a-bicycling

Surfers maneuvering their boards as they try to find transportation to nearby Sayulita and golfers schlepping their clubs making arrangements to travel to Nuevo Vallarta or Punta de Mita are two fairly common sights at Puerto Vallarta’s international airport and have been for a number of years. Joining them, however, is a new breed of traveller, carrying a load just as bulky and cumbersome as the aforementioned ones: the cyclist. Indeed, an increasing number of cyclists, who spend extended periods of time in and around Banderas Bay are choosing to travel, bicycles in tow, in order to train and stay in shape while they are here, joining an equally increasing number of locals taking to the sport.

This shift in gears, no pun intended, has been so gradual, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific date for it. But as you drive through town or head toward the northern part of the bay, you will inevitably notice at least a handful of cyclists along the highway, confirming that cycling has, indeed, come of age in Puerto Vallarta.

Cycling is not new to the bay, however. Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit have been attracting cyclists for decades, either to participate in competitive triathlons, explore the spectacular mountains that surround our destination, or simply carry home the day’s purchases at a nearby farmer’s market. And a number of activity providers and small repair shops have been catering to the cycling community, the former offering mountain biking tours and excursions, the latter providing service and parts when needed.

Things began shifting with the arrival of the bicycle “super stores” a few years ago, places where you can, as is commonly done north of the border, browse and choose from a variety of bicycle styles to fit your specific riding need, shop for all the accessories you need to cycle safely and have your bicycle repaired and tuned when necessary.

The global tendency to cycle from one place to another as a greener, more Earth-friendly transportation mode is also having its effect here, particularly in the smaller towns surrounding Puerto Vallarta, where bicycles are ideal for recreational rides and running light errands. “We have a lot of clients in Sayulita, San Pancho, La Cruz, Bucerias and Mascota,” comments Belin Villasante of Specialized in Galerias Vallarta. “For them, having a hybrid bike to move from one place to another is ideal.”

Then there are those who haven’t lost sight of the power behind sports-related tourism and the economic benefits associated with large-scale events. In that regard, Banderas Bay has been well served by nautical and golf-related events, along with some biathlons and triathlons. Could the bicycle be the latest contributor to this booming tourism industry? “City athletes love a destination with mountains and beach,” chimes in Villasante. “The opportunity to participate in an organized event, whether it be a road or a mountain bike race, and then spend the rest of your stay exploring the destination is something that is very attractive to them. And if the events are well organized and the participants have a favorable experience, they are likely to return and invite their friends to tag along and compete with them.”

Last but not least, are the citizens themselves, particularly the younger generations, who are clamoring for a more ecological conscience in general and—as far as the bicycle is concerned—a more user friendly cycling culture on the road. To that end, a number of organized bicycle rides are now available throughout the city, most of which can be discovered by visiting a local bike shop.

Regardless of your riding style, expect to see more people cycling in and around Banderas Bay in years to come. And even if you will not be towing your bicycle with you on your next visit to Puerto Vallarta, rest assured that you now can continue to practice the sport while you are here, knowing that the required infrastructure—stores, culture, events and so on—is on the rise.