Downhill Cycling in Colombia – Gravity Bike Tours with Guanabana Tours

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Calling all two-wheelers: cycling in Colombia should be on your bucket list, and Guanabana Tours’ Medellin bike tour is a great place to start. The Colombia cycling scene may be overshadowed by soccer but the country has a long love affair with bicycles. This gravity bike tour just outside of Medellin was easily one of our favorite things to do in Colombia. Read on to find out why.

COVER Colombia cycling tour with Guanabana Tours

vista while cycling in colombia

horses along the road

Downhill Cycling in Colombia 

As I careen around a curve, the clouds seem close enough to touch. In fact, I can touch them. They’re that close: tendrils of mist curling up the hillside. The road in front of me snakes downward in gentle curves. We break through the mist to see yet another amazing view of the valley below. Lush, green fields stretch off to the horizon. Cycling in Colombia is full of moments like this, and after this Medellin bike tour, I was hooked. Our gravity bike tour on Medellin’s “Forgotten Road” was fantastic. 

What’s a gravity bike tour? Why try cycling in Colombia? Why this particular Medellin bike tour? I hope to answer all these questions by the end of this post. We’ve had lots of great adventures in Colombia so far, but Medellin bike tours like this were easily the biggest surprise hit. We knew we’d enjoy rafting, and we knew my son would love skydiving. But we had no idea just how much fun cycling in Colombia would be.

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What’s a Gravity Bike Tour?

view from the colombia cycling tour

more scenes from colombia cycling tour

view from the top

First of all, let’s explain the difference between a gravity bike trip and normal cycling in Colombia. Our Colombia cycling tour with Guanabana Tours was not an uphill battle. In fact, it was basically all downhill. All 35 kilometers of it. That’s what cycling in Colombia on a gravity bike tour is: gravity does all the work! Guanabana Tours staff drive you to the peak. From there you put on a helmet, jump on a bike and roll downward through some of the most scenic territory in the country.

Many Medellin bike tours travel through various climates, as did this one. After all, you descend approximately 2,000 meters in elevation during the ride! What started as a chilly, cloud-kissed alpine morning eventually transformed into a steaming tropical afternoon. The top and the bottom of the road look like completely different countries. This is the Andes mountains after all, so Medellin bike tours tend to have a lot of ups and downs in the countryside. 

Why This Colombia Cycling Tour?

colombia cycling near Medellin

colombia cycling in Medellin

There are a lot of different Medellin bike tours because cycling in Columbia is big nationwide. In fact, cycling in Colombia is second only to soccer/football in nationally beloved sports. The Tour de France has major viewership in the country, and you’ll see lots of Colombia cycling hobbyists in the hillsides around Medellin. Both Medellin and Bogota have springlike temperatures for much of the year. This makes them ideal for bicycling, but there are also opportunities for cycling in Cartagena, Cali and many other places in the country. So why this particular Medellin bike tour with Guanabana Tours? Let me tell you.

It’s Easy

Medellin bike tours

The Forgotten Road Tour requires very little strength or endurance. No exaggeration. Just about any level of fitness could do this Medellin bike tour. I remember only one uphill spot on the entire tour: a steep hill about 50 meters long. My girl and I just hopped off the bikes and pushed them up. Aside from that, Colombia cycling tours on this road are all downhill.

It’s Safe (Relatively)

bike helmet change

You don’t need to be an athlete to bike this road, but you must be sharp and responsive enough to make turns and use brakes correctly. The road is in fairly good condition but there are the occasional potholes and gravely spots. There is a small cement wall or guardrail along the edge for much of the road, but not all of it. Like any downhill bicycle riding, you need to pay attention. This and your own speed are the main areas of concern and caution, in my opinion. Remember that this is all downhill, so you can pick up some real speed if you’re not paying attention.

The best part? You almost have the road to yourself. Aside from other cyclists and the occasional motorized vehicle, we were the only people I could see most of the time. This road was once the main artery from Medellin to the Pacific coast. Then a newer road and tunnel opened and took the traffic with it. During our entire ride, we encountered less than a dozen cars/trucks. There are houses and other buildings here and there, but few the road is fairly empty.

It’s Laid Back (Followed by a Truck)

truck Medellin bike tours

The pace you ride is flexible. You’re guided by Guanabana Tours staff, and they’re happy to stop anywhere along the way. Knowing that, we took our time. It could be different with large groups, but we were happy to speed along in some places and casually roll in others.

One of the things we liked about this Medellin bike tour was that a truck follows you down the hill. This turned out useful for us. For example, ten minutes into our descent my girl felt like her helmet was too loose and couldn’t be tightened any more. I told our guide, then he spoke into a walkie talkie. Within minutes his truck came around the corner (driven by a local assistant) to give us a new helmet. About an hour later, I mentioned I had a headache coming on. He radioed in and minutes later there was his truck again with a bottle of ibuprofen.

It’s Scenic

pics at top of hill before bike tour

waterfall colombia cycling in Medellin

Cycling in Colombia countryside is remarkably picturesque, and I’m afraid my pictures really don’t do it justice. The views we saw along this ride were so, so great. It seemed like every third or fourth turn I’d shout “Wait! Can we stop for a pic?” The alpine climate at the top of the mountain reminded me of the Picos de Europa in northern Spain. The steamy farmlands at the bottom reminded me of the banana orchards of eastern Costa Rica. There were waterfalls and lookout points with large birds sailing on thermal winds. It was spectacular. 

Our Colombia Cycling Experience

hot chocolate on hill

colombia bike tours prep

The day started with a pickup in Medellin. Like I mentioned in the rafting post, Keiko and I respect any tour operator in Latin America that shows up on time. Guanabana Tours is one of those operators. Then it was a 90-minute ride to the Boquerón Pass, where the gravity bike tour would begin. I was surprised how chilly it was when we reached the starting point. After all, this is Colombia, right? It’s easy to forget your in the Andes here. We were starting our Medellin bike tour at around 2700 meters above sea level. We were literally in the clouds.

As our guide set up the bikes, the girl and I went to a nearby roadside stand. Here we tried hot chocolate and almohábanas, small puffy grilled cookies that were perfect for dipping. Then we strapped on helmets and tested the bikes. Our guide made sure that the seat height was ideal and that the gears and brakes worked properly.

gravity bike Medellin bike tours

scenes from colombia cycling tour

Then we were off! Simple as that. We started slowly as my girl got used to riding again. After all, this was her first time on a bicycle in well over a year…possibly two. Once she felt comfortable, we started enjoying the view more. We’d stop here and there for pictures and stories of the area from the guide. Wearing only a t-shirt, I was a little cold for the first hour. As I mentioned earlier, we were literally riding in the clouds at the onset, and the breeze was a bit brisk. Less than an hour later, the climate has changed. Instead of alpine weather, the air was balmy. Bananas and coffee grew on the side of the road.

Cycling in Colombia’s Rainy Seasons

rain colombia cycling in Medellin

Then came the storm. Colombia travel in the rainy season has its perks, such as smaller crowds and cheaper prices. It rains in the dry season as well, but only in short, strong bursts and finishes quickly. That said, one must be ready for rain, and we were. However, before I pulled out our ponchos, the guide found shelter and we rolled under a garage roof and waited out the downpour. Our guide called in and the truck came to get us and drive us to dryer lands. The squall did little to dampen our spirits.

BBQ Lunch

BBQ lunch after Medellin bike tour

On the way back to Medellin, the driver took us to El Llanerito, a barbeque restaurant serving “Cowboy style” (carne a la llanera) meats. The food was simple and delicious: slices of smoked beef and pork with sides of baked potato and yucca garnished with guacamole. To wash these down, the guide ordered us coconut lemonade. You must try this. It was spectacular. Once our bellies were full, we climbed back in the truck and headed back to Medellin. A full and amazing day.

See the Forgotten Road Tour & Other Colombia Adventure on the Guanabana Tours Website

Have You Been Cycling in Colombia? 

Would you do a Colombia cycling trip like this? Or have you tried any Medellin bike tours? Where did you go? What was it like? Was it a Medellin bike tour or did you try cycling elsewhere in the country? We’d love to hear about more great Colombia bike tours so let us know!

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Disclaimer: Our downhill cycling tour was sponsored by Guanabana Tours, but my views are my own and we really did have an awesome time and I recommend without hesitation. Also, this Colombia cycling blog post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something or book a hotel using one of the links here, we might get a small commission. You pay nothing extra, so don’t worry. Also, everything you see here is just my personal opinion. I only recommend places, activities, and gear that I believe will genuinely help you get most out of Colombia travel. If you have any tips for Medellin bike tours or any Colombia cycling tours, please let us know! 

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