Interview: Starting the New Mexico Enduro Series

Though the definition of “enduro” is still up to personal interpretation, enduro races typically offer a blend of technical downhill terrain with cross country trails. This conglomeration of trail selection requires racers to be adept at both styles, have peak fitness and handling skills, and do it all on a trail bike. It takes special terrain to be able to put on enduro races–terrain that the state of New Mexico has in abundance.

To bring a bit of insight into what it takes to start an entire series from scratch in a fairly-new discipline, I interviewed Damian Calvert, organizer of the New Mexico Enduro Cup (NMEC) Series.

Singletracks: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Damian Calvert: I’m a long-time mountain biker: it changed my life for the better during my college years (1990s). It’s the sport that keeps me balanced, healthy, competitive, and HAPPY… and now I’m passing it on to my kids and family.

This is my 22nd year racing, and I’ve done it all: from XC to road and now enduro. In 2006, I started a bike team: MountainTop Cycling. Our mission is to give back to the community that gives us so much through race promotion, junior development, racing series promotion, chartiable cycling events, road cleanup, and MTB trail support. We’re a diverse team with road, mountain, enduro and traithletes representing us all over the region. Enduro is our big growth area this year because it’s so FUN!

New Mexico State Championship and Enduro Cup Finale at Angel Fire Bike Park.

How did the NMEC series get its start?

I raced my first enduro in Angel Fire back in 2013 and fell in love with the format, downhill challenges, and the social scene that is somewhat unique to enduro. It was the most fun I have had on bike in many many years. From there I felt the need to share the experience, and so my team jumped in to promote some events in 2014. We talked with a couple other promoters who were willing to put on events, and from there we started the New Mexico Enduro Cup series.

Damien Stage 3
Damian Calvert enjoying the fruits of his labor at the 2015 Coyote Howler Enduro in El Paso, TX.

From El Paso to Angel Fire, each race has had its own distinctive flair. How do you select the venues and courses?

Over the winter I had conversations with different promoters, and then went to ride some courses. We already knew Angel Fire, Los Alamos, and Sandia were great courses and return events in 2015. Then we made sure Glorieta and El Paso had good terrain, and they were solid promoters. We had some meetings and beers together, and from there we came up with the 2015 schedule.

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Glorieta Enduro was hosted in conjunction with the Bike and Brew Fest in Santa Fe, NM.

In only the second year, the New Mexico Enduro Cup Series is averaging about 80 riders a race. What do you think has attributed to this rapid success?

The terrain and format make enduro great–we are just trying to get more people to try it and experience it for themselves before judging it. Enduro has huge potential to get more people racing bikes as long as it’s affordable, enjoyable, and a memorable experience that people want to come back for. It could become larger than XC or DH because most riders can appreciate the multi-stage pedaling/downhill format. Our series highlights different terrain with different challenges, so it brings diversity and a new experience at each event.

What has been the biggest challenge starting the NMEC series?

Honestly I expected the enduro series to grow more than it has. Us promoters can improve our promotion through advertising and social media, course design, and overall rider experience. Those three components are critical to bringing more riders in so they fall in love with enduro like many of us already have.

It has been very rewarding so far–now we just want more riders to [experience it], so come out and give it a try!

The New Mexico Enduro Cup Series, in only its 2nd year, has shown rapid growth by offering race courses that appeal to riders of all styles.

What are your long term goals for the series? 

We would like to see some NM racers develop their enduro racing here and go on to be successful in the BME and EWS series. To do that, we need to grow our series by getting more events and racers in the NM Enduro Cup. Hopefully those racers will also enjoy the sport with their children and we will develop more junior racers through the series. We are raising the bar this year, and I’m confident we will achieve those goals and beyond.

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