They called her "mom"

No one ever knew her name. But all the riders knew who she was. They called her "Mom" as they embraced her, and thanked her for her thoughtful gifts: small paper bags filled with fruit and snacks for the day's arduous stage. She was a fixture at the beginning of every race in the city of Manizales through much of the 1960s.

People noted that she wore black from head to toe. At the time, this was indicative of the fact that she was mourning someone's passing. But who did she mourn?

There was an air of sadness about her, but it always lifted when races like the Vuelta a Colombia came to town. She suddenly had a purpose. Riders looked forward to getting their bags of fruit from her, and thanked her accordingly. Perhaps she knew that these young Colombian men missed their mothers while on the road (Colombian men have always been notorious "mama's boys"). Perhaps she too missed someone.

With Ariel Betancur

With Carlos Arturo Rueda, "The Voice of the Vuelta a Colombia"

With Manuel Puerto, winner of the first U23 Vuelta a Colombia (1968)

(Photos by Horacio Gil Ochoa)