A bicycle and a little ‘Chivo Picante’

Grant Lestock-Kay spent 6 weeks at Spirit Mountain during the Winter of 2012 building the first Down-Hill mountain bike trail in the Dominican Republic.  It’s a long story, and one worth telling someday around the campfire at the farm.  The trail, El Puerco Loco, was named in honor of Delvie, Spirit Mountain’s plantation manager and local legend, renowned for hunting puerco cimarrons, the local wild boar.  Once the trail was built, we hosted back-to-back weekends at the farm, introducing Down-Hill Mountain Biking to the cycling community in the DR.  We all enjoyed trying out the new trail, and watching Grant send Puerco Loco like a pro…  oh wait… he was a pro!  10 years later, we are once again building DH mountain bike trails on the farm, and for a much larger community.    

May 2021, I met with Andre Velerio and Waldo De LA Mota at the farm to discuss Spirit Mountain being added as an event venue for the annual 4 race Dominican Enduro Series.   We revisited the topic last September.  In May we made it official.  Round 3 would be at Spirit Mountain.  It’s a huge investment for us to build three new trails, almost from scratch, in less than 4 months.  The thought of bringing mountain biking back to the forefront of the Spirit Mountain story is very compelling, primarily because I love riding my bike and sharing this special place with the greater cycling community.  Waldo, D.E.S. event organizer was all in and we agreed to meet at the farm in March on my next visit to begin planning.   By the time we got together in March, I was already deep into mapping out new routes, and the rehabilitating of Puerco Loco had begun.    

Our entire family are avid cyclist, and my oldest daughter, Keren Aspen, is a competitive mountain biker.  She was on her collegiate cycling team at Western State in Gunnison, Colorado and is no stranger to riding in the DR, having first completed the Tour de Sufrimiento as a 13 year old.  Keren and I just spent 3 weeks in the DR, primarily working on the trials.  The school Krista and I founded in 2003, the Doulos Discovery School, just celebrated 20 years and our entire family was in country for the anniversary, along with several hundred Doulos Alum.  It was an epic party, and Spirit Mountain played a role in the festivities.  Keren’s only experience trial building has been in Colorado, where it often takes the better part of a year to build a trail, so she was more than a little skeptical at the daunting task ahead.  We were literally hacking out brand new trails through a dense tropical forest, and the first day was rough.  Our trail building crew on the farm may be relatively new to MTB trails, but they know how to move dirt and by the end of the first week, we were riding the kilometer long upper section of Chivo Picante, to Keren’s amazement.  After the past three weeks, there is still plenty of work to do, but the light at the end of the tunnel is pretty bright! 

Delvie and Rosa’s youngest son, Dailin, worked along-side us the first week.  Dailin, at 13, has spent hundreds of hours riding his beat-up BMX bike all over, and in May, Waldo gave him an old full suspension Trek Fuel.  He’s been riding the trails since May and although the bike is much older than Dialin, and a little too big, he’s having a blast!  Thanks Waldo for making that happen!!  I think Dailin has actually been sleeping with the bike and I know Waldo’s smile was as big or bigger  than Dailin’s as we watched him pedal his new bike around.  Waldo and I are scheming (maybe not all that secretly) to equip Dailin to become the resident ‘Bike Pro’ at Tri Mountain MTB Park.  That’s what we are calling the trail system at Spirit Mountain.  Andre has agreed to allow Dailin to log hours at Bici Centro in Jarabacoa on weekends, to learn higher end bike mechanic skills.  One thing is for sure, Dailin loves riding his bike, and we all love watching him! 

We have two solid months of hard work to get ready for the 3rd round of the Dominican Enduro Series on September 9th.  As I wrap up this trip home, Puerco Loco is almost complete, Chivo Picante is taking shape and the third trail is marked out.  Waldo and I have spent hours dreaming of the farm’s potential we are convinced Spirit Mountain has all the conditions for a world class mountain bike park.  Perfect year around weather, established and developing on-site lodging infrastructure, close proximity to the amazing Eco-Tourism town of Jarabacoa, and an owner that is committed to the sport!  Anyone is welcome to spend the day riding our trails, free of charge.  We only ask that you steward the environment, chip-in and help when and where needed, be a good neighbor to other visitors, and actively participate in our community.  We love having day visitors and for longer stays, we encourage friends and family to take advantage of Camp Spirit Discovery, the BEST camping spot in the mountains! We may be a little biased 😊!  

For the race, make your reservations early if you plan on staying at Spirit Mountain over the weekend.  Space is filling up fast.  Contact Krista directly, and she can help coordinate your visit.  We have lots of areas for camping for those who have yet to visit the farm.  In the meantime, come visit, and get some practice on the trails before the big weekend!  If the farm is full, there are plenty of other AirBnBs in Manabao. The Angostura EcoLodge is a great spot, very close to the farm. 

GIVE BACK – DONATE A BIKE!  (Call to action button – that sends me an email message)

We do want to encourage the development of a local community of riders in the Manabao valley.  Anyone who would like to donate an old mountain bike, please be sure it’s in good working order with newish tires, there are lots of kids who would put the bikes to good use.  Donations of helmets and riding clothes would also be greatly appreciated.   Tools and spare bike parts would be amazing!  Many of us grew up riding bikes, and we would love to share the joy of riding bikes with this small community next door to Spirit Mountain.

Get in touch with me, Waldo De La Mota or Andre Velerio if your interested in sponsoring a young rider!

Cheers and Ride On!  See you all in September!

Chad Wallace  A.K.A.  Downhill Wombat!

Written by

Chad Wallace

Our founder and lead architect, Chad is at his best when he’s bringing people together.