Thomson Tales

Elsewhere, the Climbs Reach 2000 Meters. In Colombia, That’s Where They Start.

Guest response to our first-ever Colombia training camp in January was so enthusiastic, we’ve scheduled a second edition for late April. Same venue, same routes (with a few tweaks); same challenge (just right for your early-season training needs), same spectacular sights and culture, same fun.

Welcome to the new playground for superstars like Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie and Ryder Hesjedal.  Not to mention the high-altitude training camp for current pros like quadruple Giro stage winner Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), cousins Sergio and Sebastian Henao of  Team Sky, and  Cannondale-Drapac’s Rigoberto Urán,  the 2017 Tour de France runner-up.

Why do all those pros and retired pros come to Colombia? Simple. The climate here is wonderful. The people are friendly, the roads are well-maintained and the drivers are courteous. And the riding is incredible. Exactly what you’d expect from a country steeped in cycling, with a deep love and respect for both cyclists and the sport itself.

And, just to be clear, because the climbs here are higher than anything in Europe.

“If tough, hilly rides are what you are looking for, then this is the trip for you. Add in the altitude and you will finish the week very satisfied with your increased fitness. Add in Colombia, a great hotel and the expertise and support of Thomson Tours and this is a week all serious riders should put on the “must do” list!”

—David Trinder, USA


Tough Climbs, Fun Times, and the Most Colorful Village In Colombia

Yes, we’ll be climbing it, just not by bike. The 740-step ascent to the top of the Peñón de Guatapé.

In addition to high and steep, the terrain in Colombia is also spectacular. Our travels will take us in all directions around the capital city of Medellín, with a different experience each day.

Highlights include a visit to La Ceja, home town of Fernando Gaviria, four-stage winner in the 2107 Giro; the Arvi Natural Park, nature preserve and Pre-Hispanic archaeological site; and Guatapé, famous for its small houses decorated with colorful bas-reliefs (part of its claim to being “the most colorful town in Colombia”).

But there’s still plenty of climbing to be had, and remember every meter of it is at altitude—so it’s literally like starting each climb from atop the Tourmalet or Croix de Fer. In fact, the lowest point on our Colombia trip is already higher than any of the climbs in the 2017 Tour, except one. (Bonus points if you know which one. Answer is at the bottom)

Case in Point, Day 3. An “easy” 109 km day featuring six climbs with just over 2400 m of elevation gain. Our goal, historic Abejorral, a town/historical park suspended in the colonial era (mid 1500s-1700s). That and the long descent back into town, of course.



“The cars seem to be very respectful of cyclists. Everyone got along—no troubles or nasty interactions. I felt very safe—never had any thought otherwise…I always felt very safe and protected.”
—Trish Bakst, USA

Discover the Best-Kept Riding Secret in the Americas

If you missed our Colombia trip first time around (or you’d just rather train in  April than late January), here’s your chance. Colombia is an as-yet undiscovered cycling paradise. But with riding and culture like this, it won’t stay undiscovered long.

“Just after I saw the announcement of the trip I saw a tweet from Christian Vande Velde. He was in Medellin riding with George Hincapie and Ryder Hesjedal taking about how great the riding was. That sealed the deal!

“I went for the adventure of riding in South America. I got what I went for! Fantastic experience!

—John McSwain

Answer to our bonus points question: the only point in last year’s Tour that was higher than the lowest point on our Colombia trip is the Col du Galibier, at 2642 meters. But you probably knew that already.