OAXACA, MEXICO — After asking at a taller de bicicletas (a bike shop)
|His office is small, just big enough for a counter, ten
bikes to hang tightly against the wall, and shelves for helmets and cycling
shoes. A collection of cycling jerseys hangs overhead, and inside the glass
case that forms the counter are cassettes, pedals, hubs, and derailleurs.
What available wall space is left is covered in poster-sized photographs
of Martinez himself competing in races.
|While Sr. Martinez is busy
arranging a hiking tour with customers, his nephew Roberto invites me
in. In the best Spanish I can muster, we joke about the pain of a long
climb, about reaching down to click into the next easiest gear only to
realize that you’re already in it, and about the white-knuckles and big
eyes of a sketchy descent. He tells me there is a 50 mile endurance mountain
bike race on Sunday and invites me to race on a rented bike. I’m tempted
but decline in favor of a ride through the streets of Oaxaca.
morning, I arrange to take a bike for two hours and ask about the local
mountain bike scene. Roberto charges me 50 pesos (about $5.00) for
a nice bike (a Giant Rincon), a pump and spare tube, tire levers, a
lock, and a helmet.
|Leaving the shop, I ride down
la calle Aldama and turn south on JP Garcia. Although the sidewalks are
crowded, traffic flows swiftly in the streets. Oaxaca is, like most developed
areas, an auto-centric place. But bicycles fit right in with traffic
here, and I never feel threatened by the buses, trucks, and taxis swirling
around me. In fact, as I get more comfortable with the new traffic patterns,
I realize that drivers around me seem to be more aware and respectful
of bicyclists than I am used to.
|I decide to ride the road
up Monte Alban, a tight, steep road that leads to Zapotec ruins dating
back to 100 AD. It’s a grueling climb, but the views alone from the roadside
make it worthwhile. Halfway up the road, I can see all of Oaxaca to the
east. I snap a photograph in my mind and turn around.
Next I head
|My two hours
are coming to an end, so I turn back and begin riding southwest. On a
bike, it’s easy to navigate a city laid out in perfect square blocks,
and I make my way to the Zócalo and the adjacent Alameda de León.
Out of curiosity, I ask whether he rents
See the rest of my pictures from Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido here.