Vueltas de Mountainair was held on August 18, 2013. This is the last race for the New Mexico road season. The race is held on the wide open roads of the high plateau southeast of Albuquerque. The terrain is rolling but very exposed, making the wind the true obstacle to be tackled. The course is comprised of a short and long loop. The Cat 1,2,3 women would race the long loop, making their race 57.5 miles, and the Cat 1,2,3 men would race both loops for a total distance of 94.2 miles.
The men were the first group to race, and with no neutral zone the race began with attacks as the starter flag dropped. After the initial activity, Silvio Menzes of Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling took advantage of the field catching its breath and attacked. Sports Systems clearly had a plan, but Scalo Veloce were not going to miss out on any move and sent Thomas Jones up the road. Menzes and Jones worked well together and began building a good gap on the main field, but soon the counter attacks began. Caleb Fuchs of Think Finance p/b Trek Bike Stores made several attacks, but it wasn’t until Fortunado Ferrara of Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling went with him did the move work. From the main group, Ryan Travelstead of Scalo Veloce, Steve Alschuhler of High Desert Bikes, and Gavin Kennard of High Desert Masters managed to bridge up to Fuchs and Fortunado. This group of 5 worked well and quickly closed the gap to the front 2, now making the group 7 riders strong. The main group behind continued with attacks from Scalo Veloce and Sports Systems but nothing was going to catch the front group and the front group steadily built a gap up to 5 minutes.
Ryan Travelstead of Scalo Veloce takes us through the final miles of the race, “The race was down to 5 of us as we made the right turn onto highway 60. As we approached the short “climb”, Fortunato accelerated up the climb with Caleb and I in tow. Gavin and Steve had been distanced. The race was now down to 3. My legs were starting to cramp and I was glad to have only 8 miles remaining. I won the “preme” sprint earlier in the race which resulted in the finishing run in duties left to me. I wasn’t feeling very good but was hoping they were both feeling as bad as I was. Fortunato attacked with around 600m to go. I closed the gap and countered and quickly realized that my legs were toasted and that Caleb was the strongest of day as he caught and passed me. Caleb got the win, I rolled in for 2nd, and Fortunato in 3rd.”
The women’s field was dominated by the race’s promoting team, New Mexico Spokettes. With strength in numbers, it was clearly the Spokettes race to lose. However, it became clear that the rest of the women’s field were going to make the Spokettes earn it. Through attacks and accelerations Mindy Caruso of Scalo Veloce, Erin Reedy racing unattached, and Sarah Lough of The Spokettes separated themselves from the rest of the field. The seasoned Caruso couldn’t rid herself of her two breakaway companions and it came down to Lough taking the win with Reedy in 2nd and Caruso crossing the line for third.
The final road race of the season ended just as it began, with aggressive tactical racing. New Mexico racing is unique in that the fields are smaller than most states and it produces very aggressive and tactical racing. As one new racer from the east coast said after the race, “it’s totally different here. If you make one mistake you can be tailed off and riding alone for the rest of the day.”
Article by Travis Dixon/ Photos by Angelica Dixon