MTB Ayiti – Stage 2

by Sonya on February 20, 2013

Stage 2 started about 2 -2.5 hours after I finished Stage 1.  Stage 2 was the queen stage.  The big one.  The one I was waiting for…and the monster hike-a-bike called the “Sole Collector” I had been hearing about for 6 months. This post will be the most photo heavy.  I think it ended up being about 14 miles and 4000′ of up in about 2 hours.

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Stage 2 start. Blue Haitian clothing provided by Primal

We started up a steep paved road that turned to dirt.  It was a replay of Stage 1.  Willy and Dave went ahead just a little bit and I settled into my pace.  After the first climb, we were handsomely rewarded with a fun, very technical dirt descent.  I overtook the two guys and was on my way!  The lead moto jetted in front of me.  This stage was one of the coolest days I’ve ever had on a bike.  I have been fortunate to ride through some spectacular and simple villages in both Nepal and Brazil, but this was an eye opener.  The mountains were bigger than I thought.  The people were excited.  And I had the privilege to be the first rider through these villages and get their first expression at a bike coming through.  I wondered how much bigger a reaction the guys mid pack were getting when the locals realized more were coming.

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This little boy wanted to help!


Some kids cheering me on.  Sorry for the shaky videos, it’s tough ride with one hand on bumpy roads and shoot video!

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Land of Mountains.  Photo – Steve Z

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Mush! Mush!  Photo – Steve Z

Steve Z also rode in front of me on the moto – my own personal photographer.  I was overwhelmed with the beauty, the way people lived their lives, and the stark contrast to what it’s like to be in a big American city vs a small mountain town in Haiti.  There are no words… I was misty eyed and I was so stunned that I cried just a little bit.

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I know people hate hike-a-bike, but I love it. I feel that when this is thrown in, it adds an extra dimension.  Photo – Steve Z

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High traffic area

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By the time I reached the top of the sole collector, Steve and Clay had told the locals about me and they all cheered my name. It was crazy!  Photo – Steve Z

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Willy snuck up on me at the top of the Sole Collector.   Did I mention he was nipping at my heels in hightops?  We took off together and I escaped as soon as we hit the singletrack.  I could not believe my eyes. Suddenly, we were in pine trees in a deforested country.  I was riding trails that seemed to be designed for riding, but were merely worn-in footpaths from people walking from village to village.  There were huge aloe plants.  It was magical.

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Singletrack. Real. Singletrack.

We ended at 6000′ in the mountains.  There weren’t a lot of people when I got to the finish line, but it didn’t take long for the crowds to start rolling in.  It was so fun to see everyone’s expressions as they crossed the line.  They all shared the same one – amazement.

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Finish of Stage 2. Wheelie for stoked! I was sad it was over so soon. I really wanted more!

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Willy came in just a minute back…and outdid my wheelie!


Finish line interview

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There were probably 50 people standing around before we headed to camp – Caye Winnie.  There were unique rock formations, bright white sunlight, green hills, crisp clean air, and a very calm energy.
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Marla rocks

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The kids were very interested in what was going on.  I just wished that they could have the opportunity to do some riding.

And then there was camping and much rejoicing!  Barbancourt rum was a sponsor.  There was definitely a fun party atmosphere that night.

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More on the evening in the next post…and the final stage of the race!  The pictures say more than my words ever could.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Hudson February 20, 2013 at 2:06 am

Awesome race. You’ve convinced me to ditch the road bike and find the dirt that’s all around.

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Cindy Copley February 20, 2013 at 3:13 am

Wow, very cool experience to have! Hike a bikes are fun and personally, they are nice little breaks off of the saddle. You were probably grateful that it was a bike you were carrying and not a load of food/goods on your head. Those women are also amazing :o)

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Joshua Driskell February 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hey Sonya, good read. Right after all the MTB AYITI folks had left, 2 friends and I rode loaded mountain bikes from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel. Same route. It was tough for sure. The locals had another name for what we called the Sole Collector. They were calling it Freak-Out Mountain. Indeed.

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rosedanie February 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Sonya, Thank you for the riding tips. I would not have survived the downhill w/o them. You are light!!!

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Eddy Toussaint February 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Simply Awesome. See you next year, Sonya!

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Nat Ayiti February 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Amazing! Thank you for writing so beautifully about your experience in Haiti. It is a magical place indeed.

Congrats on a well deserved win!

Nat

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