Ramon Hoyos, Colombia's first cycling great, passed away today. Hoyos' impact on Colombian cycling was such that his nickname (El Escarabajo), became the word used by Spanish-speaking fans and the press to refer to all Colombian cyclists. Think about that. The general nickname for all Colombian cyclists was actually his own.
I last saw Hoyos two months ago, when I visited him at a beautifully appointed old folks home in Southern Medellin along with his son. It was then that I took the picture you see above [my account of that meeting is here].
On that day, I tried to make a short video about Hoyos, much as I did with his contemporary Horacio Gil Ochoa. But after asking him a couple of questions, it was clear that Hoyos was in no shape to answer my questions. The whole thing felt exploitative. I turned the camera off, and chose instead to spend an hour or so, sitting by him, talking about his memories of Coppi, and racing the Vuelta a Colombia. He was soft spoken and gentle, a striking contrast from the man I had first interviewed in 2010, or the one I met months later in his home near Medellin. It was then that I first really got to know Hoyos for what he was. A proud, stubborn Colombian. A man that would come to symbolize Colombian cycling in every way. May he rest in peace.