I was eleven then, and there were many things about me which probably caused others to laugh. My well-manicured mullet, my fashionable gold chains, and/or my excessive use of Brut cologne. The strangers that were rummaging through my belongings, however, were finding new things to laugh at. How could anyone think that my extensive collection of Lamborghini Countach posters was funny? It was unsettling to see all those people going through all these objects that I loved. They tossed some things aside dismissively, snickering at some, while putting others in bags in order for buy them for next to nothing. My family was moving to the United States, and each of us was only allowed to take a painfully small amount of items along for the trip. So we had opened up our house to strangers, who now walked around every room, taking whatever they wanted, as we stood by. The list of things that I saw people buy for almost nothing during those sales continues to break my heart to this day. Childhood memories, prized family heirlooms, irreplaceable items that had miraculously made it through countless generations. Whatever didn't sell was thrown out. I guess our move to the United States was seen as a positive opportunity by some, but to me it felt like we were on a sinking ship, and we were throwing priceless goods overboard to lighten the load.
Over the years, I've second-guessed the choices I made leading up to our move (aside from my gold chain and Brut cologne). The things I chose to bring, and those I had to leave behind. I obsess over the childhood items that I no longer have, but always try to remind myself that I was a kid then. How could I possibly know what items I would lament losing once I became an adult?
Every once in a while, however, I come upon an item that miraculously made it to the United States for some unknown reason. Against all odds, something that should have been thrown out, made it. The wrench photographed above is one such item. After my father's passing several years ago, I inherited his beloved tools, as well as the cabinets they were kept in. Deep inside a drawer in one of those cabinets (one that I open, and go through all the time) I recently found this wrench. Somehow I had never seen it there.
The wrench, at the end of the day, is a rather humble item. These wrenches were given out for free by Colombian bikes shops in the early 1980s, along with the purchase of a bike. This one, with it's proud "Made in Germany" stamp, was probably given to my parents when they bought a bike for Christmas for one of us. It's made cheaply, and bends easily. It's the wrench I used with my brother as we adjusted the handlebars on our BMX bike (making them parallel with the ground) in order to pretend we were Lucho Herrera during a time trial.
It's the wrench I used as a makeshift hammer, in an attempt to stop the crank arm on that same BMX bike from hitting the chainstays with every pedal stroke. That bike was a hideous purple-to-black fade. It weighed a ton, and it wasn't really a Mongoose, regardless of what the stickers on the downtube said. We'd bought those stickers from the shop that Mister Gomez owned. That bike shop (which was really nothing more than a tiny square room built with cinder blocks) was the first bike shop I ever went to. It was dimly lit, filthy, and no bigger than the average bathroom. To most people in the United States or Europe, it would barely qualify as an occupiable structure, much less a bike shop. Anyway, I loved that bike despite its fake Mongoose stickers, and I cared for it with only this one tool (as well as some cooking oil, which I used to lubricate it's chain).
Every kid in Colombia had one of these wrenches. The cool kids kept theirs permanently on their bike, by sliding the wrench into one of the bolts from their rear wheel. But our wrench was kept safely at home, not on our bike. It sat along with my dad's many tools, only a handful of which ever made it to the United States. Luckily, this wrench made it to the United States as well.
Three other things:
Matt Rendell, author of books such as Kings Of The Mountains, Olympic Gangster and The Death Of Marco Pantani is easily one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of Colombian cycling. In his latest book, Matt has chosen to look into a different endeavor that Colombians are equally passionate about: Salsa. No, not the condiment, but the music. More specifically, the dance. In the short film below, Matt looks into salsa dancing as it's expressed in the city of Cali. As with everything Matt does, his passion for the subject comes through. Though salsa may have little to do with cycling, it has everything to do with Colombia, Cali in particular. Enjoy.
The Colombia Es Pasion team appears to be coming to an end. Sad that two victories at L'Avenir didn't secure the team's future, but considering the current state of sponsorship in cycling, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. It does appear that some of the team will end up with Fabio Duarte (after the end of Geox) at the new Colombia-Indeportes team. Let's hope all goes well for Duarte.
Lastly, I've heard from a couple of readers of the blog about the fact that some posts appear to be getting cut off, while others lack the ability for people to leave messages. Are you experiencing any difficulties with the blog? Let me know, not that there's much I can do about it since I'm guessing it's a Blogger issue. I'm just curious.