Life in the Saddle
There's more than one way to see the Dominican countryside. So for those who find hiking a little too slow, motorbikes a little too fast, and horses a little too uncomfortable, mountain biking is the way to go.
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Although they can be rocky, muddy and awfully steep, Dominican trails are certainly exciting. They crisscross the country in their hundreds, ranging from well-trodden routes used by adventure companies to numerous, obscure and sometimes beautiful tracks which cut across private land and wind up into the mountains. Due to the heat - a factor which must be taken into account when mountain biking in the Dominican Republic - many guided tours will include a pick-up truck to drive you and your bike up any steep climbs. This can be a godsend to recreational bikers whose priority is to enjoy the countryside with the wind in their hair; serious riders, however, will relish the sweaty climbs as much as the cool descents.
Quite apart from the actual riding - which can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it - mountain biking in the Dominican Republic is one of the best ways of meeting the local people. On a two-hour trip in the hills around Jarabacoa, I had the feeling that I was riding through the heart and soul of this country. I saw farmers milking cows, kids playing baseball in fields, girls kissing boys, boys kissing girls, fights, tears, reconciliations, and enough smiling faces to last me a lifetime. The good thing about mountain biking - as opposed to other, motorized forms of transport - is that you can take in the scenery at a reasonable pace without going too fast to stop when you see something interesting. In this respect, biking is an excellent way to discover the country.