VIDEO: Bike Sports Goes Gravel in Oaxaca

Oaxaca, Mexico, and its surrounding mountains, the Sierra Norte, have gained popularity in mountain biking and bike touring due to the efforts of the TranSierra Norte enduro race, and route development by a handful of local cyclists, but traditional gravel riding has gone relatively unreported and untapped in the region. But, in part thanks to the mountaintop Zapotec communities and local farming, the region is interlaced with hundreds of kilometers of high-quality gravel roads and trails, ready for rides of any length.

Whitney and Zack Allison, owners of Bike Sports Co and the Foco Fondo landed on Oaxaca as an end-of-season fun ride location, inviting friends Kristen Arnold and Taylor Kruse, after a non-bike vacation to the region the year before, and have featured the trip in an informal travel log “Bike Sports Rides Oaxaca.”

Their trip centered around the Sierra Norte village of Cuajimoloyas, a high-altitude Zapotec community that is heavily invested in eco-tourism, playing host to hundreds of kilometers of trails, and is a popular destination for hikers, bird watchers, and travelers of all types. As bicycle tourism in the region grows in popularity, more and more trails have been developed, and tourism companies and guides have developed offerings for mountain bikers and gravel cyclists alike.

About The Bikes

Whitney and Zack are professional gravel racers under their own Bike Sports banner, and they chose their sponsor-provided ENVE MOGs with Shimano GRX groupset for this trip, paired with bike packing bags from Ortlieb, including their Seat Pack, Frame-Pack, and Accessory Pack. The climbing and terrain in the Sierra Norte is steep and aggressive, and an easy low gear is recommended.

Oaxaca is a diverse and vibrant city with world-class food and art, worthy of any traveler’s bucket list. The local airport makes travel to the area very accessible. Mezcal and mole feature predominantly for food-focused travelers, but Oaxaca and the surrounding areas host printmaking, weaving, pottery, and carving artisans whose skills and craft date to before 100 BCE in some cases.

The team found Oaxaca and the Sierra Norte to be exceptionally welcoming and a world-class cycling destination for any off-road or adventure-minded cyclist. With a bit of an appetite for altitude and climbing, you can experience some of the most dramatic and beautiful roads in the Americas just a short distance from Oaxaca, showcasing both cool cloud forests and dry valleys alike.

Add Oaxaca to your bicycle bucket list, plan your route with maps or local help. Find three routes below: