Hola, ShokzSquad! ShokzStar Lauren Perry here reporting to you from sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico. I just returned from a weekend in Grants, New Mexico which is the home of Mount Taylor. Mount Taylor is the sacred Southern mountain of the Navajo Nation, and also home to two of my favorite events; the Mount Taylor 50K race and the Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon. Together with three of my best friends, I completed my first Quadrathlon yesterday.
You might be wondering what on earth a quadrathlon is. This particular race starts with road biking, followed by running, then skiing, and ends with snowshoeing. The best part about this 43-mile adventure is that once you make it all the way to the summit of Mount Taylor at 11,301 feet in elevation, you get to turn around and do each event back down to cross the finish line. My team consisted of three strong, intelligent, brave, seasoned athletes. Maya just ran a 100-mile race and a 50-mile race in 2018 and was our designated runner. Stephanie, our designated skier, is an avid skier and 50K runner. Adrienne is a fierce 50K runner, power spinner, and all-around badass who would summit Mount Taylor in her snowshoes for us. I was elected to complete the road bike portion of our quad, which I was pumped about despite never having been on a road bike until a few days before the race itself.
I am a mountain biker, and I knew that the first 13 miles of my road biking portion had a steep 1,900 ft elevation gain. I trained by riding my mountain bike in the foothills to get as much elevation experience as I could. For the event, I borrowed Maya’s road bike and had my first foray with clip-in pedals. I have to thank my amazingly handsome bike tech and coach (read: boyfriend) Lance for teaching me how to use clip-ins and for forcing me to practice on the road bike. As a 50K runner and a recreational mountain biker, I have an immense amount of respect for road bikers. It is a whole different kind of fitness- mentally and physically.
Training for the event was a little rough considering how cold and blustery it was where we live in Albuquerque in the months up until the quad. It turns out that training in the cold was exactly what we needed to be doing, as the actual day of the race would turn out to be one of the most brutal quad weather days in the past few years. Grants is only about an hour and fifteen minutes to the West of Albuquerque, so on Friday, my teammates and I loaded up my dogs, and all our gear to head to the race. We met up in our respective hotels after packet pickup and gear check-in. We were so excited! Our team name was officially Quad Queens.
Race day predictions were in the mid-20s for temps with 50 mph wind predictions. They were pretty spot on, and as we all stood at the start, waiting for shuttles for our skiers, snowshoers, and runners, heavy snow started whipping in on the wind. The morning of the quad, shuttles take teammates up the mountain with their gear having been sent up earlier to the designated hand-off points. I would bike 13 miles to Maya, Maya would then run 5 miles to Stephanie, who would then ski two miles up to Adrienne, who would snowshoe to the summit, and then we would all proceed to turn around and race back down to the finish line!
The race started with road bikes. It was super hard right out of the gate and very cold despite my excessive layering. This was my first bike race of any kind, and I was most thankful for my tire-like shoe covers that kept out the wind. At about mile 2, my bike chain got jammed, and one of the rules of the quad is that no one else can help you with your bike. I stood there for a few seconds but then got to work with my giant winter gloved hands to try to get the chain unjammed and back on. Luckily, I got it sorted out without losing too much time. I hopped back on and went on the most killer, beautiful ride up the mountain, even amidst intense wind and snow. Once I got to the tag off, Maya was off and running up the mountain. I got to hang out with Lance, friends, and my dogs! Thankfully, Lance had his truck, so we kept warm and ate food while the rest of our team ran, skied, and snowshoed up and down. Finally, I spotted Maya coming back down the mountain, across snow-covered roads, and I hopped back on the bike. The downhill 13 miles were extremely fatiguing, much more so than I anticipated. The headwind was incredibly strong and nearly blew me over several times. I pedaled as hard and as fast as I could, and after what seemed like an eternity in a headwind, I crossed the finish line. The Quad Queens did it, and despite my painfully slow road biking time, we still managed to take 3rd in our division for teams!
At the finish, there was pizza and beer from a local brewery waiting for us, and we were crowned with our amazing finisher medals. I changed into dry clothes (finally!) after a day of being sweaty and cold, and enjoyed some coffee stout beer with my amazing teammates, friends, boyfriend, and pups. It was a GREAT day, and we felt so accomplished having finished despite some insane weather. The Mount Taylor Quad boasts that it is the ultimate challenge, and I agree. I invite you all out to Mount Taylor to give it a go. Hopefully, I will see you at the Mount Taylor 50K this September.