Collaborator of Nate Mitka recommends we ditch the tanning oil and margarita mix for some one-of-a-kind mountain biking complete with underground swimming holes, spider monkeys, and secret ruins.

An hour drive south of the Cancun strip, mountain bikes emerge from the jungle. The area is hot and flat. Most visitors come to the region to party, but within the jungle is one-of-a-kind single track.

Mountain biking in the Yucatan has grown steadily over the past decade. The riding is scrappy and sparse, but unique. The 16 miles of singletrack through jungle and past beaches is a welcome reprieve from margaritas and snorkel tours.

In Mexico for a Columbia Sportswear testing event, I spent a day with Doug Depies, an expat guide and passionate member of the local MTB scene. He took me on trails unlike any I’ve seen in the United States.

Mountain biking Punta Venado Bike Park

Mountain Biking The Yucatan

On the trail, my sweaty hands gripped the bike, struggling to hold on through the oppressive heat. The dense green foliage to either side of the single track provided cover.

The trail was flat, but man-made rollers and berms kept the ride interesting. We pedaled rapidly, then hit the brakes to observe spider monkeys high in the canopy. In awe, we watched the nimble creatures dance from branch to branch.

A howler monkey at Punta Venado
Some normal trail wildlife

A sharp thud nearby cut the spectacle short. An iguana fell from a tree, and fell hard. It scampered quickly into the distance. The longer we waited, the more mosquitos gathered. We hastily pedaled on.

We ripped past steep banked berms, pump track rollers, and jumps. The trails were well manicured and fast.

Then, a break in the trees. The rocky, dirt trail gave way to sand and the ocean. Turquoise green waters, a palm tree, and the familiar sea breeze provided a welcome change.

Punta Venado Bike Park
Trail map for Punta Venado Bike Park

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