Building a Community Dream

MTB track built by Neira's youth passionate about mountain biking.

Cycling, more than a sport, is a way of life. And when it comes to changing lives, the bicycle has the power to do so. Dr. Jorge, a doctor from the University of Caldas and a firm believer in the power of bicycles to transform lives, especially for the young, embarked on a special mission in Neira, a small town in the department of Caldas, Colombia. He reached out to me so that we could collaborate to fulfill the dreams of the young enthusiasts of mountain biking.

From Rediscovery to Transformation

Throughout my life, I've held an unbreakable love for cycling, reconnecting with this sport in numerous ways. In this particular instance, I decided to bring this passion and experience to Neira. A message from Dr. Jorge motivated me to explore the paths of this town and to work towards what the "Doc" has been dreaming of for the young people in this region for a long time: A mountain biking (MTB) track and suitable conditions and equipment to enhance technical skills and proficiency on the bike. For Dr. Jorge, this is one of his life's purposes, and that's why he has long been the primary supporter of these young cyclists' passion. He has understood and shown that true wealth lies in solidarity and generosity.

 

Technique on the Bike and Track Adaptation

Cycling isn't just about pedaling; it involves technique, balance, and a deep understanding of the bike. And even when going back to the basics, constructing the ideal setting to practice the sport is essential. Drawing from the knowledge and experience I gained during my years as a Downhill professional, I decided to share and contribute this experience with the young cyclists. I emphasized the importance of getting their hands dirty (literally) and building what they deeply desire. This also includes adjusting the bike correctly to achieve good performance and guiding them in learning all the essential technical skills on the bike: cornering, braking, using the gears correctly, the right positioning, and more, to fully enjoy cycling at its highest level.

It was a learning process where every mistake became an opportunity to improve (just like everything in life).

Marcelo Gutierrez and Neira's youth building the MTB track to indulge their passion for the sport.

Food and Coffee: Fuel for the Body and Soul

One cannot talk about Neira without mentioning its delicious food and exquisite coffee. From rice, potatoes, and onions to the hot beverages that rejuvenate the spirit, every bite and sip reflects the rich culture of the place. Dr. Jorge, all the young people involved in the process, and I shared pleasant moments around these rituals that are also essential for community-building, fostering a collective spirit, and working as a team on joint projects. Living in coffee country, I'm passionate about good coffee and also shared some tips to enjoy a fresh drink every morning, a ritual that keeps me active and focused.

Community rituals around food during a long workday to build an MTB track.

A Bright Future for Neira

The collective effort, combined with the desires, passion, and life's purpose of Dr. Jorge transformed the Neira track into a place where cyclists can train and compete. The final result was more than just a stretch of land; it became a symbol of unity, determination, and hope. The community, united by a love for the sport, dreams of nurturing a new generation of cyclists and upstanding citizens who proudly represent Neira not only nationally but all around the world.

Descent of two cyclists on an MTB track in the municipality of Neira, Caldas.

This has been a project that deserves high recognition for Dr. Jorge, who, in every way he could, has guided, accompanied, led, and at times played a fatherly role to these young people. They too deserve special recognition for their determination, desire, motivation, and conviction to build in their own backyard a place that benefits not only them but their entire community.

To see the experience in detail, don't miss the video on my YouTube channel, where you can watch the transformation of the track and the thrilling descents of the riders after its completion.

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