Last chance Rocky Mountain downhill races

There’s still a few opportunities to throw down some rubber on Rocky Mountain ski resorts before the snow returns. The downhill bike racing season comes to a crashing finish with a few high profile events in New Mexico.

Final Descents at Angel Fire

Leading the way in the Southwest mountain biking scene is New Mexico’s Angel Fire Resort. Tucked away in the picturesque Moreno Valley just a short drive from Taos with panoramic views of Wheeler Peak — New Mexico’s tallest – riders may have a hard time keeping their eyes on the trail. In the winter, Angel Fire is a hideaway for a small group of die-hard snowboarders that crossed the desert in an epic exodus to the promised land of legendary killer steeps at Taos. Needless to say, they were a bit taken aback when they discovered that Taos Ski Valley is one of few resorts in the country that still prohibits snowboarding. Undaunted, they set up shop in nearby Angel Fire instead.

Brandon Peterson was one of those emigrants years back. Today he’s the events director at AFR, responsible for bringing world class events to this tiny hamlet year-round, including world-class mountain biking events like the Chile Challenge, Final Descent, Quest for Fire and the Collegiate Championships. Last summer, AFR was also one of few locations in North America that hosted a Mountain Biking World Cup competition. This year, not a single World Cup event is scheduled in the United States for the 2006 season.

Final DescentAFR says goodbye to summer with Final Descent on September 23. The end-of-season event consists of two different courses. This is the fifth time that Cycle Cyndicate, the same group behind the Chile Challenge, is planning the downhill stage race. Riders compete on both courses, aiming for the best overall combined time. The Alpha and Beta courses are open for practice runs all-day Friday and Saturday morning before the timed races beginning at noon.

Final Descent has become known for being the final bash of the year, so expect big things from the Saturday night Biker’s Bash. Costumes, hats and wigs are mandatory. Never fear, costumes will be available at the door and sumo wrestling will be provided inside.

college_logo_sm.gifAlso slated for this fall at Angel Fire are the Collegiate Nationals scheduled for October 21 and 22. Collegiate Conference racers and other mountain biking nuts are expected to be on-hand for a last-minute chance to hit the mountain before Old Man Winter moves in.

For more information on either race, check as the date approaches or call Angel Fire Resort at 1-800-633-7463.

End of Season Madness at Taos Ski Valley

During summers in Northern New Mexico, bikes and balloons are two of the most frequent sights on the ground and in the air, respectively, most of the time. Perched little more than 10 miles above the dry, parched desert floor of the Rio Grande Valley, Taos Ski Valley is a world away in more than one sense.

Designed in the style of many European resorts, TSV sits in the state’s most productive snow basin and popular wilderness area, leaving many to wonder how this piece of Bavarian wonderland got stuck in the middle of the high desert.
For riders, Taos has always offered an appeal so strong that it led former New Mexico Governor and avid mountain biker Gary Johnson to make his home here.

Sadly, Taos’ most celebrated event, the Alpine Classic, appears to have fallen by the wayside.

But never fear, local developers and sports enthusiasts Roger and Kerri Pattison have jumped in to fill the void. When they aren’t plotting to open a snowboard area adjacent to TSV, they’re readying their property for Fraser Mountain Madness, featuring a grueling uphill bike course that takes racers towards the top of Fraser Mountain, opposing TSV’s ski runs.

This year the madness is set for September 23 & 24, with the Uphill event on the 23rd challenging racers to ascend between 2,000 and 3,000 feet as quick as their legs and lungs will allow. The next day, competitors can take it a tad easier, if they choose, on a cross-country course that winds its way through some of the beautiful scenery on the Pattison Trust Land.

2006 will mark the 2nd year for the Fraser Mountain event, which takes place for the most part on old jeep trails. The cross-country course winds through long stretches of pasture, providing a respite from the rough rocky terrain of so many other courses in the region.

For more information, contact the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce at or 800-517-9816.