LifeCycle Rides: Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe is an island formed from the lava of two volcanos in Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. In the shape of an hourglass, it is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua and has exquisite views of the two volcanoes that birthed it- Concepción and Maderas. With newly paved roads between the local towns, Ometepe has become an explorers dream for cyclists, both local and transient. 

LifeCycle Biking got an opportunity to explore the island while traveling through Central America.

Off road terrain common in Ometepe

Off road terrain common in Ometepe

In order to get to Ometepe, we took an hour long ferry from San Jorge to the dock at Moyogalpa. From there, we were shuttled to our lodging quarters at the earth-based, intentional, communal living retreat, Inanitah- situated atop a steep incline, about 45 minutes (driving) from Moyogalpa. At Inanitah- we camped on on their grounds, ate 3-4 vegetarian meals daily, explored meditation, yoga, & wellness workshops; and participated in ongoing learning opportunities for growth and expansion. 

Camping at Inanitah

Camping at Inanitah

Inanitah residents guided us along the island biking terrain. With the two volcanoes, dry and wet forests, and stop overs at warm lake shores and petroglyph sites, it is a mountain biking paradise. Limited paved roads make road cycling difficult as the roads tend to be the main connections between cities and have high traffic volumes. However, the trucks make room for riders and we experienced welcoming horns and thumbs up's along the way. 

Bikes were available for daily rental at various locations across the island and some hotel and hostels have bikes that visitors can use.

Our stops along biking routes included small villages and “comedores” where typical Nicaraguan meals of rice, beans, tortillas, fried cheese & eggs with either chicken, beef, or pork were served. Fresh fruit juices and coconut water were easily accessible and enjoyed roadside. 

Los Cocos Comedore

Los Cocos Comedore

With the recent re-pavement of the road between Moyogalpa and Altagracia, it is the route used by most cyclists. The cities are around 15 miles (24 kilometers) apart and it takes about an hour and a half to travel the route. The road to the Maderas Volcano is still unpaved and requires more time and effort to get to that side of the island. Biking around the Concepción Volcano is also possible, but cyclists will hit some dirt roads after Altagracia. 

With the frequent altitude changes and the Nicaraguan temperatures, cycling on Ometepe can be tough- but also amazingly rewarding.

The sunset views were some of the most amazing we had ever seen. 

Breathtaking sunsets next to the Volcano

Breathtaking sunsets next to the Volcano

On Ometepe, the local community is embracing the tourism influx and we felt genuine generosity and hospitality from the residents, both transplant and native. 

The scenery was unlike any other and a ferry ride back to San Jorge left us missing the simplistic pleasures and rough routes of Ometepe. 

Want to learn more of our journey through Nicaragua? Contact us!

Photos courtesy of Sara Elise


Your Brain on Cycling

For those of us old enough to remember Rachel Leigh and her infamous frying pan in the 1990's anti-drug PSA, we learned a valuable lesson- drugs fry your brain (or so they say, right?). In the spirit of those positive intentions we laid out in early '16, we're looking to continue our personal growth, and since we are talking cycling- our muscle growth.

The most important muscle of all, our brainius maximus, benefits highly from our favorite sport. Improvements linked to cycling include better memory retention, decreased stress levels, and increased productivity. We all think cycling is the bee's knee's, so here are a few more reasons to justify the 20 degree, ump-teen layered rides we love to endure.

Image Credit: Shutter Stock

Image Credit: Shutter Stock

Stress and anxiety relief

Life can sometimes get the best of us, and in those moments of anxiety, it may seem like nothing will help. Research has shown that vigorous activity helps to reduce anxiety, fear, and sensitivity symptoms. When one exercises regularly, they are less likely to develop anxiety disorders or depression.

Increased enjoyment

Prolonged activity, such as cycling, wakes up the endorphin's in your nervous system and can provide feelings of euphoria. Just like a "runner's high", cycling contributes to the positive mood modulators in your life. As we continue to ride, our moods will improve, both on and off the bike.

Be productive, B-E- productive!

While procrastination is one of the most infamous excuses worldwide, when regularly riding a bike, it may become mute. Cycling energizes the brain and the body, leading to an increase in your productivity. Your ability to formulate ideas, provide input, and make sensible choices are heightened and the increased stimulation will lessen feelings of sluggishness and fatigue.

Rest better

Ever had the best sleep after a long ride? (Yea, me too.) Cycling lessens the amount of cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) in the body which often keeps us from falling into a deep sleep. Regularly riding a bike is said to help synchronize your natural body rhythms and improve your sleep capacity.

Memory improvement

The hippocampus controls long-term and spatial memory, and just like the rest of your muscles, it grows with exercise. Cycling provides the brain with the stimulation needed to produce more cells in the hippocampus, thereby growing it's size and retention capability. Cognitive functioning, which is directly related to diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia, is stayed with regular exercise.

Sexy time

You may be tired after a long ride, but the feeling of accomplishment is radiant. That confidence in your ability and physical agility makes you feel sexier and people definitely take notice. The rise in blood oxygen levels that occur from high aerobic activity produces feelings of intense well-being and increased sexual vitality. Added bonus- those powerful leg, buttock and lower back muscles that cycling builds are all the muscles used during intercourse. The better developed these muscles, the longer and more athletic intercourse will be.

All in all, cycling can lead to an improvement in mental clarity, memory function, and sexual drive. . . not bad for a pole in the butt.

Anyone down for winter riding? Because I'm sold!

Think of any other mental health benefits of cycling? Let us know below!