Sunday, June 23, 2013

Big Friggen Sufferfest

Mark: Hey man, you wanna carpool over to Santa Fe and ride in the New Mexico Endurance Series Big Friggen Loop Race?  I DNF’d last year and need redemption.
Ray: Uh, maybe… How does it compare to the Gila100 in terms of suffering?
Mark: It’s no Gila100
Ray: OK, I’m in.

Now, silly me, I was figuring he meant the SFBFL race was gonna be “easier” than the Gila100.

I could never have been so wrong. 

I should have known given that the race takes place between 7000 ft and 12,000 ft, and in the first 30 miles, you’ve already climbed over 8,000 ft.  Heck, I even threw on a 22t cog with a 32t chainring…that oughta be plenty, right? 

Wrong again.

The fun started Saturday morning at 6:30AM in downtown Santa Fe where we listened to Lenny Goodell give us the pre-ride info then rolled out to the east.  Immediately after hitting the dirt, you had to HAB up a set of stairs to begin an assault on Atalaya Mountain.  This gem of a climb is rideable at first, then a pushfest to the summit.  After reaching the summit, the descent is loose, sketchy, and difficult.  Switchbacks w/ major exposure and trees lining the trail just waiting to grab a bar end making you exit stage left.  I however did not let the trees stop me, but a loose left handed switchback introduced me to terra firma in a very rude way.  Luckily,  I escaped with only a few scrapes and bruises.

After cheating death on the descent, we proceeded northward along the Dale Ball trail network until turning east to begin the next climb.  This climb gradually made its way up the mountain towards 12,000 ft.  All single track until 10,200ft, then an unrelenting evil doubletrack to the cell phone towers at 12,024ft.

Despite what people say, there is no oxygen at 12,024 ft. 
Nor sane people on bikes. 
Nor single speeders running 32x22t.
Except me. 

Top of Tesuque Peak, 12,024 ft

After snapping the only pic of the trip, I proceeded down the mountain.  The track followed a rutted out ski run littered with large rocks…straight down the fall line of the mountain.  Finally, it entered an aspen grove with some of the best, flowy singletrack I’ve ridden…

Now at this point, roughly half way through the ride, I was worked over.  I worried if I’d have enough to finish.  I thought about bailing but kept telling myself that after driving over 400 miles to get here, bailing would be epically stupid… So I pressed on and luckily was riding at that time with 3 other guys. 

Peer pressure works.
You don’t want to be the guy who wusses out.
Onward then, to the farthest extent of the course…about as far from civilization as you could get…point of no return.

From that point on , the ride never got any easier.  You would think that after climbing a 12,000 ft mountain that the rest would be downhill… 

Wrong yet again.

Not only was it not all downhill, but the downhills made you work…technical, tricky, steep.  The uphills from that point were brutal HAB-fests.  I think I may have clocked 5 miles in my PI x-alps on that ride.

New Mexico trail builders are evil people.  I suspect they don’t like mountain bikers and most likely have a keen disdain for single speeders.  They run trails straight up creek beds.  They build 6” wide switchbacked trails on side slopes.  They put trails so far from civilization that neither tires nor feet see them regularly.

Finally, to make a long story short, I finished…14 hours of riding.

And Mark is not my friend anymore.  Bastard.


  1. Nice job Ray. I had often wondered about this one...

  2. That is a lot of climbing. Damn. Way to hang in there. Believe me, that's way better than being stuck in civilization. That, my friend, is true suffering. Remember that, and you'll finish any ride!

  3. Way to stick with it!! NMES SFBFL Finisher has a nice ring to it.

  4. Boy oh boy, to read the way you're talking about it, ouch. One tough ride.