Last month, two brother, ages 11 and 9 entered a TMBRA Endurance Series Race, The El Paso Puzzler. In addition to completing the race, the two remained competitive throughout the 35-mile version of one of the toughest course in the country, finishing in 13th and 14th place in the Men’s Open Class Field.
We’re excited to support the efforts of the Yackle Brothers Racing Team, based in our hometown of Cortez, Colorado. Jake and Nye have etched their mark as top national junior XC MTB racers over the last three years, winning National Championship Medals along the way. Challenging themselves seems to be the only logical course for these two top athletes.
After their great finish in El Paso, we asked Jake and Nye to give us a wrap-up from the race:
4a.m. Thursday, January 12: the day begins as we start our 8-hour trek to El Paso, Texas.Bikes and camping gear stowed securely in our Yakima Rack n Roll Trailer pulled by our fully loaded VW Jetta TDI Wagon we press on to fulfill our mission. Our plans were to get 3 pre-rides in before race day, to add to our knowledge about the Franklin Mountain State Park bike trails and race course. Two years ago, on our way back from San Antonio, Texas we stopped at El Paso and rode the northern section of the rocky and rugged Lower Sunset Trail. Today, we expected to uncover some kinder, gentler trails to go along with this trail and find out what the rest of the Puzzler course is like.
We ventured out from the Tom Mays Park, on the Westside of the Franklin Mountains. Under cloudy skies and bristling, cold winds we began our preparation on the southern section of Lower Sunset Trail. The expectation of some rolling and flat trails was soon dashed. Rocks of all sorts — loose, embedded, round, jagged, limestone, granite — jutted up from the trail, not what we expected on this ride. As we continued we found it had steep climbs and descents as it followed the contour of the Franklin Mountain drainage washes. We told ourselves, “oh well! There’s tomorrow’s trails!Maybe we’ll find some relief there!?”
Friday, January 13: waking up to an icy, but welcomed sunny morning, we moving our race camp over to Bowen Ranch on the East side of the Franklin Mountains, the site of the race venue. There we continued our pre-ride regiment at Mundy’s Gap, the signature climb of the Puzzler, a 1,500-foot climb topping out at 5,875 feet. We rolled out of race camp, on the Lazy Cow Trail, a crushed granite, singletrack trail on a flat, creosote bush, strewn plain, we were stoked! The trail was fun, fast and flowing and refreshed our spirit for what was to come!
We quickly hit the Tin Mine Road double track and looming in the distance we could see the switchbacks leading up Mundy’s Gap. A couple of rocky miles of moderate grades gave way to long stretches of 15 percent grades, maxing out at 21 percent. These types of trails were more suited to Mountain Goats and Big Horn Sheep, but as Colorado kids, we’re used to these kinds of trails at home in the San Juan Mountains. On the summit we could only peer down the descent. Descending and climbing again wasn’t an option for us, so we looked forward to a restful late afternoon,
Saturday, January 14: sunrise, the day before race day. We had one more goal; to check out the newly completed Sotol Forest Trail en route to Hitt Canyon Trail and North Pass Summit. The 600 feet of climbing, roughness and newly tilled narrow trail was sure to break up the starting pack of 150+ racers. Descending 200 feet off the summit to the Hitt Canyon Trail we hoped for some more of that flowing and fun, but what we found was the toughest singletrack yet. Hitt Canyon Trail was like a mine field of embedded granite and limestone rocks, mixed into the pebbly, dirt soil. Like yesterday, we were very content looking down at 15 switchbacks on the singletrack up the Westside of North Pass. We contemplated the advice that several were unrideable. Race day would have us climbing up this little Devil, but today we just ate our lunch at the summit, which marks mile 27 of the course.
Returning to our race camp we began the last phase of our mission, we needed to prepare for being out on the race course in just a few hours. We spent the night checking bikes, race clothes and packs for our 8a.m. start. Our Osprey Raptor Hydration Packs were flawless. They stowed our gear, quenched our thirst and kept us raging!
1p.m. Sunday, January 15: on race day as we finally appeared at the top of the hill just before the Bowen Ranch Finish Line, we were proud to of our race and stoked to find some food!