Before I start today's festivities, allow me to tell you that there's an entire other post written by none other than me, which you can read here. Yes, it will take a whole extra click of your mouse to get there, but I think it's well worth it. It's about the recent rise of Colombian cycling, and how it's connected both to the sport's past, and to a Presidential decree from the 1980s.
And now, today's post:
|Photo: Horacio Gil Ochoa|
This past Saturday, a comment was left by a reader in the post where I interviewed photographer Horacio Gil Ochoa regarding a series of pictures he took many years ago in the city of Manizales. Since that entire post was devoted to figuring out the identity of the woman who was photographed, I was surprised when the comment addressed that very question. It said:
I have the answer of who was this woman, she was my grandmother, I could not believe when I saw her picture. Her name was Lastenia Lopez, she lived in Manizales and she was the mother of Arturo "Peluca" Lopez a cyclist from Manizales. If you want to know more please contact me. Thank you for your great curiosity it brought a lot of memories to me...thanks again...
I contacted this person right away, and quickly found out more. The person who had left the comment was Maria Lucy R., and that was indeed her grandmother giving small snack bags to Colombia's leading cyclists. Lastenia Lopez was Maria Lucy's maternal grandmother, the elderly woman pictured in the series by Horacio Gil Ochoa. Lastenia passed away in 1974, when Maria Lucy was only 6 years old. Maria Lucy never met her uncle Arturo "Peluca" Lopez, who sadly died at only 24 years old (she believes in 1963, though she's not certain) when he was run over by a truck while training. Arturo spent several days after the accident in a hospital, but eventually passed. Maria Lucy says there is now a small monument in Manizales with his name in the spot where the accident took place, though she's not certain of its exact location.
|Photo: Horacio Gil Ochoa|
Lastenia had a small stand in the local market, where people would buy their fruits and vegetables. She didn't have much, but loved bringing snacks to the riders, since she loved both cycling and her son very deeply. She always dressed in black, even before her son's passing. Once "Peluca" died, she continued to bring bags to the riders, in memory of her son.
The loss of "Peluca" troubled her deeply, and her advancing age didn't help matters. Lucy's mom said that Lastenia eventually died from a broken heart over the loss of her son. Her last years were spent bedridden, though Lucy remembers her as a woman with a firm temperament. She doesn't have many memories of Lastenia, as she passed when she was only six years old. Still, Lastenia made an impact on many riders, and through the work of photographer Horacio Gil Ochoa, she's remembered today.
So there you have it, we now know who this amazing and beautiful figure in Colombian cycling was. Lastenia Lopez was, in a sense, a loving mother figure to all cyclists. ▇
As most of you probably know, the Tour de France starts this coming Saturday. In the past, I've noticed that when I write timely posts about current events within cycling, readership can suddenly spike. Having said that, I often find writing such posts to be tedious, since I'd rather simply focus on the topics that interest me at that moment. Those topics usually have very little to do with the current news cycle.
In keeping with that philosophy (if you can call it that) I plan on taking next week off from the blog, a time when cycling readership usually soars. I'm not doing this in protest due to the lack of Colombian riders at the Tour (which I find amazing, considering the unbelievable season that Colombians have had thus far), but simply because I have other things I'd rather do. How rebellious of me.
I've tried to take weeks off before, only to come back early and post anyway, so we'll see how this goes. In the meantime, if you crave content that is tied into the current state of the sport, look no further than the video below. It's Omega Pharma-Quickstep's promotional video going into the Tour. The choice of music is clearly the highlight of this video, which was done with a lack of self-awareness that is both astonishing and endearing. So much so, that even the people who put Sky's dry heave-inducing techno anthem for the Tour together were humbled. The second and third video are other team anthems, which I've posted before but now share to further put this one into context. Enjoy.