Jim and James Tyldesley at the ABQ Dirt Fiesta after 12 hours of racing. Courtesy photo
Cullen McLean racing toward the transition area with adult athletes hot on his heels. Courtesy photo
Esther Grow discusses race tactics with teammate Adalee Witt at the transition. Courtesy photo
BY PAULA KNEPPER
Los Alamos Mountain Bike Team
Have you ever longed for a warm fresh donut while enjoying a pleasant day in the mountains on your bicycle? If you have experienced that desire, it would have been satiated by the Albuquerque (ABQ) Dirt Fiesta promoters, Zia Rides on Saturday. ABQ Dirt Fiesta held in the Cibola National Forest at the Oak Flats Recreational Area offered soloist, duos, and teams of three to four mountain bikers the opportunity to test their mettle and endurance on either a 6 or 12-hour alpine race course.
The 12-mile course, with more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain, pushed athletes with heart-pumping climbs, technical chunky descents, and plenty of fast-flowy alpine meadows and was equipped with a donut aid station at the halfway point. Soloists, duos, and teams with the most laps in the 6 or 12-hour time period earned a spot on the podium, as well as serious bragging rights, while enjoying a few donuts along the way.
Los Alamos High and Middle School Mountain Bike Team members and coaches joined forces to compete in this endurance event. The 12-hour duos included Adalee Witt and Esther Grow, James and Jim Tyldesley, and Josh and Mary Grow. 12-hour teams included Team McLean Madness (Ian, Cullen, and Chris McLean and Paula Knepper), and the Moulton Family (Joshua, Jonathan and Travis Moulton). Calvin Grow competed on the Racing for Root Beer team in the 6-hour event.
Some 400 competitors welcomed sunrise at the ABQ Dirt Fiesta with a Le Mans-style start on Saturday morning. Le Mans-style starts are frequently used in motor racing requiring the athletes run to their vehicle when the flag is dropped. In this event, cyclists ran from the start line to the chip timing transition area which was less than a mile; however, cyclists were somewhat disadvantaged running while wearing clip-in cycling shoes, helmets, and hydration systems before they reached their trusted steeds for a grueling 12- hours on the saddle.
Athletes had to maintain focus and self-awareness navigating the technical terrain and assessing potential hazards while balancing the need to refuel and hydrate during this epic event. Los Alamos athletes went the distance completing smoking fast laps, some in less than an hour, and persevering in spite of several show stopping mechanicals.
Adalee Witt and Esther Grow, senior and junior Los Alamos High School, took the 3rd-place spot on the podium for junior duos completing 9 laps earned by riding over 108 miles in less than 12 hours. Several of the fields including 12- hour junior duo, adult and junior duo, solo single speed, and adult and junior teams were mixed male and female categories proving our female competitors can lead a team to victory. Adalee and Esther earned the podium in a field of all male competitors which is an impressive accomplishment.
McLean Madness earned the top spot on the team podium with over 120 miles and 10 laps. Ian and Cullen McLean, a 7th grader at Los Alamos Middle School and a 5th grader Mountain Elementary School did not rely on their parents to earn the top spot on the podium. Ian and Cullen each charged over 24 miles of singletrack unchaperoned during the relay. The Moulton Family earned the 3rd place team finish. Joshua Moulton, a senior at Los Alamos High School, not only earned a top spot on the podium, but returned to Los Alamos in time for the homecoming dance after 12-hours of bike racing.
James Tyldesley conquered 60 miles in 5 hours 25 minutes. James and Jim Tyldesley completed a jaw dropping 10 laps just missing the podium by minutes and were followed by Josh Grow, a senior LAHS and Mary Grow, Los Alamos Mountain Bike Team’s head coach.
Mary Grow and Adalee Witt raced across the finish line together with only seconds to spare as the sun settled over the Sandia Mountains. The ABQ Dirt Fiesta provided family fun for all ages and tested the mettle of our Los Alamos youth and adult cyclists. Turns out Los Alamos Mountain Bike Team members go the distance with spirit and tenacity learning life lessons and building friendships.
For those interested, the team is currently selling t-shirts as a fundraiser. Please consider supporting the team by purchasing a t-shirt perfect for riding around town or showing off your community spirit at https://www.customink.com/fundraising/la-mtn-bike-team-shirts-2906
Los Alamos High and Middle School Mountain Bike team members next compete at Arizona Nordic Village, Flagstaff on Sept. 25 for the second National Interscholastic Cycling Association race of the season.
For more information about Zia Rides and ABQ Dirt Fiesta results see https://ziarides.com/event/albuquerque-dirt-fiesta/
Mary Grow, head coach Los Alamos Mountain Bike Team, along with Esther Grow and Adalee Witt after 12 hours of racing. Courtesy photo
Ian McLean walks his bike through the exchange chute to transition between Team McLean Madness relay riders. Courtesy photo
Ian, Cullen, and Chris McLean and Paula Knepper of Team McLean Madness earned the 1st place podium spot along with Travis and Jonathan Moulton (not pictured Joshua Moulton) taking the 3rd place for adult and junior 12-hour team. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos High and Middle School team with coaches celebrating a successful day of racing. James Tyldesley, Travis Moulton, Jonathan Moulton, Mary Grow, Paula Knepper, Chris McLean, Jim Tyldesley (front row), Cullen McLean, Ian McLean, Esther Grow, and Adalee Witt (back row). Butterflies and lady bugs were awarded to first and third place finishers, respectively. Courtesy photo
Esther Grow and Adalee Witt on the podium accepting 3rd place for junior duo 12-hour race. Courtesy photo
Calvin Grow waiting at the transition for his teammate in the 6- hour race. Courtesy photo