Cycling is taking Colombia by storm. Every day, the roads and the cycling routes in the cities are filled with avid cyclists commuting to work. The roads are thick with bikes at the weekends, too, as Colombia’s beautiful landscapes make for picturesque, scenic and challenging routes. Many Colombians are enthusiastic cyclists and enjoy being outside, and many wake up early to enjoy a day filled with cycling either in a group or alone. Colombia has a large number of well-known cycling routes : from short routes to week-long trips, it’s definitely a great way to see the country.
Patios is a 4.9-mile (7.8-kilometre) stretch of road that begins in the east of Bogotá and heads up and over the city’s eastern mountains. This steep mountain road is a popular cycling route for individuals who want to test their uphill endurance: it climbs from 2,591 meters (8,500 feet) to the top of the mountain, 3014 meters (9,888 feet) above sea level. The route is popular with locals who want a challenge and with those who are training for uphill events. The route is busiest at weekends, especially on Sundays. The route boasts picturesque views of the city and has a number of food stops along the way.
Patios can be a challenging short trip, or the start of this longer ride. Bogotá to La Calera is a 9.3-mile (15-kilometre) mountainous stretch beginning at the start of Patios and proceeding uphill to the top of the mountain and down the other side.
The Savannah is a popular cycling route just outside of Bogotá. This 31-mile (50-kilometre) stretch from La Calera to Tocancipa goes through Guasca and part of the Chiganza National Park Paramo. The countryside route passes through a number of small towns, and up and down hills ranging from 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) to 10,498 feet (3,200 meters). This can be added to a Bogotá to La Calera route, creating a 40-mile (65-kilometre) trip around the Colombian countryside.
Ciclovía is a popular cycling event that takes place all over Colombia every Sunday, and on holidays, from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Many major towns and cities including Bogotá, Cali and Medellin close a large number of roads to allow people to cycle, run or walk without worrying about traffic. Other events take place, too, such as yoga in parks, and markets. In Bogotá, Plaza Bolivar is a popular place to cycle to and enjoy street food and market stalls. You can also visit the Usaquen market for shopping and delicious food.
The Chicamocha Canyon to Jordán is a 38-mile (61-kilometre) route in Santander close to Bucaramanga. This moderate to challenging route starts at an elevation of 6,627 feet (2,020 meters) above sea level and passes by beautiful picturesque colonial villages, natural wonders and small coffee farms. It’s a downhill route, but can be challenging because of the area’s hot climate and unpaved roads.
Alto de Las Palmas
Alto de Las Palmas is an uphill 9.2-mile (14.75-kilometre) route that heads from Medellín up and over one of the surrounding mountains. It’s popular on weekends, especially Sundays, as an extension to the city’s Ciclovía routes.
Alto de Letras
Alto de Letras is one of the world’s longest and most challenging mountain passes, and the hardest route in Colombia. It’s often included in many of Colombia’s National and International cycling events. The route begins in a small town called Mariquita (at 1,535 feet or 468 meters), close to Manizales, and ends at the Paramo de Tetras (at 12017 feet or 3,663 meters). This 50-mile (80-kilometre) uphill route is challenging, but has a small number of downhill sections that are made more complicated by the change in climate: at the start of the route the temperature can range from 20 to 30° C and at the end, from 5 to 10° C. The route passes through some beautiful landscapes and colonial villages, but it is only suitable for advanced cyclists.