Bike & swim day

The Biciosos club ( sponsored a Sunday ride in keeping with the hot weather we’ve had in Oaxaca in recent weeks. First of all, the ride was scheduled for just after sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures. And the outing included a stop at a local balneario (swimming pool) in the early afternoon.

The loop ride began and ended at the Plaza Bella shopping mall near the village of Atzompa. The 17 riders in the group pedaled west to San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, then turned south and rode through rolling hill country to Cuilapam. From there the route continued south on dirt roads through farm country, with a brief stop at a small reservoir before winding up in Zaachila, where we stopped for a late breakfast and then spent a couple of enjoyable hours splashing around at the balneario. Afterwards the group returned to Plaza Bella to conclude the day’s outing.

The route covered 31.2 miles (50.2 kms), with an elevation gain and loss of 2030 feet (618.7 meters) through the rolling countryside. The high point was 5482 feet (1671 meters) in the hills south of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca; the low point was 4980 feet (1518 meters) in Zaachila.


Riding High to Beat the Heat

It is early April in Oaxaca, and hot! The thermometer has been registering in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30’s on the Celsius scale) on many recent afternoons. So the plan for our group ride this Sunday was to head into the mountains where it would be cooler. To our surprise, there was heavy cloud cover when the sun came up, and the nearby peaks were completely obscured. We packed rain jackets, just in case! There were just four gringos in our little group — Larry, Deron, Jordan and David. After some discussion, we decided to drive to La Cumbre and ride “El Cerezo” (“The Cherry”) and then the 204 Trail. As we passed the monument to Benito Juárez on the east side of town we noticed another group of local mountain bikers packing their gear into a camioneta, obviously also heading into the hills. Turns out they planned to ride the same two trails we had selected. As we all arrived at La Cumbre at the same time, we joined forces. Now there were a dozen of us to shred the trails together. And, happily, the cloud cover was breaking up and the sun shining through as we began our ride.

This being far into the dry season, there was lots of loose, dusty soil and a dense mat of fallen pine needles on the ground, so caution was needed on the steep downhill sections of “The Cherry”, which ran for 3.2 miles (5.1km) from end to end, dropping 1830 feet (558 meters) along the way. We were pleased to see several more small ramps have been added to “El Cerezo” in recent months, indicating people are both using and making improvements to the trail.

Once arrived in El Punto, we loaded all twelve bikes and riders into an extended-cab pickup truck to cover the 5.4 mile (8.7 km) drive back up to La Cumbre and then down a side road to the point we unloaded our bikes and began riding.

Our shuttle dropped us off at the high point on the gravel road, giving us some extra swooping descent on the way to where the 204 Trail takes off into the woods. On this section of the day’s outing we covered 7.0 miles (11.3 km) and added another 3339 feet (1017 meters) of downhill before the trail connected with Highway 175 in the valley below. From there it was another 3.2 miles (5.2km) on the paved road to the presas in Huayapam, where half of the group stopped for cold drinks and lunch while the rest of the gang pedaled back to Oaxaca. All in all, it was a fine day of mountain biking!

Western Etla Valley Foothills

Sunday, March 13th was a day of clear skies and warm temperatures.  D.,  C., C., P., and E. met up on the highway out Etla way to explore some of the network of paths, trails and dirt roads on the western side of the Etla valley in the scrub-brush covered foothills that sit between the toll highway to Puebla / Mexico City and the pine-covered mountains.

Sunday Huayapam Loop Ride

Sunday, 13 March 2016, dawned with a clear sky — a welcome change from the unusually cloudy and rainy conditions that prevailed in Oaxaca in recent weeks and put a damper on several bike rides. A group of gringo friends assembled at 10 am for a ride through the countryside from San Felipe del Agua to Huayapam and back. One reason for choosing this route was to check out the new park facility in the hills above Donaji, referenced in a previous entry here. We were warmly welcomed by the staff at the new park, and noticed several family groups hiking the trails and riding the zip lines there. One sign at the entrance proclaims the facility to be a park belonging to the village of Donaji. Other signs indicate the area is part of the Benito Juarez National Park. Perhaps both are correct. In any event, the opening of a new park and the construction of new trails in the area is a welcome development.

After passing through the park, we continued on the single track trail that follows the contour of the land and runs to Huayapam. Following a brief stop at the municipal building where we bought snacks of fresh fruit, we tackled the long hill climb up San Fernando street, passing the “El Pedregal” permaculture demonstration facility. Some distance further on we turned off of the dirt road to follow a trail that descends through scrub and across pastureland toward the two presas (lakes) belonging to Huayapam and Tlalixtac. We stopped for lunch at “Los Charalitos,” one of the several pleasant lakeside restaurants, before heading back to Oaxaca on the highway.

The loop ride covered 18.4 miles (29.6 km), with an elevation gain and loss of 2360 feet (719 meters) along the way. The high point of the ride registered 6334 feet (1931 meters); the low point was 5092 feet (1552 meters).

Introducing a Colorado Mountain Biker to Oaxaca’s Trails

Spencer, who hails from Boulder, Colorado, was spending a few weeks in Oaxaca and was anxious to acquaint his Yeti mountain bike with some of our favorite trails. So on this Thursday in early February some other gringos who call Oaxaca home (two of whom are also from Colorado) decided to introduce Spencer to the wholesome goodness of the trails above San Pablo Etla — specifically, the Oaxaca Flume Trail. The group arrived in San Pablo at about 10 am and hit the trail soon after. It is a long slog up a rather steep (11% to 12% grade) dirt road that leads from the valley floor up past the “La Mesita” reforestation area in San Pablo’s mountain park (where an admission fee of 30 pesos per person must be paid) and then continues upward to the start of the Flume Trail. Actually, the climb is just 3.5 miles (5.6 Kms), but it seems much longer, as the elevation gain amounts to 1937 feet (590 meters) and the grade is relentless.  The single track Flume Trail is a skinny, little-used path which — today at least — was heavily overgrown with brush. Though almost entirely downhill, it is still a demanding ride because of the terrain and the downhill slope — which in places has up to a 26% pitch. On this outing the group rode a total of 14.0 miles (22.5 kilometers), starting from a friend’s home and winding up at an open-air comedor in the center of San Pablo.

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