Location =  Gallup NM  
Distance =  27.17
Time =  3:33:05
Ave. Speed =  7.6
Max. Speed =  20.5
Monthly Dist. =    322.00
Yearly Dist. =  882.74

I drove out to Gallup, and pre-rode the course for the race, which is only two weeks away. The trail is called High Desert Trail - West, and it really is a beautiful and fun trail. I'm not sure it's such a great trail to have a race on, because it's all singletrack, and it will be difficult for people to pass. I will be one of the slower racers, and I am going to be passed a lot. The race course is a 13 mile loop, with 1600 feet of climbing on each lap, but most of the noticeable climbing happens within the first couple of miles. Right from the start, the trail climbs up onto a bluff, and it makes some very frightening hairpin turns, complete with deadly cliff drop offs. If someone is unfortunate enough to be tired or careless, and goes over the edge, then they will be taking an ambulance ride to the hospital. I'm glad that I have a preview of what I am getting myself into.

Once the trail reaches the bluff, there is a very nice metal sculpture of a cougar standing on top of a rock. There were a few other sculptures along the trail, including some rabbits, a bobcat, and a couple of roadrunners. The sculptures add a nice touch to the trail. Further out on the trail is another sculpture, this one is a sundial. The sundial is on the edge of a cliff, and the city of Gallup is in the background. When I stopped to take this picture, the wind was blowing so hard that I could not stand still. I was afraid to go over to the sundial to see what time it was, because I thought I might be blown right off of the cliff. I wasn't taking any chances.

The trail has a lot of twists and turns, and there are many interesting tree and rock formations. One of the best rocks was this one that had a big overhang. It makes you wonder how it got like that.

The back half of the trail was away from the edge of the bluff, and it was more treed and meadow like. Of course it's not really like a meadow, rather a desert meadow. The trail is fast in places, and it makes you want to go flying down the path, but it's a dangerous fast. Many of the curves are sharp enough that if you don't slow down, you'll go flying off of the trail. One curve ate me up with some deep sand. I hit it with too much speed, and it threw me to the ground without mercy. Luckily, I did a nice tuck and roll, and ended up with nothing worse than a good sand blasting.

One nice feature of the trail was the fact that it was well marked with cairns. Many of them weren't necessary, but there were some rocky areas where they were very helpful. Also, they were built with a lot of skill and patience. I took a picture of one particularly excellent cairn. Somebody spent hours building that thing.

Since I drove all the way to Gallup to preview this course, I decided to take two laps around, in order to make it worth my while. The day was mostly sunny, with temps in the 60s, and at times it was ferociously windy. Now I have some idea of what I will be up against come race day. I think that I will probably wear my mp3 player, and just try to have a fun time, and not worry too much about all of the people who are flying passed me. This is just a warmup for Leadville, so I'm going to do the best that I can, but I'm not going to take it too seriously.

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