Mesa is a former pro-cyclist from Boyaca who spent six years cycling for Sella Italia in Europe in a peloton with Marco Pantani, among others. Cycling is bittersweet for him as the sport he loves has also cost him dearly: 10 years ago his brother who was also a cyclist died of heart failure at the end of a multi-stage race in Venezuela. Uberlino was forced to give up his career in 2009 after a severe training accident near his home left his cranium fractured in multiple places.
Sports Editor Freek Huigen spoke with him about his new passion, as owner of Waldo’s bar in Paipa, Boyaca.
Why did you choose to be a cyclist?
My grandmother was good friends with the parents of Fabio Parra [who came third in the general classification in the 1988 Tour de France], and she loved cycling because she always said you have to sweat to make money. She bought a bike for my younger brother Ubaldo, who loved cycling at that time. He wouldn’t go out on his bicycle by himself, but he also wouldn’t lend it to me.
So, to solve that situation my parents, borrowed another bicycle from Fabio Parra’s parents and we starting racing in school competitions. We were soon winning these competitions, and both of us went on to become professionals.
What do you feel was the best moment of your career?
When I started winning multi-stage tours in Cundinamarca and Boyacá, beating the top national cyclists in the mountain stages. Getting a contract in Europe with Sella Italia was also an important moment in my life. I cycled there for six years, so there are a lot of highlights for me.
What was the saddest moment of your career?
The loss of my younger brother Ubaldo. Ubaldo was a more talented cyclist than me. That day in 2005, we competed on different teams but were racing in the same tour in Venezuela. Before the final stage, he died from a heart failure at only 31 years old. My world collapsed: I couldn’t stop thinking about him and I never had another good race.
How is your life after your professional career?
It is still difficult to see my friends cycling when I can’t do that anymore. I opened Waldo’s bar and named it after my brother, which helped me to overcome my depression. And having my old colleagues and new champions like Nairo Quintana come here from time to time asking me how I am is something incredible.
You can find Waldo’s Cafe Bar in Paipa, Boyacá. Calle 25 #18-43 with Uberlino always there for a laugh.