Hooray For Sunshine!

For weeks on end grey clouds hovered over Oaxaca and frequent rain showers pelted the city day and night. September was an especially gloomy and wet month. So cries of “Hallelujah!” were heard when October arrived, bringing blue skies to local sun worshippers. Jacob, a visitor from Houston, Texas set up a Sunday morning ride to Huayapam to get a feel for mountain biking in the Valles Centrales. Huayapam was selected as the destination both because it is close by and because a mountain bike race was scheduled to take place this Sunday. It turned out to be a beautiful day for such an adventure. Due to a late start, however, we arrived too late to watch the bike race. We rode a total of 14.8 miles (22.3 kms) with an elevation gain and loss along the way of 1863 feet (567.8 meters). The route was a mix of city streets, back country lanes and a good bit of single track trail. 

Rainy Season Mudfest

The summer rainy season of 2017 has proven exceptionally wet. It may not match the record precipitation measured in 2010, but it must be close and has certainly put an end to the drought conditions of the past two years. The month of September was particularly gloomy and wet, with hardly a glimpse of blue sky. So when Ron and Larry set out on 3 October for a gentle ride in the countryside of the Zimatlan valley, they were not surprised to find lots of mud on the dirt roads that criss-cross this agricultural region. Ron picked the route, as this was his first mountain bike ride in Oaxaca and he wanted to stick with flat terrain. The idea was to load our bikes in a van and drive to Zegache, then do a loop through the countryside to Ocotlan and back. In this regard we can report “mission accomplished”. We pedaled 14.7 mi (23.6 kms) on the route, with an elevation gain and loss of less than 350 feet (106 meters). We rode at a leisurely pace and stopped at several places along the way, including to visit the Rodolfo Morales museum in the monastery the famous artist restored in the center of Ocotlan. Unfortunately the parish church in Zegache, which Morales also had rebuilt and then painted, was damaged in the earthquakes of 7 and 19 September, and so was not open to the public. Also, to our dismay, there were very few fields of flowers to be seen in the area, which normally produces most of the flowers used to decorate graves and family ofrendas for the “Day of the Dead” festivities at the end of October. Many of the farm fields, in fact, were under water. A special highlight of the ride was the discovery of a beautiful wall mural on the main street of Santiago Apostol protesting the introduction of genetically modified corn into Mexico — see photo, below. 

New Bikers In Town

Brian and Karen arrived in Oaxaca on 1 August, having moved to Mexico from Cuenca, Ecuador. They brought their 29’er mountain bikes with them and were anxious to explore the territory around their new home port. A visit to the rolling hill country of the western Etla Valley seemed a good place for an introductory ride. We opted to drive from el centro out to San Pedro Ixtlahuaca and a bit beyond before unloading our bikes and saddling up. It was a cloudy, cool day with occasional rain sprinkles. As expected, there was very little vehicular traffic on the unpaved roads that criss-cross the region like spiderwebs. We rode the lollypop loop on the left side of the map, below, passing through the small villages of Cieneguilla and Jalapa del Valle. That route covered 15.6 kilometers (9.7 miles) with an elevation gain and loss of 363 meters (1191 feet) around the circuit. The highest point was 1900 meters (6234 feet) on the road where there is a nice view of the church and environs of Jalapa del Valle. The lowest point — 1725 meters (5659 feet) — was in Jalapa del Valle itself. It was a pleasant outing that left the newcomers looking forward to future rides on single track trails in the mountains nearby. 

The Boulder Connection

Boulder, Colorado sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains 25 miles northwest of Denver. It is home to about 125,000 people and the University of Colorado. Famous for its liberal politics and an easy-going, outdoor-oriented lifestyle, it is a charming, if very expensive, place to live. A rather surprising number of Boulderites venture to Oaxaca through the year. This past week a die-hard road and mountain bike enthusiast from Boulder was in town doing daily long-distance rides to Hierve el Agua, La Cumbre and other points of interest. Another family group of seven from Boulder were also in Oaxaca at the same time. This latter group rented bikes from Bicicletas Pedro Martinez and arranged for an all-day ride in the Sierra Norte around La Cumbre on Saturday, accompanied by other expat mountain bikers living in Oaxaca and a number of local riders from the Pedalazos club. The group planned to ride the “Cabeza de Vaca” and “El Cerezo” trails at La Cumbre, then zoom down the mountainside back towards Oaxaca on “Trail 204.” The ride went well, despite a couple of rain squalls and some muddy spots in the trail. All survived the ride and declared the day a great success!

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. 

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