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I lay on the floor to rest a moment. Imaging a cold shower with my hands still tired, with sock marks and dry mud everywhere, but laying down, I relax, without the intention I fall into a deep sleep … the number still on my muddy shirt, the bike forgotten in the car of a friend. The backpack and helmet hanging on a chair. After many hours of adrenaline finally the body gives in to the emotions and fatigue … still with the fresh memory of the trails and slippery road and rocks that shook all thoughts until they stopped being there … Now just rest ….
The preparation time was long. Planning, talks and agreements with all who were involved in one way or another. The idea took shape gradually. It sounded good, as something fun and different, we knew that would be great … but how great we had no idea? And so between coffee and talks at hours others are sleeping, a mountain biking competition took its form. Actually more jungle biking, as here in the northern region of the peninsula there are no great elevations. But the jungle has its surprises, trails full of rocks, roots, mud, humidity, heat and thorns which makes you forget about mountains and cold weather. It reminds us you have to keep on pedaling, no time to take air … that physical exertion goes along with willpower, and a little more …
The idea materialized with the support of many people and different ways. We walked the trails, with pick, shovel and machete. Moved rocks, fallen trees and bushes. Opening trails, enduring bee stings, itchy plants and tick bites, all obstacles were removed that did not allow circular flow. The place is quite a challenge even for the most experienced biker. The site, the beautiful park of Punta Venado in Playa del Carmen, home of the Extreme triathlon Mayan X-Tri. A place guarded by the Caribbean sea and dense vegetation that changes constantly. Jungle that hides behind thorns, swamps, mangroves, sand dunes, wind, sea and sun burns. And humidity that makes you sweat from every pore.
An ancient sacred archaeological site, caverns and cenotes, the guardians are the coatis, deers, spider monkey and definitely the jaguar, which has made its presence just to a few of us.
This is the background of the first real extreme biking competition in 10 years in southern Mexico, baptized as Mayan Revenge.
Announcements where made and registration opened. Word spread and MTB lovers started to train. The voice spread even more, attracting visitors from around the Southeast and some of the Midwest. Also some curious, what with no mountains here….. They could not see what was the challenge … came from Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, DF and Mexico State. Some foreigners also joined us. But what put real flavor to the event was the excellent organization and especially those who had not been in a competition before, that had the desire to prove themselves in these conditions.
The day of competition people started to arrive as of 5:30 am. You could breathe in the air of excitement, adrenaline, companionship and love for this sport.
The competition started at 7:45 am with the beginners category. It was a cool morning, it had rained the night before. The humidity was high and the track became slippery, which increased the difficulty.
180 cyclists, what a joy that so many answered the call to have a good time with friends and expand ties between clubs, groups and states.
Tents set up, barbeques, coolers with water, sports drinks, food, bars, cookies, coal, and what not … and of course beer, very welcome in the hot midday sun. The objective was to have fun, combining all: a good level of competition, friends, family, common taste for cycling.
While the race was going on at full, family and friends supported along the way and at the finish. The sun rose while participants separated into categories, started their laps.
At the start you could see nerves and some smiles, many did not know what to expect … it was interesting to see the expressions on their face after completing the first lap. Definitely not the same, you could see satisfaction, pain and fatigue, some could complete it without much problem. Others had to push the bike after being punished by the jungle.
Then it was time for the intermediate level and afterwards the Elite.
The challenge for the Elite was 5 laps. You can feel the experience in this category from the beginning. Cyclists ready to fight for their place and giving it all. But all between friends, supporting each other and wishing all the best. Hearing “Pistaaaaaaa” from all sides, meaning here I come, let me pass.
The trails are narrow and there are not many places to pass, you have to pedal with all you’ve got or step aside. The sun was rising, the heat increased. Narrow trails and paths that wind around the trees and move off into the jungle. Constant ups and downs of small stones.
First lap….let’s go for the second one.
Passing through the finish area you could hear the cheers, the applause, there was music, but with breathing so hard I could not hear anything but my own heartbeat at full power. – Must continue … need to increase the pace – … we must keep pace … a short break on the sand road, a few meters to relax your hands and drink water.
Again approaching the slippery trails and now I have to give it all I’ve got…. prove to myself that I can do this … me and my bike we are made for these things … the bike jumps from side to side, bounced by stones protruding from the ground dodging logs and trees, we hear voices of support and the clicking of photos in some places. There’s a part where you feel alone, just isolated nature and competitors. Passing by competitors who had technical flaws. Flat tires, tired or fallen down. I have to keep pedaling hard, rhythm and cadence over mud and rock trails… humidity is at its peak. A gentle but long climb makes you feel even more the pain in your muscles. – Thinking “it’s all in the mind. It’s all in the mind “… and legs … but have to go on. The sweat gets in your eyes and glasses fog up, reducing visibility … reflexes are diminished as fatigue rises. A sense of magic can be felt passing through the Mayan ruins! In case anyone was wondering, yes it are original Mayan ruins .. They have been there a while … watching still and quiet … just seeing us passing. I am always surprised, to be cycling on Mayan territory, on land that once was inhabited by a race, now only seen in movies and on archaeological records. Passing their legacy surrounded by trees as old as the building itself, all so exciting and motivating.
After the battle against the jungle comes a section where people are shouting there support … thank you all for being there under the midday sun. The applause of the people in the tents and trees, photographers and cyclists. Friends, girlfriends and family giving encouragement.
I was about to finish the race. The last lap. In the last two kilometers I see cyclists on the side of the road with flat tires, others giving everything to get to the finish … I keep passing. Almost there. Speeding again into the single tracks with branches and stones that slow down the rapid pace … Pista … Pista …! is heard, people coming fast … here we are giving everything. The final push, you have to close leaving everything on the track, the rewards come later … “dale daleee!” Is heard everywhere and a big yellow arc is rising up between the trees. Alberto with the microphone announcing arrivals, We were in a tight group at full speed, racing over the finish line. Bumping fists and congratulating. Laughter and emotions everywhere.
Still with the temperature at maximum, your heart almost going out of your chest. Sweat and adrenaline … completed the race giving everything to the end. No technical problems or accidents. It is a satisfaction that lasts many days.
Cyclists are still arriving conquering their personal challenge. The barbecues are smoking, music, joy and laughter. Each telling their personal experience. Some war wounds and broken bicycles. No matter if you are first or last … finishing this challenge is the grand prize.
Being there side by side, living our dreams. Spending the day, we left relaxed. Many began to prepare to leave with hugs and good wishes. While others still enjoying the music until the sun began to go down and it was time to dismantle the tents, clean the track, pick up trash, put out the fire …. accompanied by beers and Gatorades, satisfied and exhausted.
The day of the competition was a good day for everyone, coming home with body aches at places I did not know that could hurt, the bike muddy and happy. And the memory of the smells of the trails to continue enjoying even during your sleep.
Now dusty and sunny and with a big smile on my face … I wonder what will be the next? I think I’m ready for another, but also could rest a bit before continuing.
Thanks Punta Venado Bike Park and Elite Cyclery Tours and Bike Rentals
Note: this was the first Mayan Revenge. Currently it grew to a Mayan revenge Cup existing of 4 competitions at the Riviera Maya. For information tours@mtbcancun.com

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