Hecho En Colombia

During a sizable part of the 20th century, trade restrictions left Colombia largely isolated from the rest of the world. This included its bike industry, which was forced to come up with creative solutions that say plenty about a nation's ingenuity and its love for the bike. Today, as markets have opened up, Colombia's bike industry is in flux once again, and Colombian companies are having to change with the times.

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The inner workings of post-Tour de France criteriums. An interview with Jurgen Mettepenningen.

My shoes are covered in mud that is roughly the consistency of crunchy peanut butter. The mud is slowly starting to make it's way into my socks and my feet start to feel wet. I try to clean off my shoes against a truck tire, only to realize that they are also covered in smashed up, rotten apples, making me smell like a bottle of cheap salad dressing. I'm in Gavere, Belgium, in the team parking lot of the Superprestige cyclocross race that is held in this town of only 13,000. Attendance is expected to surpass 50,000. But I'm not here to learn about cyclocross. I'm here to learn about the inner workings of post-Tour criteriums. Jurgen Mettepenningen, owner and general manager of the Marlux-Napoleon Games team owned one of these criteriums until recently [along with a Superprestige cyclocross race and a huge outdoor music festival] so I've asked to speak with him on the matter. So while I'm here to learn about these weird pseudo-races that are more WWE than UCI, I've lear something else already instead. At cyclocross races, all interviews are done pre-race in campers and RVs. The insides of those vehicles are pristine, and I'm about to foul one of them up with my muddy shoes. The press officer for another team sees me struggling with the caked on mud and applesauce on my shoes. He points to a perfectly clean white towel by the door of he RV, and tells me to take my shoes off before I go in, rather than worry about cleaning them. He does this in a gentle tone that he most likely reserves for stubborn farm animals or humans who sustained severe brain injuries. Lesson learned.

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The beauty of second chances. An interview with Esteban Chaves.

My conversation with Esteban Chaves starts with a bit of small talk. Eventually, we end up talking about the weather. I mention how terrible the winter was here, with insanely low temperatures and endless snow and ice. Esteban pauses for a bit, and in a calm voice tells me, "these things pass, it's always a matter of having patience, and waiting for the spring to come, because it's just around the corner." 

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