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.
by Larry • • 2 Comments
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).
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.
by Larry • • 2 Comments
Sunday, 12 March 2017 dawned in the usual fashion. Daylight savings time began in the U.S. overnight. (We do not move our clocks in forward in Mexico until April 2). The weather forecast for the day called for a high temperature in the low 80’s (Fahrenheit) with mostly clear skies. The Nitos Ciclistas en Movimiento club was planning to ride to Mitla and back — a worthy ride, indeed, but — at over 60 miles / 98 kilometers — farther than I cared to pedal today. So I put in an appearance at the Summit Cyclery shop to find out where their Sunday shop ride was headed. When everyone had assembled, we headed out in the direction of Huayapam. We rode 4.25 miles on city streets before catching a dirt road that links with the bike trail which runs along the base of the foothills north of town and connects San Luis Beltran, Donaji and Huayapam. From there we rode 8 miles into Huayapam and then out and back along the trail in Tlalixtac that wends up a mountain valley in the direction of El Estudiante and Tierra Colorada. Coming out of the hills, we arrived in Tlalixtac at about noon. I separated from the group at that point to take a more direct route back to Oaxaca and my home in San Felipe del Agua.
To this point the day’s outing was completely typical. But that was about to change, and rather drastically. On the last leg of my ride home I stopped briefly at a Pitico to grab an ice cream bar. I did not have a bike lock with me, but only planned to leave the bike for a minute or so. And that’s all it took for someone to grab my bike and ride away while I was buying my snack. So my favorite bike — a 2010 Specialized “Stumpjumper FSR Expert” 29’er — disappeared right under my nose. Ouch! You can now add my name to the long list of those who have had a treasured bicycle stolen. The moral of my sad tale is both simple and obvious: do not leave your bike unlocked and unattended for even a few minutes!
by Larry • • 0 Comments
San Antonino is a village in the shadow of Ocotlan, perhaps the most famous town in the Zimatlan Valley to the south of Oaxaca city. It is noted for the fine embroidery work done by the ladies of the community and for the extravagant floral displays put on in the cemetery during the “Day of the Dead” celebration every year on November 3rd. On this particular Sunday in December the town sponsored a mountain bike race, which attracted over 250 registered participants representing bike clubs from all around central Oaxaca state. The race course was a 4.9 mile (7.88 kms) loop laid out in the rolling countryside on the south side of town. There were two significant hill climbs, with subsequent sharp descents (with downhill gradients of up to 16% and 24%, respectively), built into the loop. Riders had to make it up a total of 720 feet (219 meters) in elevation gain each time around the course. Racers in the Elite category had to ride the loop four times. Those in the various Masters classes had to go around three times. Women and riders in the Aficionado class had to make the circuit two times. As always, there were plenty of spectators on hand, and the people of San Antonino provided lots of food and beverages to reward participants after the race.