I saw some race report yesterday that got me thinking. It made me kind of sad, actually. It was a race report for the El Paso Puzzler. You should take a moment to read it here. It was written by the winner, Evan Plews. Evan does a great job reminding me of every gnarly facet of the Franklin Mountain State Park. I won't say you'll get the same feelings I do by reading it, because that area is close to my heart now, and I've ridden it several times since about 2007.
The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in North America, but ironically, it isn't the type of desert most folks think of when they conjure up desert images in their minds. Most folks think of the iconic Saguaro of the Sonoran Desert, or the great Joshua Trees of the Mojave Desert. The Chihuahuan Desert has no icon, not that I know of. It is just a rocky, spiky, dry area that presents a unique challenge to any mountain biker. While it isn't necessarily typical of the Chihuahuan area itself, Franklin Mountain has one main feature you need to come to terms with.
Rocks. And lots, and lots of them.
If you read Evan Plew's report, he gives you a description of coming off Mundy's Gap into a mile long rubble field. Yep. I get it. Rocks. It's what's for dinner in the Franklin Mountains.
What these rocks do is they resist your wheels passage, they slip out from under you wheels, knocking you off-line, and robbing you of precious momentum, and they can, (as Evan describes), bust up your equipment. It is a very tough place on rider and bike.
So why ride there at all? Well, it is hard, but I am learning that it takes a different way of riding to get the most enjoyment out of what you put in. I think it is more of a "rock crawler" mentality. You won't be ripping along, feeling the flow for a half mile, or even a quarter mile here. (There is some amount of "flow", but that is even different there.) No- It is more of a measured pace sort of mentality, I think, that garners the most enjoyment out there. That and stopping to enjoy the scenery once in awhile is highly recommended.
I am sad, as I said in the beginning, because I will miss going to Texas this year due to a conflict with my wife's work. Sad because I love my family down there, of course, but I also love riding in that Chihuahuan Desert. Check it out sometime if you can. It is tough and challenging, but really rewarding in the end.
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