Alto de Letras. Perfectly Colombian. - TBT - Insider. The Thomson Bike Tours Blog

Back in the 1980’s, when Colombian riders first appeared on the European professional cycling circuit, Colombian Pro, Lucho Herrera, mentioned that climbs like Alpe d’Huez were too short for Colombians.

Lucho Herrera

Lucho Herrera wears the polka dot jersey.
Photo: Offside / L’Equipe.

He said that it would take many more km to adapt the climb to the Colombian style of riding.

People were Surprised.  People were confused. How many more kilometers did he want?

European riders soon found out what Herrera meant when they started to explore the racing in Colombia.  Then they understood.

The Longest Climb In The World (Probably)

At least the longest climb with a solid backgrounding cycling history. The Alto de Letras is 80.1km long (50 miles) with 4,163m (10456ft) of climbing. This means you can be anything from 4h-to-6h-to-eternity in the saddle. Those brave enough to finish the climb often say that it’s the first and last 20km that are the hardest: For the first 20km you face the steepest sections and the severe heat, while the last part of the climb pits you against thin air and temperatures closer to zero Celsius.


Alto de Letras LegendAlto de Letras ClimbIt’s a continuous punishment that will leave you a total wreck by the end of the day.

 Alto de Letras

Peter’s Take On The Alto de Letras

“Letras is like nothing you’ve ever ridden before; an incredible physical and mental challenge. Physically you need to pace yourself for a minimum of 5 hours of climbing!

A couple of hours into the climb and the mental challenge kicks in – how discouraging is it to look down at your Garmin after 2 hours of climbing and realise that you’re still not even close to half-way up the climb.

Add to that the drastic changes in temperature and the effects of altitude as you get closer to the summit, and you have yourself an unbelievably epic day of riding.

But Letras is more than just numbers & stats, it’s also a beautiful climb with stunning views and little traffic. All in all, Letras is the ultimate climbing challenge – one that needs to be on your bucket list!” says Peter.

“It’s a typical Thomson Challenge…x10,” laughs Marc. “It’s Perfect.”

Colombia & Thomson Bike Tours. Where To Next?

There’s a lot you can get done in 6 months. What started out as a toe-in-the-water exercise in December last year is turning into a full-scale TBT exploratory mission.

With Juan Fuentes on the ground supported by a great team of local riders and ex-professionals, we’ll soon be ready to present something amazing.

Watch this space…

Photos of the Alto de Letras Climb

View from Alto de Letras The top of Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras las letras 4 150x150 - Alto de Letras. Perfectly Colombian. View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras View from Alto de Letras

About The Author

Chris is Thomson Bike Tour's Global Marketing Manager and comes to us from Trek and then ROTOR Bike Components. He's been in the business of cycling since 2004 and a cycling fan since 1989 and that famous Tour de France win by Greg Lemond.

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2 Responses

  1. Bernard Gogarty

    Are you now Running cycle trips including the alto de Letras climb
    If so what time of year what price ??


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