How Texas’s largest mountain bike race benefits beginners, women, and El Paso’s Franklin Mountains

dfwnewsa | January 14, 2024 | 0 | Texas News

How Texas’s largest mountain bike race benefits beginners, women, and El Paso’s Franklin Mountains

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Texas’s largest and most difficult mountain bike race took place around El Paso’s Franklin Mountains this weekend. This year, the 17th annual Puzzler MTB Race

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attracted over 400 participants from all over the U.S. and Mexico.

Organizers said this year, they wanted to provide more opportunities for beginners.

“This whole year… we’re going to focus on the beginner rides,” said Fernanda Graton, one of the directors for the Borderland Mountain Bike Association (BMBA). “And we saw the results this year.”

Graton said it was a record-breaking year for beginner enrollment. There were multiple races over Saturday and Sunday, with categories for children and adult beginners, all the way up to races fit for the professionals.

“For the 15-mile mini-epic, you know, it’s still a tough course, but those guys, and those riders, they can get out there. And… a beginner rider can do it, as long as they’ve been out on the mountain a few times,” said Rodney Dubois, the Race Director for the El Paso Puzzler. “The 35 and 50-milers… those are endurance riders. Those guys have put in a lot of effort, a lot of training, daily.”

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And although there are different difficulty levels for different riders, organizers said each and every course is something to take pride in, especially because El Paso has some of the toughest terrain in Texas.

“We’re in the desert, so there’s a lot of rocks, a lot of boulders. As I say, the elevation,” said Graton. “It makes it harder for racers.”

In addition to recruiting beginners, organizers are particularly focused on bringing more women into the sport.

“As a female, sometimes it’s hard, right? To try to break into this long-endurance, man’s world,” said Graton. “There’s potential out there for women.”

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“Girl power! We need more girls involved in mountain biking. I know it’s a little intimidating, but all girls can do it and all girls should do it,” added BMBA Board Member Angie Martinez.

And even for El Pasoans that didn’t take part, organizers said the races benefit them, too.

“The Puzzler is the biggest fundraiser for the BMBA,” said Graton. “This organization helps repair trails, build trails. We take care of pretty much everywhere you see mountains and trails. Not only for mountain biking, but for hikers and runners as well.”

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If you didn’t get a chance to participate in this year’s Puzzler, there is still plenty of opportunity for you to get on your bikes and ride. The Puzzler itself happens once a year, but BMBA said they are planning another race on March 17.

“It’s called the Dust Devil Duo, and it’s a mountain bike, and trail run,” said Martinez. “You can do that as an individual, or you can do it as a relay. So, you can get someone to do it with you, and you can have a team.”

For more information including where you can sign up, you can visit BMBA’s website.

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