Plews, Rasmussen solve the puzzler

Tough 50-miler tests early season fitness

The third Annual El Paso Puzzler 50-mile endurance mountain bike race was held under sunny skies and with temperatures in the mid-60s with 140 anxious riders testing themselves in what was being billed as the toughest race in Texas.

With last year's winner performing a bit of course marshaling due to pregnancy, this year's race was a whole different ballgame. Evan Plews (www.evanplews.com), the 2009 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo solo winner, and ridiculously fit retiree, Travis Brown (Trek) destroyed the technical course and floated up the climbs.

Course designer David Wilson, the singlespeed winner of last summer's Breck Epic stage race, led through the start/finish area for the first 11.5-mile section with Plews, Brown, and El Pasoan Santiago Chavez (Sports Systems) close behind. After exiting a bit of twisty singletrack onto a super rocky road climb known as Trenchtown Rd., the three riders dropped Wilson and began to grow a large gap. Singlespeeders Cameron Brenneman and Beto Villegas blitzed the 1600-foot Mundy's Gap climb along with 40-49 winner Kenny Wehn (Colavita) and 19-29 winner Sem Gallegos (Crazy Cat Cyclery) close behind the lead threesome of Plews, Brown, and Chavez.

On the west side of the Franklin range, Brown plowed through the infamous granite rock slide to regain the lead. At about mile 30, Plews regained contact and later took control up the final major climb of the day, a 350-foot grind up a newly finished set of 12 switchbacks.

Plews, coming off double pneumonia just before the holidays, went on to take the win in 4:38 with Brown about four minutes back. Moving into third position was Brenneman who pushed a 32x19 on his 29er. Villegas and Gallegos rounded out the top five.

In the women's race local Susanne Rasmussen took the win in 6:24 with singlespeeder Paula Bohte coming through in second. Alex Castro (Bicycle Co.) was the top finisher in the shorter 35-mile men's event and Diana Almeida took the women's 35 miler.

115 riders finished the event with no major injuries though many riders looked like they got into a cat fight due to close encounters with the large variety of spiky plants lining the Chihuahuan desert trails. This year's attrition rate was much lower with only 18 DNFs in the 50-miler despite more singletrack than the previous years.

Race director Brent Sanders wasn't sure if comments about the difficulty of the race were compliments or complaints. "I had several people come to me afterwards saying that the race was too difficult," said Sanders. "Travis and Evan said it was definitely the most technical 50 miler they've ever completed and both said that with huge grins on their faces. When other riders say that to me without a grin, I take it as a complaint. We consider all suggestions, but this event is intended to be a tough race. All I can say is that we warned people best as we could."

The El Paso Puzzler, the third race in the Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association's Marathon Series, is hosted by the Borderland Mountain Bike Association whose core members donated countless hours of trail building to a new three mile section of singletrack allowing the race to be held entirely in the Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban state park in the country.

50 mile-competitors only repeated six miles of trail. The event was originally conjured up by Wilson and Sanders as a way to up the level of riding in El Paso. "David and I had been riding this huge loop around the Franklins for a couple of years, but we could never find anyone that would join us," said Jennifer Wilson, the 2009 winner. "Brent and Susanne (Rasmussen) rode it with us and we realized that we shared the same vision to put on this event."

"We've seen a complete paradigm shift in mountain biking in El Paso since the first Puzzler with group rides now consisting of this epic loop around the mountains whereas before, most people never wanted to make the effort at the huge climb up Mundy's," said David Wilson, the BMBA president.

Full Results

Elite / open men 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Evan Plews4:38:23 
2Travis Brown0:04:05 
3Santiago Chavez0:30:02 
4David Wilson0:45:37 
5Gilberto Porras1:05:47 
6Juan Hernandez1:08:05 
7Michael Puchowicz1:46:40 
8Henry Swinty1:49:52 
9Ricardo Vega1:52:22 
Singlespeed men 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cameron Brenneman4:56:43 
2Beto Villegas0:04:59 
3Isaac Burliegh0:40:21 
4Anthony Petta1:13:27 
5Gabe Adcock1:21:57 
6Bret Hawkins1:26:13 
7Lenny Goodell1:27:04 
8Mark Challoner1:29:55 
9Dominic Garcia1:38:50 
10Ray Porter1:43:52 
11Dorian Blanco2:00:45 
12Raymond Padilla2:33:23 
13Shannon Brown2:45:40 
Men 19-29 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sem Gallegos5:04:45 
2Eric Breckenridge0:33:47 
3Ryan McLaughlin1:58:43 
4Miguel Romero2:01:16 
5Tyson Brown2:08:55 
6Colin Lewis2:51:05 
DNFSean Woods  
DNFChristopher Woods  
Men 30-39 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel Meyers5:55:08 
2Matt Barkley0:02:34 
3Garth Norman0:06:36 
4Rich Murdock0:10:17 
5Jay Hemphill0:24:12 
6Jason Betz0:29:06 
7Nathan Shay0:32:16 
8Gustavo Fierro0:54:07 
9Lynn Gray1:08:18 
10Aaron Blickem1:19:41 
11Ian Camerano1:22:32 
12Jonathan Beall1:31:32 
13Thomas Sterrett1:37:22 
14Michael Peregrino2:37:42 
HDChris Trevalise  
DNFDaniel Dietzel  
DNFBruno Vasquez  
DNFMarco Diaz  
DNFRob Rohrbaugh  
Men 40-49 50-mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kenny Wehn5:19:41 
2Bret Bernard0:23:21 
3Adam Salladin0:46:16 
4Mike Rosson0:48:16 
5Chris Casey0:48:18 
6Rich Walters0:48:20 
7Mike Record1:03:23 
8Rob Kelly1:09:34 
9Charlie Rome1:15:03 
10Ray Eldridge1:30:27 
11Angel Avalos1:54:24 
12Joe Fortin2:06:57 
13Richard Rassmussen2:30:42 
14Robert Young2:35:04 
16Waldo Terrazas3:05:09 
HDCory Mortenson  
HDChristopher Alley  
DNFJohn Battle  
DNFDon Losole  
DNFBill Simons  
DNFJim Seely  
DNFJohn Battle  
DNFDon Losole  
DNFBill Simons  
DNFJim Seely  
Pro / Open women 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Susanne Rasmussen6:24:33 
Singlespeed women 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paula Bohte7:03:42 
Women 40-49 50 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Karen Rishell7:10:50 
2Zoe Nance0:46:20 
3Lisa Nye-Salladin1:14:02 
DNFMiriam Hill  
Men 19-29 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alex Castro4:29:44 
2Elias Flores-Aldaz1:00:06 
3Matthew Talley3:07:13 
DNFRaphael McHenry Herrera  
DNFYu Jay  
Men 30-39 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jeremy Milligan4:55:47 
2Barrow Michael0:08:44 
3Andrew Crook0:32:38 
4Rob Nolan0:37:23 
5Tito Hererra0:40:03 
6Luis Ramos Duran0:47:11 
7Gabriel Perez1:04:28 
8Adrian Gutierrez1:19:43 
9Luis Dominguez1:20:09 
10Paul Smith1:20:53 
11Edgar Garcia1:25:33 
12Duncan Medlock1:34:24 
13Charlie Simpson1:37:21 
14Oliver Benitez1:43:09 
15Mario Fuentes1:44:11 
16Tom Davis1:50:10 
17Nick Ferriola2:53:51 
DNFGuillermo Saucedo  
Men 40-49 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1William Steffen4:37:45 
2Willy Morales0:16:20 
3Jim McIntosh0:17:09 
4Eduardo Sy0:37:55 
5Ramiro Hernandez0:39:15 
6Adrian Martinez0:44:17 
7Rob Nixon0:54:55 
8Rene Baez1:25:49 
9Mario Lopez1:49:27 
10Ben Hernandez1:52:25 
11Thomas Heber2:14:17 
12Miguel Nunez2:44:04 
DNFClark Edwinson  
DNFJeff Johnston  
Men 50+ 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ken Gauthier4:45:25 
2Javier Soliz0:19:30 
3Jeff Reese0:25:05 
4Brad Peterson0:40:56 
5Jeff McGaughey0:54:32 
6Ramon Provencio1:00:13 
7Cesar Felix3:46:22 
DNFMike Hathorn  
DNFDavid Steyer  
Men singlespeed 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rico Smith6:55:25 
Women 30-39 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rebecca Menke5:54:15 
2Delania Sather0:23:55 
3Rita Leon0:51:05 
Women 40+ 35 mile
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Diana Almeida5:18:26 
3Susie Edwinson6:13:31 
2Ani Hagen0:14:09 
4Laurie Doran2:07:31 
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