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Cycling in St Lucia: Two-wheeling the Tinker Trail

by SarahWoods June 2013 - last edited July by Chantelle

The Tinker Trail | St Lucia

Make the most of gentle sweeping routes before the steep inclines of the Tinker Trail © St Lucia Tourist Board
 

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.

Pitons | St Lucia

Incredible views over the Pitons, St Lucia © St Lucia Tourist Board
 

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.

The Tinker Trail | St Lucia

On the free-wheel descent, vibrant jungle scenery whizzes by in a colourful blur © St Lucia Tourist Board
 

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”.

Pink jungle flower | St Lucia

Pack your camera to capture some truly spectacular jungle scenery © St Lucia Tourist Board
 

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.

The Tinker Trail | St Lucia

So far, only Juan "Tinker "Juarez has managed to ride the full length of the trail © St Lucia Tourist Board
 

At the sign of the Tinker Trail’s last steep jungle stretch you may need to dig deep for an epic final push before juddering to a halt. Having survived one of the most challenging rides in the Caribbean, the reward is to ring Tinker’s Bell victoriously, gasping at the jaw-dropping views over mango and breadfruit trees to the glittering Caribbean Sea beyond. But remember, there’s still the gut-wrenching, white-knuckle rollercoaster-style downhill ride home. Time for the adrenalin to start seriously pumping....

 

Header photo © St Lucia Tourist Board. Book through Bike St. Lucia at $89 (£58) per person.

 

Virgin Atlantic operates flights to St Lucia from London Gatwick, or book tailor-made St Lucia holidays with Virgin Holidays, including Virgin Atlantic flights.

 

Have you ridden the Tinker Trail or any other Caribbean cycling trails? We'd love to hear your thoughts below.


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About the author: SarahWoods

Sarah Woods

Award-winning travel writer, author & broadcaster Sarah Woods has lived, worked and travelled in The Caribbean since 1995. She has visited resort towns, villages and lesser-known islands where she has learned to cook run-down, sampled bush rum, traded coconuts, studied traditional medicine, climbed volcanoes and ridden horses in the sea. Sarah is currently working on a travel documentary about the history of Caribbean cruises.