MARCO TULIO RUIZ, CLUB ESTEBAN CHAVES
“My name is Marco Tulio…” a plane flies overhead, and the co-founder and president of Club Esteban Chaves pauses. Once the noise dissipates, he finishes stating his name “…Ruiz”.
Estrada is a neighborhood near Bogotá’s city center. Many consider its location to be a major drawback, in particular because it lies directly below a major flight path into the city’s nearby El Dorado airport.1 But where others see an issue, Marco Tulio Ruiz saw an opportunity. Upon moving his family into Colombia’s capital city, he picked this neighborhood for one reason: cycling. “I’m two minutes away from 80th Avenue, which leads to the east of Bogotá [ideal for training rides]…the velodrome is five minutes away by bike, ten minutes away by foot. I have located myself strategically.”
That’s the extent to which Ruiz, who holds a degree in physical education, has dedicated his life to the sport. After having lived in the nearby department of Boyacá for much of his life (where he trained riders like Mauricio Soler), Ruiz moved his family to Bogotá. He did so in order to work for the city’s paralympic cycling program, which has been a success, fielding several athletes in the last two Paralympic Games.
Today, Ruiz splits his time between those athletes and Club Esteban Chaves, now with thirty students. For the father of two, this means long days, seven days a week. But when you speak with him it’s obvious that his commitment knows no bounds. Asked if his role goes beyond that of teacher and instructor, Ruiz is quick to answer. “We go visit families; we talk to the parents…we try to get involved a little bit in the family environment because that’s our function.”
“We don’t just put them on a bike and then abandon them. No.”