Tag Archives: road cycling holidays colombia

The lowdown on road cycling in Latin America

Our Road Cycling Product Manager and Tour Leader, David Hall has sampled many a road in his time and over the years he’s developed a strong passion for cycling further afield. He’ll regularly be found on his bike in Costa Rica and Colombia and is the envy of the Skedaddle office at Christmas when he’ll be off cycling tropical climes! Read on if you’re keen to discover more about Saddle Skedaddle’s road cycling opportunities in Latin America…

Long Haul VS Europe… How do they compare?
For me, and many other road cyclists for that matter, riding in the European mountains such as the Alps and Pyrenees is quite hard to beat. Here in Europe there is a huge cycling culture firmly engrained, as well as plenty of noteworthy, iconic mountains, made famous by the Tour de France and other famous races.

Whilst Europe might be considered by many to be the spiritual home of road cycling, it can’t claim exclusive rights on cycling culture. Many Central and South American countries also have long, rich histories in professional cycling and they also offer some superb riding opportunities including some enormous mountains, stunning scenery and seemingly endless miles of almost unexplored roads.

The professional riding scene is also very well-developed and Colombian and Costa Rican riders such as Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran and Andrey Amador are pretty much household names for many British cycling fans. One great thing about offering trips in far flung destinations is that it allows us to extend the cycling season because come December, when most European mountain roads are covered in snow, we’re almost guaranteed perfect riding conditions.

What makes Latin America so appealing, do you think?
Well apart from the fantastic riding, I just love the general sense of energy – there’s a certain buzz and vibrancy that’s impossible to ignore. Music and dance are such an important part of Latin culture and having a good time seems to be very important to Latin people – it’s hard not get drawn into the party atmosphere.

What’s your favourite long haul destination?
To be honest, each of our three Latin American cycling destinations have their own unique attractions, so it’s hard to pick a favourite.

If I’m pushed I would opt for Colombia. Cycling is as ingrained in the Colombian culture as it is in any European destination and we enjoy the company of local riders out on the roads every day. The scenery is very dramatic and the climbing is unrivalled. One of the highlights of our tour is the ascent of Alto De Letras, at around 52 miles it is reputed to be the longest climb in the world and it is certainly one of the more challenging rides in the Skedaddle portfolio. Colombia is the only place I know where you can spend an entire day tackling a single climb!

Then there’s Costa Rica – one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. It’s a tiny country accounting for 0.03% of the earth’s surface yet home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity. I just love the way that the nature comes to us as we ride through the country as we travel from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific. There aren’t many places on earth where you can cross a continent in less than 2 weeks.

Finally our Chile and Argentina tour provides a totally different experience and a unique landscape. The snow-capped volcanoes and towering monkey puzzle trees feel worlds away from the tropical climes of Costa Rica and Colombia. It isn’t without challenges but it is a slightly more gentle tour and as such it’s a great destination for anyone looking to cut their teeth in the region.

Have you got any advice for people looking to travel to Latin America?
I always think it’s a good idea, if you have the time, to try and arrive a day or two before the start of a trip to allow for a little recovery from the long journey and to adjust to the different climate – I’m not very keen on jumping on a bike when I’m still jet-lagged. Another consideration, specifically when travelling to Colombia, is that we spend quite a few days at high altitude – again arriving a day or so early to start the acclimatisation process is a great idea and we always encourage riders to listen to their bodies and take it easy during the first couple of stages.



 Are there any aspects of long haul travel that cyclists are often concerned about? 
We sometimes get questions about security and some folks express concerns that some countries might not be safe to explore. My response to this is simply that we wouldn’t ever offer a trip if we thought it was dangerous to do so – we have absolutely no interest in putting our customers or our staff at risk, it just doesn’t make sense. Of course we expect everyone who joins us to exercise common sense, as we have to in all the destinations that we visit but we’ve been leading tours in South and Central America for well over 20 years and our experiences have only ever been positive … that speaks volumes.

Any parting thoughts?
If you fancy something slightly different, give it a go! I’ve been putting trips together and leading tours in these destinations for years now and they still feel as fresh and exciting as they did the first time around. Even now these are still pioneering tours and on the occasions when we divert from our usual routes and visit new towns and villages, we still find that we are amongst the first, if not the only, foreign tourists to have passed through on two wheels – few destinations can make such a claim these days.

For those keen to sample Latin America on a road bike, we have three fantastic holidays to choose from: Colombia, Costa Rica or Chile and Argentina.

Customer Story: Colombia – El Resumen

Skedaddlers never stop surprising us with the ways they capture their holidays! Here’s quite a unique one and it’s from Karen who joined us to Colombia recently. Check out what a Skedaddle holiday to South America looks like in numbers…

Andrew-and-Karen-climbing-Letras

‘# of riders: 16 (7 from Canada, 4 from the UK, 2 from Trinidad, 2 from Holland and me, the lone American)
# of tour leaders: 1 (Andrew, British)
# of tour guides: 1 (Tomas, Colombian)
# of wives of tour guides who made sure we ate and had a place to sleep: 1 (Juana, Colombian)
# of drivers: 2 (Tito and Oscar, both Colombian)
# of incredible people on the trip: 21 (yes, I included myself!)
% of time I understood the Brits (in English): 80%
% of time I understood the Colombians (in Spanish): 85%
# of days of riding: 10
# of total miles ridden: 615 (approximately)
# of times I laughed nervously when Tomas described the ride for the next day: 17
# of days that I finished the entire ride (generally to my surprise): 10
% of time during the rides that Tito and Oscar offered amazing support (i.e., nutritional, mechanical, emotional and motivational): 100%
# of typical wardrobe changes each day (e.g., arm warmers, rain jacket, vest, etc.): 3
# of times the riders cheered the arrival of fellow riders after a long climb or difficult stage: 5
# of times I pumped my fist and yelled out loud while believing I was the toughest person alive because I had just finished a nearly 1 mile section of a very steep climb: 1
# of times I looked around and saw my fellow riders beaming: 32 (this typically happened after a particularly good descent)
# of times I looked around and saw breathtaking scenery (everything is so green!): 863
# of pictures taken by Christian, a fellow rider: 705 (I only took about 100)
# of miles of the longest climb (Alto de Letras): 52
# of meters climbed: 4,000
# of hours it took me to complete the climb: 10 total hours including lunch and multiple breaks; 8 hours actually riding my bike (very very slowly)
# of times Andrew told me that I was going to finish the climb after I expressed some doubts: 21
# of miles Andrew rode alongside me to make sure I’d finish: 14 (or roughly 3 hours)
# of demonstrations that closed down roads that thankfully we were allowed to ride through: 3 (2 regarding a teachers’ strike and 1 for a community that didn’t have water for 2 weeks)
# of said protests during which two non-Spanish speaking members of our group were given a mic and asked to say a few words: 1
# of impromptu police escorts: 1
# of fantastically unique road signs: 11
# of times people cheered us on as we passed by: 42
# of times I felt so incredibly fortunate to be part of this tour: too many to count

A big thank you to all the Skedaddle staff and my fellow riders. It truly was an incredible and unforgettable trip.’

On-the-way-to-Santa-Rosa-de-Osos

Feeling inspired? Now is the time to start thinking about visiting Colombia yourself. It’s a very popular destination, so don’t miss out!

Customer Story: Colombian Inspiration

Our impressive road cycling holiday in Colombia, Emerald Mountains,  has been inspiring Skedaddlers for some time now! Recent rider of this route Cathy MacDonald felt so motivated by the incredible Colombian roads on offer that she sent us in a poem summarising her time away with us…

_Customer.145291.34569

There was a group of 16 with Skeddadle
On the saddles of their bikes they did pedal
From the heights of Bogota
To the seas of Cartagena
They splashed, puffed, bumped and showed their mettle

They thought that Letras was tough
But Tomas said that’s not enough
Add 14 percent grade
Avoid the roads that are paved
Now that’s our Colombian stuff

Potholes, protests, rain, dogs and heat slowed us down
Tito, Oscar and Juana were there to bring us around
Andrew brought up the back
With a quip and a fix to many a flat
So all arrived safely by sundown.

So raise a toast to this group
A thoroughly gritty troop
We’ll miss the “rolling” hills
Cold showers and rice meals
Adios amigos, hope we meet again soon.

_Customer.145291.34562

Cathy now joins our growing list of Customer Competition winning entries – we’re sure you’ll agree this is a worthwhile winner! If you’re feeling inspired, read more about our road cycling holiday in Colombia for a chance to experience this beautiful (and challenging) part of the world yourself!