What exactly is enduro? The word enduro means different things to different people. Enduro is simply a racing format that started in Europe more than 10 years ago, and has recently been catching on in the states. It involves non-timed climbing and the use of a lift or shuttles, and multiple timed descents. As it turns out, it is my job to race these events. I thoroughly enjoy it. The bike industry has latched onto this moniker and uses it to sell products and create hype. As much as the term has been overused recently, the technological advances to the modern trail bike platform and associated products are nothing short of amazing. This is a good time to ride mountain bikes, whatever you choose to call it.
On the road again. This time we are headed to the second stop of the Big Mountain Enduro series, taking place in famous Durango, Colorado. Durango has a rich mountain bike history, and many cycling heroes past and present have resided and trained here over the years. The trail riding here varies greatly from the high alpine Colorado Trail, down to the local desert trails closer to town. Truly a mountain bike mecca, and a perfect venue for some backcountry enduro stages.
Joining me on my escapade this time is Sarah Rawley. This marks the start of her race season after spending most of her waking hours working on her women's events, Beti Allride Clinic and Beti Bike Bash, and doing the behind the scenes work for Big Mountain Enduro. Sarah is a busy girl and a welcome addition to my team.
After a 6 a.m. shuttle and 2000 feet of climbing, the top of Kennebec Pass marked the start of Stage 1. The track began with the infamous "Slide Rock" section above tree line and finished at the bridge after 21 minutes of proper trail smashing. This is one of the finest sections of trail anywhere and an absolute pleasure to race. The section that Sarah is rallying in the photo below would end many a racers' weekend. Can you say exposure.... This picture that Devon Balet took made me cry a little. Check out his complete photo essay on Pinkbike here.
Mountain bikers must yield to all trail users, even donkeys! Luckily for Sarah, this was in practice.
After descending from Kennebec Pass, there was a 1500 foot climb to the start of Stage 2. We were very lucky to be racing on the Colorado Trail which was closed to the public for the race! This was a first and should not be taken for granted.
Day two brought a couple of short stages in the Horse Gulch trail system close to town. This provided a nice contrast to the previous day's alpine extravaganza. The highlight was Stage 3 that used part of Raider's Ridge trail to the newly built Snake Charmer. This section was constructed by Tyson Swasey from Moab. Good job buddy!
The BME crew killed it this weekend. We are lucky to have this enduro series in our back yard, and don't you forget it! Our series is truly the best of its kind in the States. It's a good thing for you that Mike Day has to work these races because if he was racing, he would take you apart.
Stage 4 had some pedaling. I almost shaved my legs.... Fortunately there were enough loose, hard turns to make things interesting enough.
How does Justin Park get these videos up so fast? I don't think he sleeps.....
After a little over an hour of racing, JHK got me by 30 sec. First loser. Again. More fuel for the next one on my home tracks in Keystone! I love standing on the podium with Mr. Diaz. More mohawk please. Great racing gentlemen. Tight until the end, as it should be!
Speaking of Diaz, who can tune the shit out of some suspension by the way, took us on a proper ride after the race. The post-race group ride has become tradition, and those that join, ride their bikes for all the right reasons. "We should be resting after the race." F that! Lets carry our bikes up a steep hill and ride it down the other side! Perfect.
Besides, this was #oldmanwest's first annual 40th birthday celebratory ride. After getting six flats on the first day of racing, what did Mike do? He kept riding and smiling. Can you say composure? You think Aaron Gwin's flat tire run was sweet? I watched Mr. West finish stage one with a double flat. No air. Just rim. Legend.
Monday started with a slight hangover and ambitions of a classic ride. "We should be resting" attempt number two, fail. Sarah is putting on the Yeti Tribe Gathering in a few weeks, so we had to go and ride some more classic Colorado Trail sections. Bummer.
Our day started on top of Molas Pass, well above 10,000ft. The section of the Colorado Trail from here to Engineer is absolutely mind-numbing. Go ride it now! Seriously.
Yeah, no big deal, just one of about 50 alpine waterfall crossings. This trail reminds me of how lucky we really are to be calling this "work". The view from my office is unreal and I do not take this for granted. So fortunate! Several hours were spent climbing and descending some of the greatest bits of trail either of us had ever ridden. Simply amazing.
Five hours later, arriving at Purgatory, we were blown! I ate all the space food in my pack, and took a siesta. For the record, Purgatory had the best DH track in Colorado, hands down. No contest. I broke my back a little bit on that track. I still love that track.
Thank you for kicking my ass Durango! We will return.