Sight Unseen: Guatemala

Sight Unseen is a celebration of the kind of adventure that comes outside of our comfort zones. Join Pivot Cycles athlete Brice Shirbach as he heads to Guatemala to push his limits on new trails, and immerse himself in the vibrant and generous culture throughout the region.

Pivot athlete and storyteller Brice Shirbach traveled to Central America to meet World Ride founder Julie Cornelius and ride trails where Guatemalan women are among those building local mountain biking culture. Launched in 2020, Sight Unseen celebrates discovery: each film captures the first run on a trail not previously ridden or scouted by the team, documenting in “one take” the joy of exploring new terrain and getting outside your comfort zone. In this new film, Brice discovered not only new trails but also a new culture. 


The first few turns for Brice in Guatemala set the tone for the week ahead.

Throughout the trip, kids were often stoked to see people coming through on bikes, and were extremely interested in checking out the rigs firsthand.

The riding in Guatemala is categorically raw.

Most of the trails are ancient agricultural footpaths, several of which are currently in use among farmers, leading to a new meaning behind "shared use" trails.

Fast and loose high above Lake Antitlan.

Hurrying down the steep steps in Santa Catalina toward dinner.

“Sight Unseen has been a very personal project for me, and Pivot has encouraged me to continue expanding the narrative in personally meaningful ways,” says Shirbach. “We were looking for destinations outside the U.S. when I learned about the brand’s broader partnership with World Ride. Sight Unseen Guatemala with World Ride was a no-brainer. The destination took our Sight Unseen’s deep commitment to discovery to new levels. It was a profound experience for all of us, and it’s obvious why World Ride is in Guatemala. It’s so much more than the trail.”

Traveling from Antigua to the volcanoes of Guatemala’s western highlands, Brice discovered steep, rough hews, ancient trails, and connections with the alluring and generous Guatemalans with whom they shared the experience. Videographer Drew Bennett [A Place For All; 2022] has anchored Shirbach’s Sight Unseen creative team since the launch in 2020. “Community and resources surrounding mountain biking are limited in Guatemala,” shared Bennett, “but people are so excited to ride. That type of pure passion is contagious and made an impact on the project.”

Post-ride juices and tortillas.

Local kids watch as Brice descends through town toward Lake Antitlan.

The opportunities to explore the colorful and stunning towns aboard the bike was often a surreal element for most of the crew.

World Ride builds bike libraries for women in developing nations. These bike libraries provide a pathway to recreation, career, and competition for local women. World Ride supports first aid training, helps women get mountain bike guide and instructor certifications, coordinates destination trips that employ local female guides and provides financial support to a select number of racers. “World Ride is committed to the long-term vision of helping create more opportunity for women,” says founder Julie Cornelius. In addition to Guatemala, World Ride runs programs in Nepal, Peru, and Lesotho.

Brice Shirbach became a Pivot athlete in 2016 and also serves as Athlete Coordinator for Pearl Izumi. Previous Sight Unseen destinations include Durango, Colorado, the Oregon Coast, and the Tetons. Shirbach and Bennett were accompanied in Guatemala by photographer Kevin Horstmann, who did most of his shooting on 35mm film.

The smiles came easily and often throughout.

The farmers were generally amicable and happy to see visitors.

Early mornings in Antigua necessitated a camera at the ready.

Post-crash above Lake Antitlan.

Dirt surfing was the order of the week, as the winter months are also the dry season in Guatemala, which leads to a powdery soil that is often several inches deep.

Brice takes in the view of distant volcanoes with farmers working in the foreground.

The shuttle up El Zur was as much of an adventure as the ride down on bikes was.

El Zur proved to be something out of a dream, and a very worthwhile sendoff for their Guatemalan Odyssey.

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