Mountain biking in St. Lucia: Blood, sweat and beauty on the grounds of slavery

By John Henderson
Special to the St. Petersburg Times

ANSE MAMIN, St. Lucia – I’ve traveled a lot through the Caribbean, and what I saw when our boat pulled up near shore here could have translated to a dozen islands. I walked onto a gorgeous, golden sand beach, in a half-moon bay surrounded by palm trees and dotted with comfy lounge chairs. Find a postcard and fill in a name.

But the scene on St. Lucia had a twist I had never seen anywhere in the Caribbean. Nor has anyone else. It isn’t anywhere else. Behind the ring of palm trees was a little wooden shack where a St. Lucian man greeted me wearing a tight blue and yellow Lycra shirt and black shorts. It’s not the kind of attire usually associated with snorkeling or kayaking. Forget sunbathing.

He led four of us behind the shack into a thick jungle right out of a Brazilian rain forest. A chorus of blue herons, bullfinches and blackbirds filled the air. It looked like I was either headed on a wilderness hike or an anaconda hunt. Instead, standing in the massive shade from the jungle’s near roof-like canopy, he pulled out a bicycle.

You’ve heard of mountain biking? Welcome to jungle biking, Caribbean style.

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