Welcome to the Trans Sierra Norte Enduro experience!
It’s been long since this idea first originated, many epic trips, lots of exploring and many more beers and mezcal that made this experience possible. Oaxaca has long been one of Mexico’s main mountain biking destinations, and it was only a matter of time that this adventure matured into this first edition of a multi-day adventure race.
Emiliano Zapata, the revolutionary represented on the street art in Oaxaca city
Cempasuchitl flower, the traditional flower of the day of the dead! This flower was believed to hold the sun's warmth and was used to illuminate the way for the departed
Santo Domingo cathedral is a landmark in Oaxaca!
Festivities do not take a break during these days in the city
The traditional Day of the Dead offering, the seven sections of each offering represents the seven levels the soul has to go through to accomplish rest or spiritual peace
One of the local delicacies: grasshoppers; trust me they taste awesome!
"Copal" is the traditional incense used since ancient Mexico
Many towns in Mexico preserve their traditional ways in one way or another, but Oaxaca among a few others has managed to adapt and preserve one of the most original festivities known around, this is the Day of the Dead. It may be seen with eyes of disbelief and some reserve by the outsider the way this celebration defies death and mocks it making the stereotype of a scary and unknown departure a original and satiric festivity.
The streets are filled with colour, dancing, festivities, and offerings in hopes to honour the spirits of the departed and for them to accomplish spiritual peace. It is a sight to be seen, and a world to be discovered, no image or writing can be enough to describe what this event really looks and feels like, so that is why this event, The Transierranorte, was born with hopes of reuniting fellow riders with one goal: ride some of the best trails in Mexico, have a great time and show our friends from distant places this magic party that goes on in Mexico.
Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead
Arriving to Benito Juarez
After a long ride on these old but trustworthy buses used to transport locals throughout this sierra, our arrival into what will be our campsite for a day in “Benito Juarez” is the first encounter with the famous Oaxacan “Sierra Norte”. Located about an hour and a half from Oaxaca city, this area has several interesting towns and villages that promote ecotourism offering nice little cabins and all infrastructure necesary. This is no touristy Cancun, this is the real Mexico, most riders can be proud to say that this is a place, believe it or not, few Mexican riders have been, and a place where culture and tradition has prevailed over globalization. We are right in the middle of trail paradise.
"Traditional" refreshments before a long bus ride
These buses are used to transport locals through the Sierra, they know the roads better than anyone.
Goodbye Oaxaca city, hello Sierra Norte.
The first riders brief at the town of Benito Juarez, late night details before dinner
Cabin life! This would be home sweet home for all the riders for a couple of days.
The cliche of camping, ah but it wouldn't be camping without a bonfire.
Race Day 1, Benito Juarez
Day one must have been one of the longest days for many of us. This day was comprised of 5 stages. The first 3 stages were sort of a short warm up and fun way to start this party, with riders adapting to the terrain and finding their flow along the way. It will be needless to say again throughout this article that the stages here were LONG. Day one had one of the shortest stages of the race measuring 1.3km, but also one of the longest with a no less 6.1km long and physical stage, and to make this even more entertaining after this long stage we had the last 5.7km trail called "204" to finish the day up with a tired smile on all the rider's faces. The vertical gain of the stages was no more than 8 meters for the first 4 stages and a considerable 25 meters for the last 5.7 km trail, so do the math, it was lots of the "going down stuff" for the entire race.
Stage descriptions for day 1:
Stage 1: Moustache Vibrations: 3.5km, Stage 2: Jurassic Park: 2.2km, Stage 3: Casa de Cipriano: 1.3km, Stage 4: Mil Rios: 6.1km, Stage 5: 204: 5.7km
Demis the local girl testing out stage 1, 12 stages to go.
Leigh Bowe was in tune with the Mexican festivities.
Marco Osborne trying to destroy my lense... he missed! Marco absolutely destroyed the field winning all stages except the one where he had a mechanical leaving him out of podium position because of the long stage he had to walk down, tough luck for him.
Loose tight turns equals tree hugging.
The last stretch of "Mil Rios Trail" is just what the body needs after a bike and body destroying trail... full on pedal sprint.
First tech service after 4 stages, a well needed break to recover from the last brutal stage.
What are friends for right?
Mau de Avila racing the last stage of the day, charge down or else get stuck in the dark!
This first day of riding has given all of us the taste of the days to come, and the challenges that lay ahead. It's is just the first day and trails are already demanding and rough, finding the right balance between fitness, mechanicals, excitement and full on race mode is key to surviving the three days here in Trans Sierra Norte.
Race Day 2, Ixtepeji
This town holds some of my favourite trails in Oaxaca, they are long and steep and some are super flowy.
The day started out with a fresh cut trail made specially for this race, a super fun, short but physical track called "Cabeza de Dragon" that was perfect to start the day. Followed by a track that is one of my personal favourites, a long, steep and "switchback all the way down heavenly-like trail" called "Llano-Carreta". Stage 3 was high on the "funometer", a trail called "El Cerezo" which possibly is the closest to flying you'll ever be on a raw trail, you could tell by the look on the riders faces at the end of the stage this was a all round favourite. And to finish the day, none other than the famous "A Lot of Corners" trail, another classic Ixtepeji, "long, steep, loose tight switchback, arm pumping, finger tiring trail."
Have I said enough? Did I make you want to leave your screen and go ride some bike? Or do you want more? Well... Day three will have more of this, keep reading!
Stage descriptions for day 2:
Stage 1: Cabeza de Dragon: 1.9km, Stage 2: Llano Carreta: 5.9km, Stage 3: Cereso: 4.5km, Stage 4: A Lot of Corners: 5.8km
Although racers slept in cabins most of the staff enjoyed inflatable mattresses and "warm" tents.
The view through the bus onto the camp.
Chilaquiles, Mexican breakfast delight.
Morning briefing went like this: Riders, we know you're pumped and stoked but please turn the "wattage" down a bit or we will have to hire more medical staff, haha!
Erick Pirtle hammering his way through this completely new fresh cut stage.
Ariel Lindsley on one the the transfers.
Mexican Alex Fricke A.K.A. "Fricky Rude."
Javier Chavez on what most riders would agree was the most flowy trail of the whole event: "El Cerezo."
Roy Mora on the start of stage 9, last stage of the day.
Buca from Mexico loose right out the stage.
This trail is called "A Lot of Corners," endless switchbacks all the way down.
Last stage of the day, the stoke is high.
Post stage unofficial hydration stand.
After these long riding days, there's nothing like getting into camp and being greeted with some slow roasted piggies to enjoy with some cold beers. I really don't know if the riding is the high point of the day or the cold beers and good food after, but they definitely both go together so well and makes this a complete and truly satisfying day.
Three little piggies... well 4...
Race Day 3, Etla
As in all multi-day races, the last day has always mixed emotions, the stoke is high for riding new trails again, the body is tired from the previous days, injuries and pains make their way, and knowing the race is about to finish makes all of this a unique experience. Riders must deal with this and know how much more is left inside them to make that last push to make it safely and triumphantly to the end.
Etla has another kind of trails, long, raw and physically demanding ones. One might think that 3 trails to end the day would be a step-back to the long days we had days before, but this is ever so far from true, don't be fooled between the accumulated fatigue from previous days this would turn out to be the perfect ending to this event.
3 long stages and to finish it off, one of the longest stage of the whole three days. I imagine by now, just reading this your arms are tired and your legs are sore, so I'll stop blabbing and let you see for yourselves...
Stage descriptions for day 3:
Stage 1: Cruz de Estacas: 6.1km, Stage 2, Veredita: 6.6km, Stage 3: Cieneguilla: 5.2km
The long traverse on from Ixtepeji to Etla was an adventure, note to staff, bring a locksmith next time!
"Cruz de Estacas" a long and challenging stage, first for the day and a long time favourite!
Argel Becerra from Mexico getting past the swoops of stage "Veredita"
Gema, one of our medical staff arriving to the last tech zone of the day!
Don't be fooled, the heat here was on top, the white dust reflected the sun and made this little transfer a hell hole.
Ariel Lindsley tackling the last stage of the race, stoke was high on this one, lightbro all the way down for all the riders!
So we made it. Three long days, that seemed much more. Can't imagine anyone asking for more, it was a plentiful menu of trails and I think it's safe to say we had dessert too and are quite satisfied. We had a blast and are now dreaming of the next one.
Hope to see everybody soon again in one trail or another, but knowing people finished with high spirits and genuine stoke after getting to know our Mexican trails brings great honour to me, and I am quite happy to have been able to be a part of this Tran Sierra Norte and share our trails with everyone!
Till next time Twowheeledjunkies!
Riders cheering Dave our "medick"!
The whole crew. Good times for the first edition of the #Transierranorte.
Pro Men: 1st ERIC PIRTLE (USA), 2nd BOTSY PHILLIPS, 3rd MIKE DAY (USA), 4th MAURICIO DE AVILA GOTES (MEX), 5th JAVIER CHAVEZ (Not Shown here, never woke up for the party, haha) (MEX)
Pro Woman: 1st KRISTA RUST (USA), 2nd LEIGH BOWE (USA), 3rd JAIME HILL (USA), 4th DEMIS VASQUEZ DOMINGUEZ (MEX), 5th HALEIGH SMITH
Open 40: 1st MATT PATTERSON (NZL), 2nd EDUARDO SOTO (MEX), 3rd DAVID ZIEGLER (USA), 4th ARGEL BECERRA ADAME (MEX), 5th ALEJANDRO GOMEZ RUIZ
Open Men: 1st DAVE SUTTON (CAN), 2nd VICENTE MENDOZA AREVALO (MEX), 3rd TAIT REES (AUS), 4th YURI BOGNER (BRA), 5th ALEJANDRO ROMERO FRICKE
You can check all results by day and by stage here
Special thanks to all the sponsors, without them this party wouldn't have been possible: Bikextore, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, POC, Bikextore, Rua by Sellamilk, TRP Brakes, Sensus Grips, Feedback Sports, Bikes & More, Flat Tire Defender, Osprey Packs, EHEC, Hexcentrix, Loam Coffee.
So if you're still hungry for another great Mexican adventure and don't want to miss out or didn't get to be a part of this amazing race, #TransierraNorte's registrations for 2018 are up now here