TAOS, N.M. - As dawn broke early Saturday morning, 13 racers left the empty streets and headed for the mountains. Though the skies were dreary and the ground damp from a late night rain, the clouds ahead appeared to be parting, as if greeting the hardy bunch of mountain bikers as they began their ascent.
Their journey would be grand; starting from town they were to climb the north rim of Taos Canyon via mixed singletrack, forest road and cow trail to the mountains that loom just outside of town, a route unofficially known as the North Boundary Trail. Next, connect to the challenging Elliott Barker Trail(EBT), with it's sawtooth elevation profile and top elevation of 10,700 feet. Finally, hook up with the South Boundary Trail and descend 20+ miles back to town for cold beers at Eske's. All in all traveling 69 miles with over 13,000 feet of climbing.
Not far behind the first group came a much smaller second wave of racers that did half of the Boundary Trail route, cutting off the initial grueling climb from town and catching up with the EBT starting at Palo Flechado Pass. They rode 38 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing.
On the mountain the weather was unpredictable, changing from sun to rain to light hale throughout the day. The previous week's storms, which included a dusting of snow in the upper elevations, left the trail tacky and slightly muddy in certain sections.
Thirteen started the full DBT and 10 finished, with Cameron Brenneman setting a new course record of 8:03. Not far behind him was Dan Durland riding his singlespeed, also setting a new course record with 8:38. Kara Durland was one of two females to start the race but the only one to finish. She is the only female to ever complete the Double Boundary Trail, and she did it on a singlespeed.
The race is part of the New Mexico Endurance Series, a grassroots and completely unsupported series of races encompassing big miles in New Mexico's backcountry. For those that finish the races there is no reward other than the honor of Bragging Rights. No trophies, no plaques and no schwag; just the simple pleasure having your name at the top of a list and congratulations over cold beers that follow the race.
Next up in the series is the Manzano Mountain Epic on Oct. 1, followed by the championship race, the Zuni Mountain 100 Oct. 15.
Check out the New Mexico Endurance Series website for results and more info.