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By Theresa Russell

Note: A seasoned cycling travel writer, Ms. Russell co-authored the guidebook, Bed, Breakfast & Bike Midwest. (This book was reviewed in our Spring '01 Feature Articles.) She is currently working on a cycling guide to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Blue emperor butterflies cross the path, while melodious bird songs emanate from the trees. Trinidad boasts more than 400 species of birds and over 600 varieties of butterflies.

The rainforests that cover this mountainous island provide the perfect spot for mountain biking and there are several great trails for exploring. Many of the trails start near Brasso Secco, a small village with friendly residents who will greet you as you pass through town.

A moderate technical trail that traverses a wide and rutted muddy road gradually climbs to a stream from where you can dismount your bike, hike to see the falls and take a swim in the refreshing pool below the falls. A great deal of psychological friction can add to the excitement of the ride as often the easiest path to follow is on the edge of the many drop-offs on this road. The road is so rutted and rough that after a certain point, drivers no longer attempt to use their vehicles along it. This route passes through the rainforest for about four miles before it reaches a creek.  Skilled or adventurous bikers will be tempted to ride through the stream and perfect their water riding technique.

Another great ride offers three different starting options depending on how much muscle and lung effort you plan to exert. From either Arima (10 miles; 1,500 foot gain) or Paria Springs (8 miles; 1,200 foot gain) to the Las Lapas junction, you will reach a final altitude of 2,000 feet and you will get expansive views of the gorgeous countryside and examples of the different types of forest.  From the Las Lapas junction (1,200 foot loss), an abandoned dirt road descends quickly to La Pastora. At first the road slopes gently through the rainforest where you can watch for birds and butterflies and experience the rainforest in its truest sense. The descent steepens and quickens, yet is gentle enough so that you can travel as fast as you like. Eventually the trail opens into a mixture of agricultural areas interspersed with rainforest. After bumping down a rugged country road with a few steep sections, you will eventually reach La Pastora where you might enjoy lunch at a historical site.  After this rest stop, the ride continues along country roads and single track.  This is another muddy wide road of medium technical level, though you can adjust your speed to either increase or decrease the thrill and skill factor. 

Another great trail, the Bench Trail, starts at an elevation of 1,000 feet and makes a quick descent of 800 feet within just over a mile. The Bench Trail is a series of old donkey trails that connected cocoa estates to the main donkey trail, which is now a road.  As part of the rainforest, these trails are lined with tall trees. The shape of the trail is basically a dollar sign. The “s” curve switchbacks are wide single track, but still of moderate difficulty. When the locals didn’t have their loaded donkeys, they took the shortcuts, which formed the slashes of the dollar signs. These shortcuts offer extremely technical riding.  They are steep, rock and root strewn, and muddy. This is the type of trail that makes you pray, go and hope for good luck on the descent. Those who love technical challenges will head to this trail first. At the end of the trail, two miles of bad road will return you to Brasso Seco. 

Trinidad is a mountain biking paradise. Several great resource people will be glad to point you in the right direction and even organize lunch and a day ride for you. Courtney Rooks is the resident downhill specialist.  He constantly seeks out new routes throughout the island and knows the best spots for all skill levels. 

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