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Roost the Ridges still on, Kinsey’s Spring Classic postponed

Steep ridges in Lions Wilderness Park are a part of both racecourses. (Courtesy Aztec Adventures)
Snow, rain in the forecast prompts rescheduling race

Sandstone Cycles planned to join Aztec Adventures in launching the mountain bike racing season this weekend, but rain and snow in the forecast has forced a change in plans.

Roost the Ridges Enduro will still take place Saturday, March 18, at Lions Wilderness Park, but the inaugural Kinsey’s Spring Classic was postponed until April 22.

Roost the Ridges is organized by Neil Hannum, owner of Aztec Adventures. Registration last year hit 137 riders, and Hannum said registrations are strong this year as well, despite the unpredictable weather Farmington has experienced this year.

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is for a high of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but the chance for inclement weather increases from Saturday to Sunday. The National Weather Service predicts a 30% chance of snow before noon Saturday, and a 40% chance of rain and snow Sunday before noon, with possible lightning as well.

Concern for the safety of the riders prompted Martinez to postpone the Kinsey’s Spring Classic.

As Roost the Ridges enters its second year, Hannum said the main change made to the event was not to the course, but to parking arrangements. Hannum said managing the parking last year was a challenge because there was not enough space at Lions Wilderness Park’s main parking lot and spectators parked around various points of the trail to watch riders.

The BLM requires that parking remain unobtrusive to other drivers and remain in designated areas, so this year there will be chalk markings to indicate where participants may safely park. Parking staff will also be on-site to make sure spectators find acceptable places to park.

Sandstone Cycles owner Christopher Martinez said the idea for the Kinsey’s Spring Classic started developing when he realized that many of the top finishers and participants in the 2022 Roost the Ridges race were cross country racers more so than enduro racers.

Enduro racing features timed and nontimed sections, where riders may take their time on the uphills to reach the top of the stage and are then timed as they race through the downhill portion. For an enduro course, Martinez said the Roost the Ridges route is milder than those found in Keystone or Aspen, where the terrain is very rough. That makes it a good season opener, and one that cross-country riders are willing to try.

Martinez suspected that many of the racers at Roost the Ridges last year were eager to break out the bikes after a long winter and tested out the enduro race, even if it wasn’t their usual racing preference. He had hoped to capitalize on their interest in cross country racing by holding his race the day after the enduro.

Organizing races is not a new task for either Hannum or Martinez.

Hannum runs four to five races a year through Aztec Adventures and Aztec Trails and Open Space. In addition to mountain bike racing, he said he hopes to see more dirt bike tracks officially developed so various types of motocross events can be held in the area.

Christopher Martinez opened Sandstone Cycles in February 2020. Kinsey’s Spring Classic is the first race hosted by the store. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)

Martinez is the current president of Aztec Trails and Open Space and has worked with Hannum to organize the Alien Run Mountain Bike Race for several years. Martinez said the main challenge of organizing the Alien race is always finding enough volunteers.

When considering the possibility of hosting the Kinsey race he decided to forgo trying to round up volunteers by staffing the race with Sandstone Cycles employees. His store manager and longtime friend Ellae Montoya, as well as other employees, were will to give it a try. That gave him the manpower for the race, but there was still a long list of tasks to complete in order to host the race for the first time.

Martinez said they received ample community support for the race, from sponsors jumping in to help fund the race and prizes to assistance from the city of Farmington and Bureau of Land Management.

Part of the process of hosting a race is planning out the route and getting approval to use the land. Martinez said most of the Kinsey’s Spring Classic racecourse is on BLM land, so he had to submit documentation of his proposed route for the bureau’s approval.

The process ensures that wildlife are not interfered with and protected areas remain undisturbed. Since the trails used in the race are established trails and Martinez was already familiar with navigating the process, approval for race route went smoothly.

Permitting the event and getting supplies ordered went well also, according to Martinez. He said the city of Farmington was very supportive of the race and has helped with marketing and the use of Lions Wilderness Park’s pavilion and the city’s sound equipment needed for announcing during the race.

Even though he only started planning the race in December 2022, Martinez said came together amazingly well. The weather proved to be the main sticking point.

Hannum said that when it comes to trail conditions, this area can usually absorb moisture pretty quickly, but snow on the backsides of hills tends to thaw and refreeze, creating slick, muddy sections on the trails that can be difficult to navigate.

Making sure the race supported the area was a focus for Martinez. The plan to have the races back-to-back would have encouraged racers to spend the whole weekend in Farmington, Martinez said, possibly even camping at Brown Springs Campground in the Glade Run Recreational Area. While traditional snacks like bananas and oranges will be provided for racers, he said he decided against catering lunch in order to encourage racers to dine in town and support local restaurants.

In the future, Martinez hopes to see the two events turn into a mini-bike festival with vendors and demonstrations. Hannum agreed, saying he would like to see the races develop into something like the Whiskey Offroad in Prescott, Arizona, a three-day festival filled with races, live music, a beer garden and vendors.

Hannum said Farmington has venues for prerace events and after-parties, as well as plenty of dining options and space for vendors at the race site. Making it happen is about pulling all the pieces together and taking advantage of all the outdoor recreation components already in place.

The two races are only the beginning of Martinez’s and Hannum’s plan for the year.

The Alien Run Mountain Bike race will take place May 6, and Martinez is also working on plans for an e-bike race this fall in the area of Piñon Mesa.

While regular mountain bikes were selling well at Sandstone Cycles during the COVID-19 pandemic, Martinez said interest in e-bikes has risen significantly in this area. He said about half his customers come in wanting to look at e-bikes and he wants to incorporate that interest into future events.

Hannum’s next race comes quickly, with the Galactic Grinder taking place April 2. Later in the year, Hannum will host the Holy Grit race and the Durango to Farmington Bike Tour as well.

As the outdoor recreation industry grows in San Juan County, Martinez and Hannum both expressed hope that community interest and involvement will continue to develop alongside it and bring together organizations and programs that can help procure funding for new projects and outdoor development.