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I keep kicking myself for not starting a cycling team when I first came to UTEP in ’04.  I figured there would be little interest.  This year some of my classmates stepped up and instead of just forming a cycling team, they started an endurance club.  This club is slowly morphing into a cycling team.

Our most popular outings are bike rides, both road and mountain.  Finding college kids with the same schedule is impossible, but we are averaging 5 riders on every mountain bike ride, and the road rides consistently have 3 or 4.  Yes, I’m sure someone from Ft. Lewis or CU might read this and get a huge laugh.  Yeah…all you rich kids up there have it made with mommy and daddy buying you sweet full-suspension bikes.  I’m sure you have crowds of youngin’s lining up for group rides.

Here in Paso, things are a bit different.  Many of the residents of this town have never visited our state park, the largest urban state park in the nation.  Many of our students here have never ridden a bicycle.  Most are on some sort of financial aid.  $500 for a bicycle is too much for them…considering most of them haven’t spent much more than that on their car.

The mentality here is different.  Riding a bike is something only the extremely poor people do.  In order to keep from appearing poor, you must own and regularly drive your car.  That’s what happens when you live less than a mile from a city where most of the residents are lucky to make $40 a week.  Yep.  That’s not a typo….forty dollars a week.

But things are looking up here in the borderland.  Cycling in Mexico is growing as fast as the middle class.  Almost 3000 entrants in the Chupacabras is proof of that.  The METS now have 44 people on their email list, and one of our members just ordered her first mountain bike from Randall Scott online.  Small steps caballeros.  Small steps.

This past weekend four of us rode/hiked to the top of north Franklin peak.  It was an awesome ride, but a bit disappointing due to the smog over the city and valleys.  Two girls in the club hiked up to Mundy’s Gap.  For one of the girls, it was her first hike ever. 

Here’s a view from the summit:

Here’s the three guys climbing.  Yep…Jen kind of put the wood to us on that climb:

So those of you who have to deal with too many people at the trail head or so many people at your club meeting that no one can sit down, come join us here in El Paso.  It’s November and we’re still slathering on the sunscreen and wearing camel backs and shorts.  If you are afraid of visiting, at least send some good vibes that will keep the kids interested in mountain biking my way.

This year I’ve got my crap together for the Chupa.  Goals?  None…other than making sure the 29er is comfortable enough for the Zuni 86.  Just have a good time and ride fast.  The best I’ve done was 10th, but it’s a different race now.  Big teams with the fast Central and South Americans combined with a few old pros from the north, and it’s a freakin’ burner.  Since it has so much flat road, I can’t really call it a mountain bike race.  If you can run fast and pin it into the wind with a train of 80 or so riders, you’ll have a good race.  If not, you’re back there with the other 2, 420 or so. 

My first year I finished 50th or something.  I had a huge hole in my knee and a pretty good tear in my achillis tendon.  I rode with Jen most of the race and had a great time.  Since then I’ve pinned it to stay at the front and I usually finish with my legs cramping severely.  This year I just want to finish strong and have fun.  Maybe 50th won’t seem so bad. 

Tinker is supposed to come back after getting his butt kicked last year.  It’s supposed to be hot on race day, so maybe he’ll do well as he is a skinny dark skinned guy with a much more equatorial genotype than a gringo like me.

UTEP is finally getting a club together that may one day morph into a cycling team.  Some of my younger classmates stepped up as leaders and formed the Miner Endurance Training and Sports Club.  So far we have about 5 runners, 4 roadies, 2 mountain bikers, and a couple of tri-geeks.  We are starting our recruiting drive this week.  If you know anyone that goes to UTEP and is into those obscure outdoor endurance sports, have them contact me.

 Unless something strange happens this week, don’t expect another post until after Chupa.