They say when you fall off your horse, the best thing to do is get right back on. The Coor family discovered their passion when they jumped back in the saddle after a rough experience – the saddle of a mountain bike, that is.
After the birth of her son, Wyatt (now age 10), Amy Coor, like many new moms, began to focus more on physical fitness. Her husband, David, noticed he had gotten out of shape while working for a local oil company in Artesia after he had less time for the sports he once enjoyed, and he began to follow Amy’s healthy example. Now Amy works as a fitness instructor teaching a wide array of exercise classes, but the couple really enjoy getting their workouts in with mother nature. “It’s just so amazing outside,” Amy gushed. “Everything that is around us…We have some amazing places in the desert here, and if you don’t get outside, you’ll never see them.”
The Coors’ love of the great outdoors began when Amy started running in 2012 with a group of women in Artesia. The whole family was inspired to begin doing races for fun, like mud runs and color runs on the weekends. Amy’s goal is to run in every state in the Unites States. The trio also enjoys hiking together. Two years ago, a friend in Las Cruces talked them into trying mountain biking, and they were immediately hooked on the sport which they have made a family lifestyle. Amy recalled, “We fell in love, and I think we have been on the mountain almost every weekend since.”
David was quick to mention that they didn’t quite know what they were doing when they started, and their first mountain bike experience was not exactly ideal. He laughed, “We weren’t having the best of times, you could say.” David recalled going down Bailey’s Canyon in Cloudcroft when it started to rain on their way back up. They weren’t prepared with the proper bikes and equipment for their first trek, and everyone ended up coated in mud, but the scary part for the novice cyclists was when Wyatt hit the wrong brake going around a drop and “almost fell off a cliff” had there not been a tree there to catch him.
“As a mother there behind him, I just had a heart attack,” admitted Amy. According to Wyatt, that first experienced almost stopped him from getting back on the proverbial horse, but the whole family was quick to mention that bumps and bruises are just part of the sport and give them good stories to tell. Amy even shared that some of the girlfriends she has encouraged to join her refuse because they don’t want their legs to get scraped up like hers. “They tell me, ‘You don’t have pretty legs anymore,’ but I think they are [pretty] because there’s a story with every scar.”
With the whole family interested in mountain biking, the Coors began training with another Artesia mountain biker, Josh Barnett. He helped them out with tips and pointers for getting started and, as Amy noted, “is making us faster and more technically skilled riders.” They spend most weekends training or at competitions hosted by the New Mexico Off Road Series (nmors.org), which holds races in different cities around the state and in El Paso, Texas.
Races are held between March and October with a spring series and a fall series each consisting of six races. Competitors are assigned points at every race depending on where they place for their age group and category. Categories range from cat 3 (beginner) to cat 1 (expert) and on to pro level. The competitor in each category and age group who has the highest number of points at the end of the six-race season will win that series, and the competitor who places highest at the end of the year will win the state title. Cyclists who compete at the pro level can even earn money in the sport. The Coors are sponsored by the Bicycle Company in El Paso, who also sponsors Barnett and a pro rider who will compete in trials to race in the 2018 Olympics. In addition to competing for overall points, each race gives out its own prizes for category winners, such as bike accessories, medals, belt buckles and unique trophies.
When they go to a race, the Coors will haul their fifth wheel trailer and camp out over the weekend with other families. Amy pointed out, “That’s one of the best things about mountain biking. It’s like a huge family.” She described their camper as the place to socialize in the morning because it is warm and they have hot coffee. Including Amy, David and Wyatt, there are only five competitors from Artesia, but they have met other enthusiasts in the surrounding areas through the competitions.
“I’ve made friends all around,” exclaimed Wyatt. The outgoing fourth grader met another kid, Zach, who has become his “best mountain biking friend” during a race in Gallup when the two boys alternated the lead for their age group. They ended up taking first and second place ahead of all the older kids riding with them. Wyatt and Zach have even competed together as a duo in the Zia Rides Series (ziarides.com) and will team up again in a race this summer.
The Zia Rides Series hosts 10-, 12- and 24-hour races. Cyclists compete in two- or four-person teams, alternating as many laps as they can complete in the time frame, with each lap usually taking over an hour. Amy and David often compete together in the Zia Rides and Wyatt will compete with his friend from Gallup as a duo in the 24-hour race this summer. One of the tough things about competing in the Zia Rides is learning how to manage your food, hydration and rest. To build up endurance for a 24-hour race, the Coors will train on road bikes that allow them to ride for longer periods of time. “Your road bike really helps you to get saddle time and get used to spinning,” David explained. “The more you can do that, the better off you’ll be.”
The family also finds time to do some night riding in order to train for the 24-hour races. Amy pointed out that they have lights on their helmets and handle bars to light the trail. She described having a different mentality riding in the dark. “Say you’ve done a course and you know it, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, there comes that long climb up there, I can see it.’ At night you’re just doing what you have to do, and in ten feet you can see it, and then all the sudden you’re at a climb and then it’s done. So it’s fun at night.”
According to David, one of the great things about the races is that bikers are able to come and ride a lap without participating in the competition. “Our mountain biking friends from all over New Mexico are awesome,” Amy boasted. “They will come to a race not to race it but just to ride with Wyatt.”
Running and mountain biking have introduced the Coors to other people who are also family oriented and enjoy the outdoors as much as they do. The women Amy runs with in Artesia often travel to races together, sometimes bringing the families along with their kids participating in the shorter distances. These connections have led the Coors to other opportunities, like the Space Port American Relay, which was the first relay race in New Mexico as well as the first race to ever end on a space runway. Amy and David competed in the relay this March with several of their running and mountain biking friends that took them from El Paso to the Space Port in Truth or Consequences.
Amy has particularly enjoyed meeting people who love to hike as much as she does, confiding, “When you’re mountain biking, I have to deliberately make everyone stop so I can take some pictures, because you’re just flying by.” The family recently raced on Grindstone in Ruidoso where they climbed all the way to the top of the mountain. Amy described seeing the Inn of the Mountain Gods, the lake and all the incredible scenery you miss out on when you’re flying by on a bike.
The scenery of the great outdoors that the family enjoys so much has led them to downsize this year so they will have less maintenance to do when they are at home and can spend more time on the mountain. “I just like being outside,” Amy revealed. She explained that they do stay in town one weekend each month while David is on call for work, but admitted, “Even on those weekends, sometimes I’ll go do stuff and leave him at home.”
All three are constantly training to improve their speed and technique so they can continue to succeed in competition, but as much fun as it is to win, this sport is really all about friendships, family and having a good time. It is also a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and experience levels, with riders continuing to compete well into their 70s. Even though there aren’t a ton of kids like Wyatt who compete, he stills says that his favorite part about mountain biking is “probably the people.”
“The ones that are there, that are his age, are our kind of people,” agreed Amy. “They’re nice, friendly, down to earth…and he gets along really well with them.” The Coors also appreciate how nice it is to have something in common that the three of them enjoy.
“We all love it,” shared David, adding that it has brought his close-knit family even closer.
Amy remembered one time in particular, “The best moment was when we were climbing a mountain together and reached the top, and Wyatt goes, ‘This is our video game.’” Who needs television when the Land of Enchantment offers countless ways for you to enjoy the great outdoors with your family?