ENVE athletes, Whitney and Zack Allison explore the remote mountains and roads of Oaxaca, Mexico. Here is their story.
Photos by Taylor Kruse
Zack, Whitney, and Crew; Taylor Kruse and Kristen Arnold land in Oaxaca, Mexico, prepared for adventure. A vague route lay ahead consisting mostly of village names and altitude markers. After a traditional breakfast of pan y chocolate con agua, we take a short vehicle transfer from Oaxaca Centro to Santa María Del Tule. There lies one of the world’s oldest and largest trees, a Montezuma Cypress tree at over 2000 years old.
A wild site to witness as we change and start our ride. From Santa María Del Tule, it’s all uphill, through a few pueblos in the valley. We rode by ancient Spanish churches, all on dirt or cobbled roads, riding by palenques, farms, and into the town of Teotitlán del Valle, where, since Zapotec times the trade has been creating yarns and hand-dying and weaving textiles. From Teotitlán del Valle we start the 6,000-foot ascent to Benito Juarez. The climb is situated in the Sierra Nortes mountain range, carrying what we needed for the multi-day trek in our Ortlieb bags affixed to the ENVE MOG.
The climbing wasn’t fast, which allowed us to better enjoy the amazing views, and great conversation with our riding guides Pedro Martinez, Carlos, and Luis. Riding higher and higher above the Oaxaca, each switchback is named after a local hero or significant happenstance and the higher up you get the more the signs and language are blended between Spanish and Zapotec.
As we climbed up over 10,000 feet, the climate and ecology changed greatly. Desert shrubs and cactus gave way to tall, yet soft, furry pine trees and the agaves tripled in size with quiotes 20 and 30 feet tall. Comida (lunch) is no joke for this crew and Mexico as a whole. If we had known how much climbing there was in the last leg between Benito Juarez and Cuajimoloyas, where our finish line and overnight point were, we probably would have gone a little lighter on the lunchtime feast.
Arriving in Cuajimoloyas was a full-on sprint to the town line, which lasted about 4 seconds before the 10 thousand-foot altitude air density strangulated our lungs. We unpacked, ate dinner, lit a fire for the only heat source, a quick shot of mezcal and we were off to bed to recover for the next day’s continued adventure.
The Sierra Nortes let us know early it was going to be a moody weather day. Before worrying too much about that, we started with an amazing yet simple, traditional Mexican breakfast: Chocolate, pan, chilaquiles, salsa, and cafe. Then, it was time to shred. Riding from the high Sierra Nortes was a blast. Multiple mixed terrain loops with some technical senderos (singletrack), dirt roads, flow trails, and of course, steep Sierra Nortes climbing. The land here is more open, “¿La tierra aqui es publico?, mas o menos?” Zack asks Carlos and Luis as we ride through people’s yards and farms, “mas or menos” (more or less) was the reply.