The trails are ancient, the riders are stoked and the finish coincides with a rain of fireworks as the Dia de los Muertos kicks off in Oaxaca City.


Writer: Carly Terwilliger

A firework ignites and transcends the darkened streets of a Mexican city. As the film “Ride of the Dead” begins, the text on screen reads: “In Mexican tradition it is believed that on November 2nd of each year, the dead come back to visit their loved ones. This ancient celebration known as Dia de los Muertos welcomes these visiting spirits.”

From there, images of lavishly costumed revelers are intercut with atmospheric jungle footage and, finally, a group of mountain bike racers preparing to set off on an epic challenge.

“This year, the city of Oaxaca welcomes a new kind of celebration,” the onscreen narration continues. “Deep in the Sierra, riders from around the world will honor the dead during a multi-day mountain bike race.”

The Trans Sierra Norte is a multi-day enduro mountain bike race that rips through the Oaxacan highlands offering more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. The trails are thousands of years old and were predominately used to connect local villages and exchange goods, further making the bike event a cultural rarity – especially since it finishes in Oaxaca City right about the time the fireworks are blasting off for the Day of the Dead fiesta (Dia de los Muertos).

Photo and video courtesy Red Bull