Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Northern Traverse

Last week the good lads from BIKE Magazine came to Guate for a week or so of riding and some off the grid exploring. We spent the first couple days here in the Antigua valley and took advantage of a crystal clear night donned the lights and went out for a night ride. Agua volcano just south of town is the perfect place for a twilight ride. We left Antigua in time to enjoy the sunset from the top f the climb and then pick our way through the rocky descent with lights. A perfect way to roll into town and stop off at the local watering hole at Cafe No Se.
After Antigua we headed out to

Lake Atitlan where we hit all the local favorites: the Santa Cat, La Culebra, Atitlan Slickrock, the San Antonio MayaInca, and a new trail called ladies choice named for luisa who found the new jewel.
We shuttled out to the cuchumantes to start our northern traverse but first hit the Todos Santos downhill as a mice way to warm up for the big days to come. The trail into todos has some of the nicest flow in all off Guatemala. I think Jordan's images will showcase this amazing piece of trail.

What goes down must go back up and climb we did out of the Todos Satos valley back up to the high elevation altiplano of Paquix.
The riding on the plateau is fun and rocky and pretty techy. You definitely want to bring your "A" game up here. We stayed the night in the Blue Unicorn, a super sweet horsefarm at 3200 meters. From te horsefarm we pushed out through uncharted waters linking together century old Mayan trails and trade routes across the mountains.

We camped for the night in a beautiful high alpine valley before setting off on our 2 day unsupported push across the mountains.
We pushed, rode, fought and triumped our way up the ridge to the remote throw back village of Chortiz. Life here has not changed for centuries and it's like a page torn out of your Anthropology text book. The trails were either super technical or high altitude valley cruisrers, not much middle ground. We got to town managed to roust up a couple cold beers (some poor soul carried those a half day just so I could have a cool beverage at the community hostal whil swinging in my hammock.

Our last day treated us to nearly 1200 meters of fore arm burning, foot numbing, brake squealing ear to ear grin downhill all the way out of the mountains to the nearby village of Acul where lunch a cool unit and a shower were awaiting. We screamed past a group of hikers amazed to see us up there and mos likely afraid of the crazed glaze on our faces as we picked our way down the descent.

Keep your eyes open for this summers issue of BIKE to get the whole story and some sweet images of the ride.