This past weekend I traveled to New Mexico for my second Pro GRT race with Max Fierek. I had never been to New Mexico but when I first thought of going there I was not thinking 11000 feet in elevation. Angel Fire Bike Park is located in the Northern Rocky Mountain region of New Mexico. Needless to say the elevation was a challenge for me coming from Michigan. With that in mind as soon as I landed it was time to start chugging water.
Max and I did the track walk on Thursday in a time of 1.5 hours, descending 1670 feet over 2.1 miles.
The track was long with some massive rock gardens, BIG jumps, and drops. Between jagged rocks, roots, and ruts there seemed to be an endless amount of lines to choose from in every section. There were also multiple sections of high-speed fire roads with flat corners. The terrain was dry, dusty, and supers loose all over with chundery rocks. We knew this was going to be fun but definitely a change from what we are use to practicing on back at home.
My awesome coach Jason came down from Colorado to practice with me, which was very helpful. It is always great to see how other people look at obstacles on the track. Lots of practice runs, and making sure I was hitting my lines correctly and linking them all together. It was really fun and also a good learning experience for me.
Obviously Max and I are pros and no one would ever question us….. people really seemed to like our new human bike rack idea.
The weather in Angel Fire was weird… everyday at about 2 in the afternoon there would be a thunderstorm and the lifts would shut down along with the track. There was storms forecasted for the day of the race, but no one really thought of it because the other storms always passed pretty quickly… Well were we sure wrong.
The race was supposed to start at 2:30 and I was the very first person down the track. That made me nervous but I was feeling confident in my practice runs and I was excited to get my race run in. At about 1:30 the thunder rolled in. Thinking we knew what this meant, we thought of the lifts will be down for about an hour or so with a bit of ran and then we will be back in business. This theory based off the previous storms. The winds picked up along with the rain, and then it started hailing… The ground mud soup with chunks of hail, and the tents, bikes, chairs, everything just soaked in the torrential down pour. The track as we knew it had now changed to a whole new monster.
Every practice lap I had made, and based my lines off of was super dry, dusty, loose and fast. Now it was going to be wet, muddy, sticky, and slippery. This made me really nervous. After about 2 hours of storm they decided not to cancel the race and they were going to send all racers up on the chair. I was the first one down the track and I was very nervous about what it was going to be like now. Unfortunately I let that get into my head and my race did not go as I had hoped. I ended up in 6th place, pretty much right in the middle of the pack, which is not bad for me but it was more about the fact that I feel I didn’t do my best. But the important thing in life is to struggle, and learn from it.That’s how I feel about this race. I had a great time, met some awesome people, and learned a lot about line choice, practice, and mental preparation. I may not have had the best race I could have down there, but that is positive in the long run because of everything I learned and the track was a very tough one.
Over all New Mexico has very cool terrain to offer mountain bikers, and it was definitely worth the trip down.