Category: Foothills

New Year’s Day Kick-Off Ride

The first day of 2018 dawned bright and clear with moderate temperatures — just the sort of day to entice a mountain biker into the saddle for a New Year’s kick-off ride. Larry and Albi met up at 10 am and agreed to ride a few miles along the Libramiento and through the mountain park managed by the nearby village of Donaji. Along the way we met many family groups enjoying hikes in the countryside or heading for a picnic in the park. At under 12 miles and taking just two hours, ours was not a long ride – but a pleasant one nevertheless. Hopefully, this was a harbinger of many good things to come in 2018.



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. 

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. 

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.” 

San Cristobal Loop

Continuing our recent excursions exploring the Etla Valley west of Monte Alban, Larry and Albi set out at 9 am on a warm and sunny morning on Thursday, 8 December to ride a little-used jeep road that drops down the side of the mountain from San Cristobal to El Carrizal. This road apparently serves solely to provide access to the farms and a few homes scattered along a burbling brook used to irrigate some of the fields in the valley. We drove west from Oaxaca city and parked in the same spot we used as a staging area for a ride to Cuilapam on 23 November 2016, recounted in an earlier post on this web site entitled, “A Final Ride In Oaxaca.”  From this vantage point we pedaled into San Pedro Ixtlahuaca and proceeded to make the long climb up the main road which leads to San Cristobal and Cuatro Venados. Since both of us have ridden this way before and the climb is tedious, we were delighted when a passing truck offered us a ride on the steepest part of the climb. As it happened, the driver had spent a few years in Denver and spoke excellent English. We had a great conversation for the mile or two we hitched a ride to the top of the mountain. In summary, we covered a distance of 16.6 miles (26.7 kms) on today’s outing, with an elevation gain and loss around the loop of 2675 feet (815 meters). The high point was at San Cristobal at 7226 feet (2202 meters) and the low point was at one of the creek crossings at 5196 feet (1584 meters). It took a bit less than four hours to finish riding the loop.

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