My Favorite Travel Recipe
I have always loved riding bikes and I have always loved traveling.
A few years ago I decided to combine these two loves and did my first bike tour in Mexico. I’d visited Mexico many times and even lived there for a bit, but it wasn’t until I traveled through Oaxaca on a bike that I realized how many indigenous languages are still spoken in that region. I never noticed this while traveling by bus.
Riding through Mexico
On a bike, I stopped constantly to talk with the locals. I spoke with people drying coffee beans on the side of the road and others smashing sugar cane stocks by hand to coax out the sweet juices.
One of my toughest days of climbing (7,500+ feet of elevation gain) finally took a positive turn when a young boy decided to ride with me to the top of the climb (don’t worry, we asked his mom first), asking me about the bike classes we teach to kids in the United States the whole way. He truly kept me going that day!
… then Guatemala
After a second bike tour in Mexico, it was clear that riding a bike in different cultural and physical settings was a great travel recipe for me, but I was still not enthralled with traffic and being on the road. So I decided to change it up a little—try some slightly different ingredients.
I flew down to Guatemala in 2013 to go mountain biking. This time I was going to ride on dirt, without panniers and with much cuter clothing options at the end of the day!
Wonderful Guatemalan guides took me up and down volcanoes, through bean, corn and coffee fields and to indigenous villages where the locals always have the right-of-way (and often don’t speak Spanish).
Before and after rides I visited marketplaces full of colorful crafts and all kinds of fruits that I had never seen before. I learned about how their trail systems rely on the local farmers who provide the trail maintenance after the rainy season because the same trails we ride are the ones they travel on daily to work the fields. With no public lands or trails, they have developed this fascinating symbiotic relationship between local mountain bikers and farmers.
There is no doubt that Colorado has world-class mountain biking and many people travel here to ride just like I might go elsewhere.
I also have tons more trails to ride here. But it is a special and fascinating thing to ride in other places—combining cultural experiences with the joy of riding. I can confidently say that I have found my favorite travel recipe; one that I hope takes me all over the US and the world.