Two days, 100 kilometers and an awesome adventure
If you would like to see Oaxaca from a somewhat different perspective, try a mountain bike tour through the mountains to Puerto Escondido.
Pedro Martinez Adventure Tours, an adventure-tourism company in Oaxaca, is operated by one of the most recognized athletes in Mexico, a past world champion in duathlon, ex-national team road cyclist and national champion mountain cyclist.
The company’s objective is that their clients enjoy the natural attractions and learn something of the culture and food that the marvelous state of Oaxaca has to offer.
My friend Rick Spittal and I have been cyclists for many years and we kept hearing about Pedro Martinez and his tours. As we are here in Puerto Escondido for most of the winter, we chose the tour called Cascadas y Mangos, mostly mountain biking but with a hike down to the falls and back up again on the first day. The trip takes one from the Mixteca region to La Cañada. The level is considered “moderate to advanced,” with ride distances of about 40 km on the first day and 67 on the second.
On this trip we rode through two very different regions of Oaxaca — the Mixteca, known as one of the driest areas of the state, and La Cañada, a small and very humid region known for its production of tropical fruits such as bananas and mangoes. Both regions are part of a large protected area named Reserva de la Biosfera, or biosphere reserve.
On our first day we were picked up at our respective hotels by our wonderful and competent driver, Roberto, and our very handsome guide, Efrain, 20 years old and one of the top athletes in Oaxaca. We had been fitted with our bikes and helmets the previous day by Pedro Martinez at his shop. This tour company is very professional and nothing is left to chance. The bikes are either Cannondale, Specialized or Giant and tuned to perfection.
We were soon on our way for our adventure. We drove from Oaxaca City to Asunción Nochixtlan (almost two hours from Oaxaca), where we stopped for breakfast. Not far from there the bikes were unloaded and we started to ride. We had the opportunity to see life in this region as we rode through many small villages. We stopped often to hydrate and regenerate with fresh fruit. After many hills, we faced the last part of the day, a 4 km downhill ride at the end of a canyon that led us to Santiago Apoala, our destination for that night. Apoala is a little town that belongs to the Mixteca.
Our accommodation was very comfortable and we were happy to arrive and sit on chairs instead of bikes. We had an excellent lunch with delicious chicken, rice and a nice salad. But no rest for the wicked. After a 20-minute stretch, Efrain knocked on our doors and we went for a hike to the falls. This hike was very beautiful, and took us to visit the series of waterfalls called Cola de Serpiente. I will always have those waterfalls etched in my mind. Climbing back up was not quite as much fun as climbing down, but a shower and a rest were all that was needed and about 8 pm we enjoyed a light dinner and, of course, some very good mezcal — for medicinal purposes only.
The second day was just as awesome as the first. We had breakfast at 8 am and left shortly after. It seemed after climbing on this day that we were in many different eco-systems. At times we were in the clouds or fog, and the terrain is so very different, more forest-like, and the vistas and panoramic views were totally spectacular.
At the beginning, we were riding in a pine forest, then in a semi-desert zone and at the end, in a valley. The good news: we were so well looked after by Efrain and Roberto. There was no road burn, no falls and, I must say, it was very comforting to have a support vehicle in case it was needed.
We passed through San Pedro Jocotipac and stopped for comida in Cuicatlan. Then we made the journey back to Oaxaca — almost two hours on mountain roads. We hated to part with Roberto and Efrain — they were a great team.
Both Rick and I know that we will repeat this adventure this coming year. There is another mountain bike tour from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido which is four days long (I wonder if we will be up for that!) The ride distance is 210 km (you should definitely train for this).
If you are a biker, do drop into the Bike Center, 4a Poniente s/n, across from the market, here in Puerto Escondido. Owner Tello and his wife Coni are the only TREK dealers in town and also have Cannondale, Giant and Rock Shox to sell or to rent by the day, week or month. This is a great family that bikes together and each Sunday they lead a bike tour up into the hills behind Puerto. Tello does a lot to encourage young people to ride and I would never miss the Sunday ride.