June 24, 2013
It’s a seductive proposition; the chance to fly to St Lucia and explore the island’s dense, vine-tangled terrain and lesser-known root-riddled inner reaches. With its dormant volcano, thickets of bloom-filled vegetation, bubbling sulphur springs, rare birds and rugged sea caves, cycling in Saint Lucia is a incredible way to experience Mother Nature’s triumph.
Eight miles of leafy bike trails have been lovingly carved out of the jungle. The crowd-free Tinker Trail is blessed by magical birdsong and solitude. No roar of traffic. No vehicles to force the unsuspecting cyclist into the gutter. No spewing diesel fumes.
The journey begins near Soufriére at dawn. It’s hot and the island’s southwest shoreline is usually shrouded in a steamy haze in the early hours. With panniers secured and sprockets, valves and spokes all checked, the Tinker Trail awaits.
Named after legendary American Olympic cyclist David “˜Tinker’ Juarez, the trail is dubbed “the sweetest in the Caribbean” but after navigating a tight series of skinny switchbacks along steep hills, you may wonder if you’ve misread “sweet” for “sweat”.
The trail rises 1,000ft from the expansive gardens of the Anse Chastanet beach resort in roughly a mile – no mean feat on a mountain bike. It’s hard going and at times you’ll end up carrying your bike over sheer climbs before settling back into the saddle – making tired riders all the more grateful for the visual stimulation of the scenery.