24 Hours in The Enchanted Forest: Riding Bikes with My Family.
By Layla Pearl Tso and Jon Yazzie
Photos: Layla Pearl Tso (Nikon Cool Pix S9600)
The weekend of June 12th, the Dzil Ta’ah Adventure team attended an endurance race with the Bike Packing series mentorship program group in McGaffey, NM. Since finishing up our Youth Bike Packing series in October of 2020 we have only ridden bikes together a few times, although the mentor group themselves have participated in 11 races in total since. Inspiring, considering they have only been on the bike for nine months. I was thrilled to see them dive headfirst into racing and I was even more elated to be spending the weekend with them riding in their first endurance type event.
Earlier in the week, Nadine and I picked up Layla, our grand baby, for a few weeks of her summer break. She would be joining us as well and brought a point and shoot camera we gifted her the previous Christmas. We practiced taking pictures on some bike rides in the days leading up to this race, because she wanted to document her own blog. We introduced Layla to our readers last year on her first bikepacking trip here: https://bikepacking.com/plog/laylas-first-bikepacking-trip/
Friday afternoon, my Chei, Dexter and I left for a mountain bike race in the forest. I did not know where we were headed exactly, but I was super-excited to be going anywhere that involved mountains, camping and bikes. I have been to a couple of bike races but not for an entire weekend. I was looking forward to the next few days. And I wanted to try my camera and take pictures for my first blog.
After four hours of driving in the heat, we arrived at McGaffey campground in the Zuni Mountains. We found a spot that had easy access to the venue because my Chei and Nadine were registered for the 24-hour solo category. My aunties, Janessa and Jodessa in the 12 hour team duo.
We made sure Dexter (the little dog) was comfortable before we set up the trailer. I like my Chei’s trailer because it is comfortable and reminds me of a fort. Not long after we set up our camp, my aunties and uncle Jaron and other grandma Jessica showed up. We rode bikes around the campground some and they all went for a night ride to see the 13 mile course.
I went to sleep and didn’t hear Nadine show up close to midnight. She came late because Benji had a surgery earlier in the day.
Saturday, we slept in some and Nadine made breakfast for us. We had to keep any eye on Benji to make sure he did not bother the stitches in his stomach. Dexter just hung out in the sun all day. That is his favorite thing to do.
After we ate bacon, eggs and pancakes, the race started. My Chei, Nadine and Janessa went out for their first lap. I stayed behind with Jessica, Jodessa and the dogs while we waited for everyone to come back in. It was hot out, and we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Nadine, Jaron, Janessa and Jodessa kept riding for most of the day. My chei and I stayed at camp to watch Benji, Dexter and cook food for the riders. We also had the best snow cone ever at the food stands. I also got to practice the timer and other functions on my camera.
All in all, we had the best time. I was sad to leave on Sunday for Kayenta, But I know we will all camp and ride bikes together soon again.