So, I'll attempt to answer your insightful questions. I expect to describe around 12-15 unique aspects of Colombian cycling over the next few weeks. Here are the first two (The Colombians and Road Surfaces):
Certainly most European cyclists are very friendly. I met countless cyclists at Le Tour, in cyclosportifs, and on the road. All were happy to chat and share cycling stories. But the Colombians are different. Colombian cyclists go out of their way to introduce themselves to a foreign cyclist. They are curious to know why I chose Colombia and how I learned about it. And they all ask for my phone number schedule a ride for the next week. Several invited me to their houses for dinner and/or to meet their families. I have not met more friendlier people anywhere in the world, including New Zealand.
In Europe, you can always count on the road being there. In Colombia, you cannot. Sometimes, the road just doesn't exist. The heavy rains can wash away large sections of road, especially the older roads, on a regular basis. Non-existant roads are only problematic while descending at speed (for obvious reasons).
Debris can be an issue, but its usually far less alarming than a non-existant road.
Stay tuned for the second installment.