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Galactic Grinder race series brings out 100 cyclists

Facing rugged terrain, cyclists of all ages race over challenging course
David Strobel navigates the course in the 35-mile loop race, part of the Galactic Grinder event, held Saturday in. (Aztec Adventures)

AZTEC – Aztec Adventures hosted the third-annual Galactic Grinder gravel cycling event Saturday, attracting off-road cyclists from around the Four Corners for separate 9-mile, 35-mile or 50-mile races among the mesas, washes, and single-track course.

Toward the end of their journeys, riders got to take in the Alien Run trail system, the namesake for the event.

Hilly terrain on the course meant the total elevation gain on the 50-mile course was just over 4,500 feet. Some sections of the landscape were sandy and challenging at times, while other sections on roads were glazed by traffic and heated under the New Mexico sunshine. This made for a fast pace in those areas of the course.

Top finishers in Galactic Grinder events

50-mile loop

1. Logan Lewis, 19.

2. Cobe Freeburn, 22.

3. Brent Winebarger, 46.

35-mile loop

1. Caruso Shanafelt, 21.

2. Jesse Frizzell, 43.

3. Michael Montgomery, 40.

9-mile loop

1. Cooper Wells, 10.

2. Paxton Wallace, 15.

3. William Cockrell, 14.

The Galactic Grinder event will be followed up with Gas Field Grinder on Saturday, June 8, in Aztec, while the Holy Grit event will be based out of Wines of the San Juan in Blanco. Aztec Adventures encourages participants of all abilities to participate in its events.

Founder Neil Hannum has extensive experience exploring the area via bicycle and seeing what’s soon to be known as world-class cycling terrain. In 2021, Hannum joined forces with recent Fort Lewis College graduate William Farmer, as well as cousin Haden Cox along with a small group of volunteers to create what are now mainstay events on the region’s cycling calendar.

Often overshadowed by the famed trails and cycling community in Durango, San Juan County is quickly becoming a popular spot for mountain biking and gravel riding paths just waiting to be discovered.

10-year-old Cooper Wells shows off his trophy after winning the 9-mile loop race in the Galactic Grinder event, held Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Aztec. (Aztec Adventures)

Registration for the Gas Field Grinder is now open. Riders who register for all three upcoming gravel events receive 20 percent off the cost of registration. To learn more about these events, please visit aztec-adventures.com.