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  1. #1
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    Pajarito XC race course

    Slippery when wet - especially when it's got a nice blanket of hail on it like it did Fri. afternoon. I wasn't having a lot of luck following the race course to the top - up/down, up/down for about 2 hours before I ran into Darryl and his 3 furry friends back down at the lodge after deciding to try it once more from the bottom. I mean, an idiot could find their way to the top, but following the race course (just the 2nd loop up the mountain) was giving me a fit, so, many thanks to Darryl for getting me straightened out, the company and the chat on the way up/down.

    Today, I did the whole sport course (I think). So, for the benefit (hopefully) of those who'll go ride it during the next couple of weeks for the first time, with only the course map and description in hand, I'd like to ask the organizers to comment on some observations that might help minimize confusion. And I don't mean to suggest that they haven't already done an excellent job with their course map and description, but missing a few tricks on a course like this, can make for a confusing ride. If you're interested in this in the first place, I'm assuming you've already seen both the Pajarito mtn bike trails map, and the organizers' race course map/description.

    Organizers: PLEASE, CORRECT ANY FLAWS IN MY COURSE DESCRIPTION - IN PARTICULAR, WHERE THE SPORT COURSE INITIALLY GETS ONTO THE ASPEN FOR TROUBLE SINGLETRACK.

    The loop to Canada Bonita is easy to find/follow. Ride up the main road till it turns to dirt and take the sharp right, then take the right fork further up the hill, and go. BUT, "the trail" doesn't really "turn back left" towards the high point in the meadow. I mean, you'll probably notice a side trail cutting back toward the left at some point, but "the trail" keeps going. If you get to the diversion steps, you've missed the left turn. You'll know the return trail because there's a sign on a tree about it being reserved for XC skiing in the winter. OK, so, on the way back, you'll come to a fork, the right fork goes uphill stay left, but watch for another faint left immediately after. If you don't make that second left, you're going into a backtracking loop. Eventually, you'll come to another fork, and someone has put an arrow in the mud to the right, and I thought that was considerate, but the arrow leads to a small tree across the trail, and it doesn't matter anyway, because both forks end up at the same place very shortly, and I don't know which one is right ... who cares. Just before this trail rejoins the out-route at the original fork, there's a big aspen down across the trail - I don't know, maybe it just fell, or maybe it's a cyclocross thing. But, it's gotta be the right way.

    Ok, so immediately after exiting the Canada Bonita loop, bear left and look for a trail up the bank that'll take you to the upside of the lodge, and get on the service road that skirts the lodge heading east. Follow the service road that leads to the big service building, but go right up the hill past the big building. You'll see a trail junction. Go left on Lower Aspenola Loop. The right fork is Aspenola, the return route. The Lower Loop will take you all the way to Oxbow Road. Along this trail you'll encounter "a tricky rock obstacle ... the first truly technical spot." It's the size of a VW Beetle. Really, you can practice at home on the Bug. Up the front, turn on the roof, and down a ladder you leaned up against the side. You'll know Oxbow Road when you get to it, because there's a parking lot through the trees to the left and a road down the bank in front of you, duh. The road to the left goes down, while to the right, it goes where you're going. Once this long climb levels out, Beginners should look for the right turn onto the Aspenola singletrack that leads back to the finish - no problema.

    From there, the non-Beginner course continues on about 50 yards, where Oxbow Road runs into another road, head right, down, down across the ski runs getting ever-closer to the lodge. But, don't follow the road right down to the lodge. Take the obvious singletrack to the left, that'll keep you up on the bunny slope above the lodge until the road comes back up to you. (I think I'm right about the following route to Aspen for Trouble. The alternative is to engage it lower down, closer to the lodge. Help from the organizers will clarify.) Now up this steep road (steeper than the last) till you get to the westmost (Mother) lift. You'll see the sign for the Tuff 'n Up trail (green/easy) crossing the road. Turn right on this trail and go straight down till it intersects Aspen for Trouble, and turn left. There's no signage through here, or at this T. Later on, there will be some signed trail intersections along Aspen for Trouble, but if you use your head, signs and map(s), you shouldn't have any trouble. One exception - when you get back up close to the road after negotiating the first northwestern loop, the trail forks. The left goes to the road, and the right appears to do the same, but skirts the road before heading away into the second northwestern loop. The trail crosses the service road twice as your heading due south towards the peak. A few reassuring landmarks along the way of Aspen for Trouble (not nec. in this order): a climb up over a tree trunk with a notch in it, a steep climb up to cross the (wintertime) terrain park (recently bulldozed), a steep switchback to the left that was manicured by a mason.

    When you get to the top, go right, and enjoy the views to the south and west. This must be the way, since, to the left, you'd do way too much descending on the service road before ever encountering the Aspenola trail, which is about 100 yds away if you go to the right at the top and down the road on the opposite side. This downhill trail crosses the service road more than once and, as I recall, runs along the length of a road briefly at some point, but is generally easy to follow via the little blue signs.The final road crossing occurs where the Beginners turned right to their finish on the way up.

    I'm not riding pro/expert, but I did ride the Aspen for Trouble trail from the bottom (finish line) once (hopefully, by mistake), as they will have to do to begin their final lap.

  2. #2
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    Course description

    Thanks for posting such a detailed description - and for getting it mostly correct. A couple of points:

    1. The link into Aspen For Trouble will be earlier/lower than you described (but not down by the Lodge), dropping off Road 0 W at the top of the first section just under the Aspen Chair / Road 0 W intersection. We haven't completely finalized that section, but it will be marked soon.

    2. The route at the top of the mountain does go on the south side (to the right) to pick up the top of Aspenola, but at present we have it shown as looping behind the peak and approaching from the south (below) rather than up to the top of Aspen Chair and then down. However, we have nearly completed a new XC stretch of singletrack that takes Aspen For Trouble to the top of the chair (parallel to the existing descent but not as brutal), and so we may use that instead.

    I'll add some extra signs on the trails next week to make the course more obvious before we get the race signage in place - when you ride this stuff every week it's easy to forget that it can be confusing.

  3. #3
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    Thanks ...

    Thanks for all your efforts so far - especially So Far in advance. You guys are all over it.

    The course definitely lives up to its name. It just keeps coming at ya once you get on the mountain.

    I guess what makes the initial hookup with A-f-T confusing is the absence of the squiggly switchbacks on A-f-T on that section of the course map. Also, lining up the maps suggests that A-f-T was encountered from up above. But, it's all good, and I'll take the challenge of the singletrack climb over grunting up that road like an old mule.

    Re: Aspenola. It's certainly OK as it is, but it's good to know that any changes to the downhill segment will be designed to make it less, ummm ... bumpy? It did occur to me that it could get harder with a lot of traffic over the next few weeks, bringing out more rocks and rutting certain switchbacks. Some switchbacks look like they're getting some nice berms built up, though. I can't remember where I encountered a steep right-hand switchback with all the stumps in the middle of it , but it's probably far enough down that we're stuck with that. That's the real booger on the way down.

    Organizers: Any idea what the success rate is at Beetle Rock (see my earlier reference to the VW)? I'd like to see a pro go through there at race effort, or just see it done cleanly once.

  4. #4
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    be beetle rock

    I think the rock is probably cleanable by most pro/experts and some of the sports. It is definitely going to challenge many!

    Thanks for the detailed description; you got it right for the most part. We will be out there the week before to tidy the course and cut out stobs.
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  5. #5
    Mythical Creature
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    Quote Originally Posted by NM_Highlander
    I think the rock is probably cleanable by most pro/experts and some of the sports. It is definitely going to challenge many!
    Is it the same rock small step-up, to a drop down/leftish along the trail that paralleles the road? I recall an obsacle like that from years past, where you've started out on singletrack - past the lodge and headed towards Townsight. Fun stuff! If that's the one - it's more fun than dificult even for a XC weenie like me. If it's some new 'thang - no idea.

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  6. #6
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    Yes - that is the rock in question, and it has featured in previous races. It is a lot easier going in the race direction than back towards the Lodge.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by muppetry
    Yes - that is the rock in question, and it has featured in previous races. It is a lot easier going in the race direction than back towards the Lodge.
    Ah cool - and no doubt! I'd roll down it than scramble up it.

    There's another smaller rock I always roll over - a bit further down the same trail - just before you cross the kitty-litter surfaced service road and start climbing that 'far end of the ski area' stuff. It's on the right, looks a little imposing - but is always faster going over than around. Just watch for Locust Bushes!

    There's so much challenging stuff on the course, I really hope folks don't miss the climb up Pipeline too much. Hell, that climb up the Townsite side has a few spots that may merit time bonuses for cleaning!
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenzx
    ... Hell, that climb up the Townsite side has a few spots that may merit time bonuses for cleaning!
    It must've already been cleaned, because, aside from the grade, the climb up Oxbow Road (the climb up the Townsite side - at least on this course) couldn't be much more straightforward. Perhaps you recall a different route up the east side of the mountain, or the road wasn't always in the same condition. All I can think of riding up that road is, yeah, this is steep and slow, but, as you say, there's so much challenging stuff on the course, it's still just a warmup for Aspen for Trouble.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garson
    It must've already been cleaned, because, aside from the grade, the climb up Oxbow Road (the climb up the Townsite side - at least on this course) couldn't be much more straightforward. Perhaps you recall a different route up the east side of the mountain, or the road wasn't always in the same condition. All I can think of riding up that road is, yeah, this is steep and slow, but, as you say, there's so much challenging stuff on the course, it's still just a warmup for Aspen for Trouble.
    Oh shoot! No - I was thinking the climb like in the 2005 race, up some tight, steep, singletrack - not on the road!

    Guess I'll be haeded up there to pre-ride this Sunday...

    glen
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    course update?

    Fresh off the awesome Taos SV nmors doubleheader this weekend, and looking forward to getting back to Pajarito this Fri. Any course updates, especially along the lines the organizers previously suggested - like a different route to start the downhill at the top, or anything else inquiring minds might need/want to know since the organizers' last post here?

  11. #11
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    More info

    Garson,
    Thanks for all of the effort describing and trying to figure out the course. I was out of touch, for the most part, last week (riding in the Sierra Nevada) thus my late reply. I tried typing a response on my iPod, but that was too tedious .

    I rode the course today to see how the rains had affected the trails and to flag sections that will need last-minute work.

    You got most of the course correct. And where you were off was because the trail does not yet exist. So here is a point by point to fill in the gaps:
    1) the first part to Caņada Bonita (aka the nordic ski trails) is a bit of a maze and describing it would have been impossible and even a map with all of the spur trails would be confusing. It all feel the same when riding it however, so as long as you do a loop out to the turnaround point, you will have captured the gist of it. There are two downed trees that will be cut out before the race.
    2) As you reach the end of the trail down to Townsite lift on the ski area... the one that is currently overgrown (we will clear the corridor in the next 2-3 days), you will find orange flagging for a 30 ft section of trail which we will build to connect with Oxbow Rd. Oxbow is the doubletrack climb that I call the 'Pipeline Simulator'. This climb is different from the singletrack that Glenzx was talking about. The idea being it will be a non-technical, fitness-oriented element on the course. The techy stuff comes later after the pack has spread out some.
    3) To join with the 'Aspen for Trouble' singletrack, we will clear a path through the tall grass just above the entrance to the dirt jumps park near the lodge. I have also flagged this if you are still interested. Once on the singletrack it is straightforward to the top. BTW, thanks for the stonemason compliment, we are proud of that corner.
    4) Near the top, after you cross the slope where all of the bulldozer work is occurring you will reach an intersection with a road, turn right (90 degrees) here. Enjoy the flat doubletrack around the south side of the summit. This is the last EASY opportunity to pass before the descent.
    5) Aspeņola will be a technical descent at race speeds. Staying in control and checking your speed at the right times will be the challenge. We will mark the sharp corners and steep spots that require extra attention. As for the bumps, the larger bedded rocks will stay. We will clear the babyheads in the few spots where they have been unearthed. There is also a turn which i may try to berm in, but am afraid that I will just unearth more loose rocks in the process... so maybe not. The rain has set up the surface nicely (firmly) and tonight, it rode fast and securely. How it rides on race day will be up to a number of uncontrollable variables, but generally I think it will be in good shape.

    Thanks again for taking the time and having the interest to start this thread.
    -Gary
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NM_Highlander
    ... thus my late reply. ... -Gary
    You obviously misunderstood the timing of my last post. You actually responded within 24 hours, and so you remain totally on top of things, and well in advance of the next reconnoitering this weekend. Thanks for the course and course map so far in advance. It's a great ride in itself, and I think everybody gets a little more stoked when they have a chance to familiarize themselves with the course ahead of time. Plus, it gives everybody who prerides the opportunity to give everybody who doesn't the creeps talking about it.

    I'll walk up to the jumps park and scope out the Road 0/AfT intersection before starting this time. I remember crossing that 3rd road at the top, but haven't made that right turn, and don't really know where it's going to come out on top, or how it ties into Aspenola, but it sounds a little less climactic than the climb to the lift exit that I did the first 2 times. That'll take a little of the sting out.

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    I cut-in and tidied up the connector from the singletrack to Oxbow road tonight (down by Townsite lift). The orange flagging is still up to guide you.

    The connector from Rd 0 to AfT is going to be cleared with a weedwacker. Right now it is waist high grass. We will not be benching that part for the race, but the ride across the grassy slope will be easy because it is a shallow side slope. Again look for the orange flagging. Above the "stonemason's" turn we hope to add another short section of s-bends. This will not substantially change the course as it will be non-technical and less physical, if anything.

    The crossing where the bulldozer work is happening changes with every day and this will continue up until the race. We will get in there at the last minute to shape it up, so don't worry if it seems to be a mess the next time you see it.

    Finally, when you get to the last road at the top and turn right you will ride around the scenic south side for a few hundred yards... when you come to a branch, bear left and climb the last rocky stretch. You should see the sign for Aspeņola after a few hundred feet, though you will have to ride past it before you will be able to read it over your shoulder. That should familiarize you with the final link up.

    Hopefully you will see others previewing the course.

    Write back with more questions if you have them.

    -Gary
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  14. #14
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    Rode the course yesterday with a buddy - outstanding!

    I would suggest, if you have time - taking your gps track and overlaying it onto a Pajarito Trails map - as the gps one has so little context as to be useless without the trails map, and in fact - taking a sharpie to a trails map and transfering the route onto it would make way-finding easier. There are a lot of easy to miss or confuse intersections, that would / could give one a radically different "pre-ride" than they'll end up racing!

    Brutal climbing, good stuff. I love the fully armored switchback up towards the top. I might chicken out and not race it it's so hard, and I'm so out of shape.
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  15. #15
    rohloff rich
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenzx
    Brutal climbing, good stuff. I love the fully armored switchback up towards the top. I might chicken out and not race it it's so hard, and I'm so out of shape.
    Oh please. It'll be good pain and it'll be good training for cyclocross because there will be so many dismounts/remounts to avoid the riders who inevitably get shut down by the rooty/rocky East Coast style, steep, uphill switchbacks. That armored one is beautiful but I think I will run it.

    Nice course, guys--or rather--brutal, real, mountain bike course. You always have to be paying attention. This one will take some serious skills in addition to the usual legs and lungs.

  16. #16
    rohloff rich
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    Oh, forgot to mention that early registration ends soon. Save $10 and register now!

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    Dialed ..

    With the course map, the trails map, and the discussion that's taken place in this thread, this course is ridden with very little trouble. My tours of the sport course come in at 12.00miles, so I think I'm on track. Thanks so much for all the early work on the course, and the time you've put in keeping us straight via this thread. If you're reading this, but don't bother reviewing the insights offered up by the organizers here before going out to ride the course, well, you're asking for it.

    Coupla more insights though, after riding the course thurs and fri:

    Don't take the first left after riding well out into Canada Bonita. The correct left is the one with the sign on the tree over your left shoulder that's further along. I haven't been corrected on this point here yet, but people keep arguing it out on the trail.

    The road up to the start of Lower Aspen Loop is practically concealed from view by some small trees until you're right on top of it. Don't get confused and ride up the ski slope. Ride straight ahead as though you're going down to the big service garage, then you'll see it bear right.

    The connection between Road 0 and AfT happens immediately after the road comes up from the bottom to meet the one that you should be riding on across the bunny hill. The grass is very high but there's a track that's getting worn as of today. There are about half a dozen orange flags tied to the top of the grass to guide you to the singletrack, where you turn left (obviously).

    Watch for the grassy 2-track leading up to Aspenola after riding the road around the south side of the peak (you already know to turn right on the 3rd road crossing on AfT). You could miss it if you're not paying attention. You'll see the big sign for Aspenola up above to the left.

    Most road crossings on Aspenola go right across (more or less). The exception is when you come out onto a 3-way road intersection. Go straight. The trail falls off to the left at the second marker - maybe 100 yds down the road.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rs3o
    Oh, forgot to mention that early registration ends soon. Save $10 and register now!
    That's right. Thanks for reminding everyone . Discounted registration ends Saturday.
    there can be only one... track

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garson
    Don't take the first left after riding well out into Canada Bonita. The correct left is the one with the sign on the tree over your left shoulder that's further along. I haven't been corrected on this point here yet, but people keep arguing it out on the trail.
    Thanks again. Your are right about this left turn (see quote). It is also marked with the letter 'L' on the same tree as the sign.
    there can be only one... track

  20. #20
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    Good suggestion

    Thanks for the suggestion about overlaying the track on the ski area map. We will try to do this soon.

    I am happy to hear the consensus is that it will be technical and a true 'mountain' bike race. That was one of the primary goals.
    there can be only one... track

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NM_Highlander
    ... registration ....
    I don't believe the website mentions any opportunity for packet pickup before the morning of the race. Is that the case?

  22. #22
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    Yes, Check-in will be the morning (7-8:30 am) of the race for on-line registrants. If you are planning to register that morning, the same hours apply. You will get your bib #, shwag bag and t-shirt then.
    there can be only one... track

  23. #23
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    Additional course map

    An overlay of the course on the Pajarito Mountain bike trails map is now available on the "COURSE" page on the race website, nmmtb.org.

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    Congrats on the great production, Gary - to you, as well as all your many fine helpers. All your hours definitely paid off - especially to the recipients of those prize checks, which were pretty sweet. I probably got my entry fee back in free schwag. Great organization, great course (especially the last 50 yards), great atmosphere. Thanks. Lookin' forward to next year.

    p.s. Was that notched tree trunk slippery, or what? Hadn't seen it like that before.

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    Results are up on their website:

    http://www.nmmtb.org/files/results.pdf

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