Video: Jeff Kendall-Weed Discovers the Riding Community in Puerto Rico in Episode 3 of Local Loam

Jun 5, 2019 at 22:07
by Jeff Kendall-Weed  


Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico
Rebuilding for an even stronger future

photography by Ben Gavelda // video by Logan Nelson // words by Jeff Kendall-Weed
Special thanks to Jansen Colberg and Martín Hanzlík for covering our travel and lodging on this!


Every now and then, unique opportunities to visit special, far-off riding destinations pop into my inbox. Despite my jet-setting ambitions, most of them are beyond my time and budget constraints. But one offer I could not refuse? Visiting Puerto Rico! When Martín Hanzlík emailed me the story of his Puerto Rican advocacy group’s success, I realized that the island’s biking story made a perfect fit for the Local Loam series.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
While my foreign eye is by no means a legitimate barometer of recovery, hurricane María damage is still prevalent, though it seems that the island is for the most part back to “normal.”


Martín, born and raised in Puerto Rico, is a geophysicist who has been working in Houston, TX for several years. In September 2017, hurricane Harvey ravaged that city. Then, two short weeks later, hurricane María made landfall in Puerto Rico. Martín had friends and family in both places. Seeing the hurricane damage in Houston first hand really put the scope of these huge disasters into perspective.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Meeting Martín Hanzlík for the first time, just after 1am at the San Juan airport. We still had a two-and-a-half-hour drive to reach Boqueron, in Cabo Rojo, on the south western corner of the island. And yes, as seen in the video, we were on the wrong side of the freeway for an exit.

Martín’s coworker, fellow geophysicist John Blum, served on the board of GHORBA, the Greater Houston Off Road Biking Association. After Harvey, John won several hurricane recovery grants for the Houston group. John’s success inspired Martín to ask him to give pointers on securing funding for Puerto Rican mountain bike recovery efforts. John agreed, and shared extensive resources with Martín. They faced a particularly difficult challenge -- finding a grant that could be used in a US territory, and not be limited to a US state. With determination and diligence, John and Martín found a grant available through People for Bikes.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
We saw many horses on the island, not just on the streets, but also being transported simply in the beds of many old pickup trucks.


Martín worked hard to identify a local Puerto Rican group that could receive the grant. The Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike Trails Association, based in the southwest corner of the island, made an ideal fit. Martín is a big fan of riding in the area, and he visited this part of the country often. However, because Martín had been living on the mainland for so long, he didn’t personally know any of the board members of Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike. During more than a few phone calls, and many more emails with the Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike board, Martín demonstrated how serious he was about offering to do the legwork in securing the grant.



Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Ripping down old tracks right behind chickencoops.


Lo and behold, they won the $10,000 People for Bikes grant, and the timing to announce it all worked out amazingly well. Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike held their first ever enduro race in February 2019. Martín attended, even competing in the race himself. No one at the event had met Martín before, and none of the other racers had any idea about the grant. Then, after racing was over for the day, Jansen Colberg, treasurer of the group, called Martín up to the awards podium. Jansen announced to the crowd what Martín had done, and that Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike would indeed be receiving the grant. The cheers were so loud some folks say they could be heard all the way to the mainland.


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Classic case of “it’s steeper than it looks!” This was one of the enduro race stages, and it was fast and fun.


This grant marks a big step forward for Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike. Previously, the board members (Jansen Colberg, Luis Padilla, Jose Rivera) had paid for the club’s expenses out of their own pockets. This model was not sustainable in the long term. Nonetheless, they were dedicated to growing the sport they loved within the Cabo Rojo region. During trips to Whistler, BC, they had observed how much mountain biking can contribute as an instrumental part of a community. This discovery motivated them to get Cabo Rojo off the ground so that more adults and kids could benefit from what biking has to offer. Being awarded the new grant was a huge win for the group, providing funding for trail signage and maintenance.


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jansen and Martín.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Thead through the forest, a well-canopied jungle. Dirt was surprisingly dry, and there were plenty of rocks on the island.


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
This section had a great, natural double/double option, though the neighbor did not want us to jump over their fence.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
I’m no stranger to cacti, and while Puerto Rico is not nearly as full of cacti as Arizona, there are still a few of them hiding on the outsides of corners.


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
New rule: wheelies are only allowed if they go through corners, or over/under neat stuff.


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Manuel Matos (left) corners and Eduardo Santiago (right) hops.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
As we were grabbing snacks and supplies for a ride, I saw a travel agency/coconut water operation next door. A few dollars later, and we had an old rum bottle full of fresh coconut water.

Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
One of the stages from the recent enduro race featured a nice option huck right at the beginning.


Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
Jeff Kendall-Weed s Local Loam series visits Puerto Rico
These key members of Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike are accustomed to the intense heat along the coast, much warmer than in the shaded jungles where we rode the day before.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
The loose over hardpack was very similar to central coast California riding. And, a view of my top secret “ear-lobe-cam” GoPro placement.


Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
José Rojas loves to ride, and a week after the hurricane, began building these jumps. While they aren’t sanctioned, they are a lot of fun, and if you meet the Cabo Rojo crew, you might get the chance to meet José as well.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.


Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Manu, Manolo’s son, was the most excited of us all that day!

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
There’s not much in life that’s more fun than a good step-up session!

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Fifteen years ago, back when I still rode BMX, I could do a legit un-turndown. Today, I’m not nearly as flexible, and my rusty technique needs improvement, but somehow this trick is starting to come back. Stoked to keep progressing!

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Jaznira Narvaez clearing the jump! Jazmin needed a few tries, but the most stoked we all got that day was when she finally cleared the step up!

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
The Caribbean is indeed a magical place.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Boqueron is well known for its night life. And no, my “high-school-science-teacher-tan” sandals were no more trendy in Boqueron than back at home.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Another one of the enduro stages had quite a bit more rock amidst the jungle foliage.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Martín at full tilt, while Logan films.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico
Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
We couldn’t help but wonder how many of the flowers were for losses from hurricane María.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico
Eduardo Carbia throws us a shaka from their new shuttle vehicle. Salinas Gravity Park is located at the Olympic training facility in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The zone has held downhill events for over 20 years, but Eduardo, and his partner Victor Figueroa (driving), have made a tremendous push to revitalize the trails and get the scene growing again.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico
Eduardo Carbia, one of the proprietors of the Salinas Bike Park, airs over Martín.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico
The “pro line” was really fun, with multiple 30’+ long hits. This jump line was a pleasant surprise!

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico
Victor Figueroa is a professional woodworker who has been racing DH for over 19 years. He is the other proprietor of the Salinas Bike Park.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico
Victor lays one over.

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is 3,750 miles from my hometown of Bellingham, WA. The cost for the flights, rental car, and lodging made visiting Cabo Rojo beyond my budget for the Local Loam series. I discussed this with Martín and Jansen. With their personal funds, they offered to cover our travel expenses. Big thanks to them for their support on this!

And finally, one more thing that was super cool -- John Blum explained to me that he learned many of his own grant application best practices and contacts from SORBA, as well as the San Diego Mountain Bike Association. The advocacy community is well aware of the need for regional groups to work together. I hope this example of helping one another will inspire even more groups to think bigger, sharing information and ideas, helping us to grow the sport we all love so much.


Produced by: Jeff Kendall-Weed
Cinematography: Logan Patrick Nelson
Photography: Ben Gavelda

Supported by:

Ibis Cycles, Kali Protectives, Kitsbow Cycling Apparel, Trust Performance, Jenson USA, PNW Components, Industry Nine, and WTB

Local Loam episode three visits Puerto Rico.
Follow Jeff on his Instagram, subscribe to his YouTube, or follow him on Facebook. Hope you enjoyed this video!




MENTIONS: @jeffweed / @loganpnelson / @bengavelda / @kitsbow / @ibiscycles / @kaliprotectives / @industryNineOfficial / @jenson-usa / @pnwcomponents




49 Comments

  • + 26
 JKW is one of the nicest guys and gnarliest riders around. The way he promotes the sport by highlighting the rad things people are doing for their riding communties is pretty damn awesome. Keep up the great work!
  • + 7
 Thanks Crisco! Moving to the PNW, and seeing first hand how good trail advocacy can lead to legal trails that are super fun, got me inspired to go this direction. I hope our little girl has just as many rad riding opportunities when she's all grown up! The scene in Puerto Rico is growing, and I thought it was super cool that Martin and John worked together to help bring CRBHTA up a few notches!
  • + 1
 I really enjoy these Jeff. Awesome story telling. Cool places, van builds, tech stuff, etc, its all good. And the riding is not too shabby either Wink
  • + 11
 Nice Vibe. It's embarrasing how poorly we have taken care of our Brothers and Sisters in PR after the hurricaine.
  • + 2
 Thanks, glad you enjoyed the video!
  • + 6
 Never have I been so engrossed in a biking video with that little biking shown. Thank you! It was very enjoyable to see the passion for the sport and the interest in the well-being of the local community by all of those involved.
  • + 4
 hahaha thanks loon! It took me a few weeks to lay out the story line of the video since there's so much backstory to how they got that grant. We had to juggle a 4am arrival and some rain, and a few of the spots weren't as easy to shoot as the AZ/TX episodes were. The next episode, from BC, will have a bunch more riding.
  • + 2
 Great episode Jeff. A little lower on riding than usual, but the context and the story make up for it. So cool to see such initiatives!
On an unrelated note, i'm might start questioning your review of the Trust fork, seeing as you utterly refuse to let your front wheel touch the ground Smile
  • + 2
 Thank you Fox! I've been enjoying the Trust fork, I really like the way they are tackling handling of the bike through geometry, and when ridden hard, it works well. They are also a great sponsor. Thanks Trust!
  • + 3
 Great video and story. I was just looking at trails there because I'm going for a month next week. Then POW this video comes out. Gotta love life's timing.
  • + 2
 Right on man, have a great trip! July is going to be HOT down there. The most turn key trails would be the Salinas bike park, but the Cabo Rojo area has a lot as well (pedal accessed tho). I didn't see much of it on Trailforks, though, so try using that Facebook link in the article to CRBHTA to link up with the locals: www.facebook.com/groups/300695229948418
  • + 1
 JKW, love the responses! Great video, really liked it and the folks down in Puerto Rico are killing it!!! Long live mtbk! What is the deal with the super dry hills hills area (Salinas Bike Park) it looks like it was hit with nepalm? Is it naturally devoid of greenery and that dry?
  • + 1
 There was a drought and some fires that burned the area and surrounding mountains! But it’s all grown back and as green as ever
  • + 1
 Thanks man! Yeah they had a little grass fire on that hill a few days before we got there, no one seemed too concerned tho!
  • + 4
 Columbus discovers America! Smile Wink
  • + 5
 Yeah that title sounds a little off- Pinkbike changed it from what I had it as originally: "Jeff Kendall-Weed rides Puerto Rico in Local Loam Episode 3"
  • + 1
 @JeffWeed: Get to Republic of Panama, you will love it
  • + 1
 @JonyA: Would love to! Have met a few really nice folks from Panama over the years, but haven't had a chance to make a trip yet.
  • + 1
 @JeffWeed: Let me know , we will set you up for an amazing experience !
  • + 3
 Thanks for all you do Jeff. You just added Puerto Rico and NW Arkansas to my cycling bucket list!!
  • + 2
 Right on man! I was surprised at how easy it was to visit PR (no customs, same currency, mellow traffic/driving, lots of English) compared to many other places in Latin nations. It would be a great Caribbean vacation spot for anyone living in the eastern USA. It's not going to have as many trails as the more establishing riding areas, but it has a ton more stuff to do off the bike. And CRBHTA is working hard to open more stuff!
  • + 4
 We’re working really hard at CRBHTA to improve trail signage and to have more trails in good shape. We hope to keep the momentum to continually improve out mountain biking scene!
  • + 1
 @ReyEcuajei: I saw a post from someone (maybe Jansen?) that a few of the first signs have already gone in!
  • + 3
 JeffWeed thanks for shining a light on all the people making rad places to ride bikes.
  • + 1
 Thanks Randy! Stay tuned, got a BUNCH more episodes coming up!
  • + 3
 Viva my island of Puerto Rico but you must ride Rincon, Puerto Rico it's magical ????????
  • + 1
 Rincon sounds awesome! Might have to try surfing as well! We only had 3 days on the island, so we missed many spots.
  • + 1
 Looks incredible !! keep the hard work guys! you are doing a holy job over there... next time im in Central America im coming over to you!
  • + 1
 Thanks Sahark! The guys in PR are working hard to continue to develop the area!
  • + 1
 "I used to be able to do legit turn downs" dude, that is one of the tweak-iest ones ive seen in awhile! You're awesome at your job, jeff!
  • + 2
 Thanks man!!! Bit by bit, I hope to get those back. Some times I unclip and they can go a little farther but I don't have them dialed yet. Thanks for the props, it means a ton to me! Cheers!
  • + 1
 always love the videos, but can't watch them anymore until that horrendous linkage fork is removed!! Big Grin
  • + 1
 JKW=FIMA

Thx for sharing such a compelling story. PR has moved to the top of the bucket list!
  • + 1
 Just seeing JKW do wheelies and his squirms mid jump just make the video complete. Love seeing this guy on a bike.
  • + 1
 Never forget about the jammin' salmon! Thanks hunter!
  • + 1
 Rad stuff Jeff , as usual, sick place and trails too.
  • + 1
 Thanks man!
  • + 1
 Sick! Nicely written Jeff.
  • + 1
 Thank you Scott! I would have liked to do a bigger article with more quotes and such but got a bit time crunched with a few other projects I'm juggling. Cheers!
  • + 1
 being JKW's front wheel must be an easy life
  • + 2
 At times! Hahaha thanks Dave!
  • + 0
 That final photo with the chicken (?) hahaha. Awesome. Kendall-Weed is the man.
  • + 1
 Hahaha those are ribs that José cooked for us right on the camp fire at the jumps! Thanks to Ben Gavelda for that shot!!!
  • + 1
 woow, awesome as allways jeff, ¡¡¡ cheers ¡¡¡
  • + 1
 Great video.. thanks for shedding light on obscure place to ride bikes!
  • + 3
 Thanks, but I wouldn't call all of Puerto Rico obscure- it's a main tourist destination, especially for the eastern USA. The 100 de Parguera cross country race often sees more than 2,000 racers. Salinas Bike Park has been holding DH racers for about 20 years. The enduro scene is new and small, but I don't want to ignore how big MTBing in general has been in PR.
  • + 1
 JKW is my hero!
  • + 1
 Thank you Johan!

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