Haiti's First Ever Pro-Am Mountain Bike Race Underway

  • Posted on: 1 February 2013
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
News: 

There are a lot of places in Haiti you just can't reach by car.  The goal of Mountain Bike Ayiti (MTBAyiti) is to promote mountain biking in Haiti. Working with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism and Pepsi Max, it has launched the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti, which is taking place from January 30 - February 2nd.  Take a look at the course map and then click here if you are interested in getting involved with promoting mountain biking for both Haitians and tourists.   

 

According to the official press release, the 65 mile race "...will take riders from Port-au-Prince to Marigot through some of the most stunning terrain in Haiti." In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism, Travelcology aims to raise awareness for Haiti’s potential as an exciting ‘off the beaten path’ destination for mountain biking and adventure tourism.  MTB Ayiti has garnered registration from such internationally acclaimed champions as Hans Rey, Marla Streb and Sonya Looney, amongst dozens of others.  Starting from the site of the former National Palace in Port-au-Prince, racers will ascend more than 8,000 feet before reaching La Visite National Park, a protected forest among the Caribbean’s highest mountains with never-before-ridden trails. The final day begins with a 15+ mile single track course followed by a 6,000 feet descent into the seaside town of Marigot, where riders will be greeted by revellers celebrating the first day of Haiti’s Carnival. Total race distance is estimated at 65 miles.

 

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the MTB Ayiti race”, said Hans Rey. “Not only to be amongst the first group of people to experience the rigorous terrain, but to support the greater mission of inspiring others to view Haiti in a new, more positive light.”  Haiti (or Ayiti in Haitian Creole) literally means “land of mountains”, alluding to its breath-taking natural beauty, which is much lesser known compared to neighbouring Caribbean countries. To help jump-start recreational mountain biking, MTB Ayiti participants will outfit mobile bike repair shops, train mechanics, and create mosaic trail markers in the days leading up to the race. Additionally, Louise Story, a television producer who previously covered six Olympic Games and three Tour de France races, is developing a one-hour sports special around the inaugural race to be aired on a national US television network.  “We were happily surprised when MTB Ayiti first approached us with the idea of putting on a bike race from the capital to the South coast”, said Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, Haiti’s Minister of Tourism. “We support these types of initiatives to showcase Haiti as a destination for mountain biking and adventure tourism: our country has the topography and natural resources to be a great destination for adventure seekers and it’s a nice way to discover the other face of Haiti”, the Minister has highlighted.

 

MTB Ayiti is supporting local groups like the Leogane Cycling Club (LCC) by sponsoring mountain bikes, jerseys, and race entry. Additionally, Hans Rey’s non-profit organization, Wheels4Life, is donating bikes for educational programs in Haiti.

Comments

MTB Ayiti presented by Pepsi Max is a unique 4-day event that combines Haiti’s first international pro-am mountain bike race with building the foundation for mountain bike tourism. Ecosystem projects ensure that the attention brought by the race supports the ultimate goal of promoting adventure tourism in Haiti, thus creating businesses and jobs for the Haitian people. Stage 1 began Wednesday, January 30, with two key projects – training local Haitian bicycle mechanics and building mosaic trail markers. Mechanic training was provided by pro-mechanic Dave Wilcox with generous support from Pedro’s, which donated the tools and equipment necessary to build two mobile bike shops capable of traveling with mountain bike tour operators and providing full mechanic support. As a direct result of this project, there will be three Haitian owned and operated mountain bike rental shops open for business starting Monday, Feb 4 – in Leogane, Furcy, and Jacmel. Renowned New Orleans mosaic artist, Laurel True of the Global Mosaic Project, is heading the mosaic trail marker project for race participants. Her team includes the Mirebalais Mosaic Collective, a Haitian organization of artisans that she has trained. The mosaic replicas of the MTB Ayiti logo will be placed along the course, and eventually throughout Haiti as trail markers for adventure travelers to follow. Additionally, a large mosaic will be permanently installed in the seaside town of Jacmel.
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Day 1 was capped off with a Welcome Cocktail Party for all sponsors and racers, including the members of the Haitian cycling team. The cocktail party was graciously hosted by the Haitian Minister of Tourism, Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin and VIP attendees from the government included the Minister of Sport, Magalie Racine, and members of their staff.
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ABOUT MTB AYITI - MTB Ayiti presented by Pepsi Max, the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti, will take riders from Port-au-Prince to Marigot through some of the most stunning terrain in Haiti. In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism, Travelcology aims to raise awareness for Haiti’s potential as an exciting ‘off the beaten path’ destination for mountain biking and adventure tourism. January 30 - February 2, 2013. Event details, maps, photos and video can be found at - http://mtbayiti.org.
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ABOUT TRAVELCOLOGY – Travelcology is a cause marketing company focused on what we call “Adventure For Good.” We work in the developing world, creating events and projects designed to deliver a measurable economic and/or environmental impact to the area, while providing valuable branding exposure for participating sponsors and partners. MTB Ayiti is our first project. For more information on Travelcology as well as future projects and opportunities, please visit www.travelcology.com.
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ABOUT PEPSI MAX - Pepsi Max is a ginseng-infused cola that gives you a special boost of energy when you need it most. It brings together the full on cola experience with the powerful intensity of ginseng. Pepsi Max is proud to present the inaugural MTB Ayiti. Pepsi Max is bottled and distributed by Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti S.A.

11/14/2013
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Mountain Bike Ayiti, a mountain bike stage race, will run for its second year in Haiti in January 2014. The successful inaugural event, held earlier this year, attracted national and international riders such as Hans Rey, Marla Streb, and Sonya Looney, who finished as race champion. Held in partnership with Haiti's Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Sport, Youth, and Civic Action, the 2014 race wove bike-related "ecosystem building" activities, cultural immersion experiences and three days of challenging riding into a unique six-day event. "One of our goals is to attract world-class events to Haiti to showcase the natural beauty that few have imagined possible. The Haiti Mountain Bike Stage Race is a perfect opportunity to take adventurous athletes through terrain ranging from sandy beaches and lush forests to mountain ridge-lines," said Stephanie Villedrouin, Minister of Tourism for Haiti. "Ayiti" translates into "land of mountains", underscoring Haiti as an ideal locale for mountain biking. Building on that, MTB Ayiti is already one of the most impactful catalysts for Haiti's adventure tourism industry and demonstrates the potential for companies to deliver measurable positive economic impact. Incubated by Travelcology, the founders are already bringing local partners into the core team and MTB Ayiti will be grown into a Haitian-owned and operated business.
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"People often forget that Haiti is a Caribbean island. There is tremendous opportunity to build Haiti's tourism industry and a key objective is to shift the world's perspective on what Haiti has to offer," said Philip Kiracofe, the founder of MTB Ayiti. Held from January 28 to February 2, 2014, participants will race and explore two distinctive regions of the country - the majestic mountains towering above Port au Prince and the coastal Cotes des Arcadins. Ranch le Montcel will serve as the first host venue, and riders will ascend thousands of feet through rural villages, forests, and mountain switchbacks with awe-inspiring views. The race then moves to Arcahaie, a coastal community surrounded by mountains. Racers will climb 5,000 vertical feet to the UNESCO protected Fort Delpeche before descending down to a final sprint to the finish at Moulin Sur Mer resort. On the final day, there will be a festival held at the resort, including an awards ceremony, live music, food, kids races, corporate challenges, and cycling safety clinics. The event will be filmed by an experienced team of industry professionals, with race highlights and results airing on local Haitian networks and covered by international cycling and adventure travel media. For more information on the race, visit http://mtbayiti.org.

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