A Final Ride In Oaxaca

Chris and John, both visitors to Oaxaca from Colorado, had reached the final week of their stay in sunny southern Mexico. They wanted to enjoy one last mountain bike ride before heading back home, where they would have to trade bicycling for snow skiing for the winter months. And so it was they joined some of the gringo bikers who make their home in Oaxaca for a pleasant ride in the rolling hill country of the Etla Valley on 23 November 2016. The group of six riders car-pooled ten miles west of Oaxaca city, then set up their bikes for a most enjoyable 9.3 mile (14.96 km) loop ride. From the start point they sailed southeast on a dirt road that ran through an agricultural valley to the town of Cuilapam. After stopping to admire the ruins of the never-completed Dominican monastery there, the group retraced their route, opting to take a slightly different track running along a ridge line that afforded panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Pedaling around the loop, the riders managed 725 feet (221 meters) of climbing and enjoyed 703 feet (214 meters) of downhill. The elevation along the way ranged from a high of 5720 feet (1743 meters) atop a hill to a low of 5211 feet (1588 meters) in a dry wash.

Revolution Day Ride

Monday, 21 November 2016 was “Revolution Day”, a Mexican national holiday. It seemed a good day for a ride in the rolling hill country of the Etla Valley northwest of Monte Alban. Over many rides the past couple of years, Albi has become quite an expert on the area, as this is one of his favorite regions to explore via bicycle. We drove to the village of San Felipe Tejalapam, unloaded our bikes at the municipal building there and proceeded to ride some rough country roads north to Santo Tomas Tomaltepec and back. We returned by a slightly different route which followed a stream rather than climb up and over the same ridge we negotiated on the first leg of our trek. In the course of the outing we spent 2.5 hours in the saddle and pedaled a total of 11.7 miles (18.8 kms). The first half of the ride entailed climbing 1621 feet (494 meters) to cross the ridgeline that separates the two towns. The return leg was somewhat easier, with just 1397 feet (426 meters) of elevation gain. However, where the outbound segment was entirely on country roads, the return was a scramble through farm fields, along and sometimes in a stream, and over some pretty rugged terrain. Our start/end point was the lowest in altitude, registering 5432 feet (1656 meters), while the highest altitude reached was 6110 feet (1862 meters) at the top of the ridgeline. All in all, it was a most satisfying ride.

 

Mountain Bike Race in Miahuatlan

On 3 October 1866 a famous battle took place near Miahuatlan during the time of the French Intervention, when Napoleon III dispatched a French army to conquer Mexico and install the Austrian Archduke Maximilian as emperor. This foreign invasion was vigorously contested by Mexican President Benito Juarez, whose financial and military resources were considerably less than his opponents. One of Juarez’ leading generals was Porfirio Diaz, who like Juarez hailed from the state of Oaxaca. Diaz relied on an imaginative use of terrain and deception to lure French troops into an ambush, which resulted in a clear victory and paved the way for Diaz to later capture Oaxaca city and eventually become president of Mexico, a position he held from 1876 to 1880 and again from 1884 to 1911.

As part of  the 150th anniversary of this battle, the people of Miahuatlan staged a 35.4 km (22.0 mi) mountain bike race through the streets of the city and out into the countryside. Multiple teams from neighboring towns accepted the invitation to take part, as did many individual bikers. The race got under way shortly after 10 am, and the fastest cyclists began crossing the finish line about 12:15 pm. The last of the riders completed the rigorous course some three hours later.

In making their way around the race circuit, riders were challenged by an elevation gain and loss of 3436 feet (1047 meters). Miahuatlan’s city center sits at an elevation of 5191 feet (1582 meters). The high point of the race topped out at 6266 feet (1910 meters), while the low point was 5083 feet (1549 meters).

 

Off To The Race!

There was a cross-country mountain bike race today (9 October 2016) in the nearby village of Huayapam, so it was decided this would be the destination for the Sunday Summit Cyclery shop ride. Ten fellows set out from Colonia Reforma at 8:30 to ride to Huayapam. The group stopped briefly for breakfast along the way and arrived at the ecotourism park in Huayapam, where the race was held, just in time for the start of the contest. Well over 100 racers took part in the event, spread out in the elite, masters, women’s and beginners’  classes. The course followed basically the same route as last year’s race, with a couple of small adjustments to avoid some areas of high water around the presa in Huayapam.  Both race contestants and spectators appeared to enjoy the day’s activity.

Sunday Morning Ride

This Sunday morning — 25 September 2016 — dawned bright and clear, proffering a great opportunity for a gentle ride through the countryside around Oaxaca city. Members of the Nitos bike club assembled in the plaza in front of Santo Domingo at 8 AM and shortly thereafter set out on a loop ride through San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Arrazola, Cuilapam and back to Oaxaca. All told, there were eighteen riders in the group. Through the morning and into the early afternoon the group rode a total of 21.7 miles (35 kms), with an elevation gain and loss of 1164 feet (355 meters) along the way. The high point topped out at 5523 feet (1683 meters), while the low point of the day’s ride was 5054 feet (1540 meters).

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