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Cycling the back roads of Valle De Bravo

Valle De Bravo is an area in Mexico with a lot of access to outdoor activities, there are still the usual security concerns of travelling at night and alone on the isolated roads. The area is home to a lot of paragliding and the lake has some watersport activities. There is also a dedicated area for mountain biking called Monte Alto, however renting a bike and getting up to the area is a little tough, the bike shops have no maps, some are not even open per the published schedule and the only map I could find is at Xinte – Monte Alto.

One of the most accessible and friendly bike stores we visited was Con Tato Ruedas, the owner being an ex-professional biker. As we had a guide lined up we figured we would go for the longer ride instead of following the trail map for Monte Alto. On the day of the trip the rain was fairly light, we met up at the shop and picked up some Cannondale Trail 4 bikes and headed up towards the butterfly sanctuary. The route is one of their more popular, regular guided ride locations.

As we unloaded the bikes from the truck the rain picked up, it seemed too late to turn back despite not having any good rain gear – we are in Mexico, it doesn’t rain! We set off along the back roads, the rain and mist certainly added a different dimension to the view but it also made our hands very cold and our progress a lot slower. We travelled a good 20km around small villages, rivers that were higher than the guide had seen and we passed through a lot of puddles. The bite of the wind and rain pushed us to seek refuge and a warm drink in a local store, it seemed that our luck may have changed as the rain eased off.

We started riding through the mud, slipping and sliding before hitting some steeper, more compact trails. Everything seemed to be rolling a little better as we made better time, until we hit some concrete roads. Concrete is good in the heat as it does not get soft like asphalt, also cow manure will eventually erode asphalt and concrete is a little more impervious to it. The downside of concrete that is not used regularly is the build up of slippery algae, combined with loose pine needles makes the ride pretty treacherous thus slowing down our progress again. As the rain started up and our time wound down we had to finish the trail in the back of the truck to ensure there were no serious injuries. The guide and shop were great, very friendly and the trail, whilst its not steep and technical like Mt. Fromme was a great way to get out and see some of the small villages and the green forests surrounding Valle De Bravo.

Our next challenge was to dry everything off, we had limited clothing and footwear options and the rain would not stop for two days, in the end we had to wear sandals through the rain and puddles to catch the bus back to Mexico City, it took another couple of days to clean all the dirt off our clothes and to get our shoes to dry fully!

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