Race Report: 2014 New Mexico XC Mountain Bike Championship – Cedro Peak

New Mexico hosted it’s 2014 XC championship race just outside of sunny Albuquerque, NM. While the course looked short on paper for all categories, there wasn’t a racer who finished that was begging for more miles. MountainTop Cycling sponsored this year’s race and dealt out a gnarly, fast, sufferfest for the New Mexico XC riders.cedro_logo

Right out of the gate for Pro/Cat1/Cat2 was a brutal climb up to Cedro Peak. Topping out at close to 8,000 feet and up to 13% grade, organizers were determined to make this year’s championship race one for the books. While a fair number of XC races are typically on well-manicured trails, the Cedro Peak nailed every technical inch of trails that the area had to offer.

After a couple miles of climbing, riders enjoyed mostly downhill racing for the next 5 miles with several short, punchy climbs thrown in to keep it entertaining. However, the dowhill sections were anything but a chance to recover. Loose baby head rocks lined almost all of the trails, leaving most riders fighting to keep their bikes upright as their wheels begged for mercy. For added excitement, numerous granite rock ledges peppered the course and provided no rest for the weary. Trail conditions were quite similar for the climbs as well. Podium placement required racers to have technical descending and ascending skills, as well as a strong set of lungs and legs.

Technical sections surprised even the most advanced riders. Photo by: Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling
Technical sections surprised even the most advanced riders. Photo by: Marlene Squillaci

Cat 3 racers “only” endured 6 miles of the race course. However, they tackled the technical downhill sections of “Cedro Singletrack” and “Mighty Mule”, while getting enough suffering from the tough climb up “Middle” to enjoy their well-deserved post-race beer. Cat 2 racers took on over 13 miles of singletrack that brought them over 1800 feet in elevation gain. The Pro/Cat1/SS category racers were the true masochists among the group. This race course logged over 3000 feet in elevation gain and well over 20 miles. While the Cat 2 course overlapped the Pro/Cat1 course for the duration, Pro/Cat 1 racers tackled “Delbert’s Lap” before repeating the soul-crushing climb up “Middle” to the finish line.

Technical terrain didn't negate the natural beauty of the mountains. Photo by: jkldouglas
Technical terrain didn’t negate the natural beauty of the mountains. Photo by: jkldouglas

Generous New Mexico sponsors dontated over $2,000 in prizes and trophies for the winners of the Cedro Peak Championship. Additionally, proceeds from registration fees went to help support the New Mexico Chapter of the ALS Association. Along side post race festivities, a large number of race organizers, volunteers, and participants took part in the ice bucket challenge that has been sweeping through social networks.

Raising funds for the ALS Association. Only a few beers were harmed in the making of this fundraiser. Photo by: Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling
Raising funds for the ALS Association. Only a few beers were harmed in the making of this fundraiser. Photo by: Marlene Squillaci

While many racers crossing the finish line had scrapes, cuts, and bruises, not a single one finished without a smile on their face. Well, except for the guy who broke his frame. We all shed a tear for him.

Smiles were plentiful on the far side of the finish line. Photo by: Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling
Smiles were plentiful on the far side of the finish line. Photo by: Marlene Squillaci

The Cedro Peak Championship was part of the New Mexico Off-Road Series. However, the series is anything but over for the season! Be sure to check out upcoming races across the state of New Mexico.