July 21, 2024

NM: Zia Rides - 24Hrs in the Enchanted Forest

 A few weeks ago I received a text from my buddy, Brandon, about joining one of their corporate teams for the upcoming 24Hr in the Enchanted Forest presented by Zia Rides. I had always heard good things about Zia Rides events and this one in particular. I had ridden the course once many years ago, 2016, on a drive home from Colorado and knew it was a fun route.

I checked my schedule and was clear to go. I had to get a couple of work shifts covered and at the last minute everything fell into place. We'd be riding for City of Hope, a cancer research organization, and were asked to generate donations for the group's annual fundraising goal. It's not too late to donate, as cancer never sleeps, here's my donation page if you feel so inclined. Thank you.

I made it to the venue on Friday afternoon, much later than I hoped because for some reason I couldn't get out of the house in a timely fashion. I found our group packed in near the edge of singlespeed alley. We had a few teams and 35 riders!! I was on a casual team of 7, fast lap times were of no concern here. I was able to meet all my team members and we came up with a ride order of sorts, I'd be going 6th, so I'd have a lot of down time after the race began at 11a.

I opted for the full race experience and pitched my tent a few feet from the route.

It was a sheltered spot for the forecast afternoon rains.

This entire area was all our group.

Once camp was set up, relaxation time kicked in. Photo by April.

This was near the end of the laps for each course.
There were two different courses for riders, an 8+ mile Enchandedland route and the full 13.2 mile Enchanted Forest loop. We'd be riding the longer route, but I wanted to see the short route. I went out for a shakedown ride on the Enchantedland course and to ride a couple trails we wouldn't be riding during the race.

The McGaffey Campground is the base for the Enchanted Forest event.

Entrance road is all quiet now.

The campground was well signed as was the course.

A couple of miles into the lap, the course splits with Enchantedland going left.

The two routes briefly rejoin, then Enchantedland splits hard left before the aid station.

FFF: Fun, Fast and Flowy singletrack.
I learned a few things on my quick ride: I forgot to bleed my front brake - lever was hitting the grip!! My dropper was slipping, my dynamo cable was rubbing my front tire, my fork mounted light was too loose and my forks could use a servicing. Oh well. I was able to take care of everything except the fork service, which wasn't an issue. Good to see the rolling junk show is alive and well.

EnchantedLand Route:

Jeff & Gary relaxing before the singlespeed laps commence.

Awards podium near the vendor area.
It was a fun evening hanging out with and getting to know everyone. So many new faces. I settled in for the night and had a great night of sleep. I woke once when I heard raindrops hitting my tent, but quickly fell back asleep.

Huge group!! Great Photoshop additions too!! Haha. Photo by April.

The riders gather for the pre-race meeting.

Looks like we had a line-up change!! I'm still going 6th.

Most of our team as 11a creeps in, Calvin, Dan, Andrea, Sam & myself. Kelsey & Jake were at the start area. Photo by April.

Riders packing into the start area, ready for the Le Mans start.

First racer approaches in a full sprint and a bit of a gap on the field.

One of our riders. The bright orange or all white jerseys with a blue square on the shoulder were easy to spot.

Kelsey started things off for our team, run through the tunnel!! *This was her first mountain bike ride in TWO YEARS!! Yeehaw!!

Gary gets going on the singlespeed.

Meanwhile, back at camp, the first City of Hope rider comes through around the one hour mark.
A bunch of us set up chairs along the trail to cheer on, and heckle, the riders as they came through. It was fun looking for our white & orange jerseys. I was also on the lookout for a few other friends who were riding. I knew I had a bunch of hours to kill before my first lap, might as well enjoy the festivities.

Jordan coming through the heckle zone.

Laura putting down a fast lap.

Can't miss Bryan and his flowing beard!!

We didn't know her, but each time she came through, she was so full of positive energy!! 

VP!!!! Shannon rocking the solo 12hr laps.

Gary wrapping up his first singlespeed lap.

Jeff in hot pursuit of Gary.

Kelsey coming in for our first team lap!!

John is all smiles. I hadn't seen him in a while, he gave me my first tour of the Gold Canyon trails over 10 years ago. Crazy how time flies.

Calvin coming in for team lap #2.

This guy. Dude had to be sweltering in that thing.

Anna smashing out her second lap.

Jordan coming through again already??

I had to be quick to catch Brandon as he was turning near one hour laps.
As lunchtime approached, I made my way down to the vendor area and picked up a chicken cheesesteak and fries. I managed to ride all the way back, over a half mile, without losing a fry!! The sandwich was delicious, as were the fries, but I couldn't finish them all. Why not give riders a french fry handup?? It was fairly successful, probably around 60% of the riders took one!! Haha.
Shannon rolls through again.

It was great to hang out with Duane for a bit, he helped put together a legendary camp experience on this year's Queen's Ransom.

We had a nice view of the riders coming across the big open meadow.

Stephen was too quick for me, just a butt shot.

Holy smokes!!! It's Shannon again!!

Brett knocking out a quick lap.

Sam finishing our 4th team lap in style.

The crowd approves of this effort!!
Andrea was out on course so I needed to start getting ready for my lap. It was looking like an 8p start or so. My sandwich from earlier had wore off, time for more calories and hydration. I made my way down to the transition tent and watched some of the fast riders come through. Some kid finished a 58 minute lap while I was there. Dang. Then I saw Shannon finish up a lap. She took a few minutes chatting with someone she knew, then came over. She was going to cut her 12 hour ride a little early, it was a borderline hot day, and she had a good, clean run. No need to risk it if you're starting to feel the effects.

One starting, one finished. Team Locorides!!

Meanwhile, Andrea passes through camp to cheers!! Photo by April.

Hanging out, waiting for Andrea to roll on through. The exchange tent was less than a mile from our camp area.
She arrived a few minutes later and I was off. I figured I could get about halfway through the lap without lights. While our team was in it for fun, not speed, I did want to see how fast I could do a lap since I had some daylight. I was hoping for 1h 30m based on the times I had been seeing from friends I know.
The first few miles are really fast and fun, then somewhere around mile four, the long gradual climb begins. It goes through a small canyon with slickrock and some rock step-ups. My heart rate began to spike through here and I opted to walk a couple of short sections to get it back down a bit. The aid station comes into view just before mile 6 and the climbing mellows a bit. This goes on for another couple of miles. Somewhere after mile 8 it was now dark and my lights were picking up some stuff in the air. Is it raining?? I couldn't tell, maybe it was bugs. Then I came into a small clearing, nope, it's raining. Naturally, my rain jacket was back at camp in my car!! So far, the rain was light, but steadily increasing. By mile 9 the main downhill begins over some chunky terrain. It was now raining moderately. Hmmm, four miles to go and if this rain keeps up, I'm going to be freezing when I get done. The course was holding up good, I let 'er rip. By mile 11 the rain had stopped and I wasn't too soaked. It worked out well as over the final couple of miles I was able to mostly dry out except for my gloves and skull cap.

I passed through camp expecting to see a couple of folks milling about...nada. Ghost town. Drat. I was looking at my time, whoa, I think I'm going to make my goal. The final quarter mile is downhill and I logged an official lap time of 1h 31m. Success!! Jake was there and ready to go, off he went.


The ladies told us earlier that they didn't want to ride at night, so the four guys set our order and it looked like I may be doing a double lap sometime before 3a. I wound down for a bit, had a taco with some of the other riders and tried to get some shuteye for a few hours. I set my alarm for 2:15a.

Remember my tent setup? Right next to the trail. Well, that was cool and all, but at night, each rider's headlight shone into my tent. I probably wasn't going to sleep, so I just closed my eyes for a while. At some point Dan came by my tent and asked if I wanted him to stop by the tent as he finished his lap. Yes, please. He made his way down to the exchange tent and I tried to doze off once again.

2:15 came and I felt pretty good. I got up, ready, ate a bit and waited for Dan to arrive. I figured he'd be by sometime before 3a. Well, 3a came and went. 3:30....3:45....4:00....he comes by. Come to find out, there was a communication glitch and he thought he was looking for Jake, but I guess he was following Calvin as Jake had been back asleep in his tent for a while. Dan ended up hanging around the exchange tent for an hour, unbeknownst to him, no one was out on course. Gah!! Add on to that, somehow Dan and I missed each other in the vendor area and I proceeded to wait for him at the exchange tent for a few minutes until I figured out what happened. Oh well, I'm off and riding, started at 4:09a. All it really meant: I wasn't going to do a double lap, just a slower single lap with the goal of keeping my heart rate in check.

I did a good job of that on the rocky climb, got passed by a ton of fast riders, but that was fine. A beautiful morning was shaping up as daybreak began to take over.

I had to stop for a calorie break as a slight bonky feeling was creeping in. Made for a cool photo.

The final meadow near mile 12 as 6am approaches.
I rolled through a quiet camp area once again and finished my lap at the two hour mark. I was good with that, but no one was there to head out and I wasn't about to hang around. 


Back at camp things were beginning to stir. By the sound of things, the guys were done riding. By 7am, Sam said she'd go out for another lap and was off by 7:30.

A few of our other teams were in contention for podium spots. Lots of numbers were being crunched, some to see if they could improve their position, others to see if they could squeeze out one more lap before the 11am hard stop.

Sam finishing her lap to a rowdy crowd.

Our ringleader, Peter, smashing another one out.

Russ came flying around the corner and I didn't realize my phone was zoomed in, I thought I missed the shot, but instead it turned out rather well.

Laura digging deep to give her teammate one last lap chance.
Our team was finished with Sam's lap, 11 total for the group. It was really fun being on a team where I didn't know anyone beforehand. It was great to cheer on the others who were really getting after it.

Racer lean, gunning for the 11a cutoff. Photo by April.
Full photo album of the weekend here.

As the morning wound down, I figured I should probably hit the road a bit early, work was calling the following day dark and early.

I'd like to thank Wist Business Supplies & Equipment for sponsoring all of us, specifically, Peter, Brandon & Kelsey. As a group we generated almost $20,000 for City of Hope - fantastic!! Thanks to all who donated to the cause. Here's to next year!!