The information on this site details my experience at the 2009 Enchanted Circle Century Ride. Tour profile, weather, and elevation information were provided by the Red River Chamber of Commerce in the 2009 Tour Packet. Current ride and registration information can be obtained from the official Enchanted Circle Century Web Site.
I completed the Enchanted Circle Bicycle Rally on September 12, 2009 with elevation changes from 6,950 feet to 9.820 feet. The circle began in Red river and went through Questa, Taos, Angel Fire, Eagle’s Nest, up Bobcat Pass and back to Red River. Miles 38 to 56 were all uphill. Miles 69 to 80 were the climb up Bobcat Pass. The rest of the course consisted of rolling hills, hairpin turns, and steep downhills.
The scenery was incredible! Because rain and thunderstorm were forecast, I started at 7 AM with about 10 other people instead of the 8 AM mass start. It was 40°F at the start and downhill. Because I had not cycled in cold weather before, I did not have a head cover or ear covers underneath my helmet, and I was wearing summer cycling gloves. My lips were turning blue and I was shivering for about the first 1/2 hour. Then a short uphill portion started and the sun started coming out. What a relief!
They did not have traffic control or any of the roads closed off, although they did have sag support and EMS vehicles sweeping the course. But that meant that the cyclists really had to be careful on some of the narrow, winding roads without shoulders. I felt great up until the 17 mile climb that started at mile 38. I was overjoyed to see a rest stop at the top of the 17 mile hill.
Shortly after the rest stop was the Palo Flechado descent. “The road is rough, narrow, has gravel on the shoulder, and has hairpin turns you wouldn’t try at 15 mph in a car….In the past, this treacherous pass has been the site of several accidents and injuries…New Mexico motorists are not accustomed to sharing this particular piece of road with bicyclists. Neither are the log trucks.”
I made it through that part okay, but I was nervous a couple of times when a vehicle would pass that forced me all the way over to the gravel shoulder bordered by a steep canyon. Most of the cyclists really enjoyed this section.
The next part was wonderful. It went through Eagle’s Nest which had a lake and mountains in the background. There was a nice wide shoulder and not much climbing (miles 73.6 to 82 on the elevation profile above).
At mile 82, the route turned back toward Red River and the climb to the top of Bobcat Pass started. That was when the bad weather (thunder, lightning, rain) started. The information provided by the event organizers was correct about the weather. During the ride, the weather went from cold to warm to cool again. I started out in bike capris, a jersey with arm warmers, and a jacket. I took off the jacket/arm warmers after the first hour. By the second hour, I changed from my capris to my bike shorts. By the fourth hour, I was putting on my arm warmers again.
Miles 82 to 96 were climbing with mile 95-96 having the steepest elevation changed. My legs were about to give out. There was lightning behind me and a light rain started. I was just hoping to get through the route (especially the last few miles of winding downhill) before the roads became wet. Mile 96 was the top of Bobcat Pass. I was thrilled to reach it. It had the highest elevation in the course. But the best part was that once you reached the top, it was 4 miles of downhill back into Red River for the finish at 100 miles.
I was fortunate to have started at 7 AM instead of the 8 AM mass start. I found out later that once the lightning, thunder, rain, and hail started, officials stopped the ride. I finished just in time!
We explored the area in our jeep and had a great time hiking and also riding jeep trails. Our photos of the area are available by selecting the various sections from the main menu.