Back in the old days, I worked at Adventure Bicycle Company in Mesa with this guy named Chad Hummer. He could race really damn fast, make an avalanche of jokes that started with the phrase “your mom” and also perpetrate dastardly pranks on people – usually when they were trying to have a peaceful session in the bathroom. Just one of the many fun people who worked there, for sure. Anyway, he returned from a good, long mountain bike racing hiatus to check out 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest – a race in New Mexico with a solid-gold reputation. He posted a write-up on Facebook that I thought needed an audience even wider than his mom, so he granted permission for me to gank his report and re-publish it here. Over to you, Hummer!
I’d been hearing for the last 6 years that there are some good things going on with mountain biking around Gallup, NM. In the past, I’ve always avoided Gallup unless I needed fuel or a pit stop. The town isn’t much to look at and it depends heavily on the I40 traffic and reservation to survive. Then I found out the Zuni Mtns above Gallup are around 7500 feet and the trails are getting better and better. At first I was going to just go to 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest and help out while exploring the area.
Leading Up to 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest
A week before the event I was feeling like I had logged good miles and my legs were recovering … so I asked around if anyone needed a ‘motivated’ teammate. Elisa hooked me up with Pedal With Warriors, a non-profit group that helps veterans to use mountain biking as a way to rebuild the mind/body/soul. Pretty soon I was added to a PWW group text and I was happy to secure a spot to race in the pines!
My teamates were a little astonished because they found out I didn’t have a Strava account. I guess everyone except me has Strava … and you’re only as good as your last race … and mine was over 8 years ago, maybe 10 years if you count a 24hr endurance event! I tried to assure my team I had a lot of experience racing and that I will be 100% ready to help them out.
Our team leader, Kirsten, really wanted to be on the podium. We had two ladies and two guys to form the PWW Co-ed 4-Person Team. The race started at 11AM Sat and ended 11AM Sun, temps ranged from 95 degrees during the day to 45 degrees at night. I’ve always done well in warm weather and I didn’t mind the heat! My first lap was around 3PM, one of the hottest laps of the day. I went out at 90% effort and legs felt great, except my lungs burned since I hadn’t opened them up properly with any hard efforts. I was happy with my lap times.
Later in the Race…
The second through fifth lap felt a lot better on the lungs and I kept hydrating and feeding my legs with solid foods. My stomach normally starts to knot up around 3AM but this race I kept feeling great all night and into the day. Legs were 80% from top form but I was pushing every little downhill section like my life depended on it. The Santa Cruz 5010 was heavier than I wanted and had way too much suspension for this course, but I made it perform on every little section of DH I could rip.
Sometimes that meant passing 30-40 people per lap, jumping downed trees, and being creative with line choices. The course was 97% single-track … which made it fun yet interesting passing all types of people. I really liked the course and people for the most part moved over when needing to pass! It had a mix of everything except really steep switchback climbs/descents (which is perfect for people working into shape).
After the dust settled, our PWW Team had netted a solid 6th place finish out of 36 Teams with 19 laps/247 miles covered. I highly recommend checking out the trails around McGaffey Campground, only 25 minutes above Gallup! Thank you, Pedal With Warriors, for the opportunity.
Photos courtesy of … I dunno, the dog in the third photo? If it’s you, let me know and I’ll update with a proper credit!
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