Sunday Ride In The Country

The fourth Sunday in April was another perfect day in paradise — and so another opportunity for a pleasant ride in the countryside around Oaxaca city. Rather than join in one of the several outings sponsored by local clubs or bike shops, three friends decided to go on their own. They pedaled from their homes in San Felipe del Aqua down through town and out into the Etla Valley west of Monte Alban. Upon reaching San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, they opted to ride north through San Andres Ixtlahuaca and over a ridgeline to San Felipe Tejalápam, then return by way of Atzompa. While passing through San Felipe, they discovered a community mountain bike race had just concluded, so stopped to watch local kids being called to the winners’ circle to receive their rewards. Overall, the distance covered amounted to 30.1 miles / 48.4 kms, with an elevation gain and loss of 2306 feet / 703 meters. With a lunch stop along the way, the ride took about four hours. 

Via Recreativa Oaxaca

On this second day of April, a Sunday, a couple of miles of the main street linking Oaxaca with Colonia Reforma, an upscale neighborhood to the north, were closed to vehicular traffic so that the thoroughfare could become a playground. The route was lined with pop-up tents and an assortment of displays and exercise areas — all part of a project called “Via Recreativa Oaxaca”. The idea was to encourage people to incorporate exercise of various kinds into their daily lives. There were exhibits featuring karate, yoga and Tae Kwon Do. There were pavilions offering dance lessons and others offering bicycles for rent. Several local bike groups sponsored leisurely rides up and down the avenue and around el centro. There were lots of people, young and not so much so, going up and down the street on in-line skates and skateboards, along with walkers and joggers and people exercising their dogs. A festive atmosphere prevailed and the hundreds of people participating seemed to enjoy the event.

Titan Zapoteca 2017

The mighty Titan Zapoteca marathon race held each spring in San Pablo Guila has become one of the premier mountain bike events in Oaxaca state. This year’s installment, which took place on Sunday, 26 March 2017, attracted over 400 registered participants — and a number of non-racing followers, like our little gringo group. As in past years, the race course was very challenging, with multiple long climbs and many treacherous descents. The race course is formidable, running for 42 km (26 miles) through the countryside, with steep climbs and scary, very technical descents. The total elevation gain and loss on the loop course amounts to over 1128 meters (3700 feet).

Exploring New Territory

Three expats living in Oaxaca set out on this bright Thursday morning in late March to explore some new territory in the Sierra Norte mountains to the north of Oaxaca city.  Using a minivan to haul themselves and their bikes into the high country, the trio drove north on Hwy 175 through La Cumbre to El Punto, then took a newly-paved country road to San Pedro Nexicho where they unloaded the bikes, got in the saddle and rode to San Matias Zoquiápam and back, covering just under thirteen miles (21 kms) along the way. Although the total elevation gain and loss was about 2000 feet (609 meters), the logging roads used were never particularly steep so the pedaling was easy. It was a warm March day in the Valles Centrales, but the temperature in the mountains was perfect for such an outing. Alex, Andy and Larry spent three hours on their out-and-back ride, taking time along the way to stop for refreshments at a trout farm and restaurant tucked into the hillside along the way. An excellent time was had by all. 

Turf Battle – Rock: 1 / Tire: 0

Another Sunday morning; another shop ride with the gang from Summit Cyclery.  Just six fellows gathered today in front of the bike shop for the outing. Marco, one of the store managers, was present and would be the ride leader for the day. He was mounted on a slick new carbon fiber Rocky Mountain “Thunderbolt” 27.5-inch bicycle with a 1×11 drivetrain. At about 8:30 am we started pedaling at a leisurely pace in an easterly direction, riding city streets until getting out into the country. We continued heading east on unpaved roads, passing through Tlalixtac and then veered toward the foothills that form the northern rim of the Oaxaca Valley. We were headed into one of the several valleys that drain from the Sierra Norte. To this point the riding had been easy — the dirt roads were smooth and the terrain was flat — so no one had even broken a sweat. Then suddenly the road turned into a rock garden. Marco was in the lead and charged into the rocks with gusto. We all heard the “Pop!” and “Whoosh!” as the sidewall of his rear tire was punctured by a sharp rock. A quick examination showed a one-inch tear in the tire. Too bad, as the tire — like the bike — was brand new! It would have been a long walk back into Oaxaca if not for a number of plastic soda pop bottles littering the roadside. One of these was the right size to take a slice from the middle to make a splint to put inside the tire so an inner tube could be installed and inflated, making the bike rideable for the journey home. As the saying goes: “All’s well that ends well.” 

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