know me until then, but they went far out of their way to introduce me to the local cycling community.

This morning I met with Alejandro (a different Alejandro), Sergio, and Juan (Mauricio couldn't make it, unfortunately). We set off to ride part of today's Clasico RCN stage. Clasico RCN is Colombia's second most important stage race, after the Vuelta a Colombia, and attracts top Pro Continental teams including Movistar. 

I didn't know or recognize any of today's participants. But it was cool anyway, and very Tour de France-esque: every team has a director-sportif, team cars and buses, and soigneurs. And, all the locals were out in force to watch their teams. In fact, many supporters were standing road-side several hours before the race came through, just like Le Tour. The first photo below is the stage leader (and overall race leader) cresting Alto de Minas, the final climb of today's stage, before the descent into the finish at Medellin. (Alto de Minas is a 40km climb that starts at 600 meters altitude and peaks at 2450 meters).

While we waited for the peloton to arrive, I met Oliverio Rincon. Rincon is a former Colombian pro who raced with ONCE and Kelme in the 1990s. His wins include 1 stage of the Tour de France, 1 stage of the Giro d'Italia, and 2 stages of the Vuelta a Espana. Rincon advised me I could be a much stronger climber if I wasn't so fat.

As for our ride, today was a solid intro. We climbed a total of 2500 meters, including the upper half of Alto de Minas (I'll be back to climb all 40km of it). Highlights included the local food: fresh orange juice, arepa con queso, and tinto coffee. All good!

Most cyclists in Colombia ride with a motorcycle escort. The escorts carry extra wheels, food and liquids. Our escort accompanied us until we reached a checkpoint preventing any motorized vehicles (due to the Clasico RCN race) from going any further.   

Here are some pictures from the rest of today's ride:

And, as I mentioned earlier, thousands of Colombians lined the streets to watch the race:


  1. Wow! Good post. Interesting and nice to have the motorcycle/wheel escort. Rincon's advice is priceless, (you could be a much stronger climber if you weren't so fat). Of course that's coming from a 130lb wisp.

  2. Great Post - I am heading out to medellin in the Spring aiming to stay a couple of months and do some cycling. This gives me further impetus. I am in contact with Alejandro who is being very kind.

  3. Hi, people, I was going through this post - and suddenly I had to laugh. Rincon's advice... priceless! Keep up the good work with this blog, Duncan!