Bikepacking Mexico's Wild Enduro Trails... On My NEW Bikepacking Bike!
It's a beautiful day. Welcome to Oaxaca! My name is Airy Fernandez Penagos. I am from Ocosingo, Chiapas, in the south of Mexico. Well, I ended up living in Oaxaca after coronavirus. I was working in the United States for four years as a guitar technician for Gary Clark Jr band. And when coronavirus started, our work got cancelled, so we decided - me and my wife - to move back to Mexico.
While I'm in Mexico, I'm a mountain bike guide for Coyote Aventuras. My favorite thing about guiding for Coyote is that we get to spend time with very cool people, and being outdoors. The beauty, the wonder, the joy. We're probably only two or three kilometres as the crow flies from the centre of Oaxaca, which is pretty cool because we're already on these incredible dirt roads.
If you pick the right direction from the city centre, it gets really remote, really quickly. Ahh, I love it here! We've just ended up on a road called the Libramiento. And from what I understand, the government built this road without the permission of the landowners, and then the landowners just went crazy, and now it's pretty much completely disused. Yep, it's also good for the families in their community.
That's true. No cars, no trucks. They get to enjoy a bit of the outdoors. Yeah, we all need that. Yeah, the counterbalance with the rear bag.
Mate, that's the top of the first climb, how are you feeling? Pretty good. Nice, we've got a pretty sweet descent now, it's quite chunky after all of the erosion. It's gonna be sweet! I've been waiting for it.
Airy, what did you think of the super chunk? Lots of fun! Good ,yeah we've got the right bikes for it. How much travel? 160mm/150mm. Your beauty! A lot of good times. 170mm/160mm. We're going into those mountains. You almost ready for some hike-a-bike? Oh yeah! You've got your hiking pack, so obviously you're ready! I'm gonna leave my bike down here.
And go hiking instead of biking! What have we got here? Little memelas. A bit of tortilla with some frijoles and cheese. Beans and cheese on some cornbread.
And mushrooms on this one, from the coast. I think I'll get a little bit of chilli on mine. This mushroom's crazy. It's a little bit boggy. A little bit. But you got a hiking pack, so you're all good.
Yep, I can put my bag inside it. Yeah, fold it up! To get up into the mountains, we need to push our bikes up this crazy hiking trail. From memory, it's about 4.5 kilometres long, and there's about 700 metres of elevation gain. There's actually a road we could ride up but I just prefer walking up the hill in peace. What do you think of the hike so far? I love it, it's beautiful up here. It's pretty peaceful.
One mistake that I think a lot of people make when they go hike-a-biking is that they just go too fast. You've just got to go at a pace that you're comfortable with, and know that eventually, you'll get to the top. You've got so many of those new ferns behind you.
They've just come out in the last two or three weeks and made the whole landscape green. From desert to green. We've just finished our hike-a-bike section and we've been bird watching. What did we see, Airy? Quetzales.
They're like these beautiful green birds, with a big red tummy. The green colour is completely iridescent, they're incredible. And they're quite rare. Yes, they're super rare. They're the national bird of Guatemala. That's true.
It's perfect weather at the moment, not too hot, not too cold. We're basically riding on forest roads from the western slopes of the mountains towards the east. And with these roads, there are no cars because you need to get permission from the landowners to drive cars up here, so we're just chilling. This is our last water source until tomorrow afternoon, so you gotta load up! So, there's a trail here somewhere. It's just a little bit overgrown because of the wet season. A lot overgrown.
Mate, what do you think? I think you're crazy. I'm crazy? Yeah, we've been out for nine hours. It's all worth it though, it's beautiful. It's super nice. So, we didn't make it to where we wanted, but we've found a flat spot in the forest. You really can't go wrong with all of this. And we should have a really peaceful night.
I'll get the drone up in the sky and watch the sunset. How was your little hammock set up last night? Good, a bit cold, but pretty good. It was super windy. I really enjoyed it.
And somehow you didn't get wet in the rain! Just perfect tree coverage. The best trails in Mexico are definitely here in Oaxaca because of the conditions, the weather all year round. You know, the mountains are so close to the city. It is a beautiful place to be outside, and yeah, we've got beautiful trails here! Ok, it's now day two and we've finished 100% of our hike-a-bike. And we're about to drop from 3300m elevation, all the way down to 1500m, so...
I've got no words. The first 7.5km drops 1400m. You're going to find out why we have 170mm of travel on our bikes on these trails because they get unbelievably steep. I better watch out for those stumps! I really enjoy riding the natural trails. I'm a sucker for technical and steep descents.
Whether I'm good at it or not, I love it. We're just having a little snack break on a pretty incredible lookout. Down the bottom here is where we're descending. It's more than a kilometre lower than us right now! We're just trying to work out how to take this gnarly rock garden. We're thinking we're going to go nice and wide, and then cut in into this turn and around, but it's just steep and slippery.
It's pretty scary. What's your plan, Airy? Well, I reckon that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to come nice and slow at the top, enter right here wide, ride right through that middle rut, and then make the corner. I think just keep it wide, and before you get to that little ledge bit, make sure you tip-in. And make sure you're ready for the next corner. And then here there's still a couple switchbacks but it's a bit more mellow.
This is [ __ ] gnarly! How did you feel? There was a point where I had zero traction, but you can kind of go off the side of this rock wall here, and get your balance back before you hit this corner. Are you having second thoughts? No, I'm not having second thoughts. I'm just trying to get it right. It's a scary one! I know, it's a gnarly, gnarly corner! You can do it, Airy! You got it! I think the gnarliest bit of the trail is now done. I hope you guys can appreciate why we need enduro bikes to go bikepacking here, this place is nuts! It is incredible. Adrenaline, 200%. Camping and adrenaline! Are you psyched? We just dropped a lot of vertical metres on some really gnarly tracks. With everything we need for an overnight bike adventure! I think my arms agree! I could live here forever. Yeah, this is a great place
to live. The food is amazing, the art is great, the outdoors are incredible. Yeah, it's a pretty complete place. Pretty simple living, but beautiful. We're just finishing our crazy descent now. We've finally made it onto some farming roads.
We're at about 1650m now, so if my maths is correct, we've dropped about 1650m. it's time for beer! This is a steep hill and you're crushing it! You told me you weren't fit. I hope I am! Mate, that's a big backpack you've got there, is there a lot of snacks? It's enough for one day!