Southern exposure

Southern exposure

While Durango endures the endless mud season, trails are drying out down south. Wait, what trails down south? Allow Neil Hannum, local cyclist and founder of Aztec Adventures, to introduce you.

According to Hannum, the sandy washes, oil roads and winding ridges of old New Mexico are prime mtb and gravel-riding terrain. So much so that Hannum started Aztec Adventures a few years back to share his love of the San Juan County, N.M., riding scene. 

This year, Aztec Adventures will host four events in the Land of Bicycle Enchantment, including one enduro race and a gravel series made up of three races. So, if you’re itching to get out there, it’s time to get off the Peloton or rollers and remember what’s it like to ride on real dirt and actually go somewhere. 

A list of Aztec Adventures’ races follows: 

• March 30, Roost the Ridges, Lions Wilderness Park, Farmington – A family-friendly enduro mountain bike race sponsored by the City of Farmington, the event includes an 8-mile untimed ride to access the Glade Run Recreation Area, where the real action begins. Riders will complete three timed downhill segments across flowing intermediate terrain. 

• April 6, Galactic Grinder, Alien Trail System, Aztec – The first in the gravel series, this race serves up hilly gravel orbits around the Alien Crash Site, north of Aztec. Starting in Cedar Hill, the 35- and 50-mile routes quickly encounter a sharp climb into the “San Juan Alps,” close to the state line. Both routes include 4 miles of singletrack in the Alien Run before hitting some more punchy hills back to the finish. There is also a 9-mile route that offers a fun but challenging introduction to gravel riding.

• June 8, Gas Field Grinder, Aztec – The second race in the gravel series, this one takes riders from downtown Aztec through the “Aztec Jungle,” aka the sandstone canyons of Kiffen Canyon, across the river from Aztec Ruins. The event offers 9-, 27- or 50-mile distances as well as a “classic cruiser” ride.  

• Oct. 12, Holy Grit, Wines of the San Juan, Blanco, N.M. – A 15-mile or 42-mile gravel race along paved and unpaved roads that includes parts of the scenic Old Spanish Trail. Finish with drinks, lunch and of course wine under the golden cottonwoods in the San Juan River bosque.

Registration for Roost the Ridges and Galactic Grinder is now open. Riders who register for all three gravel events receive 20% off. To learn more, visit: aztec-adventures.com.

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