“This is the route for the epic 50 mile Puzzler Endurance Mountain Bike Race.”
— Stu Chaffey
Race - Jan 20, 2019
This race is advertised as "The Toughest Race in Texas". I don't know if that is true, but it is an extremely tough race. There are three different race options: 50 mile, 36 mile, and 13 mile.
This is the route for the epic 50 mile version of the annual El Paso Puzzler Endurance Mountain Bike Race. This is an extremely challenging event that will "leave you in pieces" as the website correctly states.
The course begins with a 1.5 mile sprint on doubletrack for position on the 400 ft Sotol Extension singletrack ascent. After reaching the top riders will descend down winding single tracks and around the mountain back to the starting point (mile 9).
The next stage of the race begins with sprint down Lazy Cow
and then a grueling 1500 ft grind up the imposing Mundy's Gap. After reaching the top (mile 15.5) riders descend the West side of the mountain through the infamous "rock garden". This scree field will surely test your nerve as well as your bike shocks. After reaching the bottom riders can relax on a short stretch of pavement through Tom May's Park. Riders then begin the long rocky trek North along the West side of the Mountain Range. At mile 27 riders then begin another grueling 600 ft ascent up the steep, tight switchbacks of Northern Pass
. After this climb riders are greeted with a long, technical stretch of trail through Hitt Canyon back to the top of Sotol Extension. Assuming your legs are not completely cramped by this point you can enjoy a nice fast ride down Sotol and Coyote Ugly
. A short detour on How Now
and you are back at the starting point. This is the end of the 36 mile race.
Riders crazy enough to attempt the 50 mile course will then begin a 800 ft ascent along Boulder Dash
, Sotol Forest
and Scenic Drive
. The course then descends through some fast trails until you reach Mule Shoe Loop
. This loop is very technical with several boulder climbs and drops. This loop is even more difficult on tired legs. The route then takes you all the way down Cardiac Hill
and then up Old Tin Mine, Polecat Alley
and Blue Moon
. The last stretch of this race is a fast descent down Mad Cow
. After descending Mad Cow
and reaching the finish line riders can finally relax (or more likely collapse) knowing they have completed "The Toughest Race in Texas".