A Colombian in Belgium, plus parrots and sheltered bike paths.

"What kind of weird map is that?", I can hear some of you ask. "What does it mean?" Well, it's simple. It's a map of Belgium, made up of the Colombian flag. Just as a white flag is an international symbol of surrender, and a large confederate flag (with the words "foreigners keep out" written on it) is a sign that I should probably keep my voice down when speaking in Spanish, the map above has a well known meaning the world over. It means that a fifth rate blogger from Colombia is going to Belgium. And that's exactly why I'm sharing this image with you. I'll be traveling to Europe, and taking in the sights, and sounds of Belgian bike racing this week. Because of this trip, I don't expect to be posting for at least a week or so.

I hereby apologize for this extended break in my blogging activities, but I have to be honest and admit that my ability to multi-task is sadly limited (as experienced this weekend when I tried to both ride a bike and follow directions to find new roads...and sadly ended up lost, tired, and nearly in another time zone).

Since I can't bring every single one of the blog's readers in my suitcase (if you think airline restrictions regarding bikes are tough, try putting three people in one suitcase and checking it at the gate), I will at least give you the second best option: the ability to travel through the wonders of Google Streetview. Enjoy a bit of Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege without having to board a play or apply chamois cream.

Mur de Huy

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Côte de la Redoute

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As an added bonus to today's less-than-spectacular post, I'd like to add this series of pictures from the Vuelta a Tolima in Colombia last week. France has its sunflower shots during the Tour. Italy has those girls that hold the umbrellas. Colombia has wild parrots.

On the subject of Colombia, and it's unusual but charming aspects, I must mention a conversation I had two weeks ago with one of the remaining frame makers in the city of Medellin. He views his craft, and the way he approaches it, as being uniquely Colombian. Stubborn, hard working, but with a flair for both beauty and functionality. Against all odds he taught himself how to build frames, simply because he couldn't find a decent one in Colombia at any price back then. "We don't take 'no' for an answer. I couldn't buy a fine Italian frame. Not only could I not afford it, there wasn't even one to be had. There was no way to learn how to make frames either. So I taught myself, I made my own frames, and on top of that tried to make it better than the Italian ones. Why not?"

As we were saying our goodbyes, he paused and suddenly said, "Please keep telling anyone who will listen about the good things we have here in Colombia. We need more of that." I agreed. So perhaps it's in that spirit (and with that conversation still fresh in my mind) that I will continue to share bits and pieces of Colombia with you when I can. Below is one such example, though I suspect that it will only add to the scattered nature of today's post.

The video was sent to me by a reader (one Mr Gleeco), and it details some of the transportation alternatives available in the city of Medellin. Only part of the video has anything to do with bikes, but I think it gives an accurate portrayal of the city, and more importantly of the paisa spirit.

Note the fact that bike lanes in Colombia are actually bike paths, fully sheltered and separate from traffic (the portion about bikes starts at around 4:40). Street Films, who produced this video, has made similar ones exclusively about bike use in Bogota, which you can watch here and here.

Have a great week, be safe, and feel free to discuss amongst yourselves during my absence.