domingo, 14 de octubre de 2018

Bike Polo in Parque La Florida

Intense action in the final game.
This weekend, 24 teams, mostly from Latin America, competed in a spirited bike polo tournament.

I was impressed by the sport's dynamism, by the fans' enthusiasm, and by the athletes' adroitness and
technical skill.

A team composed of Colombians, Mexicans and a latino from North America won the tournament, but in reality these folks found their joy in the competition itself. Winning was secondary. I also noticed that the distance from bike polo to anarchism isn't much.

Bike polo bicycles waiting for action.

Post-tournament unsubtle celebration!
By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

Bogotá's Bike Cemetery

Going, going, gone forever. Bicyces wait for their owner who never comes.
When the police sieze bicycles, either because the bike is allegedly stolen of a cyclist's infraction, the police store them in huge lots, until in theory the owner appears  or pays his or her traffic fine.

However, many of bicycle owners never do appear, and the bikes lie rusting away for years. For legalistic reasons - and undoubtedly authorities' apathy - giving the bicycles away is difficult. So, the bicycles accumulate by the many hundreds and thousands, slowly becoming worthless.

The other day, while pedaling to Parque La Florida to see a bike polo match, we passed one of these bicycle cemeteries, on Ave. Mutis, near Engativa. I stopped to snap some pictures, but when the security guards saw me they ordered me to stop. God forbid, after all, that anybody should learn about this problem. Then, someone might find a good use for the abandoned bikes, such as donating them to orphanages or poor communities, and the guards would lose their jobs.

A mural by MAL crew in Bogotá's Santa Fe neighborhood,
behind the Central Cemetery, portrays the bicycle cemetery.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

sábado, 6 de octubre de 2018

What's it Take to Go To Jail?

'Judge sends home gang which stole more than 200 bicycles." (El Tiempo)
Police have arrested a criminal gang who allegedly stole hundreds of bicycles.

On their way back home?
Alleged bike thieves and their take. 
Bike theft is an epidemic here, altho a chronic one. But that's not all: Recently, cyclists have been murdered during bike thefts.

But 13 of the 15 alleged thieves won't go to jail, but instead received home detention. Home detention
is often a joke here, either because the arrestees relax comfortably at home or even remove the bracelets, put them on a housepet, and go out to party or commit more crimes.

Advocates of home detention point out, reasonably, that prisons are overcrowded and that prisoners often learn to be worse criminals, rather than be rehabilitated.

But, for a group which allegedly stole hundreds of bikes, which they might have sold for the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars, does home detention serve as any deterrent at all?

And the punishment seems out of line in a nation turning harsher and harsher against drug crimes - which many people call 'victimless crimes.'

In contrast, stealing the transport and recreation from hundreds of people seems like a crime deserving serious punishment.

By Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

viernes, 28 de septiembre de 2018

Bogotá's 2018 Bike Products Fair

Shiny bikes galore at the Feria de la Bicicleta in the Plaza de los Artesanos.
Check out this year's bike products fair, going on this weekend, Sept. 29 and 30th, in the Plaza de los Artesanos near Simon Bolivar Park. Admision is free. 

You'll find a big variety of cool, colorful bikes, packs, accesories, and other products, many of them hand-made here in Bogota, as well as these products.

For urban cyclists, carrying packs on the bike is a chronic problem: Backpacks can be
unconfortable and leave a sweaty patch on your back; rear saddlebags are popular, but in a big city like Bogotá you risk having someone steal your belongings behind your back each time you wait for a light to change; I like low-rider front racks, which are stable and allow you to watch your packs, but these are almost unknown in Colombia; and almost every saddlepack creates the awkward necessity of lugging a bulky bag around at your destination.

So, I was instantly impressed by MeVoyenBici's light, simple, elegant hangers, which enable you to hang your backpack securely from your handlebars, keeping it in sight, at hand and relatively protected from road splatter. They now have hooks for folding bikes and are working on designs for other bikes, including mountain bikes.
Hanging a pack onto bike handlebars
with a Kangaroo.

 A very different solution to the pack problem also caught my eye. Bike Kontrol, whose tiny workshop is at Carrera 25 No. 24B-45 in the Samper Mendoza neighborhood, was offering these 'packs' manufactured from plastic water or gasoline containers. They are definitely waterproof!

Demonstrating a Bike Kontrol rigid pack.

 And if you want to stay warm and dry while pedaling your load, check out Coverrain's rain tarps. But how will they perform in a strong sidewind?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

sábado, 22 de septiembre de 2018

2018 Bike Week Kicks off With a Family Feud

Learning to ride.
Bogotá's 2018 Bike Week kicked off today with activities near the Virgilio Barco Library - and an unusual fissure in the bicycle advocacy community.
Cargo bikes, by EnCargo.

A friend and cycling advocate explained to me that historically Bicycle Week has been financed and organized by grassroots cycling organizations themselves. However, this year the city government stepped in to organize and partially finance the events. That generated resentment among some cycling groups, who saw it as an attempt to co-opt the cycling agenda by Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who is deeply unpopular among leftists. As a result, my friend said, this year some half of the those who participated last year are boycotting the activities, and some cycling organizatioins from south Bogotá are even actively protesting Bicycle Week.

Go figger. While Peñalosa's policies leave lots to be desired, in this term and his previous one his governments have built many kilometers of bike lanes, and recently the city's Turism Institute has done a good job promoting mountain bike routes outside of Bogotá.

The full schedule of events is available at.

Bogotá, 'World bicycle capital'? Very debatable.
A stationary bike spinning race.

Cyclist self-defense exercises: Necessary in the face  of bike thefts, and even murders of cyclists.

The Batmobikebile!
A tall bike.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

A Car a Bike Lane

Crashed cars in a bike lane.
 On my way home this evening I encountered these two cars crashed into each other in Carrera Septima's bike lane, across from Independence Park and almost beside the CAI police station.

These cars have seen better days.
My first thought was to wonder what the cars were doing in the bike lane when they crashed, or whether they smashed together somewhere else and the skidded into the lane, hopefully not taking any cyclists with them. (I'm not sure how long previously the accident had happened, but I saw no ambulances, so hopefully nobody was seriously injured.)

The second thing which struck me about the crash scene was the lack of measures to prevent cyclists from crashing into the smashed cars. On the other hand, someone had very thoughtfully placed reflectors in the street to warn drivers against hitting the cars in the bike lane.
Reflectors thoughtfully placed to prevent other cars from hitting the smashed cars in the bike lane.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2018

Riding up El Verjon

Luis Carlos and two guys from Newfoundland on their way up El Verjón.
El Verjón is a popular climb which, after 20 minutes huffing and puffing from the city center, will have you feeling like you've entered a different reality.

A view of Bogotá from above.
On a nice weekend or holiday morning hundreds of cyclists make the climb, many on expensive racing bikes, some shadowed by police escorts.

The road twists and turns through the forest of pines and eucalyptus, offering spectacular views of Bogotá and its surrounding savannah - and a great excuse to stop and catch one's breath in the thin area at 3,000 meters above sea level.

According to the Altimetrias Colombia blog, the full climb is
18.1 kms and climbs 647 meters to an altitude of of 3367 meters above sea level, at an average grade of 4.12% and a maximum of 12%.

At the top, take a break in the little snack shack with a sweet, warm agua panela, Colombian cyclists' official drink.
Luis Carlso and Darren, from the UK, pedaling up El Verjón.

A selfie above Bogotá.
From Altimetrias Colombia.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours, which offers montain bike tours.