Sunday, June 17, 2012

MTB [Mis]Adventures in Mexico

A big THANK YOU goes to my employer, Grace University, for granting me a sabbatical for the Spring semester of 2012. From early January to the end of May Denise and I served as teachers and counselors in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. San Carlos is about 350 miles south of Tucson. One of the unexpected perks of this sabbatical was the opportunity to put in a lot of miles on the bike. Here are some of the MTB highlights of my time in Mexico.

Between January and March, the temps NEVER dipped below 70 degrees, and overcast days and rain were rare. By mid-May temps were close to 100.

In February I won the 50+ Cat. 2 division at the Pista El Soldado mountain bike race. Only a half-hour from home, this 10K loop is a hidden gem with plenty of technical challenges.

In early April the frame of “Old 98” came unglued at the bottom bracket. In the meantime, I had to borrow some early 90s-era GHS bikes to maintain my fitness level. Thanks Andy, Bev, and Jim for letting me use your bikes for a lot longer time than I intended!

Just two miles from our residence, I regularly rode the flat and fast 12-Hour course where Tinker Juarez consistently wins races.

Repairs had to be improvised with whatever parts I could find. There were no high-end bike shops within an 80-mile radius of our locale. Lesson for next time: bring lotsa’ spare parts if you are going to stay any length of time.

A weekly training treat was the 1500-foot “Microonda” outside Guaymas (imagine Paris-Roubaix up a mountain). Descending on 10 percent-grade cobbles was quite the challenge—to say the least.

Highly touted by locals, I rode the La Jolla singletrack in Hermosillo. Picture insane elevation gains in 100-degree desert heat (more elevation gain than Lewis & Clark and without trees!).

I learned how to sprint more efficiently with the ever-present threat of vicious dogs. One evening on the 12-hour course, I was chased by five or so pit bulls; some, oddly enough, were wearing muzzles.

I discovered other choice singletrack venues south of San Carlos in Obregon and Navajoa. There are thousands of miles of singletrack in Mexico that are worth checking out. One day I hope to ride some of these trails.

Similar to what we find in the States, there is a small, but deeply committed community of mountain bikers in Sonora. You can read more about the Sonoran MTB scene in this splendid article (see pp. 118-28).

I made some friendships with American riders who work and live in the area. Kudos to Becky, Mickey, and Glenn for getting me up to speed on road routes and trails.

On May 14 while riding down an innocent-looking stretch of dirt road between San Carlos and Guaymas, I broke my left collarbone. I have replayed the crash many times in my mind; I still have no rational explanation for what happened.

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What I have described above only scratches the surface all that transpired in San Carlos this past spring. If you are interested and have some time, I could tell you a whole lot more! I hope I see you on the trail sometime soon.


Shim said...

I wondered what happened to you. Now promise you'll never go out in public again wearing only bib shorts and a heart rate strap. That's in poor form regardless of what country your in.

Flanders said...

I really liked the story till I got to the collar bone part. Heal up quick !

Cristobal Lohr Castelo said...

Hi! Great post! I grew up in Hermosillo! When I was a kid I used to ride the trails of El Bachoco, La Jolla, Los Horcones, etc.. So I find your post really interesting. I recently moved to Omaha for work and returned to MTB, but I don't know any groups or good trails, can you recommend any? i'm so eager to start back again! My mail is