Motorpacing with a horse. The beauty of Colombian ingenuity.

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And you thought having to lock up your bike was annoying

During my wife's first visit to Bogota a few years ago, I found myself explaining many Colombian idiosyncrasies to her. She was surprisingly eager to learn about these things, and due to my long-winded nature, I was more than eager to explain them to her. Many of these idiosyncrasies are born out of need, and are expressed in ways that may seem unusual to the picture above in which a person so treasures their beloved Renault 4, that they don't want it to be stolen. So they've locked it up to the bars in their window, which are there so that the stuff in their house won't get stolen either. These are just some of the beautiful things you'll see in Colombia.

One day, as we walked through the streets of Bogota, my wife noticed that most of the driveways throughout the city are made out of what Americans would generically call "mexican tile". Colombian homeowners take great pride in these driveways, and will thus painstakingly polish them to a mirror-like finish with the help of tinted wax. Waxing the driveway takes several steps, and even requires a buffing machine, the likes of which is seldom used outside of industrial applications in any other country. When going through the lengthy process of making your driveway as reflective as a mirror and as slick as an ice rink, only the best wax will do. In Bogota, that means you must use Beisbol brand wax. The company has an unbelievable monopoly on the market, and no self-respecting Bogotano will use anything else.

If you use any other wax, your neighbors will talk about you behind your back.

Yes, "beisbol" is a phonetic spelling of the english word "baseball". Don't ask me why the wax is called this, I have no idea. All you need to know is that if you move to Bogota, and you have a driveway, you better shine that sucker with Beisbol brand wax. Or else, you'll be mocked by your neighbors, and you'll be considered a horrible human being who has no pride and cares little about how his home looks. Another thing to remember, and one that I pointed out to my wife, is that you never, ever, ever walk on someone's driveway. They spent like four hours polishing that sucker up, and now you're going to walk all over it as you go catch a bus? Oh hell no. The driveway is a matter of pride, and some people will actually park on the street, and forego their garage as a result. Yes, I'm serious about this.

Not a great example of the quintessential Bogota driveway, but you get the point

Similarly, when you're a young kid, and you want to ask your friends to come out and do that from the safety of the sidewalk. Don't even think about setting foot on that driveway, unless you're willing to have that foot cut off by your friend's mother. These are the rules. Live by them, or loose any number of appendages as a result.

It's with these experiences in mind that I often look for images that strike me as being quintessentially Colombian. Some of these images even come up within the realm of cycling. Here are a couple of them:

The first one features Rigoberto Uran (who now rides with Sky) training in his native department of Antioquia. Before anyone makes a joke or reference regarding Juan Valdez, let me clarify a few things. Juan Valdez is a fictitious character, just like Uncle Sam. He was created by DDB Worldwide, a New York City ad agency in 1959. Juan Valdez is not a real person, but part of a marketing campaign developed for the Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers. Having said that, the character was certainly based on the common style of dress that coffee growers in the department of Antioquia prefer, hence this image of Uran motor pacing along with this horse and a Juan Valdez look-alike in his native town of Urrao. Okay, maybe he's not motor pacing, but nevertheless...only in Colombia.

(click to enlarge)

This second image, although older, is no less Colombian. While paved roads in Europe have long allowed fans to write their favorite rider's names in order to cheer them on, the same has not always been true in Colombian due to its meager infrastructure. So what's a fan to do when he knows that Cochise Rodriguez (four time winner of the Vuelta A Colombia, who once held the hour record) will be riding in front of his house during a race, and he has no way to write his hero's name on the road? Easy. He simply gathered some twigs and seeds to spell out Cochise's name. Colombian ingenuity at its best. Okay, perhaps not at its absolute best...but still pretty damn good.

Other stuff

Photo from Missing Saddle

Perhaps this video is old news to many of you....but if you've ever found yourself in one of those age old helmet versus do-rag arguments, you may appreciate the fact that the man pictured above settles the argument in this priceless video. Watch and learn.

I don't know, just throwing it out there.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I was invited to join my brother on his latest podcast, which is part one of his 2011 season preview. During said podcast, I mispronounce plenty of names and get lots of things wrong. I also say that Leif Hoste looks like a mosquito. Because he does. You can hear the podcast here.