We recently heard rumblings about a must-ride ‘extra’ to the typical southward bound pan-american cycling route: an eighty-some-odd mile figure-eight around the double-volcano island of Ometepe in the southern freshwater sea of Lago de Nicaragua.
The island was formed by Volcan de Conception and Volcan Madera which are a part of the Cordillera Los Marrabios volcano range jutting straight out of the massive freshwater lake. We met back up with Lee (a cycling cohort we met in El Salvador) in Granada and from there caught the four hour ferry to the island ready for a dirt-road adventure. Over the next three days on Ometepe we got a taste of some fantastic riding that sometimes devolving to technical flowy single-track, a wealth of natural beauty and vintage island charm. Here is the story in photos and captions:
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Lee working his Spanish to figure out the bike situation on the ferry.
Our bikes being overseen by deck-hands.
The evening light on the ferry made for some fun shooting.
A nice sunset as we said goodbye to Granada and Volcan Mombacha.
Gin practicing her Spanish with some young Nicaraguans as Conception emerged into view.
Conception at dusk from the ferry.
Met Mykal and Nico
re-assembling in prep for our 4km night-ride caravan to the nearest town on Ometepe.
This dog with one white eye was giving me a stare the next morning.
Lee getting ready to throw some stones at mangoes after our introduction to Ometepe’s rocky roads.
Taking a rest-stop and fueling our Coca-Cola addiction.
Making our way around the slopes of the mesmerizing Volcan de Conception.
A cemetery on the island.
Not sure how we’d get off this island if she was to blow.
Heading back up to the loop road from a break at a finca.
Cooking up the morning fry.
Curious daughter of the folks who owned the beachfront backyard where we camped for the night.
Gin negotiating some piedras.
Meeting back up for a break with Mykal and Nico.
Picking lines in some technical bits. Photo by Lee
Lots of horses on the island… and lots of new ones as well.
Gin checking out some howler monkeys.
A pair of Surlys on a volcanic boulder.
The island’s work-truck infrastructure is made up of vintage clunkers.
Gin summoning creatures from the forest.
Lots of red and black painting everywhere.
Gin working some technical chops.
Sad to be leaving, but we had a date with the Rivas fire station.
Watching Conception fade from view.
Lee chowing a papaya with an onlooker.
Some of the deck-hands playing a game of checkers.
Last good sight of Conception.
Catching Gin’s beautiful eyes through the window.
Ah yes, the Rivas fire station. This too is becoming a popular camping option for Pan-Am cyclists. We couldn’t resist at the promise of a nice morning photo.
Pretty sweet engine.
And a station dalmation to boot.
We’d heard of this photo-op and slept with the station crew to wake up to a very large man sleeping on the pool-table. Priceless.
For more information on this route, including GPS and logistics, click here. Also, check out our growing list of bikepacking and dirt road touring routes.