Twelve years before Cristhian Ravelo was born, his grandfather Marcos brought the Colombian National Team to Colorado for the inaugural 1980 Coors Classic. The team would be led by future Tour de France climbing specialist Lucho Herrera. Fast forward to 1992, the year Cristhian's father, Carlos, retired from a professional cycling career. It would be a storied career that included a stint at Kelme, in Spain, but for Carlos, retirement would be an easy choice. He had a new son to focus on.
Cristhian's path to cycling though, was not so straightforward. At the age of 8, Carlos moved his family to the small town of Avon, Colorado and Cristhian found his first love - skiing. "I wanted to be different growing up," Cristhian said. "My dad was a cyclist, so I decided to ski." As a Vail Ski Academy athlete he enjoyed half pipe, slopestyle and the ubiquitous tie in to cycling - skier cross. "BMX on ski's," Cristhian laughs.
It was only in college that he decided to try mountain biking and immediately fell in love with the sport that ran deep in his veins. A decision to try the Leadville 100 lead him to an 11th place in his first attempt.
And how life’s wheels roll…
Five years removed from his first Leadville 100, Cristhian begins the 2019 campaign on CS Velo - a team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In fact, he will officially meet his new roommates during a training camp in late February in Asheville, NC.
His brief experiences tells him he is ready to take on this new adventure, and along the way will be Carlos at his side, mostly to encourage, but also to remind Cristhian, "cycling is hard. If you are to do this, you have to do it 100%." It's a lesson Cristhian cherishes. He speaks both humbly about and with great respect of his father. "It's one of the best lessons my father taught me," Cristhian said.
It makes Cristhian understand the experience is worth more than a victory. "Spending time with 5-6 guys and working together is a great reward, even if the accomplishment is not a victory," he said. "Sometimes being the small team that elevates a rider to 4th overall is a better victory."
CS Velo stands for “Combined strength”. The organization was started by Luke Bunting as a way to honor his dad who was battling cancer. Luke put his dad’s name on his jersey and showed him that he would be strong for him and carry his name wherever he rode. Gaining support from within the cycling community and when his father passed, Luke found peace and healing through cycling - his teammates gave him the strength to move forward, adding his dad’s name to their jerseys as well.
CS Velo is built on the premise that each rider is stronger as a group than as an individual, both on the bike and in our lives. Many of our teammates have experienced the untimely loss of friends and loved ones from battling illnesses like cancer. Teammates are invited to add the name of a loved one in whose honor they ride to the jersey each year and together they carry these names as we ride to remind us of our Combined Strength. You can count on CS Velo riders to be “good guys” who ride and compete with a purpose.