Chris (IG @plantihero) and I did a 60 mile ride from the mountains (Sierra Sur near Coatlan) to the beach (Puerto Escondido). It was an extremely fun trip and the best way I’ve ever gotten to any beach.
Here’s the backstory:
I first heard of the route through some badass touring cyclists that I hosted back in November (they were riding from top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina). This led to putting their route up here. I can’t remember how, but Chris and I got to chatting about this route and his words were “it would be irresponsible not to do it”. Alex (IG @messcalex) helped us plan it out but unfortunately hurt his knee and couldn’t go.
The biggest challenges were: 1. Wondering if we could physically do it in a reasonable amount of time 2. Where to stay on the first night. Chris and I started training by doing a big loop near San Pablo Etla and San Felipe and otherwise riding a lot. With a couple weeks of light training, we thought we could generally slug it out.
Then the where to stay challenge: The route sent us through the Coatlan region. These Coatlan towns are quite small, remote, and don’t really have hotels or other tourist infrastructure. We didn’t want to have to bring bedding or camping stuff and generally didn’t know what to expect in those towns. The way we solved this was through facebook. I started searching for all the different coatlan towns on fb and writing to the pages I found. Then this guy Erik responded from a SF Coatlan page. He said he could hook us up with a room and we wouldn’t need to bring blankets(!). Erik works in sustainable forestry for his town. The town has been certified by an ONG to be sustainably harvesting their trees and thus, gets a higher price for their product. On their fb page, they go more into this and even have some camera-trap footage of Pumas and some other lovely photos of the forest. I’d love to learn more about this region.
We took a van out to Miahuatlan, then another up to San Pablo Coatlan, and rode from there to San Francisco Coatlan. Getting into that small of a town with almost 0 tourism is a mix of fun and slightly scary. Fun because it’s ‘off-the-beaten-path’ and everyone looks at you and talks to you. It feels more like ‘real Mexico’ than the cozy foreigner-oriented Oaxaca centro. It was a bit scary in that we didn’t have a place to stay up if Erik didn’t show up. We put on our best charm possible and introduced ourselves to anyone who seemed slightly official. Everyone said Erik was on his way but this took a while. Eventually, we were eating and mentioned it to the guy who had kindly opened his spot up to feed us. He said “, Erik? Oh yeah. He’s right over there!” (pointing over to the basketball court where we’d just been waiting for a while). Ha, so then we went over and met Erik. He was 24 and a father of two. He put us up in a some lady’s upstairs room. Chris, being a champ, took the bed without the mattress. We were so stoked just to have a place to stay with blankets. Exactly what we needed.
After sleeping 9pn to 6am, we got up well before the sun was up and started pedaling. The route led us on a gravel road that went up and down through a fairly thick forest. The no hunting signs had bullet holes in them (I think this is universally the case). We were both feeling strong and good. The occasional truck would go by us and we happened upon a woman and a girl making coffee and selling fruit/breakfasts in the middle of nowhere. They told us they took the avocados they’d grown down to the coast and traded them for fruit. There was something just so raw and cool about being that deep in the backwoods and happening upon people running their little stand in what felt like the middle of nowhere. Chris and I road on and eventually came across some absolutely stunning views of the South Sierra mountain range. This was where I think it began to click how much we were going to enjoy the day.
The riding was really just perfect. We did 3500 feet of uphill and 8500 feet of downhill (a pretty nice ratio). The route generally went up and down the whole way so it broke things up. Chris enjoyed be downhills a lot more than I did as he had a suspension Fork on his bike. My bike did better on the paved part at the bottom. Basically we just rode enjoyed the scenery and stopped for beans and water in the towns we went through.
The towns were paved for the short stretch of the town but then would revert back to gravel roads. We came across horses and cows on the road several times. The towns people said they see few foreigners. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get only a dozen or so per year. The climate obviously changed quite a bit as we descended from this sort of lush brushy Orchid-y pine forest down to a much dryer forest and eventually to more of a cattle grazing land and mix of brush, agave, and cactus.
After six and a half hours of riding with three hours of stops, we settled our way into Puerto Escondido and celebrated our victory. Then we settled in nicely there and worked from the beach for a week. I stayed four days longer than expected.
This is an awesome bike route. In the future to make it a bit more challenging I would possibly start from Miahuatlan or at least do that on a previous day (another 1000m of climbing). Of course to make it even more challenging you could ride from Puerto backup to Oaxaca.
Thanks for reading.