March 5, 2007

In a high school Spanish class I learned that mas-o-menos meant 'more or less'. The unique phrase stuck in my head so naturally I was intrigued to find a mountain bike endurance festival race with the name.

After doing my homework, the event ended up as my first mountain bike race of the season. I hooked up with Lee and Kevin of the Bike Barn from Houston, Texas and their hosting skills were the bomb!

More or less was the certainly the theme of the weekend. The amazing venue is located in BFE Texas, right by the Mexican Boarder in South-West Texas. Back in the day, NORBA had an early season race in the Chihuahuan Desert that attracted top pros from Colorado like Dave Weins (Polo/RLX) and Rishi Grewal (Klein). This year was no different as Travis Brown (Trek/FRS) and I ventured down south to get a taste of some early season singletrack. There were races of all sorts including: the Kids Kup, 30, 50 and 100 kilometres. I'll give you the 411 on the 100 kilometre track.

I more or less came over-prepared for winter weather and the climate was amazing, so I had to take scissors to my long sleeve jackets, jerseys, arm warmers and full leg warmers. Don't worry - this was a good problem to have. I pre-rode the entire 50 kilometre lap on Thursday, because I was so excited to be riding singletrack again. I should have saved some of the course for Friday, but the riding was so sweet, I couldn't help it!

More or less? More - I brought my hard tail, but would have rather had my race day full suspension there. More once again - I decided, after pre-riding the course with too little air pressure, to add 10 psi to the Bontrager Dry X front and rear tyres.

Race Day - I had a great warm-up as I rode from our lodging to the venue. More or less, the start was a sprint to the singletrack and was super chaotic. The Texas racers charge hard and are in race shape this time of year, so it was game on from the get-go.

After analyzing the course, I figured the race would be won or lost on the main climb on the second lap. That was the case, mas-o-menos . It was extremely important to keep contact with race leaders on all the singletrack throughout the first 30 kilometres.

Brian Fawley (Titus/Kenda) tried to separate the field with surge after surge. While closing the gap on one of these efforts, I bent my middle chainring meaning I now had only two chainrings. The guy would not give up and his efforts made an elite group form at the front.

There were six of us in that group until the bottom of the long steep climb. Evan Plews (Scott USA) attacked going into the hill and ended up putting two minutes on the rest of us by the end of lap one.

Now, it was more or less damage control for the second 50 kilometres. Travis and I decided to close the gap on the long descent coming into the feed zone. However, it was to no avail, as Evan had put more time on us than we had anticipated. Evan was going so fast that he ended up slicing a tire on the sharp rocks in a creek bed allowing Travis to take the reigns and he never looked back. More or less, everybody at the front of the race rode the second lap all on their own.

I hated being by myself in the wind, but my legs couldn't match the pace that Travis had set and my body was having a hard time with that intensity in the heat. I tried to put more effort into each pedal stroke, but all my legs could do was pedal lightly or cramp. I was asking every course marshal and all the racers that I would pass if they had any electrolytes, Sport Legs, or salt. I was so pathetic, I was even licking the salt off my helmet straps just to survive to the finish. Amazingly, my legs survived the climb the second time up yet I was not able to leave my granny gear once from bottom to top.

I was ecstatic to see the finish line. Travis ended up breaking the course record and winning the race in style on the new Trek 69er. He finished just in front of a young speed racer from Luxembourg named Christian Helmig. I rounded out the top three just in front of Evan and Scott Henry (Trek/VW). It was an amazing race that I can't wait to do next year, because there's nothing wrong with a little early season epic singletrack, more of less.

See you on the dirt

Nat Ross

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1