Race Report: Transierra Norte 2021

Nov 15, 2021
by transierranorte  

The Transierra Norte
Words and images By: Nicolas Switalski
Team Puebla, Sam and Gua, San Andres Huayapam town in the foreground

bigquotesJump in, immerse yourself in the experience, soak up all the colors, smells, and experiences!
Ah...Oaxaca, a jolt to the system!
This place is so magical, it is rich in every sense, every corner possesses magic... you just need to let go!

El Mexi-gringo Branham Snyder appearing through the agave forest

After all the jumps and hurdles this past year has put us through, we are so happy that we could gather again and celebrate such an important matter in every human being's life, celebrate "El Dia de Los Muertos", honor the departed with the enormous joy of life and vibrant energy this great Transierra Norte family generates every year!

Racers ready to start a long day on the bike

The Race

With over 80 riders from all over the world that were lucky to sort the obstacles of airline cancelations and travel restrictions, the Transierra Norte multi-day enduro experience got underway and had some epic days ahead.

I am not going to describe every day and every stage... but to put the day's mood into perspective, just with day one you can get a clear picture of what the days ahead were like, in short... Long days, long descents, lots of pump-arm, lots of smiling faces!

Day one started as we left straight from the hotel in Oaxaca city in the official Transierra Norte "party bus", to the heart of the Sierra Norte, to one of the highest points we would reach in the race and warm up with a Oaxaca'n classic stage: Mil Ríos.

To reach the start of the stage, riders would traverse a more or less hour ride that helped get the pistons running and hearts pumping. This stage's best time was just over 13 minutes long, time set by the 17-year-old Myles Morgan, just a few hundreds of a second ahead of DH World Cup Pro Marcelo Gutierrez. For the rest of the day there would be a mix of three more stages ranging from fast flowy to technical descents, and to finish the last stage of the day, just before sundown, with a candlelit singletrack that would lead the riders to what would be our basecamp in Ixtepeji, and get into the Dia de Los Muertos groove.

A total of more than 14 km of stages descending, just for the first day and Marcelo would take the stage win on the rest of them. Myles Morgan, John Richardson, and Adam Morse would battle out the rest of the stages between them. In the woman's department, the battle between Katie Spittlehouse 1st and Ingrid Larouche 2nd was tight all through the 4 days with Sarah Howerter 3rd not far behind! You could see the competitiveness of these girls giving it all!

What a start to the day!

Throughout the 4 days, there was a great mix of riding and shuttling, trails in Oaxaca are long and demanding, believe me, this is not for the faint-hearted, there are no man-made berms or smooth transitions, the trails are raw and technical but very fun! Stages ranging from the 12-minute range set by the fastest rider with almost no climbing can be brutal to the body and bikes! You have to experience this for yourself!

(Complete results can be seen here)

Botsy Phillips leading Ariel Lindsley through the foggy trail

Mellow Yellow Ruben Gouveia

Ilusion de niño: a boy's dream

Sarah Howerter tackling "A lot of corners Trail", another of Oaxaca's finest. Over 4km long with a little over 1000 meters vertical descent

Filipe Caldeira following Ruben Gouveia

Myles Morgan into the tight, steep, and loose long descent of Punta de Piedra trail, 5 km long with over 1000m vertical descent

Ahhh... Oaxaca!

Ingrid Larouche coming out of the fog to power-pedal her way into second place!

Beto, the main trail builder of most of Oaxaca's finest trails.

Marcelo making shapes on the trail

Marcelo held the lead of the race for all 4 days despite riding from day 2 with what he would eventually learn after the race was a broken rib. As the tradition holds, the rider that leads the day must carry the "Calavera" or skeleton on his or her bike throughout the day

John Richardson

Watchout for Giraffe and Dinosaur crossings!

Tanus at El Toro
A highlight of day 3 was the very first timed Downhill battle on the famous track "El Toro" between Tanus, one of the Transierra Norte: The Ride guides, and Filipe Caldeira from Madeira Paradise Island. The cards were on the table and the deal was that if Tanus could prove his speed down, he would win a free entry to Transmadeira 2022 and the Transierra Norte family will fund his flight and travel expenses. With an over 10 second lead, Tanus took the challenge, so stay tuned, because Tanus is going to Madeira!


From left to right, top to bottom: Women 1st place: Katie Spittlehouse, 2nd: Ingrid Larouche, 3rd: Sara Howerter, Pro Men 1st place: Marcelo Gutierrez, 2nd: John Richardson, 3rd: Myles Morgan, Master Men: 1st place: Dave Sutton, 2nd: Botsy Phillips, 3rd: Ariel Lindsley, Open: 1st place: Guillermo Tovar, 2nd: Roberto Chavez, 3rd: Filipe Caldeira

Transierra Norte is more than a race, it is a party, it is an excuse for riders to reunite in this beautiful Oaxaca every year and celebrate life and death. Yes, it is a race, but for most, it is a unique experience, a way to get to know a part of a country that is very special. Oaxaca has so much history, so many traditions, so much culture, it would be a shame just to ride bikes and not appreciate everything else there is in Oaxaca. Transierra Norte is a taste of this, a glimpse into what else there is in this magical part of the world. Transierra Norte has become a gathering of true family members that gets bigger every year, and little by little we try to share with all of you the real Oaxaca, the authentic and not the travel book experience!

We hope to see you next year and help grow this amazing family we have started!

The after-party is one of a kind, Oaxaca is known for its celebrations and this one never disappoints. Every year this party is quite unique to say the least!

We are happy to announce that registrations for next year's Transierra Norte are open! Stay tuned so you're not left out of the next party!

See you next year Transierra-Norte Family!


  • 11 0
 I wanted to do this race so badly just to ride these trails. But I’ve never raced and was somewhat intimidated. But then I learned that the same folks that put on the race also do guided riding in Oaxaca. If you want to experience the trails, food, city, and everything else Oaxaca has to offer but not interested in racing hit up TransSierra Norte - the Ride. I cannot say enough good things about our trip. And can’t wait to do it again.
  • 1 0
 Hey! Sorry to lurk on this post so long after it came out, but I'm considering doing TransSierra Norte - the Ride. It does look incredible. I'd be thinking about going sometime in mid/late August, and would be going alone (hopefully link up with some cool folks there who are riding it at the same time. Could I DM you about it? Would love to hear more about your experience!
  • 8 0
 Heck yeah! Mexican Party! TSN for the ages!
  • 3 0
 What an amazing time that was! Now we are back at home in the snow in Canada reminiscing about riding our bikes on those sweet mexican trails.
The photo tagged as Sarah Howerter is actually me, but it means I made the photos so I'm not complaining! (Sorry Sarah).
  • 1 0
 lol I think the one that says its Ingrid is actually Katie. Can't win em all I guess! Smile
  • 1 0
 @sehow: it is Katie! I didn't pick up on that even though I saw she posted that shot on her Instagram. I get it, we (riders) all look pretty similar.
  • 6 0
 The photography in this is stunning!! Well done!
  • 3 0
 This looks nuts!!! Definitely on the bucket list for next year. Dia de lost muertos in oaxaca plus bike party? Sign me up!!!
  • 3 0
 I love that if you zoom in on the pic collage at the end you can see someone dancing with a dog.
  • 4 0
  • 2 0
 What a race! The best trails and the best people. Thank you TSN!!!! I'll be back next year!!!!
  • 3 0
 Colors colors colors !! I would love to visit Mexico !!!
  • 3 0
 So dope! Definitely going back!
  • 3 0
 Looks like Marcelo still has it.
  • 3 0
 Oaxaca is amazing and Nico's photos truly capture the essence of it all!
  • 3 0
 Beautiful as always!
  • 2 0
 Mi querido Nico, una vez más te rifaste con las fotos. Felicidades!!
  • 3 0
 Sick! Go Howerter
  • 3 0
  • 2 0
 bucket list for sure
  • 1 0
 Great photos!

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