The secret is out
Race report and images by Brian Leddy
(June 19 & 20, 2010) McGAFFEY, N.M.- The secret is out about a little known place in the Zuni Mountains of western New Mexico, and it took the state’s first 24 hour mountain bike race to make it happen.
Among the tall pines of this relatively moderate mountain range snake some of the sweetest singletrack yet to be discovered by the general public in the Southwest. It turns out to be the perfect place to hold an event like 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest.
“It’s just a sweet place to hold a 24 hour race,” team Back of the Pack frontman Judd Rohwer said.
While the Gallup area has been cementing it’s reputation as a mountain biking destination for several years now, there are miles and miles of little known and seldom ridden trail in the area. The fact that the race traversed some of the best 16.5 miles of those trails helped bolster that growing reputation.
“It puts the Zuni Mountain on the map and we are finally getting the recognition we deserve,” race organizer Lindsay Mapes said.
As the events date drew nearer, a snag threatened the events outcome; the forest service could not approve the original race route, which included nine miles of singletrack and six miles of doubletrack. That left race organizers looking for another staging area that would allow the event to be held on already approved existing trail.
The resulting compromise turned out to be a blessing instead of a curse. Not only did it allow the race to be held almost fully on singletrack, the staging area was in the scattered shade of the Ponderosa pine trees.
Judging by the enthusiastic comments from racers and non-racers alike, the event was a huge success.
“We had 240 people here the first year, I think that’s pretty unprecedented for a New Mexico event.” Lenny Goodell said.
Gallup tail guru Bill Siebersma agreed. “If you’re not racing, you still fell like you’re part of the event,” Siebersma said.
While the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest was an event by and for mountain bikers, it also aimed to benefit those with a little known condition called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A portion of racers registration fees went directly to the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome organization. All in all $5500 was raised and donated, the largest amount the organization has ever received from an event.
Turning in the fastest lap of the day was Mike McCollough at 1:01.55.
The top solo male contender of the day was Jonathon Davis, spinning 14 laps. “Knowing I was chasing a guy who also had 14 laps helped me pull it off. I wanted to quit at 13,” he said.
Solo Female winner Sara Delano rode 11 laps. “I worked my ass off! My strategy was to stay consistent,” she said.
In the battle for top time in the various team categories, the Enchanted Dream Team, riding in the 4 Person Single Speed category, came away with a hard earned victory. For much of the race they were neck and neck with Team Colavita, but in the end Keith Ashmore snapped a frame, putting them about 21 minutes behind the Dream Team.
“We had no mechanicals, we just road clean and hard. We wanted 20 laps, but it just didn’t work out time wise,” Jeff Hemperley, member of the Enchanted Dream Team said.
While starting and sustaining a new race can be huge challenge, the event organizers seem up to the task, especially given the success of this year’s event.
“Everything fell into place. It was meant to happen and the timing was right. NM was ready for a race, the community was ready for a race and these mountain bikers were ready for a race.” Mapes said.
For complete results, please visit 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest
For additional photos, please visit Brian Leddy Photo