Friday, February 18, 2011

Wild wild east

Three days following "La Linea" led us to perhaps one of the nicest river canyons I've seen thus far. The trail heads south from Zacapa through the canyons following the river.

The old line, only a flat scar of a bench cut that once connected village to village along the Banana Republic Line, is now only singletrack, and nice singletrack at that.

There were a couple slides cover the long ago tracks which quickly turn Into technical pieces of prime trail
The views, the canyon, the line following the ricer with its old ruined trestles and caved in tunnels is like a scene direct from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid.

This by far was my favorite piece of trail o the whole trip but certainly the most demanding. Today's ride was 7 hours and we only pushed 21 kms.

After a few times fjording the river we made it to the only pueblo in this part of the canyon called Santa Barbara. A couple chilly willys and a few bags of water later we were again on our way.

Misinformation is a way of life here in Guatemala. While out exploring this can be perhaps harder than any hill climb or dusty road. Like the chatter from a "good" guide there is always the promise of your goal being "just around the corner" or over te next hill or just a couple hours away.

Sitting in Santa Barbara was no different. When the locals heard of our lofty goals to reach the town of Jocotan we were assured that it wasn't but a couple hours from here. We should "have no trouble getting there today".

What we were not told about and certainly couldn't have been calculated in our modest few hours was the Indiana Jones style swinging bridge missing 50% of it's cross pieces or the hour(felt like ten) hike-a-bike up an Everest-isk incline of dust and rock. Oh yeah it had to be 100* and not a stitch of shade ANYWHERE to be found.

I can't remember a time in my recent history when I felt so defeated as on that push.

Arriving at the first of the aldeas on our way to Jocotan, El Oregano( yes the oregano) which sits at the top of that hellacious climb the locals began to come down the hill to greet us. I thought they were coming to spare the gringos the last little push and help us with our bikes. Nope, they just sat and watched as be painfully past and snickered. If ever there was a chance fleece a gringo of some
Cash that was it. Opportunity lost as I labored up the rest of the hill.

El Oregano quickly made up for any short comings as we were warmly received after the usual interrogation as to why we were there was over. Satisfied that we were not there with the mining nor the hydro electric companies we were sat down to cold cokes and a bowl of eggs and beans.

As there's no holiday inn in town we were let into the "school" to sleep for the night. I've slept through many a course at my desk but I've never sleep on three desks pushed together.
Lucky for us there doesn't appear to be any classes being held tomorrow.

Good Night!
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Railroad gang day 2

Loooooong day in the saddle today.

We pushed some 80 plus kms. From Gustatoya to Zacapa. That mightn't mean a whole lot to most folks but let me tell you it's a long way.
The ride out to the town of El Rancho was pretty incredible! Lots of cool trail, fast and fun with a few big bridges to cross.
In el rancho begins the long push out across the Montagua valley to El Rancho.

I was surprised by the amount of trail along the way where most of the railroad ties and hardware have been ripped out and sold as scrap metal to be
Melted down to build large Chinese buildings.

As this part of Guatemala is
Semi arid desert I thought the heat was gonna be the hard part. As it turns out it wasn't so hot due to an equally strong villain, a headwind. Throw that in with a few thousand thorn bushes to dodge along the way and you have all the makings for an all day love affair.

It wasn't all bad. The scenery was pretty amazing riding along the river with the Sierra de las Minas towering on the other side of the valley.

We arrived in Zacapa at the end of the day just in time for a few beers and a mega feast.
Tomorrow we take on the hills

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Estrellas de La Linea

On a quest to forever search out the fresh we schemed up a trip down memory lane retracing the now defunct United Fruit Co.'s railroad line connecting Guatemala City with the fertile plains of the Montagua River basin to the once booming Banana Republic port town of Puerto Barrios.

We started just outside Guatemala City and rode "La Linea" or the railroad line about 55kms over trestles through tunnels and through countless farms and villages. Needless to say they haven't see too many pale faces around these parts and we certainly stick out.

It's been a pretty cool ride so far seeing all the old school narrow gauge train stations, water towers, and dusty towns La Linea used to service.

We made it just outside Guastatoya or El Progreso. Tomorrows objective is Zacapa, home of our favorite rum.

Stay tuned.....

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Guatemala to Hondruas Charity Ride

Were gearing up for a first time charity ride following the now defunct United Fruit Railroad line from Guatemala City out to Copan las Ruinas Honduras. We ship out on the 6th of March and will take 6 days to get there.

The railroad line heads east out of the Capital and steadily drops out of the mountains on its way to Hondras. Much of the ride follows the Sanarate river and then the larger Montagua River basin. The Montagua winds its way through the beautiful semi-arid topography teeming amazing bird life, Gila Monsters and other unique animals.

The line once an economic lifeline connecting Guatemala City and the banana fields with the Carribean port, is now a defunct corridor with relic tunnels and trestles perfect for riding.
This is pioneer trip. No one has endeavored to ply this route before. We will use this unique adventure as a fund raising event for the Global Vision International Pheonix program.
if you are interested in joining the ride you can either get in touch with us at Old Town Outfitters, or GVI directly.
Get out and ride, come ride with us and ride for a good cuase.
See ya on the trail!