Apart from the international cycling stars who have honed their skills on our rugged terrain, a vibrant local culture revolves around the world of cycling. Bogota’s strategic location positions it as a cycling mecca, allowing enthusiasts to conquer the mountains of its neighboring towns.
Bogota stands at the core of a network of cyclists from diverse backgrounds. Radiating out from this central point are countless arterial roads, where cyclists embark on adventures in search of new territories to conquer. Cyclists in the capital set off on rides within the city’s limits, enjoying the benefits of the most extensive cycling infrastructure on the continent: a network of 500 kilometers of dedicated cycling lanes. However, the call of the open road drives them further and further every week, always seeking new horizons.
Pedaling Through History
Globally, by 2024, the cycling industry, encompassing bicycles, apparel, and accessories, is projected to reach a staggering $62 billion. While the United States and Italy are global leaders in this industry, Colombia is the fastest-growing cycling market in Latin America. Cycling has become ingrained in the Colombian spirit.
The origins of Colombia’s cycling passion date back to 1951 when the first Vuelta a Colombia by bicycle took place. This grand race unveiled the country’s landscapes to its own people, who had previously remained unaware of its beauty. Over the years, intrigued by this feat, many foreigners have also set out to explore Colombia’s vast terrain on two wheels.
In Bogota, a million cyclists navigate the city’s streets daily, and on Sundays, when major avenues are closed to traffic, this number surges significantly. On these days, more than 10% of the city’s population takes to the streets on their bicycles.
The primary nodes of this cycling network are the avenues of Bogota. Alongside these routes, cycling workshops, apparel vendors, bicycle shops of all sizes, and more, have sprouted and multiplied. This entire system has evolved as a consequence of the cycling phenomenon, constituting a human and economic ecosystem that simply would not exist without the bicycle. Its influence, however, extends far beyond the capital.
Ascending to New Heights
The Alto de Patios, an integral part of this cycling revolution, is a testament to this phenomenon. It used to be a simple pit stop on the road from Bogota to the town of La Calera, with a gas station, toll booths, and a few roadside vendors. However, the seven-kilometer climb has transformed into a training ground for amateur cyclists, comprising a series of winding and, at times, steep curves that elevate riders above the city in a matter of minutes.
Achieving the summit in just half an hour is considered a significant feat, and every Sunday, at least five thousand cyclists conquer this route. At the top, a world of options awaits the weary yet triumphant cyclists.
Alto de Patios boasts at least thirty places where cyclists can indulge in a hearty breakfast: eggs cooked to your liking, arepas boyacenses stuffed with cheese, freshly baked pandebonos and almojábanas, empanadas, bagels, sandwiches, cakes, juices, soft drinks, energy drinks, and, above all, aguapanela, the quintessential Colombian beverage.
It’s the very same drink that sustained the first Colombian riders who competed in the Tour de France. Every Sunday, Alto de Patios transforms into a multi-hour festival, starting early in the morning and lasting well into the afternoon. This celebration generates hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and benefits dozens of local families.