Photo Story: Off-Season Tune-Up in Oaxaca, Mexico with Geoff Gulevich

Mar 27, 2020
by dperras  

Most years see us riding bikes through winter in North Vancouver, provided there is still an appetite for being wet and cold. While winter was unusually late this year, January saw consecutive storms with above-average rainfall and forced us to put away our bikes. While Gully and I both took the opportunity to brave the weather and ski as much as possible, we were both itching to get a head start on the bike season.

During the fall my roommate took part in the Trans Sierra Norte race and raved about the trails in Oaxaca. I took this with a grain of salt as we are spoiled for choice here in the Sea to Sky. Dry and dusty trails aren't usually my preference, and the summer months are typically when I ride the least. With that being said, at this point in January, the warm trails of Mexico were very enticing. Gully and I set up a plan to escape to for 6 days of riding with Oaxaca Bike Expeditions. After booking our flights, we "forgot" to research any information on Oaxaca or the nearby trails. Turns out we have pretty similar travelling style - keep an open mind, go with whatever comes up and make the best of every situation. Arriving with little to no expectations on the riding quality left us open to have our minds blown. We were not prepared for the quality and variety of trails we were about to encounter.

After arriving late the night before, our first taste of Oaxaca was the warm sun shining into the hotel room at sunrise.

We didn't waste any time loading the truck and shuttling to Ixtepeji, about an hour and fifteen minutes out of Oaxaca.

Turns out, we brought that classic North Shore weather with us. We couldn't be happier to corner in tacky dirt again.

Although we were in Mexico to ride in the warmth of 25 degree days, it was clear on the drive into the mountains that this would not be the case. We drove further and further into a weather system that had arrived the night before. When we stepped out of the truck, it was 5 degrees, with rain and a cold wind. At this point we were at approx 3400 meters of elevation. I was completely unprepared, having removed my jacket from my bag in the hotel room. With that being said, I handle the wet and cold much better than heat, so I found it difficult to hide my excitement for perfect photo conditions. This was not the Mexico I was expecting.

Layers of trees, feels just like home.

Our first day of shuttles consisted of Jabali, Tierra Negro and Ola Hawaiians Trails or Wild Hog, Black Dirt, and Hawaiian Wave.

Geoff taking advantage of every corner while practicing for his Enduro debut?

Laser focus with conditions changing at every section of trail.

If I had one word to describe Oaxaca, it would be "colourful."

We spent the majority of the day riding out the trails with huge grins, realizing how lucky we were to experience these conditions. The trees were layered in fog, the greens were as vibrant as back home. The longer trails wind down through multiple ecosystems which provides a vast variety of trail conditions and flora. On the last run of the day, be dropped below the clouds and rode all the way to valley bottom, while a rainbow was set in the backdrop.

Geoff's Focus Sam was built to get playful with the Marzocchi Bomber Z1 and CR suspension.

Our guide Javier was all smiles when he realized how much fun we were having.

Geoff Gulevich in Oaxaca.
Can you ask for a better setting to ride some tacky singletrack?

Geoff likes to travel in style.

We wrapped up the day dropping through the clouds to valley bottom.

The next 5 days of riding took us through a variety of trails networks and areas around Oaxaca. It should be noted that each trail network requires ecotourism visitors to stop and purchase a day use permit, approximately 20 pesos per person per day - roughly $1US. It can be difficult to know where to purchase these without a guide, and trails would also be difficult to locate. With that being said, make the most of your days and hire a shuttle to get as much riding in as possible.We were also lucky to be there while a Lucha Libre event had been scheduled, this was awesome entertainment and a great way to spend the evening after a long day of riding and eating. Enjoy the rest of these photos as we got back to speed after a cold dark winter:

The following days our guide Huicho wrangled the crews and kept the stoke high.

Huicho pinned but also dressed appropriately.

Since Oaxaca is a world-class food destination, our guides kept us well fed, and well hydrated - on and off the trails.

In Geoff's defense, this corner was asking for it.

The entertainment didn't stop at the trails. We were fortunate enough to have a backyard Lucha Libre event take place while we were there. This was some serious entertainment. If you are in the front row, expect to become part of the act as wrestlers often find themselves out of the ring.

These pine needles were the definition of anti grip, and would keep you on your toes if you got off trail.

The sunrise over Oaxaca was a sight to behold.

I think it is written somewhere that there must be a dog at every trailhead. Alberto doesn't seem to mind.

Threading though the Agave in Etla on a trail called Carbonera.

Geoff and Diego showing off different sections of trail.

As we got towards the bottom of the trail one day towards Etla, the fields became immersed in that golden light.

That's a big agave! These are the primary ingredient in Mezcal, however most trails are situated in ecotourism areas, where it is illegal to harvest these plants.

Geoff likes his tattoos so why not get a taco drinking Mezcal? "When in Oaxaca."

The final section of trail overlooking Etla.
These Lucho Libres don't mess around.

Meeting locals is always a highlight of every trip. This gentleman was waiting for us at a market at the end of the trail with Mezcal.

Thats a wrap, what an amazing place to explore. Geoff and I both agreed we will both the back.

Special thank you to Oaxaca Bike Expeditions and Focus Bikes for making this trip possible.

Special advisory during the COVID-19 crisis:

Like you, we’re passionate about exploring trails. But now is not the time to travel. Please stay home and follow the advice of health authorities to keep yourself and others safe. Do your part now, so we can all explore again later.

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Must Read This Week


  • 24 0
 Sick photo essay, boys!!
  • 5 0
 Yeeeewww! Thanks Tip!!
  • 4 0
 Hope next year you can join us!
  • 4 0
 @oaxacabikeexpeditions: And RiDE DONT DiE! sounds muchos better than Ride Or Die
  • 6 0
 I just came back from 6 days of riding with Beto in Oaxaca. Beto (aka Alberto in the photo above) and a team of trailbuilders have developed an expansive network of absolutely incredible trails in the gorgeous mountains surrounding Oaxaca. The trails are some of the steepest I've ever ridden. How steep? Many trails will start above 10,000' elevation and drop to 5,000' in about 4.5 miles. There are many trails that will drop 1200'+ per mile for MILES. They're rowdy, drifty tracks that follow steep ridgelines. Many follow ancient trails that were originally developed by indigenous Incan civilizations a thousand years ago, literally. We descended 12,000 vertical feet every day, on average.

Tips: Bring your long travel enduro bike, set in low and slack mode. 8" rotors, freshly bled brakes and extra brake pads. Fresh set of knobbies plus Cushcore and a spare tire. Bring an open mind, bring your "A" game, be flexible, be ready for anything. Also, be sure to support the local trail builders like Beto and his crew. They are the unsung heroes who make our epic experiences possible. Tip them generously and/or kick down some gear. When you ride the trails they built, you'll understand why they deserve some extra love. Salud!
  • 1 0
 The Incans travelled all the way to Mexico to build trails?
  • 1 0
 @pmorgan2: Good call, and thanks for the correction. The hills surrounding Oaxaca were inhabited and utilized by the indigenous Zapotecan and Mixtecan cultures, plus many others.
  • 5 0
 Edit: Day use permits are actually 70-100 pesos per day, roughly $5 US or under in both Etla and Ixtepeji. My mistake! Cheers
  • 9 0
 Just following to Danes edit: We pay in different towns some can cover 20 pesos per trail other can cover 70 pesos for the whole day and sometimes we ride in 4 different towns in one day and we pay in the 4 towns. They own the trails and its important that every rider pay their permits in order the towns continue to let us riding there.
  • 5 0
 thanks for sharing the love! Oaxaca is by far the cooles place to ride in México!
  • 3 0
 You guys have awesome trails!
  • 1 0
 Sam, eres tu?
  • 4 0
 It seems that we were right after all and... Oaxaca's trails are "not that bad"? Hahaha!
Great to see Oaxaca through other's camera! Nice pics @dperras
  • 3 0
 I would say that the trails were amazing. And even better, they’re fun at every speed and skill level!
  • 2 0
 That is so awesome! Thanks for making this post, my freeride line at my house in Maine is mud right now so I have to read articles and live vicariously. So cool that the towns have trails and you pay a few bones to go shred. I wish public lands were less stingy in CONUS. That looks like it’s worth the trip!
  • 5 0
 México lindo y querido... Great to see they had such a blast!
  • 2 0
 Great photos Dane! Glad you two enjoyed mexico, its become my favourite destination and I have made some life long friends there. If you ever get the chance to go ride in Mexico take it. You will not be disappointed!
  • 5 0
 check our website for more information
  • 1 2
 @oaxacabikeexpeditions What sort of cost range should one budget for your 1 week tour?
  • 3 0
 @plyawn: Maybe you didn't understand where he said to check their website for more information. One quick look and it's all there.
  • 1 0
 We have all inclusive tours from 1,250 usd for one week, right now we have promotions for fall 2020 and winter 2021 @plyawn:
  • 1 0
 I assume this is out of Oaxaca City? I was in Huatulco in late 2019 and looked up towards the mountains thinking: "There must be some rad mountain bike trails up there..." Looks like I was right!

Tried to find a local outfitter in La Crucecita or Santa Cruz but didn't have much luck. Just the usual cruiser bikes for the tourists. Frown
  • 1 0
 ¡Orales! I'd love to ride these trails now that I live relatively close by in the mountains of Guerrero. Anyone know where I can find more information without having to pay for a guide/tour? Is there an active local mountain biking scene in Oaxaca?
¿Qué dicen?
  • 3 0
 Yet another reason to see Oxaca and go back to Mexico with my rig. More Mexican shredders!
  • 3 0
 Do it. We will all need a getaway after this pandemic and my vote is Oaxaca.
  • 2 0
 Was there last month, albeit with a more cooperative weather. Cheers to Beto Smile
  • 2 0
 Gully is shredding those pit vipers!
  • 2 0
 Next time stop in for some mushroom tea or edibles
  • 2 0
 I love Mexican food.
  • 2 0
 Beauty photos Dane M8!
  • 2 0
 Yeaaaahh boy!
  • 1 0
 Really nice pictures. What camera gear are you using?
  • 2 0
 Thanks! Using Sony mirrorless body and a variety of lenses. My go to lenses for this trip were the 16-35 f2.8, 55 f1.8 and 70-200 f4.0.
  • 1 0
 So rad! Awesome photos @dperras
  • 1 0
 Gully FTW!
  • 1 0
 That shuttle rig!!!!
  • 1 0
 The shuttle rig was dialled!!
  • 1 0

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