ENVE athletes, Whitney and Zack Allison explore the remote mountains and roads of Oaxaca, Mexico. Here is their story.

Photos by Taylor Kruse



Zack, Whitney, and Crew; Taylor Kruse and Kristen Arnold land in Oaxaca, Mexico, prepared for adventure. A vague route lay ahead consisting mostly of village names and altitude markers. After a traditional breakfast of pan y chocolate con agua, we take a short vehicle transfer from Oaxaca Centro to Santa María Del Tule. There lies one of the world’s oldest and largest trees, a Montezuma Cypress tree at over 2000 years old.

A wild site to witness as we change and start our ride. From Santa María Del Tule, it’s all uphill, through a few pueblos in the valley. We rode by ancient Spanish churches, all on dirt or cobbled roads, riding by palenques, farms, and into the town of Teotitlán del Valle, where, since Zapotec times the trade has been creating yarns and hand-dying and weaving textiles. From Teotitlán del Valle we start the 6,000-foot ascent to Benito Juarez. The climb is situated in the Sierra Nortes mountain range, carrying what we needed for the multi-day trek in our Ortlieb bags affixed to the ENVE MOG.

The climbing wasn’t fast, which allowed us to better enjoy the amazing views, and great conversation with our riding guides Pedro Martinez, Carlos, and Luis. Riding higher and higher above the Oaxaca, each switchback is named after a local hero or significant happenstance and the higher up you get the more the signs and language are blended between Spanish and Zapotec. 

As we climbed up over 10,000 feet, the climate and ecology changed greatly. Desert shrubs and cactus gave way to tall, yet soft, furry pine trees and the agaves tripled in size with quiotes 20 and 30 feet tall. Comida (lunch) is no joke for this crew and Mexico as a whole. If we had known how much climbing there was in the last leg between Benito Juarez and Cuajimoloyas, where our finish line and overnight point were, we probably would have gone a little lighter on the lunchtime feast. 

Arriving in Cuajimoloyas was a full-on sprint to the town line, which lasted about 4 seconds before the 10 thousand-foot altitude air density strangulated our lungs. We unpacked, ate dinner, lit a fire for the only heat source, a quick shot of mezcal and we were off to bed to recover for the next day’s continued adventure. 



The Sierra Nortes let us know early it was going to be a moody weather day. Before worrying too much about that, we started with an amazing yet simple, traditional Mexican breakfast: Chocolate, pan, chilaquiles, salsa, and cafe. Then, it was time to shred. Riding from the high Sierra Nortes was a blast. Multiple mixed terrain loops with some technical senderos (singletrack), dirt roads, flow trails, and of course, steep Sierra Nortes climbing. The land here is more open, “¿La tierra aqui es publico?, mas o menos?” Zack asks Carlos and Luis as we ride through people’s yards and farms, “mas or menos” (more or less) was the reply.  

After the day was done on the bike, we hit the comida to replenish our energy. This being our last day in Cuajimoloyas, we checked out Puente Colgante de Cuajimoloyas, a pedestrian suspension bridge about 500 feet long, leading to a rocky outcropping overlook. Of course, with the views and exposure, there’s a lean-to bar with some snacks and a sip of mezcal. After the bridge tour, we found some cervezas and more snacks as an offerta. It is in fact Día de Los Muertos week. Then we pack for Day 3, which from what we can gather is a slightly bigger day, heading deeper into the Sierra Nortes. 


We woke up to a bluebird day with warmer temperatures; we were ready to rip. The final day of riding started with more sendero.  These sparsely traveled, pine needle and soil-covered flow trails around Cuajimoloyas are crazy fun and well past the gravel bike norm, yet no match for the ENVE MOG and a good set of tires. As we floated downhill for what seems like hours, we hit high-quality gravel, and dirt roads to take us over the next ridge. The following descent to Santa María Yavesía is one of the most sustained, fun, variable dirt descents we had ever ridden. Constant flow, cornering on the edge of traction, switchback after switchback, and all the views, it had everything, except traffic.

It felt like the heart of the Sierra Nortes, far away from the inter village traffic much less than the thoroughfares of Oaxaca. This descent gave way to a rustic town where each road was named in both Spanish and Zapotec. Looking further down the road, mountain village after mountain village on hilltops, in valleys, were grouped closer and closer as we made our way to the main access road. Between Amatlan and Route 175, you can feel the adventure coming to an end. Our speed goes up on roads paved with concrete and rocks. We start to attack each other as the energy changes – feeling the end is near, even if we’re not ready for it to be over.

As we pack the van for the extraction, over the Sierra Nortes back to Oaxaca, we hug, we fist bump, we tell stories, and we laugh. One last lunch stop for some amazing trucha (trout) in the mountains and we’re delivered back to our apartment in El Centro de Oaxaca. We’re left with amazing riding memories and some crazy sights in remote Oaxacan mountains, no mechanicals, not even a flat tire. Just good, clean…well… dirty, very dirty, adventure, in the wild high mountains of the Sierra Nortes.