Mountain Bike magazine called it…
“Perhaps the best mountain biking trail in the world”
Mike Brcic, owner of Sacred Rides, the most prestigious mountain bike travel company in the world, said…
“It’s an exercise in futility to try and put into words that which can’t possibly be put into words”
They are talking about Santo Domingo de los Olleros, one of the best and longest mountain bike singletrack descents on the planet. With spectacular views, 11,000 vertical feet of downhill, (that’s not a misprint), and some of the flowiest, most beautiful riding imaginable, this is freeriding at its free-est. The trail was created by hundreds of years of sheep herding and is now a kamikaze path strewn with rocks, sand and boulders sliced into the side of the Andes mountains in Peru.
When I heard this trail was so close to Lima, I knew I had to do it. But I hadn’t been on a mountain bike in years and I was definitely not in riding shape, especially for a 35 mile epic adventure that stretches form the top of the Andes all the way to to beach of San Bartolo! Truth be told, I had never ridden 35 miles before. My longest ride ever was probably only 15 miles.
But this had to go down, so I began preparing. My training consisted of one morning ride near Lima, (remember it here), and a 45 minute session on the stationary bike at Golds Gym, level 7. <wink> :)
Ready to charge.
I was told that riding Olleros is an all-day commitment, so unless you want to be riding in the dark, you have to get up early. For me, that golden hour was 4:30am. In the elevator ready to rock.
The day starts with a 3+ hour drive straight up hill from Lima. It’s one of those crazy mountain roads with a ridiculously steep, unprotected drop on one side. I love these roads.
After climbing for what seemed like forever, we reached the remote village of Olleros, perched high on the Andean mountainside. This town is way the F’ up there.
We suited up and everyone checked their gear to make sure it was tip-top. Any serious mechanical problems on a ride like this would mean a very, very long walk out. I was riding with a great crew, from left to right, me, Robert, Hugo, and Royce.
Of course we weren’t the only ones who knew about the best downhill trail in the world. But I was still amazed that there were only a dozen other riders on the trail that day. And after the start, we never saw them again.
We set off on our long mission to ride all the way back to the ocean. The trail did not disappoint as it flowed one ridge after another.
Although it was mostly single track flow, there were also a fair number of technical sections as well.
Below the four of us take a break to eat lunch after descending the entire visible ridge behind us. We’re not even a third of the way down at this point.
Speaking of lunch, every time I go on an adventure I find a little note in my lunch box. You can’t beat getting a message like this when you’re in the middle of an epic ride. Nothing keeps me from tanking like a love note. Yet another reason I’m head over heels for my wife!
Looking down from here we’re finally able to see the valley floor below. Way below. Once we hit the visible bottom we follow the narrow wash all the way to the ocean at the end of the mountains, which you cannot even see in the photo. I learned that 35 miles is a very long way on a mountain bike.
That was the last photo I took. By the end of the day Hugo and I were riding together, and we just put our heads down and peddled. I was tore up. I kept asking him how much farther to the end. Without raising his head he kept answering… “Two more hours.” We did finally make it to the ocean and I was completely spent.
I’m really stoked I had a chance to do that trail. What an experience. Thank you Royce for inviting me. Thank you Robert for setting up the driver and vehicle. Thank you Hugo for the humor.
You boys are A-team for sure.