By Arnie Leshin
To compete in a triathlon, you need to run, to swim, and to ride a bicycle.
And when it’s not a triathlon, you either run, swim or ride a bicycle.
Bikers, welcome to the 14th annual La Tierra Torture, an event for beginners, intermediates and expert riders. It will be raced on Saturday, April 27, along the La Tierra Trails of New Mexico 599 in northwest Santa Fe.
That’s it, no running shoes, no swimsuits, just hop on your bike and hopefully the weather will be good, the sights will be picturesque, and that you are satisfied with your finish. The distance is expected to be 10 kilometers, which rounds out to 10.2 miles.
Although the number of participants in off-road mountain bike events has slowed down in recent years, members of Santa Fe’s CORE Crew are hoping it will improve and bring a quality amount of entries. The CORE Crew is a grass-roots organization that lines up several cycling and running events throughout the year. This raises money to assist local charitable organizations.
Said Jay Bear, one of the group’s founders: “We like to embrace a healthy lifestyle, race a little more and raise some money to give back to the community to maintain trails in our area.”
Bear added that the composition of the group has evolved over the years, with new members joining as others fade away.
“We have about 12 or 13 people who are in charge of different things,” Bear said. “Getting volunteers and marking trails for races, is a must. We talk about the races we’re going to put on. When we get a little money in our account, we discuss wherewe’re going to give money back to the community, We’re a lost-key organization. We’re not a huge fundraiser.”
Still, over the past 13 years, the CORE Crew has raised more than $100,000 that has gone back to organizations like the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, the Chain Breaker Society, the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico, and the New Mexico Search and Rescue.
There’s also work with quite a few local groups, and bike shops that provide money needed to help out or in-kind donations that are used for giveaways and raffles.
“We try to work with people that want to work with us,” Bear said, “and those that see some value in what we’re trying to do. Over 13 years, $100,000 is a lot of money.”
Bear said that before there was a named group like the CORE Crew, he and some others picked up organizing the Torture Race after the City of Santa Fe gave it up following many years presetting the event in the 1980 and 90s.
At the time, the trail system at La Tierra was just being formulated and created, and the continuation of the race was seen as a good way to publicize the then-new trails. That first year a race was put together, and since than its slowly taken off.
Except for 2017 when the City Different was making it difficult by giving out permits, so the event was moved to Glorieta and called the Lost Tierra Torture.
Now the revived race is in the vicinity of where the old race took place. Back than, the now nearby Highway 599 didn’t exist. The initial revival race drew 180 riders and subsequent races topped out at about 220. Organizers are hoping to see those levels again.
The race is now a USA Cycling event, so there are now three levels of racing, with beginners labeled Category Three, and getting one loop of mixed terrain with single track trails and some old double tracks on old road beds.
Said Bear: “Intermittently, things open up and allows people to pass more easily.”
But despite its fearsome name, Bear said there are many more frightful races around the Land of Enchantment. Yet he pointed out, that of all the mountain races in the state, this one is right in the middle in terms of difficult terrain. He said that there are some that are a lot more steep, and some more technical.
And he added, “In the big picture, this is pretty mellow. Certainly, the faster you ride something, the harder, more technical, it is.”
NOTE: On race day, the beginners are scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. start, with the intermediates and expert riders slated to take to the trail at 10. The La Tierra Trails of NM 599 highway is in northwest Santa Fe. For information, registration and directions, go to corecrew.com/latierratorture.
Remember, no running shoes, no swimsuits, just hop on your bike and pedal.