Ian McLean on Ziggy wishing he had some skis. Courtesy photo
Ian McLean takes the top spot for under 13 competitors in the 2021 Gravity Stage Race Series
(GSRS) held at the Angel Fire Bike Park on Saturday. Courtesy photo
Cullen McLean demonstrating a fast line through the last sweeping corner on Boulder Dash. Courtesy photo
Ian McLean shows off the new hardware he is adding to his collection. Courtesy photo
Justin and Haiden Jorgenson wearing big smiles despite being covered in mud while waiting in line at the Chili Express. Courtesy photo
Cullen McLean charging High Octane despite the intense conditions.
BY PAULA KNEPPER
Los Alamos Mountain Bike Team
Early season snow and ice halted Angel Fire Bike Park (AFBP) operations on Friday, which was scheduled to be the preview day for MEGA Party racers. More than just the chill of competition was hanging in the air on Saturday morning when over 250 competitors arrived amped-up for a day of Enduro style mountain bike racing at the AFBP. The MEGA Party bike race was sponsored by Team Trail Party (TTP) from Austin, Texas. Adaptability best described AFBP operators and TTP promotors. The early season snow delayed opening the mountain again on Saturday morning pushing the start time for the Gravity Stage Race Series (GSRS) season finale until mid-day and ultimately extending the competition into Sunday morning.
There is so much to celebrate as the season draws to a close and the AFBP prepares to return to its life as a ski area. Patrick West, manager AFBP, commented that the weather added complexity to the largest Enduro event ever held at the AFBP and the first event hosted by the bike park in a couple of seasons. Patrick West said, “We are product driven at Angel Fire, rather than event driven.” This philosophy has paid off. The product they have constructed at Angel Fire provides an array of options for every skill level and is an attractive destination for mountain biking events. TTP made its final stop for the GSRS at the AFBP providing athletes one last memory maker before the mountain bike season draws to a close. The atmosphere on the mountain was celebratory despite the challenging conditions and modified schedule.
The moisture from the snow and rain revitalized the once dusty-dirt trails, which descend from the top of the Chili Express and return riders conveniently to the base area. As the temperatures warmed, the snow and ice from the previous day slowly melted leaving a pavement of color carpeting the forest floor.
During Enduro mountain bike races, athletes are timed on the downhill stages with neutral or lift assisted transfers between stages. The Enduro format is extremely popular with spectators, athletes, and sponsors as it is adrenaline-fueled, high-action riding. In an Enduro mountain bike race, the stage times are summed to determine the placement of race finishers. The athlete with the lowest time for the combined stages earns the coveted top spot on the podium. Athletes displayed all of their technical and endurance skills as they hurtled down selected trails at AF Bike Park including Ziggy, Sierra, High Octane, Duke, Angel’s Plunge, Chillin to Fo Sho to Mid Supreme, and Devinci. The mountain was hustling with energy as athletes tested their fitness and technical skills over wet, muddy, and snow-covered trails. Not only were competitors out for a win at the MEGA Party race, they were also vying for the GSRS season victory.
Los Alamos youth cyclists bombed down the trails for one last day of two wheeled descending trying to keep the rubber side down. In the under 17 age category Diego Hinojosa, Haiden Jorgenson, and Nikolai Nelson, three sophomores from Los Alamos High School geared up for a thrilling day of racing. Ian McLean and Cullen McLean, 7th grader at Los Alamos Middle School and 5th grader at Mountain Elementary School competed in the under 13 age class. The sold-out fields were thick with talented youth cyclists all prepared to duke it out during a long day of high-octane descending.
Ian McLean took the 2nd place finish for the MEGA Party race under 13 age class. Ian McLean earned the coveted top spot for the overall GSRS 2021 season in highly competitive field of athletes.
Coincidentally, Saturday was the 17th annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day promoted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Since 2004, Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day has introduced hundreds of thousands of kids to the thrill and fun of mountain biking. These five Los Alamos youth competitors have explored hundreds of miles of trails along with parents, siblings, and friends. Today, they are fierce competitors wearing big smiles as they enjoy the thrill of competition and riding.
For more information about the GSRS and results from the MEGA Party at AF please see https://www.trailparty.com/2021-gsr-mega