The New Mexico Enduro Series kicked off with a rocky start for this year’s series at the Franklin Mountain State Park at Tom Mays Unit in El Paso, Texas. Franklin Mountain State Park, at an elevation of roughly 5,000 feet, overlooks the western side of El Paso. Very small pinon bushes and cacti pepper the rocky landscape. Though temperatures at the start of the race were quite cool in the low 60s, it wasn’t long before the sun broke over the mountain range, heating up the terrain and racers.
Stage 1 started out steep, with the whole trail composed of gravel, loose rocks, and scree fields. This resulted in a good deal of lost traction, with action reminiscent of ice skating, and numerous baby heads thrown in for added excitement. While the beginning of the trail was ATV track, it transitioned to doubletrack, finishing up with the lower 1/3 of the stage on singletrack and a 30-yard flat sprint to the finish line. All of the trails were benchcut, with 100 foot drop-offs lining most of the route. Race organizers stressed safety numerous times prior to this stage, as loose terrain coupled with ledges resulted in a technical, unforgiving route. Fortunately, all racers heeded the advice of the race organizers and made it through Stage 1 safely and with smiles on their faces.
This stage was touted as more XC in nature compared to Stage 1. It started with a tight 180-degree right hand turn, with the first quarter of the route covered in loose baby heads, again resulting in ice skating at very fast speeds–about 30 mph for most racers. It then cut across a parking lot and down a set of stairs in urban downhill race style. The second half of the stage was a benchcut trail with hard-packed dirt, which was tight and left no room for error. The singletrack was still rocky in true El Paso form. Stage 2 turned out to be the fastest stage of the race.
The last stage started at the top of a rocky overlook, almost purely for spectators’ entertainment. Descending from the overlook required navigating over massive rock slabs, with little to no flow, making it hard to carry speed. For the next 200 yards, Stage 3 joined in with Stage 2 until it branched off on benchcut trails with tight singletrack. This eventually turned into a fairly wide, rocky trail that was mostly downhill but still required a surprising amount of pedaling. Loose, unbanked corners accounted for a fair portion of the route, requiring a controlled slide through most of them to maintain speed. The lack of traction with no banked turns made it a very challenging stage.
Pro Mens Finishers
Chris Boice finished first with a cumulative time of 20:56, Myles Overstreet came in second with a total time of 22:16, and Nick Wilvert rounded out the podium with a time of 23:27.
Pro Womens Finshers
Shannon Gibson took home first with a cumulative time of 26:43, and Kristen Naber came in second with a total time of 29:40.
A big thanks to The Bicycle Company for hosting the very first El Paso race of the New Mexico Enduro Series!