Cycling in the City: Medellin by Bike

 Medellin sits in a valley, surrounded by the Andes mountains. A beautiful sight, but also a recipe for smog.

In recent years, the city has taken steps to develop its cycling infrastructure and promote cycling as a mode of transportation in order to curb air pollution and encourage healthy living among Paisas. These initiatives have had great success, and Medellin has become an excellent cycling destination.

There are now bicycle routes in many areas of the city, and plans are in place to expand biking them by 400 km in the next two decades. Medellin also hosted the World Bicycle Forum in 2015.

The ambitious Encicla program has also certainly contributed to the rising popularity of cycling: this bike share program has more than 35 stations in the city with over 600 bikes available for loan-for free.  Anyone in the city , including tourists may sign up online to access this service and take a spin on one of the recognizable blue bicycles. 

Bike clubs and serious athletes have proliferated, and the last Wednesday of each month has become a trendy event, offering the opportunity for bike lovers gather to ride in the Fiesta de la Bici.

Though at first glance the streets seem to be quite hectic, they are generally safe as motorists have become accustomed to keeping an eye out for cyclists on the road. On any given weekend, hundreds of cyclists take to the streets and the recreational paths to take a weekend ride. Yesterday, Earth Day, was also Dia sin Carro- Day without Cars here in Medellin. Only bikes, and public transportation vehicles were out on public streets.

Popular routes for serious cyclists, including the challenging Las Palmas and Alto de Minas routes, which take you out  of the city into the countryside, all include lots of hills. Be prepared for some steep incline training. There are also mountain biking options in the hills outside the city, with numerous operators offering tours.

In my week here, I’ve seen more cyclists than any other city I’ve been to. The lovely weather year-round and the forward-thinking initiatives of the local government really encourage people to get out and cycle the city.



I’m in Colombia!

Yup. My latest wanderings have brought me to Medellin. The flight from Toronto was relatively painless, despite an unscheduled landing at the Bogota airport due to a ‘pothole in the runway.’ When we finally arrived, I was the air was cooler than I expected and the winding drive down from the high-altitude airport gave me my first glimpse of the city’s night lights in the valley. 

I’m here for the next month to teach yoga at Flying Tree Yoga and take some workshops as a part of Yoga Internship Colombia‘s program. The studio/my home while I’m here is in the Laurales neighbourhood, an up-and-coming area with beautiful tree-lines streets and lots of shops, restaurants and cafes near the university. 
My first day has already been productive and relaxing- I went to a writer’s workshop, watched my new roomies doing acro-yoga, ate some delicious mangos and explored Parque Llaras in one of the wealthier (and more touristy) areas called El Poblado. 



Healthy Products from Around the World: Island Crisps

I love potato chips. They may not be the very best thing for me health-wise, but I think it’s really important to treat myself now and then, and chips are definitely my favourite indulgence. There are also options that are better than others: in Canada I buy chips that are fried in avocado or olive oil-both much better options than most vegetable oils. In Bali, I was delighted to find these organic chips made by Big Tree Farms out of melinjo seeds. They were crunchy, just salty enough and quite filling. Melinjo seeds are native to southeast Asia, and contain high levels of protein and antioxidants, making them a great snack.



Back to the Pura Vida

This is my fourth time visiting Costa Rica. I can’t seem to stay away from this place that holds such a clear space in and for my spirit. I’ve always believed we can learn so much from place: the different physical, geographical, cultural, social tones and our perception of how we fit in to them. Each time I am here, I experience something new.

 This space that is created continues to grow as I see paths that never existed in my life or mind before. I am continuously pushed me out of my comfort zone in so many ways as it feels like this place is supporting self-reflection over and over and over again.



The View from the Trees

High, high up in the mountains, after a long day of flights, of driving in places that put me out of my comfort zone, I finally found myself among the trees.





It’s Spring (Water) Time

Spring_dayI’ve been wanting to get out of the city for a while now (a while being the last month and half since I got back from Costa Rica) and have also been itching to get some clean water ever since I discovered last sumer that there are numerous freshwater springs around Ottawa. With warmer weather and spring finally on our doorstep, I thought the timing was right. I used Find A Spring, a great resource that maps out the location of springs around the world, to get directions to the Wakefield Spring, and recruited another health-conscious friend and her daughter for the fun afternoon. And for the car, to transport the many litres of water. It ended up being a beautiful day for the little road trip.



Death’s Lessons: Life, Love, Pain and Wellness

I haven’t written in a really, really long time. I can’t even think clearly at this point about everything that’s happened in the first five months of 2014.

Most recently, my best friend passed away very suddenly in Thailand, where he has lived for a few years and where I spent two weeks with him in late March. So many things about that sentence seem awkward, horrifying, and just plain wrong…. even calling him my best friend doesn’t seem to begin to describe the rich and authentic relationship we shared. He was my family, the closest person in the world to me. We always knew that we’d see each other as soon as we possibly could, even when we were both travelling around the world.


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