Outstanding Guest Comments after Tour with Tom - our VeloGuide in Cartagena

  • Author: VeloGuide
  • Published: Apr 11, 2018

Tom VeloGuide:  5 out of 5 stars

- Guest Rating: Richard M - April 10, 2018

"Today, I had one of my most enjoyable yet challenging experiences on a bicycle in MANY years of riding, Richard in Cartagena and it was all thanks to Tom Claes, my VeloGuide cyclist expert in Cartagena, Colombia. I would give Tom a 110 out of 100 rating - I mean it.
Let me explain, briefly. I am in Cartagena for a week, with my wife, for the wedding of our nephew. I thought it would be fun to go out for a ride while here. Initially, I thought I would just try to rent a bike from a local cycle shop, and go out on my own. Then, I found Tom on VeloGuide, and that seemed promising. Full Disclosure: After I followed Tom on Strava, I returned to my idea that I could just do this on my own, as I saw one of his classic rides, and it looked pretty straightforward - a 90K out-and-back, along the coast. So, for a moment, I thought of trying to do it on my own.
My wife STRONGLY argued against that idea, and so I began the booking process with VeloGuide - which was straightforward, clear, and very simple. Anyway, to cut to the chase. we got to Cartagena,, arranged to meet Tom at a bar that he owns, and quickly discovered that I had made a GREAT choice!
Tom is incredibly knowledgeable about the local cycling scene, passionate about cycling, very personable, and funny as well. As he described what cycling was like here, it became readily apparent that it was a really good idea that I had arranged to bike with him! There are not really any local bike stores that rent good road bikes, and Cartagena is not the most bike-friendly city (especially for Norte Americanos who don't know their way around).
As Tom explained the situation, my wife gave me a telling, "I told you so" look. Anyway, after talking for an hour, Tom took my pedals home to attach to his second bike (which I was going to use), and we arranged to meet at 6am the following morning. He was right on time, with his father-in-law who was driving our support vehicle. (Again, full disclosure: I had wondered about the necessity of this, but Tom insisted on it - for safety reasons, as well as having the option to end the ride a little short, if I got tired - more on this later!)
Anyway, we got the bike set up, and set off, planning to do a ride partly along the coast (flat and fast, with a good number of cars and buses passing all the time), and then headed inland to go through some rustic villages and do some climbing. Tom was a great guide all along, pointing out interesting local sites, giving me local knowledge, pacing me well, encouraging all the time. I should say, here, that I am a 65-year-old age-group triathlete, who rides a good amount in NY State, although because of our fairly cold, wet winter, I have not ridden that much this year. Anyway, our route took us through interesting farm land, saw lots of cows and horses, and did a fair amount of climbing. And, it was HOT! 
At the 70 K mark, we stopped, got some cold drinks and a little food, and planned our return. We headed back, re-climbed the one fairly big hill that we had done, going out, although it was a little less steep - but now in the VERY HOT Colombian sun. To conclude: We got to the 90K mark, with about 15K more to go, and stopped again for some refreshments. And, at that point, I sort of bonked - mostly, I think, from the heat. I told Tom I had had enough, he kindly asked me, "Are you sure?" and when I applied affirmatively, we put the bikes in the pick-up truck, and had a nice chat driving back to Cartagena, with his father-in-law.
What can I say but THANK YOU to VeloGuide, and especially to Tom. I don't think I would have been able to do the ride without this system, and if I had, I am not sure I would have gotten back in one piece! Having the follow-car was really helpful in making the ride safe and fun. So, to wrap up - anyone thinking of going to Cartagena to ride, and if you DON'T book Tom, you are just NUTS! I will certainly consider using VeloGuide again in the future. And, I am looking forward to taking Tom out for a ride when he visits NYC again at some point. It would be my pleasure and honor to show him around return his hospitality, help, and friendship.
Thanks again,
Comments: Tom Claes - April 11,2018
Hi Richard, the pleasure was all mine. You did very well and we both enjoyed the ride. I'll accept the return ride in NY! We'll be in touch. Thanks for sharing the ride in Cartagena with me (and your epic review!). I'm blown away by the compliments. Take care! Grtz, Tom