Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MEXICO: Lady of the Desert

Hey Riders: OK, enough photos for a second, alright? Here is an interview with our man and guide Ryan Sullivan who is co-leading our new Mexico mountain biking trip from October 20-28, 2007 with Andreas Hestler.

What makes riding in Mexico different than anywhere else?

The network of single track in the Creel area is much like an intricate spider web. Countless narrow singletrack paths connect one farm to the next. At times, we hit trail intersections every 100 meters or less. Riding with local guides allows you to pick and choose through the very best of this matrix. The land in the Copper Canyon is communally owned by indigenous subsistence farmers; the Tarahumara people. Unlike the States and Canada, it is perfectly acceptable for visitors and locals alike to pass through fenced pastures and nearby private homes. Tarahumara's have a different understanding of land access. At one moment, we'll be riding seemingly remote singletrack and the next moment, we are pedaling through a farmers cornfield saying hello. Through the course of our trip, we'll visit 4 distinct ecological communities as a function of elevation; Chihuahuan desert, pine forests, oak forests and subtropical Sonoran desert. The landscape is constantly changing. The trip begins and ends in the vast arid Chihuahuan Desert: thorny hard scrable country useful for cattle ranching and little else. In the Creel area, we'll be riding among extensive pine forests and small cornfields all at a minimum elevation of 2400 meters. The plunge into Batopilas canyon transports us from high pine forests to a zone chocked with a variety of Oak species. Quickly, down further, we are pedaling among dry sub tropical biota - 10m tall pitaya cactus, thorny scrubs, Papaya, citrus, and Mango, banana and more.

Tell us about the epic climbs and descents and the riding in general?

October in the sierra and canyons is usually dry, with ample strong sun and cool nights. October is harvest time so cornfields are tall and green making for colorful landscapes. Once in the lower canyons, we'll have hot weather no doubt. This trip offers an opportunity for Northerners to extend their riding season some extra weeks. This is also a great tune-up trip for folks aiming for racing La Ruta in Costa Rica in November. It is a TOP priority that clients get as much ride time as they seek. Never, do we want folks to feel like they didn't get enough ride time. Many days, we offer a main ride for the day and afterwards, extra credit opportunites for folks who are still hungry for more.Our first 2.5 days of riding takes place in the high mountains and mesas near Creel - the trails are generally buffed and climbs and descents are fast and plentiful. We've some favorite loops in the immediate Creel area that mix singletrack, doubletrack, town roads and even some room for exploration. The Cristo Rey and La Onza race courses will make you laugh out loud they are so fun. In the second half of our trip, we descend and climb out of Batopilas canyon. Aside from the scenery being breathtaking, riders have the unique opportunity to descend/climb some 3000 meters in a single day in just 65 km. Day 5 of our trip, we descend a continous 1400 meters without a single climb - just down down down over 2 dozen switchbacks. Its on Day 7, the climb out of Batopilas Canyon, that climbers get a chance to give it their ALL pedaling 65 km on a rough ribbon of dirt road up 3000 meters and out of the gorge. The climb out of Batopilas canyon is what you make of it. Folks can pedal a few hours and enjoy being picked up by our sag vehicles as they sweep the road. Often, riders like to really pin it and make the climb out a race against the clock as well as the strengthening morning sun. Indeed, wagers on climb time are common and encouraged. November 2006, we had a client complete the 65 km climb in 3 hrs 57 min - that is PRO fast - the particular rider was a 45-year old former pro roadie and mtb racer. Riders start pedaling early - 6 or 7 a.m. in order to beat the heat riding on the shaded east-facing wall of the canyon. It’s a climb of a lifetime.

Why is this trip different than a typical Mexico holiday?

The Sierra Tarahumara and Copper Canyon is one of the least developed regions in all of Mexico - there are no highrise hotels like those found in Cancun or Cabo. Access to boundless riding, hiking, climbing is literally steps from our cabin or hotel room. Tourism is an important industry in the town of Creel but hotels are on the 'Mom and Pop' scale not the big box scale. The lifestyles of the indigenous Tarahumaras are the most primitive in Mexico and all of North America for that matter. The region has a pronounced frontier or Old West feel to it. Many people in the Copper Canyon region don't know where the United States or Canada is.

Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun eh? More info on this bad boy: http://www.ridebig.com/mexico.html