Race 3 of the New Mexico Enduro Cup Series was held at the Sandia Peak Ski Area, just outside of Albuquerque. This race brought in over 80 riders in the amateur categories and about 10 pro riders to compete for $1,200 worth of prizes. The competition was stiff, but the courses had enough hero dirt to go around.
Stage 1 was a 2.1-mile downhill course on the King of the Mountain Trail. Only Pro and Cat 1 riders raced this stage, which started at the peak of the Ski Area up at 10,300 feet. While this trail can be considered a black diamond going up, it’s an intermediate downhill trail, allowing the Pro/Cat 1 racers the opportunity to get warmed up and the blood pumping for the following 3 stages.
The rest of the field joined the race at Stage 2. The course took them back down the same section of King of the Mountain, a cut across to the very smooth and bermed Golden Eagle for several miles and then across to Falcon Ridge. Falcon Ridge actually included a fair amount of pedaling and about 500 vertical feet of climbing, providing those with a strong set of lungs and an XC background a chance to pull ahead. Overall, this stage dropped almost 2,000 feet down to the ski lodge.
Stage 3 tested the ability of riders to let go of their brakes and hold on through 5.5 miles of bermed corners and groomed trails on Golden Eagle. Thanks in large part to rain the night before, hero dirt conditions allowed many riders to post epic times. A 1,000-foot climb up to the pond brought racers to the final stage of the Sandia Bomber Enduro. A short 2 mile drop back down Golden Eagle took racers through the finish line and to the lunch line.
While the Sandia Peak Ski Area doesn’t offer a large number of trails, the hosts for this enduro race, MountainTop Cycling, utilized just about every inch of trail available to them. For the most part, the Sandia Bomber Enduro was a stark comparison to the Los Alamos EnduroFest the weekend prior. Mostly smooth, groomed trails faced riders this week, compared to the gnarly, ultra-steep trails at Los Alamos. Overall, the New Mexico Enduro Cup Series is highlighting some of the best trails the state has to offer, with enough variety to challenge all racers.
In less than a month, the New Mexico Enduro Cup Series wraps up on September 7th at Angel Fire Bike Park, the hosts of this year’s US Cycling National Championship Downhill race.