Video: James Doerfling & Kurt Sorge Escape Winter in Oaxaca, Mexico

May 8, 2019
by SR Suntour  
Views: 6,841    Faves: 18    Comments: 1





February in the north finds James Doerfling and Kurt Sorge smack in the middle of a long, frigid winter. The jumps in Kurt’s front yard are hibernating under an unusually deep snowpack, and the motor boat ride across the water from his home over to Nelson is especially choppy and cold. Meanwhile, never ending sub-freezing temperatures in Williams Lake, have James doubled up on long-johns and steadily idling on hot coffee. Diesels don’t like starting up in the cold, neither does the Goat.

As mountain bikers in the north, this seasonal riding hiatus does seem rather involuntary, forced in fact. Stuck amidst snow banks and baklavas, what’s a rider to do? Fat bikes are novel option, so are indoor spin bikes or just doubling that baklava and making the noble mid-winter bike commute to work- cycling is cycling if you’re a cyclist, right? ...Perhaps. However, it’s the ripping descents of summer we yearn for, a far cry from slushy road shoulders and buzzing traffic. A fix for prime-time shredding hits most of us hard come February, when the sun teases mildly higher in the sky. This is especially true in the interior British Columbia hometowns of James and Kurt, where the spoils of world class mountain biking come at the cost of heavy winters.

Reprieve from this bleak and bitter winter existence is a blurred dream. It can be difficult to imagine warm climates existing while shivering away up north in February. Winter or not, we've got to ride. Fortunately for this dilemma, an emerging mountain bike culture and network of incredible trails continues to grow a few thousand miles south in Oaxaca, Mexico. The perfect opportunity to escape the grip winter, get some suspension testing done for the upcoming year, and replenish the Vitamin D reserves.

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
Kurt and James gleefully touristing around Oaxaca City

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Arriving to Oaxaca City, our very excited guide, and owner of Oaxaca Bike Expeditions, Javier, scoops us up at the airport. We drop luggage and get straight to work- Javier drags us into our first Mezcalaria. Mezcal, Victorias, and a feast of tlayudas, grilled with a hearty fill of meat and veggies, cover the table almost immediately. Sitting on the dimly lit rooftop patio looking over the city, we absorb our first exposure to this rich Oaxacan culture. Then mistakenly, we take our first glasses of mezcal and shoot them back, to the awe and disgust of the guides and wait staff. "You are supposed to kiss the mezcal. Sip and enjoy it, not slam it back. Stupid gringos." it's explained.

Oopsies...We call for another round to get it right. The delicious food and libations, topped with discussion of our riding plans throughout the surrounding mountains, sets the stage for a very exciting week. The itinerary is pretty simple: wake up, eat, ride, mezcal, repeat...

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
An appropriate mantra for Oaxaca Bike Expeditions!

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico Oaxaca Bike Expeditions
Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
Guide extraordinaire, Javier!

Right out the gate, the riding proves spectacular. We shuttle up through the forest on seldom used old stone roads reaching the ridge line. Dropping straight into fast, flowing, long, and fairly raw trails, the group's collective amazement is audible as the wildly fun first lap continues. The trails run down different aspects of the mountain, each aspect providing slightly different terrain, and good mix of difficulty. Up high, the small and well dispersed pine trees create an even canopy that coats the forest floor with needles, absent from much other vegetation aside from the frequent, and massive, agave plants. The trails wind between trees and the ever undulating mountainside, into deep gullies, and out onto exposed ridge lines with long vistas over the endless mountains or down to the valley floor. After each new trail we shuttle back up for more.

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
The shredding begins!

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Exhausted at the end of a big first day, we get back to the mountain ranch that is our home for most of our stay. Another incredible feast awaits. Decompression and reflection of an amazing day. And of course, refueling for the following days- more trails, more delicious food, and spicy mezcal.

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
Guides, Guicho and Beto stoked to be showing us the goods!

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Between laps we take the time to further dial in the bikes and suspension. For the extra chunky trails coming up, Kurt decides to add an extra volume spacer to both his fork and shock. The spring curve on James's fork feels good to him so he doesn't make any volume changes, but the stanchions are a bit sticky, so he pulls the lowers to clean and grease his Durolux. Some quick love, then it's right back to riding.

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
Riding in Oaxaca Mexico
The guys getting some quick and simple suspension service done in between laps

Riding in Oaxaca Mexico



The Luchadores. Feeling like the cultural experience of Oaxaca couldn't get any better, Javier and the guides insist on one more in particular that we simply must experience. They take us to the outskirts of Oaxaca on a Sunday afternoon to a small garage-like industrial building where a line is forming outside. Kids chase each other with strange masks while people filter into the building. At the center of the big open room is a ring. We've come to a Lucha Libre match. The term meaning "freestyle wrestling" is massively popular in Mexico, and with good reason. We take our seats as the first matches commence. The energy in the room goes bonkers when the Luchadores (wrestlers) make their grand entrances and climb into the ring. All wearing unique masks and acting out their characters, the entire show is incredibly animated and highly entertaining. Within a few minutes of the first match we are dying laughing as the Luchadores jump around the ring, throwing each other all over the place, and working their moves while the crowd wildly cheers and heckles. The Luchadores are clearly amateur and of all different backgrounds. Whether they're bankers or plumbers during the week, come Sunday evening they trade all that in for bedazzled leotards and masks for their time to shine in ring. When we finally leave the ring after the long series of matches and characters our faces are in pain from laughing so hard. Simply amazing.



Doerfling ready to jump in ring and throw the smack down!

We conclude our week of riding and experiencing Oaxaca with one last feast at one of Javier's favorite restaurants, Pitiona. Again on a patio looking over the city, just as we began days before, we now sip our mezcal, like locals, reflecting on the incredible week. When traveling in search of world-class mountain biking the main focus may be on the riding, but to also acquire a unique cultural experience along the way is a very special and fulfilling experience. With our horizons broadened, bodies sore from the countless incredible descents, and sun kissed from the Oaxacan sun we prepare to leave this beautiful place and head back to our respective winter wonderlands. The experience of traveling to Oaxaca, mid-winter, to find truly worthy riding has been beyond everyone's expectation. And talks of next winter's trip have already begun.



Riding in Oaxaca Mexico

Riders: James Doerfling and Kurt Sorge
Videography: Matt Brook, Lone Wolf Productions
Photography and Editorial: JP Gendron

Special thanks to Oaxaca Bike Expeditions and SR SUNTOUR


MENTIONS: @SRSuntour




40 Comments

  • + 14
 Ahhh Oaxaca!!! Cant wait to make it to @transierranorte this year!!! More Mezcal yes please! Great vid and pics!
  • + 3
 You know what’s good too boy lol
  • + 3
 @lalientoxc: Thanks man! It wasn't hard to make this place look good. I will certainly return there one day.
  • + 4
 Most amazing place. The mountains there are incredible, good people good food...
¿Qué más necesitas?
  • + 11
 Way to go guys (Oaxaca bike expeditions)!! Finally, a bike company in beautiful Oaxaca by people born & raised in Oaxaca! Excelente hermanos!!! Que tengan mucho éxito!!
  • + 5
 Muchas gracias! Esperamos pronto rodar contigo.
  • + 9
 Great! Just make sure to get your hats off whenever visiting any Mexican church, sign of respect tho!
  • + 2
 Yikes! Thanks for the tip, that totally makes sense.
  • + 5
 My first trip to Oaxaca was when I was 12. over 30 years ago. the mountains, the colours, the indigenous culture, the smells are all still stuck in my brain. I badly want to go back, it's such a magical place. this development of a mountain bike tourism may be the drop that gets the glass to overflow... I hope the trails are as good as I imagined them...
  • + 4
 Oaxaca is Magical just as you said. Hope you can join us in a tour soon! The trails are awesome just look what some pro riders talk about them man. Hope to see you soon here, check our website for more photos and info.
  • + 5
 "I ate some bugs, I ate some grass, I used my hand, to wipe my tears."
"Ramses does not sing, he does not sing at the partyyyy"
"They give me no eagle powers! They give me no nutrients"
  • + 2
 I want to ween!
  • + 1
 @jefflong:
I don't want to get paid to lose! I want to ween!
  • + 1
 @jefflong: Underneath the robe you find a man.
  • + 2
 @ridealongside: Don't you know i've had diarrhea since easters
  • + 1
 @jefflong: Maybe I need a better duty!
  • + 3
 Went to Oaxaca last summer and loved it. I was super surprised by the cycling scene. There were weekly urban group rides led out of a super cool bicycle shop/bar/restaurant.

I’ll definitely plan on riding on our next trip.
  • + 5
 Just send us a message next time you are around and lets ride!!!!
  • + 4
 "Stuck amidst snow banks and baklavas" I saw all the snowbanks, but I must have missed all the delicious baklava around this winter.
  • + 2
 Was wondering if anyone was going to catch that. Good eye eh. Sucks you missed out on the baklava this winter though.
  • + 1
 Some of the best trails I have ever ridden anywhere. Trans Sierra Norte race happens to highlight the best of the best in an all-inclusive package. I can not recommend a trip to Oaxaca enough. Top notch people, culture, trails, food and drink!
  • + 5
 Nice to see the Warden in action!
  • + 2
 Oh I want some Mexican food now lol... living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean makes it a bit more difficult though...
  • + 2
 belive me ... it worth it
  • + 3
 There’s Mexican food... then there’s Oaxacan food, and it’s worth the trip alone. Our entire trip there was planned around food, drink, and textiles (wife owns a textile business). Next time we will squeeze some riding in, too.

Could go for a tlayuda about now... guess I’ll have fo make do with a pour of Mezcal.
  • + 3
 @Hogfly: We can make a tour with the best food in Oaxaca , the best mezcalerias and the best trails!
  • + 3
 Looked like those dudes were having fun, not worried about the edit and just flowin...
  • + 2
 Thats right! Awesome riders plus awesome trails , flow was inevitable
  • + 3
 Great spot, great riding, could go there again!
  • + 4
 We will be happy to show you all the great trails Oaxaca have!
  • + 1
 Hope to see you here soon!!
  • + 3
 Stoked to ride Oaxaca in 10 Days!
  • + 4
 Wake up, Eat, Ride, Mezcal, Repeat
  • + 1
 Question: When is the best time to go for a riding visit? Like if I planned a trip this summer will it be just crazy hot?
  • + 1
 It would not be too hot since almost all the trails are around 10,000 / 8,000 feet above sea level, I will send you a message man
  • + 3
 They know what’s good
  • + 2
 See you guys in November. Can't wait!
  • + 2
 Riding on Sierra de Juarez can"t go wrong. Oaxaca is a great place to be.
  • + 1
 Sure it is!!!
  • + 1
 is the tree shot the new roost

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.056648
Mobile Version of Website