It was bright and sunny when 29 members of the “Nitos Ciclistas en Movimiento” bike club set out from Oaxaca at 7:15 am for a day ride at Llano Grande on Sunday, 25 October 2015. A caravan of ten cars and trucks hauled the riders, family members and their equipment the 42.2 mile (67.9 km) into the Sierra Madre. Unfortunately, heavy cloud cover rolled across the mountains and light rain began falling mid-way through the ride. The fog and rain prevented the group savoring the vista from the mirador, but made the forest vegetation seem more lush. Temperatures were mild, so everyone seemed to enjoy the outing, despite getting quite wet and muddy. The mud made for slow going; and tree roots and wooden bridges were especially slippery and dangerous. However, everyone made it safely through the ride and then enjoyed a hot lunch at one of the comedores in town before the group returned to Oaxaca.
Guides from the ecotourism camp at Llano Grande lead the way on a double loop through the dense woods. The route covered 9.95 miles (16.0 km), with an elevation gain and loss of 1812 feet (552 meters) for the day. Llano Grande sits at an altitude of 10,143 feet (3091.5 meters). The mirador was the highest point of the day, at 10,941 feet (3334.8 meters), while the cascada was the lowest point at 9635 feet (2936.7 meters).
With the great trail network in the hills above San Felipe del Agua so close to Oaxaca city, it is not surprising that lots of people go mountain biking there, especially on Sundays. The gang at Summit Cyclery chose to ride there on 11 October 2015. There were 17 participants in this day’s outing — mainly young riders, but with one old guy (the author) plugging along, taking photos and GPS measurements.
The ride circuit covered 14.7 miles (23.6 km) start to finish, with an elevation gain and loss of 2146 feet (654 meters). At its highest point, the trail topped out at 6306 feet (1922 meters). The group rode several of the well-established trails on the mountainside, including some that have suffered significant erosion damage in the past year or so. (Note to self: we need to get a trail maintenance crew out there!)
A dozen riders showed up at the Summit Cyclery shop for the weekly Sunday ride on the lovely morning of 4 October 2015. After weeks of almost daily showers, the rainy season seems to be coming to an end. At least on this day there was lots of blue sky to entice bikers out of bed, onto the saddle and into the hills around Oaxaca. The destination for the day’s outing was the nearby village of Huayapam — or more precisely, the network of back country roads and single track trail in the vicinity.
The group rode a total of 18.9 miles (30.4 km) between leaving the bike shop at 8:30 am and finishing the ride about 1:30 in the afternoon. The group enjoyed rolling terrain, with most of the hill climbing near Huayapam. Riders accumulated 1772 feet (540 meters) of elevation gain and loss going around the circuit. The low point on the day’s outing registered 5104 feet (1555.7 meters), while the high point topped out at 5714 feet (1741.6 meters).
“La Carroñera” (“The Scavenger”) is an epic race held in the mountains just outside San Agustin Etla, a community a short distance to the north of Oaxaca city. On this particular day the contest drew a whopping 190 registered participants, all eager to test their mettle on this rigorous course, which ran 23.54 miles (37.88 km), using a combination of city streets, dirt roads, single track trails across the flanks of the mountain — and one section of tenuous trail running along the aqueduct that supplies water to San Agustin. There were three significant climbs along the way, the first being by far the longest and toughest, requiring contestants to use pedal power to gain 3711 feet (1131 meters) in altitude along the 7.2 mile (11.6 km) route from town to the highest point on the circuit — which topped out at an altitude of 9220 feet (2810 meters). The total elevation gain and loss riding around the course came to a whopping 6676 feet (2035 meters) — certainly a good day’s workout!
Those who preferred a somewhat less challenging course had the option of skipping the upper loop shown on the map. This reduced the overall length of the ride by 5.6 miles (9.0 km) and lopped off 2386 feet (722 meters) from the total elevation gain & loss for the day. Even so, the shorter ride totaled 17.9 miles (28.8 km) and demanded 4290 feet (1307 meters) of climbing and descending. Congratulations to all who completed the ride and earned a special medallion for their effort!
One of the most popular hikes in the Etla valley to the north of Oaxaca city is the trail that runs along the aqueduct which brings fresh water from a mountain stream into the town of San Agustin Etla. Water from this same stream was once used to generate electric power at a hydroelectric station in the nearby mountains, the ruins of which are now a frequent destination and picnic spot. This loop ride offers access to the old power plant and allows cyclists to ride along the aqueduct for a short distance before returning to San Agustin along a dirt access road. Be forewarned that there is some serious climbing to be done on this route, both on city streets, dirt roads and single track trails. This ride basically follows the first part of the 26 mile (42 km) course used for the famed “La Carroñera” bike race held at San Agustin from time to time.
The route shown on the map below covers 8.9 miles (14.3 km). The ride starts from the parking lot at the municipal building in San Agustin, which sits at an elevation of 5757 feet (1755 meters). The high point on the trail reaches an altitude of 7097 feet (2163 meters). The elevation gain and loss riding the trail amounts to 2034 feet (620 meters).