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The third stop of the New Mexico Enduro Cup series was in Angel Fire, NM. Consisting of 2 days of racing, Saturday featured backcountry trails in the town of Angel Fire while Sunday consisted exclusively of downhill-style racing at the Angel Fire Bike Park. Mtbparks.com has ranked the Angel Fire Bike Park as the #1 bike park in the southwest for two consecutive years, with the Angel Fire Double Down Enduro taking full advantage of the best trails that the Angel Fire Bike Park had to offer.

Off the Bike

In an effort to take advantage of a long weekend vacation consisting of both bike and non-bike-related activities, the family and I decided to take in a few sights in Northern New Mexico. With a distinct flavor compared to the rest of New Mexico, Taos provided an escape from everyday life.

The Rio Grande Gorge is an iconic and breath taking  national monument just a short drive from Taos, NM.

The Rio Grande Gorge is an iconic and breathtaking national monument just a short drive from Taos, NM.

The Rio Grande Gorge, and surrounding 240,000 acres, recently received the distinction of becoming a national monument. With an elevation difference of over 800 feet from the mesa to the Rio Grande, this geological formation provides breathtaking views.

Taos, NM has a long and storied history as an artistic town.

Taos, NM has a long and storied history as an artistic town.

Since the 18th century, artists of all genres have flocked to Taos, NM. Art runs deep in the veins of Taos, providing a rich and unique experience for visitors at every turn.

The view from the Angel Fire resort. Not a bad way to spend the weekend.

The view from the Angel Fire resort. Not a bad way to spend the weekend.

Though not nearly as eclectic as Taos, Angel Fire boasts a natural beauty common in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

The Race – Day One: Backcountry

With significant rain the day prior and potential pending thunderstorms forcasted for the afternoon, over 70 enduro racers eagerly awaited the start of the Angel Fire Double Down. Day 1 covered almost 17 miles of single and doubletrack with over 6,000 feet of elevation change, maxing out at an elevation of over 10,000 feet.

Double rainbows are always a good omen prior to a race.

Double rainbows are always a good omen prior to a race.

The climb to Stage 1 was a long, strenuous climb on doubletrack and dirt roads over 6 miles, gaining approximately 2,000 feet. The downhill, however, provided fast, tight singletrack deep in the woods, with enough rock and roots to keep all riders at the edge of their saddles.

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Though the routes were designed in order to maximize downhill sections during the timed stages, even the liasons between stages provided entertainment. With a chance to ease off the pedals, the true beauty of the race course could be enjoyed in the journey between stages.

Picture worthy scenery during the liason portions of the race added to the overall experience.

Picture-worthy scenery during the liason portions of the race added to the overall experience.

Stage 2 on day 1 consisted mostly of extraordinarily fast and muddy doubletrack, with the top riders averaging almost 30 mph during this stage. Though numerous mud bogs caused many riders to brake check occasionally, it provided a chance for racers to bring out their inner child once again.

Day Two: Angel Fire Bike Park

Day 2 featured both downhill and enduro-style trails at the Angel Fire Bike Park.

Day 2 featured both downhill and enduro-style trails at the Angel Fire Bike Park.

With Day 1 wrapping up shortly before noon, racers were able to take shelter before the afternoon downpour hit the small town of Angel Fire. While the rain prevented a good portion to fully pre-ride the bike park, it provided almost optimum conditions for the race course on day 2. Though a few muddy sections existed in the early hours, hero dirt covered almost all 4 stages.

Lots of chunk in the first two stages added to the excitement.

Lots of chunk in the first two stages added to the excitement.

Stage 1 and 2 were the most technically challenging stages of the entire weekend. Stage 1 traversed Upper Chillin’ and Fo’ Sho’ before dropping into the calmer trails of Pinball and Lower Supreme. Stage 2 provided the unique opportunity to race the course almost identical to this year’s Pro GRT on the World Cup trail. With features best suited for a downhill bike, these courses provided racers the chance to showcase their best skills. Stages 3 and 4 were comprised of mostly intermediate trails–a bit of a relief for the more inexperienced racers on the second day of racing.

Cold hard cash for the pros, as well as autographed schwag for the youth.

Cold hard cash for the pros, as well as autographed schwag for the youth.

Holding true to the mountain bike and enduro spirit, the pros autographed memorabilia for the winners of the youth categories.

Amateur prizes ranged from Taos Mountain Energy Bars to new tires and elbow pads. All of which will be needed for the next New Mexico Enduro.

Amateur prizes ranged from Taos Mountain Energy Bars to new tires and elbow pads. All of which will be needed for the next New Mexico Enduro.

Pro/Open Winners

The women Pro/Open podium.

The women Pro/Open podium.

Kelli Emmett from Juliana was able to pull ahead quite a bit on the first day of racing in order to maintain a first place finish for the weekend. Though Krysta Park from NoTubes Enduro Race Team finished first on the bike park stages of day 2, it wasn’t enough of a lead to overtake Emmett for first place. Leigh Bowe from ColoRowdies took home third.

The men Pro/Open podium.

The men Pro/Open podium.

Macky Franklin with Pivot took home first, Anthony Diaz came in a close second, and Chris Boice with Sport Systems MountainTop Cycling fought hard on the second day to make it into third place.

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