This was my second year racing the 12 Hours in the Wild West. For 2016 they moved the venue from Fort Stanton to Village of Ruidoso, NM. This brought it right outside of town to the purpose built trails of Grindstone lake trail system.
The staging camping area was just below the Grindstone Lake in a beautiful stand of pine trees protected from the wind that can whip up in the high desert of the southwest. The Salida Colorado IMBA crew built the Grindstone trail, which was the highlight of this race.
The trail starts with a 4-mile climb that gradually works its way up 1000 feet to the top of a beautiful mesa. Once on the mesa, you snake through tall pines and challenging rock gardens and then descend on a fast and flowing roller coaster that brings you back to camp. The course is definitely a mountain biker’s course rewarding those with well rounded riding skills and it made for a really fun day of racing.
A day before the race, the weather report was calling for rain, but we avoided it all day, however, that night it rained pretty hard and I knew it was going to make for some interesting racing in the morning.
By morning the rain had stopped and a chilly fog hung in the air. When things got going the climb was slick but not to bad, the descent however was quite muddy, I ended up being the first rider down and did not have good tires for mud and my bike was getting caked with the top soil, this made for a pretty slow first lap and by the time I got to the bottom my bike was so packed with mud it came to a complete stop on the downhill and I had pull all the gunk buildup out of my drivetrain.
After the first couple laps the course started to dry out and buy the third lap it had turned to hero dirt, brown-pow! The riding was so good that you could hit the corners as fast as you dared to. It was great to have one big climb and then when you got to the top of that it was game on and the fun began.
I felt good throughout the day and stayed very consistent with my slowest laps being the first couple of muddy ones, I stayed right in the 1:05 per lap zone the entire race. I led through the day but wasn’t really sure of who or where my competition was so I pushed hard until the end finishing with 10 laps and an hour and 10 minutes to spare. I could have just squeezed in another lap but I had enough lead at that point to stop for a burger and beer.
This race turnout has grown from last year to this year and will grow even more next year, the riding is really spectacular, just super fun I can’t say enough good things about the Grindstone trail system and locals have put a lot of hard work into maintaining the trail.
I would say their biggest problem is there isn’t enough people riding here this race will help with that. I really enjoy racing in New Mexico, all of the people are incredibly friendly and the vibe is really laid-back and fun. The Zia Rides crew also does a great job of putting on races and I plan on hitting at least one more of their events and I will definitely be back to the 12 Hours in the Wild West next year!