The Penultimate Special Offered So Much More than Competition
Today, we traveled across the green hills of Africa, toured Tuscany’s golden agricultural regions, and wound through the dense forests of Tennessee. Or at least that’s how it appeared. A place both unreal and familiar at the same time, Oaxaca’s rich history is deeply rooted in its spectacularly diverse climates, each type offering different resources to the locals, varieties of soil for their farms and unique characters for its infamy. So many great things come out of Oaxaca: Mezcal, mole, magic mushrooms and, now, motorsports (thanks to the Coast 2 Coast Rally). Oaxaca de Juarez was an arid, temperate backdrop for racers to begin their day. As with the remaining stages, the liaison was lengthy, but this time they rode down the sort of twisty dirt track which resembles a bowl of spaghetti if you look from far enough away. Vistas from the edge of the San José Del Pacifíco were breathtaking – an unintended hurdle for the competitors to keep themselves from staring, for long at least.
Motos arrived first, reaching the portal to the state’s lush Agave country. Rows of the sage-colored plant against the terracotta dirt created patchwork patterns throughout the province. Where there weren’t succulent groves, there were vacas. Weathered cowboys, or vaqueros, herded their cows to new plots of yellow grass from atop brown mules, shepherding dogs at the rear to control the more curious bovines of the bunch. Luckily, they made for most of the traffic on the roadways during the timed section. That, and the burros or mule drawn carts carrying bundles of branches trotted through tunnels of (dry climate) trees, jail striped by the interchanging shadows and sunbeams breaking through the canopy. Expectedly, there was a different mood floating around the event this morning. It seemed somber and reflective, not the ideal attitude to have right before a stage, but it couldn’t be helped. Some racers dealt with yesterday’s tragedy by dedicating their ride or beating themselves up or pretending nothing happened at all. It’s strange to watch people cope so they can continue forward with a clear head and sharp attention. Racing requires concentration. And it’s hard to concentrate when you’re dwelling on the past, however recent.
Due to a late start, the first bike was off the line a little before 11am. Willem Avenant (12) made quick work of the first few tulips on the roadbook. An experienced navigator – racing rally in three continents so far – he knew exactly how to interpret the first set of challenging directions. A rookie would read the notes, match their odometer to the T and follow directions blindly. A seasoned racer, like Avenant, saw ahead to where he’d be collecting a Waypoint, found that there was no more than one deviation between him and the target, so he checked the arrow, turned early and gas’d it. This is the sort of insight that takes a racer to the top, and exactly why bike #12 was first across the finish at ASS. He’s Number Three in Special Stage Four just behind Mauricio Santana (5) who nabbed Second for the day and Fernando Pasquel (3) in First, both of whom have had strong performances all week. But it was a matter of speed through the agave, and these men – among several others – had plenty of velocity (and more) to put on the course. While the three have had a presence in the Top Five in most of the Rally Pro standings this event, but it’s still up in the air who will take home the trophy for this category.
“The Fourth Stage was the best of the whole rally. I missed one waypoint, but in the end, we would finish no matter it took. It’s just about pushing until you can’t anymore.” – Ladislao Hernandez Arest #27, Rally 1, CCRT
Rally 1 had its fair share of head-to-head battles, with a few mishaps in the loose bits, with navigation and as the liaison began to climb into the clouds. Dohnsie Nyguen (37) was putting in good time, minutes ahead of the pack. But a few penalties pushed his luck back to Fifth in the special. Those who maintained their finishing times reaped the benefits. Mario Mendoza (28) more than anyone. He was fast where he needed and smooth where it mattered most – especially in a round with several strict Speed Zones. The entirety of the liaison was a slow winding grind to the 2,300-meter-high camp just above the fog. He didn’t reach Cabanas Las Moras – an incredible camp-meets-glamp venue in the pines – but zero penalties pays dividends, and Mendoza came out victorious. Nicolas Franco (29) was another speed-demon whose penance set him back just a step away from the podium. Oscar Gilberto Alvidrez (30) and Alfredo Marco (36) were as closer to perfect at hitting the mark as you could be, which put them in the second and third seeds.
“This is my first Coast 2 Coast, and I came all the way from Merida. So far, I’m really happy about the race. There were so many great challenges today, and it was a pretty fast stage. But there was also plenty to see. I hope more people learn about this race and show up for the next one. I’m for sure coming back next year.” – Angel Martin Perez #103, UTVs, Surestazo
Some of the unsung heroes come from two under recognized classes (in many of these events), for Coast 2 Coast, it’s the Maxi Rally/Rally Experience riders and the ATV class. If you’re not familiar, the “Maxi” designation refers all those unhinged motorcyclists who want to punish themselves a little bit more than everyone else on the racecourse, bringing – essentially – ADV bikes to the lineup. SS4 saw Vincent Rios (62) win the Rally Experience, while Mauricio Varela (73) took it for in Maxi Rally. Carrying an extra 300 pounds through the turns and the sand and the rocks might seem like herculean task…Because it is. But the riders have been throwing around their motos with an admirable finesse. Yes, there’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but for the fans, it’s been the sort of brutal competition we look for in rally raid. That being said, the two ATVs have been quite a show to watch these last few days. Sergio Padilla (50) and Mauricio Segura (51) have been leap frogging every opportunity they had, but in SS4, it was Padilla who reached the summit first, finishing a little under an hour ahead of Segura.
“I was racing a Can-Am renegade for this event and think it was a great choice for this event. I’m very happy with Stage Four, not only the terrific terrain and the challenges – especially the speed and navigation. The landscape was so beautiful, wide-open vistas for all of the special. And all of the competitors, especially Padilla, were so fast.” – Mauricio Segura #51, ATVs, Surestazo
By the end of the (long) stage, only six UTVs remained, one of which rolled in the liaison approaching the DSS. Angel Martin Perez (103), Arturo Garza (107), and Jose Diaz (100) made great time in the wide, hard-packed sections of mezcal country while their compatriots were held up with the incident for quite a while before they could carry on in the timed section. Despite an endless stream of curves and hairpins on the ascent to the Marathon bivouac, the scenery was an experience in and of itself. True woods riding, when the tightly spaced vegetation would finally give way to the epic vistas hiding behind their shield. Staggering drops into unseen valleys below filled the horizon as the drivers scaled the mountains, just trying not add unnecessary time to their results due to impatience or complacence. Perez was the man with the best stats for the Stock SSVs, and Garza made his mark in the Unlimited category. That night, they all settled under a starlit sky, drinking Oaxacan hot chocolate, eating mole and making new friends around the campfire of the Marathon’s isolated camp.
Day Five, SS4, pinnacle of the first Coast 2 Coast Rally in four years, was a true reminder of why competitors sign up for these events. Just enough “rough” with a full cup comradery. Everyone here has made it as far as they could. They’ve struggled and triumphed and pushed themselves to the limits. And while the following day is still a race, it’s not the hump anyone was trying to overcome. It’s the home stretch. Little do they know, there’s so much beauty and challenge awaiting them before the finale in Puerto Escondido. But for now, we’ll let them sleep peacefully believing that the best is behind them. Everyone likes a pleasant surprise, anyway.
To learn more about the Coast2Coast Rally: https://en.coast2coast.mx/pages/sobre-nosotros
Follow the race on Instagram @rallyc2c and through hashtags #RallyCoast2Coast.
Ø Marathon, Oaxaca de Juárez > San José Del Pacifíco – 211 km; Liaison > 141 km & Special > 70 km
Terrain: Semi-desert → rainforest
**High Desert = hard-packed dirt, long stony sections, light gravel roads, some cacti, lots of Agaves
**Rainforest = a little sand at the base, steep hill climbs, pine trees, compact dirt, colder
Ø Oaxaca de Juárez, or simply Oaxaca (Valley Zapotec: Ndua), is the capital and largest city of the eponymous Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of Oaxaca. It is in the Centro District in the Central Valleys region of the state, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre at the base of the Cerro del Fortín, extending to the banks of the Atoyac River. Heritage tourism makes up an important part of the city's economy, and it has numerous colonial-era structures as well as significant archeological sites and elements of the continuing native Zapotec and Mixtec cultures. The city, together with the nearby archeological site of Monte Albán, was designated in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the site of the month-long cultural festival called the "Guelaguetza", which features Oaxacan dance from the seven regions, music, and a beauty pageant for indigenous women. [Source: Wikipedia]
Ø Mexico’s national spirit, Mezcal, is a distilled alcoholic drink made from Agave, a warm climate succulent, originating in Oaxaca. The spirit has become very popular in recent years, increasing sales by 18% as of 2022 – a trendy alternative to age old tequila. But what most people don’t know is that tequila IS mezcal. (Boom.) While all tequilas are a form of mezcal, not all mezcals are tequilas. You can compare it to the way scotch and bourbon are both from the whiskey family. Tequila is made from blue Agave specifically, where mezcal can be made from more than thirty different types of Agaves. The name mezcal comes from the Nahuatl (or Aztec) word “mexcalli” meaning an oven-cooked Agave. It is believed that Spanish conquerors taught distilling techniques to the Mexican natives around 400 years ago. Although for a long time Mezcal has not had much of an audience beyond Mexican borders, it’s recently grown in popularity, especially in the United States and Japan.
Ø Located just a few hours in between the tourist hubs of Oaxaca City and famed beaches like Zipolite and Puerto Escondido, San José Del Pacifíco has become a global epicenter of mushroom tourism. Especially because Mexico exempts the use and sale o certain sacred plants and fungi, like peyote and psilocybin mushrooms, when used in Indigenous practices, mushrooms are de facto legal. There are no cops, and the economy has adapted accordingly. A constant stream of outsiders from around the world ascend to the tiny sierra town of roughly 700 people, where many of the locals happily sell shrooms to people who go to mushroom-themed shops, and go to sleep in mushroom-themed lodges. It has simply become a magic mushroom town, with the local government estimating that 50 percent of the town’s inhabitants work in tourism, and somewhere from 15,000-20,000 tourists annually. Outsiders learned of the mushrooms capabilities in the 20th century mostly due to a US banking executive from JP.Morgan & Co. and amateur mycologist named Gordon Wasson, who learned about the nighttime rituals. Eventually, he convinced a shaman named Maria Sabina to allow him and a photographer, Allan Richardson, to participate after promising not to divulge her name or the location of the ceremony. That ended up being a bold-faced lie and the pair did both two years later in a 1957 article for Life, one of the most important magazines of their day, as well as in a book on mycology. Soon, foreigners began flooding into the region. [Source: Vice]
Top Five Stage Results
All results are unofficial. Please see event website for the most current standings.
1. #3 F. Pasquel – 01:24:00
2. #5 M. Santana – 01:24:25
3. #12 W. Avenant – 01:26:41
4. #7 O. Lara – 01:27:12
5. #13 S. Lopez Jaimes – 01:32:34
6. #2 S. Olarte – 01:40:56
1. #28 M. Mendoza – 01:28:53
2. #30 O. Alvidrez – 01:30:53
3. #36 A. Marco – 01:34:31
4. #29 N. Franco – 01:38:17
5. #37 D. Nyguen – 01:41:04
1. #50 S. Padilla – 02:34:35
2. #51 M. Segura – 03:27:10
1. #107 A. Garza – 01:43:08
2. #105 W. Vasquez – 04:06:05
1. #103 A. Martin Perez – 01:34:00
2. #100 J. Diaz – 01:53:46
3. #104 I. Sanchez – 04:17:33
4. #102 M. Concho – 07:26:39
1. #73 M. Varela, ADV Pro – 01:40:34
2. #71 L. Padilla, ADV Pro – 02:06:46
3. #70 J. Bolado, UTV Pro – 02:26:26
1. #62 V. Rios – 01:20:02
2. #58 M. Velasco Fuentas – 01:40:46
3. #59 M. Reyes Rivas – 01:41:18
4. #57 J. Medina – 04:19:44
5. #55 E. Cervera – 04:19:44