ESCAPE TO OAXACA
JAMES DOERFLING & KURT SORGE ESCAPE WINTER TO OAXACA, MEXICO
Words & Photos by JP Gendron
February in the north finds James Doerfling and Kurt Sorge smack in the middle of a long, frigid winter. The jumps in Kurt’s front yard are hibernating under an unusually deep snowpack, and the motor boat ride across the water from his home over to Nelson is especially choppy and cold. Meanwhile, never ending sub-freezing temperatures in Williams Lake, have James doubled up on long-johns and steadily idling on hot coffee. Diesels don’t like starting up in the cold, neither does the Goat.
As mountain bikers in the north, this seasonal riding hiatus does seem rather involuntary, forced in fact. Stuck amidst snow banks and baklavas, what’s a rider to do? Fat bikes are novel option, so are indoor spin bikes or just doubling that baklava and making the noble mid-winter bike commute to work- cycling is cycling if you’re a cyclist, right? …Perhaps. However, it’s the ripping descents of summer we yearn for, a far cry from slushy road shoulders and buzzing traffic. A fix for prime-time shredding hits most of us hard come February, when the sun teases mildly higher in the sky. This is especially true in the interior British Columbia hometowns of James and Kurt, where the spoils of world class mountain biking come at the cost of heavy winters.
Reprieve from this bleak and bitter winter existence is a blurred dream. It can be difficult to imagine warm climates existing while shivering away up north in February. Winter or not, we’ve got to ride. Fortunately for this dilemma, an emerging mountain bike culture and network of incredible trails continues to grow a few thousand miles south in Oaxaca, Mexico- the perfect opportunity to escape the grip winter, get some suspension testing done for the upcoming year, and replenish the Vitamin D reserves.
Arriving to Oaxaca City, our very excited guide, and owner of Oaxaca Bike Expedition, Javier, scoops us up at the airport. We drop luggage and get straight to work- Javier drags us into our first Mezcalaria. Mezcal, Victorias, and a feast of tlayudas, grilled with a hearty fill of meat and veggies, cover the table almost immediately. Sitting on the dimly lit rooftop patio looking over the city, we absorb our first exposure to this rich Oaxacan culture. Then mistakenly, we take our first glasses of mezcal and shoot them back, to the awe and disgust of the guides and wait staff. “You are supposed to kiss the mezcal. Sip and enjoy it, not slam it back. Stupid gringos.” it’s explained.
Oopsies…We call for another round to get it right. The delicious food and libations, topped with discussion of our riding plans throughout the surrounding mountains, sets the stage for a very exciting week. The itinerary is pretty simple: wake up, eat, ride, mezcal, repeat…