Life in the Dominican Republic is surprisingly fast paced. I expected the laid back surfing town of Cabarete to slow me down with pina coladas on the beach every day, but the rooster had other plans. He would wake me up each morning at 6 a.m., and so I hit the ground running, starting with one Dark Chocolate Espresso Enduro Bite to get me out the door and on the trail.
I was fortunate to take two weeks recently to visit the Dominican Republic and explore a relatively untapped area for mountain biking. With so many unknowns, including the type of food I would encounter, the terrain I would ride, and how to navigate a foreign country in which my native tongue consisted of “Hola”, “Muy Bien” and “Adios”, I made sure to pack familiar staples such as my Camelbak, loaded with every possible repair item/tool, Enduro Bites to get me through the days, literally sun up to sun down, and my trusty Yeti SB-95c.
I was surprised to find a variety of surfaces to ride, everything from old coral beds in the jungle, to skimming through herds of cows and pigs in farmland. The ocean views we saw while riding, which tantalized us from the trail, convinced us to enjoy a few waves after sweating it out in 85 degrees and 85% humidity. Surfing, or any water sport for that matter, has never been my forte, but when in Rome, or in this case a world-renowned surfing and kite-boarding destination, I gave it a go.
In the afternoons we enjoyed a traditional Dominican meal consisting of seasoned rice, jerk chicken, crispy yuca (plantain) chips and sautéed veggies. Lucky for me, this boded well with my picky taste and gluten-free preference. I was never reluctant to try something new, even if the local Comedor (food establishment) had me questioning some of the meal’s origins.
Traveling is about taking in the experience as a whole, eating the local cuisine, and living through the perspective of a local. The people in the Dominican Republic were absolutely lovely, and never hesitant to share what they had or help with my stumbling through Spanish. We shared a few Enduro Bites along the way, with our SUP (stand-up-paddle-board) chaperone, and with Maximo, our trusty mountain bike guide who took us on many adventures on his local trails. In the same I may have been reluctant to try some their offerings, the were hesitant to try what we had to offer, but it would always end in a smile and a hearty “gracias" after the first bite.