Colombia took to cycling in the 1950s. It was a sport ideally suited for a country in financial hardship. And while it might seem like an oversimplification to see Colombia's original attraction to bike racing as being partially fueled by its own financial limitations, it most certainly explains the public's ability to connect to it. Colombian laborers knew the roads that were being traversed by the Vuelta a Colombia. Many had climbed those endless mountain passes (or ones like them) on their bikes, usually out of need rather than sport. In that sense, cycling connected with the population in an organic, but very significant manner that other sports simply didn't. Colombians understood the struggle of a cyclist, even in its most extreme moments, because it was often their own. Whether in a literal or allegorical sense. Colombia's place within cycling is best understood through the lenses of anthropology and sociology. In contrast to highly individualistic countries in Europe or the United States, Colombia has among the lowest Individualism scores in the world, according to the social index developed by Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede. According to his research, Colombians are among the most cooperative and communicative individuals, to the point that the phrase "it takes a village" cease to sound like a cliché, and starts to take greater meaning. In cycling, these aspects about Colombian culture manifest themselves through a dense network of trainers, coaches, teams, sponsors, riders and foundations that have come to define Colombian cycling and serve as shortcut of sorts to a deeper understanding of Colombia’s culture as a whole. 

Consider the case of current professional, Rigoberto Uran. At 14, Uran lost his father, who was killed by a paramilitary group near his hometown of Urrao. His local cycling club stepped in to take care of his family to the best of their abilities. At 16, he used his mother's birth date on his racing license, allowing him to turn professional prematurely and move to nearby Medellin, while selling lottery tickets on the street. Small personal sponsors helped his family make ends meet, as bike shops helped with supplies, and older riders passed kit, tires and shoes down to a young Rigoberto. Taxi and bus drivers pitched in by serving as team vehicles, and by taking riders like Uran to far-off towns for regional races. In some cases, family members who owned motorcycles towed as many as three riders-each one holding on to the saddle of the one in front-allowing them to race hours away from home. Likewise, local business owners opened their homes every morning to young, hungry riders, who would otherwise train on an empty stomach before school. It's this network of people, of families and businesses that have come to define Colombian cycling. And to deny its importance by simply pointing to the physiological effects of altitude or body build, ignores the very essence of what makes Colombia unique. And it's precisely this seemingly nebulous but crucial concept that Manual For Speed sought to document. The cycling clubs, the business owners, the families, the teams, trainers and doctors. The people of Colombia, all of them united, not simply for the love of a sport, but by their selfless love for one another.

- Klaus Ballon