An example of the widespread trail destruction caused by hurricane María.
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Hurricane María made landfall on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. The hurricane had sustained winds of 155 mph, causing catastrophic destruction island wide. The mountain biking trails of South Western Puerto Rico were not spared from the devastating effects. Downed trees, landslides, erosion, fallen debris, and wide spread flooding made reaching the trails almost impossible during the first weeks after the storm. SW Puerto Rico has over 100 miles of multi-use trail available for mountain biking. As awesome as it is to have that many miles of trail, it sure makes the task of trail restoration daunting.
Fortunately, there’s a thriving mountain biking community who quickly jumped to action and began trail repairs. Through hard work and immense sacrifice, the trails are slowly coming back to their pre-hurricane conditions. Folks have also taken this as an opportunity to improve some of the trails by re-building with more mountain biking specific features. Ridership has also continued to grow after the hurricane. The region’s most popular race, a 100 km XC race (Los 100 de la Parguera) had more than 2,000 registered racers in 2018.
Volunteers helping out with post-hurricane cleanup
A huge amount of help came to the region thanks to the work of the local trail association, Cabo Rojo Bike and Hike Trail Association (CRBHTA). Working in conjunction with the Greater Houston Off Road Biking Association (GHORBA – who have their own experience with post hurricane recovery thanks to hurricane Harvey), CRBHTA wrote a grant to People For Bikes and received three times their yearly funding for hurricane recovery efforts. This is the first time than an external agency awards financial support to promote mountain biking in SW Puerto Rico. The money received will go a long way toward reaching the goal of restoring the entire trail network to pre-hurricane conditions.
The announcement of receipt of grant money was made during the first enduro race in the region, Enduro La 22, held on January 20. The race had 24 racers competing in three different stages. The stages had a good variety of natural terrain. Racers were challenged by rock gardens, natural drops, steep descents, and plenty of roots. The race was a complete success. The organization went so smoothly it hardly seemed like the first time CRBHTA organized an enduro race.
Steep and rocky is the best way to describe the three enduro stages.
Vegetation cover in certain sections made selecting the right line a difficult task.
Second place rider Eduardo Carbia dropping into stage 3.
There were a couple of big crashes throughout the day. Thankfully everyone was able to finish the race.
It took a massive effort to be able to repair the trails and host an enduro race less than a year and a half after hurricane María. CRBHTA will continue their hard work improving the SW trail network. Thanks to grant money from People for Bikes and logistical support from GHORBA the people in SW Puerto Rico know they are not alone in their mission to continually improve the mountain biking trails. The local mountain biking community will benefit from having an increased variety of trails available, allowing for more enduro and other gravity-oriented races/events. For the long term, CRBHTA hopes to have a uniquely varied trail network that attracts visitors from other parts of Puerto Rico and other parts of the world. Beautiful beaches with a chilled Caribbean vibe and great mountain bike trails; sounds like a good vacation!
Podium ceremony of the first Enduro La 22. From left to right Josie Rojas (1st), Eduardo Carbia (2nd), Teofle Altamar (3rd), Ramón Martínez (4th), and Rigel Rivera (5th). In the women’s category Jaznira Narváez for the win. Jansen Colberg from CRBHTA (with paper in hand) announces the winners. We hope this is the first of many more enduro podium ceremonies in the region!