Taxco Mexico Urban DH

Eyes Set Towards Adventure

Words & Photos by Chuck Finlay

Mexico City is big. The most populous metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, it has nearly three times the population of Los Angeles crammed into roughly the same footprint. I’m normally not a fan of cities, but the amount of history packed into Mexico’s capital is crazy. We made the rounds playing tourist and tried to embrace the adventure. While feeding the squirrels outside Castillo de Chapultepec, one of the bastards latched onto my travel partner, Damon Sedivy’s finger. To date, no squirrel diseases have been contracted. At least we got a good story out of it.

Even though we missed the Formula One race by just two days, there was more than enough to keep us interested for the couple of days we were there. After playing tourist we loaded up the shuttle and started out towards an event that is arguably more unhinged than millionaires racing cars.

Taxco was founded over five hundred years ago and its history in silver mining is rich. Nearly half of the shops we passed contained intricate silverwork and jewelry forged by masters of the craft. The town is built on a steep, east-facing slope and the track itself starts near the top with a three-story drop out of the gate. Near the bottom, after passing through the town center, riders hit a series of three jumps, each one over thirty feet in length. In between, racers navigate a labyrinth of steep stairs, wooden wallrides, and flat cobblestone turns. In broken English, locals would ask if I was an athlete. In broken Spanish I would reply, “¡No, no soy loco!”

Fortunately, Taxco had everything we needed to take the edge off as the crazy racers did in fact have a healthy dose of excited nerves after checking out the track. With some brief negotiations we hired a pickup to take us to Las Pozas Azules. These swimming holes are about thirty minutes out of town and worth the trek. After sweating most of the day, the blue waters cut right through the layers of travel.

The next day, Damon was second to drop for practice right behind Cody Johnson. The tight corners and slick cobblestones of the alleys made traction a problem. More than once I lost my footing while making my way down the track. Add to that the sheer size of the features and you have one hell of a course. I have always been skeptical of the concept of urban downhill. Watching practice made me a believer.

Taxco

One of the great things about this event is the fact that after the riding is done, you’re in a fascinating little Mexican town. The beer and food are cheap, the people are extraordinarily friendly and the views are spectacular. After a quick siesta by the pool, we decided to squad up and hit the town, tearing up and down the streets searching out the best tacos.

Taxco
Taxco at night

I could have wandered endlessly through back alleys or ancient cathedrals. At no point did I feel unsafe, even while walking alone at night, camera gear in tow. You got the sense that the whole town was stoked to be hosting the event, which contributed to a really laid back vibe that was a stark contrast to the intensity of the track.

On race day the town was at capacity. The population seemed to have doubled overnight. Making my way down to the finish, I realized my mobility hinged on the fact that I was a gringo with a camera. In my broken Spanish I asked a woman for access to her roof for a vantage point. She begrudgingly agreed and we found ourselves in the middle of a family cookout. Their confusion flipped to astonishment when some of the big names joined us on the roof. Astonishment turned to complete loss of composure when Will Whyte showed up, posing for pictures. The crowd pleaser is something of a legend among the Mexican youth. The family ended up letting us stay for the best trick contest, feeding us burgers and sharing beers. The hospitality of the locals really cannot be overstated.

Taxco

When a rider stomped a big trick, the roar of the crowd was felt more than it was heard. The noise reverberated off the clustered buildings until you could almost name it. I used to think Americans got fired up at races. These people put us under the table. Afterwards, the line for autographs went around the block. Remy Metailler took the win edging out Kerr by a second and Adolf Silva took best trick.

As the dust settled I retreated back to the room to dump my photos and decompress. The long weekend had taken a lot out of everyone, but there would be no rest before the after party.

Before the trip I had seen the GoPro runs and had heard the hype about these urban downhills, but I hadn’t really bought in. How fun could riding some stair sets and cornering flat cobblestone really be? As with most assumptions, experience shattered expectations.

The race itself acted more as a catalyst, bringing together great people from all over the world in a setting where it’s hard not to enjoy yourself. All I can tell you is that the next one is in spring in Puerto Vallarta and I’ve already booked tickets.

Taxco

Before the trip I had seen the GoPro runs and had heard the hype about these urban downhills, but I hadn’t really bought in. How fun could riding some stair sets and cornering flat cobblestone really be? As with most assumptions, experience shattered expectations.

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