The recently deceased Ruben Dario Gomez and his team vehicle during a time trial at the Vuelta a Colombia.
Two years ago, in September of 2009, I started this blog. The decision was half-baked from the beginning. I couldn't think of a name for the blog, so I merely a used the name of the music blog I was writing for (Metal Inquisition) as inspiration. I continued to write under the nom de plume "Lucho" (which I took from an unintentionally hilarious radio DJ in Colombia, who played punk rock and metal music during the late 80s), not realizing how foolish it was be to write about Colombian cycling, when one of the biggest figures in said subset of the sport was/is named Lucho. Now, over 250 posts later, I'm still as clueless as I was when I put up that first post. But at least I don't go by "Lucho" anymore.
From the beginning, I wanted to convey bits and pieces of Colombia's cycling history to readers who may not have come across such information otherwise. These are wonderfully inspirational, and sometimes scary stories that should be told. I also had an urge to tell personal stories, and sometimes post pictures of professionals in silly or compromising poses. Two years on, I still don't really know which way a post will go, and what tone it will have until I'm well into writing it. I'm glad to see that some of you have hung in there, and put up with my....uh...let's call it stylistic inconsistency.
It's been interesting to see how, since I started writing this blog, Colombian cycling has had a bit of a renaissance internationally. Colombian teams are now racing abroad more often, a fact that was clearly punctuated days ago when Velo News published this article about the hardships experienced by Colombian riders while racing in the US last month. They have no bike sponsor, most riders share time trial bikes, and if free bar tape comes the team's way...it's highly rationed. It was with this in mind that I spoke with Santiago Botero (Gobernacion De Antioquia's director) just yesterday. His take on the team's budget is straight forward and to the point. "We can only a afford a few time trial bikes. We buy what we can afford, so riders have to share bikes and wheels. That's just how it is."
Oddly enough, if the bikes in question were steel lugged frames, rather than carbon fiber, the Velo News article, and the conversation I had with Botero could have happened in 1982, when Patrocinio Jimenez won the Coors Classic as an amateur. Sadly, some things never change. And because they don't change, I've been careful regarding how I convey stories about Colombian cycling on the blog. I actively try to steer clear of merely portraying Colombian riders who come from these poor regions as a novelty, something I've seen too often, along the lines of: "They funny little Colombian with a borrowed bike..look at him, he's funny and entertaining." I try to give dignity to their stories, and similarly try to convey the wonderful aspects about Colombia, while being honest about it's difficult past.
A team bus from the town of Urrao, photographed at the Clasico El Colombiano last year. Several teams used hommade rollers to warm up for this race, and many shared bikes with teammates twice their size.
While doing so, the blog's readership hasn't grown significantly over the last year or so. It's remained steady at a good and healthy number, leading me to believe that there's limited interest in the subject matter that I write about, or the manner in which I write about it (note the fact that I'm no longer on the list of most influential blogs). In the end, that matters little. Through the blog, I've managed to meet a handful of people, all of whom are great individuals (and at least one of those people have me a free pair of fashionable socks). For me—a person who largely keeps to himself—this has been an unusual but pleasant discovery.
Similarly, receiving emails from countries all over the world telling me how they too have now discovered the simple pleasure of eating bocadillo during their ride has proven to be a positive experience on my end. It's been a great side effect of the blog...although the millions of dollars and adoring fans are a nice perk as well.
Still, I have no idea where the blog is going, if it will continue or what will happen to it in the future. But as long as it remains somewhat fun, and I have more long-winded stories to tell, I'll keep on typing. Luckily, I've never been accused of being overly quiet, and I seldom run out of things to say.