Women take the trails at Rezduro
HARDROCK, Ariz. — Though Hardrock, Ariz. may have a population of only 153, there were 120 riders alone at the 2023 Rezduro race that took place there Aug. 18 and 19.
Rezduro is a play on “Reservation” and “Enduro,” a type of mountain biking focused on the downhill times and speeds rather than uphill.
Touted as the first Indigenous-led mountain bike enduro race, the race’s third year saw a dramatic increase in female ridership, according to race organizer Andrew Atencia. While the 2022 Rezduro had 12 females listed in its results, the 2023 race had 41.
Diné rider Tiona Eversole, 34, won the Category 2 women’s division for her age group with a time of 13:44.5.
Born in Bluewater, N.M. and residing in Durango, Col., Eversole can be described as an adventure junkie. She’s run ultramarathons, rafted through the Grand Canyon, and climbed multiple mountains over 14,000 feet.
Although she has done 24-hour bike races and crosscountry bikepacking races, Rezduro was her first enduro race, and she was as surprised by the win as anyone.
“I couldn’t be more stoked on my riding that day; however, winning was never the goal,” Eversole wrote on social media. “Although a pleasant surprise, watching the next generation of riders come up in the bike scene and being immersed in the community created by this event were the ultimate highlights.”
It won’t be her last enduro race, either.
“I was nervous that I didn’t have the downhill skillset to race enduro,” Eversole said. “After a strong finish and having so much fun at Rezduro, I definitely want to explore more enduro racing opportunities next season.”
“Coming from an endurance sport background, I love being able to combine stamina with the speed and flow of downhill riding. The feeling of going fast and pushing myself to try bigger jumps and features is super rewarding, and always brings a smile to my face.”
Growing up in Bluewater, a tiny town about 45 minutes from Gallup, Eversole said she didn’t have the means to get into mountain biking until later in life.
“I didn’t start mountain biking until college when I used my student loans to buy my first mountain bike — a used Gary Fisher hardtail from a local bike shop,” Eversole said. “Where I grew up, we didn’t have kids bike programs and mountain biking was an expensive sport to get into, so I’m extra grateful for the work Silver Stallion has been doing to get more Indigenous youth on bikes. I always wonder where I would have been if I had something like that as a kid, so it’s exciting for me as an adult to see our youth start early and have such strong representation at bike events like Rezduro.”
Boys and girls as young as 6 years old can participate in Rezduro, with many participants also over 40 and everyone in between. The unique race has been drawing in participants, volunteers, media and vendors from all over the Rez and beyond to the Black Mesa region, with some coming as far as Idaho and Oregon.
“Rezduro is special for so many reasons. The race organizers and volunteers put so much heart and hard work into this event, from the traditional home-cooked meals for racers to the beautiful handmade blankets awarded to the top racers,” Eversole said. “There’s also something about riding trails on Diné Bikéyah, our traditional homelands, and seeing so many people from all walks of life, all skill levels and all ages gather in this remote place to celebrate community and a shared passion for mountain biking.”
Rezduro is organized by the Chíshí Dine’é (Chiricahua Apache Clan) family of northeast Hardrock. As a teen, Nigel Horseherder James grew up mountain biking on his family’s rocky land and dreamed of turning the ancient and outgrown sheep herding trails into biking paths.
James’ dream turned into reality in 2021 as family and friends came together and revitalized the lands in a sustainable way for that very purpose.
“We all grew up in these areas, and we always talked about that as a kid, you know, building trails, riding our bikes, and here we are, we’re doing it.” Coach Vincent Salabye said in the “The Trails Before Us” documentary on the creation of Rezduro. “And I think that’s what’s really cool is you get reacquainted with the land out here.”
Like most who trek out to the heart of the reservation for the event, organizer Atencia camps out there when he comes from Flagstaff several times a year to help dig, cut and clear the trails and set up the venues.
“I’ve got my memory foam mattress in my Landcruiser,” he said, noting that he’s prepared
for wherever he ends up, or if something went wrong and he got stuck in a wash.
And Atencia knows how important that land is, not just for the bikers but historically.
“There’s a lot of oppression history and a lot of historical damage that has been done to this area and with those final extractive industries leaving kind of leaves an open gap for how can we pivot and make use of our land in a less damaging and more sustainable way,” Atencia said in a documentary for International Mountain Biking Association.
The Hardrock community has now taken re-ownership of that land in an event that benefits them not just economically, but is a celebration of their culture and love for the land.
You can find out more at rezduro.com.