Above: mountain biking at La Visite (Photo: Steve Z Photography)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti’s new tourism push is still in its early stages — but one niche the country seeks to develop is the adventure market.
On that front, Haiti took a big step forward this week, holding its first-ever pro-am mountain bike stage race.
The race began Thursday and concludes Saturday.
Highlighting the event has been Hans Rey, one of the world’s renowned mountain bikers.
Mountain Bike Ayiti’s course took riders from Port-au-Prince to Marigot, in a country that does not lack for steep grades.
The first day included an 8,000-foot ascent before reaching La Visite National Park; Saturday’s course began with a 15-plus-mile single track course followed by a 6,000-foot descent to Marigot.
The total race distance is 65 miles.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join the MTB Ayiti race,” Rey said. “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 Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin said the government supported races like Mountain Bike Ayiti to make Haiti “a destination for mountain biking and adventure tourism.”
“Our country has the potential, and it’s a nice way to discover the other face of Haiti,” she said.
The race supoprted local groups such as the Leogane Cycling Club by sponsoring bikes, jerseys and race entry.
Rey’s non-profit organization, Wheels4Life, is donating bikes for educational programmes in the country.