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routine went on for years, and I rode for several hours at a time most days, not simply in our driveway as kids often do but in large loops spanning many city blocks.

Two years ago, I returned to 151 Street in Bogotá and I was surprised to see that it was steeper than I remember. I was impressed that my five-year-old legs could manage the ascent and was amazed by the fact that my parents would let me wander that far away from our house and into such busy streets. It was standing there two years ago on 151 Street in Bogotá, as I was showing my American wife the country, city and neighborhoods were I grew up, that I suddenly remembered the overwhelming love I once had for both my bicycle and the sport of cycling. It suddenly occurred to me that I could recapture that joy, the joy of riding my bike, and perhaps even pretend to win the Alpe d’Huez stage once again. If it was even remotely possible to recapture a small percentage of that joy, my life could be transformed once again. I had to try.

Like so many others my age I stopped riding my bike somewhere around my teens, perhaps discarding it as so many other toys. In my case this was also exacerbated by the fact that my family moved to the United States where cycling was simply not part of the shared consciousness, even if American Greg Lemond managed to win the Tour the very year we moved to this country (1990). Upon moving to the United States it became clear to me that few if any people other than children rode bicycles and that roads seemed rather unsafe for a kid my age to ride on. More importantly, there was no Ciclovia. As a result, there would be no more early mornings for my brother and I to watch much less listen to the Tour. It appeared to me that the connection I had to the sport and my bike came largely as a result of living in Colombia. Once outside that environment a bicycle made little sense.

Nevertheless, last summer I found myself, now in my 30’s shopping for a bicycle. I was out to relive memories that better adjusted adults would have managed to let go of during their path to adulthood. As I began to talk to bicycle shop employees, I inevitably told parts of my storied love affair with cycling as a child in Colombia. Understandably, the young employees often looked at me as they would the town fool. And why wouldn’t they? As a result of not knowing a single adult who rides a bicycle I began to research bikes and equipment online as well as frequently visit local shops. Upon doing so, I quickly realized that individuals with substantial budgets and attitudes now primarily occupied the sport I once loved. The cycling world, it would appear, had no room for a 30 year old with misguided notions about trying to once again have as much fun as he did as a kid. My pursuit, however, seemed well worth it so I continued.
With a small budget I first bought a simple three-speed complete bike thinking I should simply replicate the simplicity of my childhood bike. I quickly realized that its gearing was not sufficient for the plentiful hills in this part of the country. Apparently, one gear had been enough for me to tame the Andes as a five-year-old but my aging body and form was not what it once was. After selling my recently purchased bike I quickly upgraded to a new bicycle with an internal 8-speed hub and platform pedals. I quickly found that riding carelessly as I once did for hours is not as easy as it was then. Life has a way of getting complicated and busy over the years, and the freedom and carefree lifestyle I had as a five year old is now a distant memory. This should come as no surprise to anyone but it did to me. Though I managed to ride only about once a week through the spring, summer and fall of last year, I still had brief moments of pure joy that took me back to that earlier time. Riding alone in silence through the local streets and trails, however, also reminded me of how far from home I am and how much I miss my beloved Colombia as well as those simple days in my childhood. Leave it to me to find sadness in what others manage to find great joy in, riding a bicycle. This is a small but persistent character flaw that I’ve tried to work on over the years and continue to work at nearly everyday. While some say that the glass is half full, others say its half empty. I say there’s no glass. It was stolen or someone broke it long ago. Still, owning a bike again made me very happy, even when I was not riding it. I felt like a kid again and would often manage to forget my adult concerns as I found myself riding. What an amazing feat for a small, man-made machine to accomplish.

Today, as the snow falls outside, and a new year rolls forward, I’m in search of a new bicycle that will better suit my riding needs. I’m now craving hills much as I did as a child. I am looking for a bike that if you’ll excuse the vapid wording, will work better as a time machine; a time machine that can hopefully transport me to an earlier time of my choosing. Perhaps if I ride hard and long enough I will reach the top of the steepest hills only to find myself back in Bogotá in one of those summer Sundays of 1984. Perhaps I will also learn to finally feel at home in what continues to feel like a foreign country and city to me even though I have lived here for so many years. So if you see a guy in the streets riding in non-cycling attire, sprinting for no reason, and then raising his arms pretending to win a stage at the Tour de France, just ignore him. It will just be me, winning Alpe d’Huez once again.