Mexico: The Mainland

Mountain Biking

Aug 31, 2001
Outside Magazine

San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel isn't exactly a secret—artists have been coming to this colonial outpost 182 miles northwest of Mexico City for 60 years or more for its thriving art and music scene and excellent restaurants and bars. The newest attraction is some of Mexico's best mountain biking: 800-plus miles of both hard and easy trails, a dedicated crew of local and foreign bikers, and a mountain-bike shop that feels like it belongs in Moab.
For all your biking needs—rentals, helmets, gloves, repairs, Smoke tires, Mr. Tuffy tube liners, Slime patch goop, and maps—your first stop should be Bici Burros bike shop on Calle Hospicio (rentals, $20 per day for Nishiki, TREK, and Raleigh bikes; 415-2-1526). From town, trails lead off in every direction; my favorites head north, skirting tiny pueblitos along the old Camino Real that sprang up when the area was a major silver-mining center some 300 years ago. Head out from the jardín in San Miguel to Palo Colorado, a small ranch about ten miles away, and then drop down into a roller-coaster track that leads another four miles to Atotonilco and its 250-year-old church. From there follow an old railway bed about seven miles to Cieneguitas, then head into the countryside on trails that parallel the train line to San Miguel.

The round-trip, which winds through a rocky, high-desert land of mesquite and cholla cactus, takes about six hours, depending on the heat, the number of flats you get, and your physical condition. (San Miguel is more than a mile high, so expect to spend a few days getting used to the altitude.) On the way back, there are hot springs where you can break up the ride with a thermal soak. Taboada and Xote are both close to the road from Atotonilco to Cieneguitas—look for the "Balinero" signs.
San Miguel is a resort, so there are loads of housing options. You can stay in a luxury hotel with swimming pools and private patios like La Puertecita Boutique'otel (doubles, $90-$165; packages, $119 per person per day, including lodging, local transportation, bike rental, guides, coaching, and two meals; 415-2-2250), the only hotel in town that caters to mountain biking. A couple of cheaper possibilities are Villa Jacaranda (doubles, $85; 465-2-1015) and Quinta Loreto (doubles, $17-$20; 415-2-0042).

Filed To: Mountain Biking