July 2011

Story On Pedals

The 20th Century was a great time of transition for Bolivia, due to political changes that were generated by the end of the Federal War (1899), the consolidation of the capital (displaced from Sucre to La Paz), and the defeat of the indigenous movement led by Zarate Willka. It also signaled the emergence of modernization, which was enhanced with the train arrival from Chile and Peru, where new products and ideas entered with a foreign population from Europe. These migrations brought new sports such as football, tennis and cycling.

By Walter Sánchez C.
Instituto de Investigaciones


Photo: Courtesy of Walter Sánchez.
A Cochabambino with a bicycle.

The city of Oruro was, as several researchers have recognized, the main recipient of these new sports. For example, the first football team was created in 1898: Oruro Football Club (Oruro), whose members were also starting to play tennis, basketball, and cycling. This was the first club for the influx of migrants, who called their machines “safety bicycles”, which would soon become popular among the social elite because of their high costs.

Cycling as a means of transport arrived quickly in Cochabamba, where many young people got bicycles with such enthusiasm that for the first decade of the twentieth century, many dedicated cycling clubs emerged, including the "Cochabamba Cycle Club." The original founding date of this club is unknown, but the organization was fully consolidated with a lot of members by the mid 1920's. One of the Club’s leaders was the photographer and sportsman Rodolfo Torres Zamudio.

The main requirement to be part of the Cycle Club was to own a bike, as part of their activities, they organized trips and tours around the city by the countryside and other nearby towns as Quillacollo or Sacaba. As this was a sports club, they took part in different social activities in the city of Cochabamba and in the provinces. An example of these events was reported by the “El Heraldo” newspaper, edition of 25.V.1925 in the following article: "In honor of Sucre, a beautiful parade” in the city of Cochabamba. "As we announced in our Saturday publication, yesterday members of the 'Cochabamba Cycle Club' participated in a parade which started at Plaza Colon and finished in the main square.”

Earlier hours were agreed upon. Starting at 11 in the morning, members of this sports group were meeting at the Plaza Colon to start the parade at the right time. More than 50 cyclists were put into properly ordered squads, under the direction of the Majors: Don Carlos Soruco, Luis Guzman and Don Rodolfo Oblitas Torrico Zamudio.

With the Bolivian flag at the head of the parade, these squads went from 25 de Mayo to the main square. Enthusiastic members of the Cochabamba Cycle Club took up the entire street, bringing traffic to a halt for several minutes. Cheers in praise of Bolivia, Sucre and the Club were constantly shouted.

Photo: R T Zamudio
Members of the Cochabamba Cycle Club process for the opening of the Coronilla monument.

In this way the squads of riders entered the main square, which was crowded with ladies, gentlemen and young people who had heard the midday concert. The sports squad performed two laps of the square, and then left it in the same order as they had entered. The participation of this cycle club in civic and social activities was also important. As it was revealed, its presence for the inauguration of the Coronilla monument (27 May, 1926), the members of the Cochabamba Cycle Club organized a colorful procession before the big coronation of Adela Zamudio, in order to give the necessary enhancement to this event.

There was not time for cycling races, nor was the bicycle a popular means of transport for workers and peasants because of their high cost. On one hand, it is possible that these first "cycle clubs", created in several cities of Bolivia, were starting to organize the competitions with the influence of the newly established American Cycling Confederation (1922-Uruguay). This confederation began to promote races in several Latin American countries.

However, it is not known when the first competitive cycling races in Cochabamba took place or who organized them. The creation of the Cochabamba Cycling Association and the conditions to play sports encouraged the emergence of several clubs in the 1960's, making Cochabamba a real hotbed of cycling. It is no coincidence that the most outstanding athlete in this area was the cochabambino Edgar Cueto. He was the winner in the Bolivian Games 1977 (La Paz), setting a national record in the individual 4000 meters. Cueto’s greatest achievement was winning the Gold Medal at the July 9th International Cycling Test in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. On the other hand, the popularity of using the bicycle as a means of transport grew massively after the nationalist revolution of 1952, when large numbers of bicycles were imported.

At the moment, although the use of bicycles in Cochabamba is widespread among children, young people, athletes, workers, elites, intellectuals and peasants, the bicycle has failed as an alternative means of transport. Cycling as a sport has never received any official encouragement.

Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológias article
was translated thanks to the agreement between
Projects Abroad and the Departament of Lingüística Aplicada a la Enseñanza de Lenguas  - Faculty Advisor  Mgr. Mónica Ruiz
Translator :
Cintya Verónica
Castro Cuellar

Calendario JUNIO 2011

> Exposición gráfica
“Pop Art”

Artista: Cachy Nogales
20 de junio - 5 de julio
> Conferencia “Medios
de comunicación,
violencia y jóvenes
en el contexto

Disertante: Xavier Jordán
1 de junio

read more ...

Archive Issues

2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016