As cycling enthusiasts, we are constantly looking forward to the next adventure and escaping from our daily routine. When we are not the ones traveling to a distant destination to enjoy riding our bikes, we at least appreciate the content others create.
The guys from The Ride Beyond Crew made us a bit jealous as last February they left the cold Dutch winter behind to ride their bikes in Colombia for three weeks. The Three Amigos, as Martijn van Strien, Mike Vlietstra, and Alberto Viciana tagged themselves, crossed the ocean in the hunt of adventures, delicious food, and stunning landscapes, and the South American country delivered.
We have already covered some of the past outings of the Ride Beyond Crew, like their Badlands participation. The outing in Colombia was the first time that Alberto joined them for a big trip as part of the team, and as a native Spanish speaker, his language skills proved very valuable while in South America.
They began their journey in Bogotá, visiting the famous Alto de Patios, a climb that towers over the city at an altitude of 3.012 m. From the top, the views of the sprawling city below were truly breathtaking. Over the following few days, they also immersed themselves in the vibrant neighborhoods of the capital, enjoying the local cuisine at bustling street markets and restaurants.
As content creators, they had more or less a plan on how to make the most of their stay, but they also freed themselves and went with the flow. They wanted to experience the Colombian culture and interact with the locals, while showing how amazing it is to ride in Colombia with your friends and discover new places far from home.
Alberto told us that it was very difficult to plan the content because they took many photos every single day, but on a normal day, Mike would gladly stay up until fairly late editing the content and then sharing it with Martijn and Alberto the following morning.
As they cycled through the winding roads and mountain passes surrounding Bogota, they were rewarded with stunning views of the Andean landscape. They stopped at small villages along the way, learning about the local culture.
After their time in the capital, they headed to the Colombian countryside to explore new terrain and soak up all the natural beauty of the region. All that was captured by the photos of Mike and the videos of Martijn, with Alberto quickly adapting to their rhythm and learning by doing.
In some sort of intra-adventure within the trip itself, they spent two days cycling around the Alto de Letras, tackling the climb, renowned as the longest in the world, from two sides.
The first side was challenging, with steep gradients and switchbacks, but the varied landscapes along the way kept them entertained. They split the ascension into several parts, stopping to try the local cuisine, such as torta de carne and churrasco, and connect with the local community.
The weather was generally amazing, but one cannot expect to enjoy the same warm temperatures at such altitudes. Despite the cold and rain, they continued to push on, spurred on by their competitive spirits including a mandatory last sprint arriving at the Alto de Letras sign.
After the climb, the Three Amigos stayed overnight in the beautiful town of Manizales, where they recharged their batteries for the next day’s adventure. They set out and embarked on a detour to climb El Gualí, one of Colombia’s highest points, sitting above 4.100 m. This alternative side, which was mainly on gravel, was also quite challenging, but the stunning views at the summit made it all worthwhile.
To finish the second day of this micro adventure, the trio tackled a descent of more than 85 kilometers in length, which was an incredible experience according to them. The feeling of speed on the bike was exhilarating, and they celebrated with a cold beer back in Mariquita with El Gregario de Letras, Sudando Colombia, and El Fotografo de Letras, who were by their side during their adventure providing support and guidance.
Not only them but, as a whole, people in Colombia proved to be really welcoming and helpful. They have supported the members of the Ride Beyond Crew since they put their feet on Colombian soil and made them feel like “rolos”, which is the way they were called in Bogotá.
The next stop of their journey was Jardín, a vibrant town filled with colorful houses and the best churros in Colombia. The Three Amigos indulged in these tasty treats and relished in the vibrant atmosphere of this charming town.
In the last week of their trip, they continued exploring and discovering new places on their way to Medellin, where they stumbled upon Alto Las Palmas. They also frequented Sacred Renata Tacos and Rigo Cafe, enjoying good food and coffee. The big Colombian city was their end point, and they ended their stay with a mountain bike social ride led by FOCUS Bikes Colombia.
From the stunning scenery to the delicious food and warm hospitality of the locals, they knew that Colombia would always hold a special place in their hearts.
The Ride Beyond Crew continued their adventures after that transcontinental trip, and at the time of publication of this article, they were getting ready to tackle The Traka 360 after some days bikepacking and racing in the UK.
After their time in Catalonia, they will take part in the Hellenic Mountain Race in Greece and Evolution Gravel Race in Tanzania among others, and they will be seen at Badlands once more.