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.” 

Last Ride On My Specialized 29er

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! 

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