Written by Eric Paysen Monday, 26 March 2018 17:14
As a guy who has now been a strictly cross country racer for the last couple decades, the decision to branch out and try some enduro racing was way over due. Makes sense as my typical riding style of hitting the trail solo and charging it on particular strava segments has become the norm these days.
The course was roughly 20 miles of mostly singletrack winding through the wonderful terrain out at McDowel Mountain Park. Huge Saguaros and other prickly plant life line the trail making it a beautiful place to ride with consequences for carrying too much speed into a turn. The enduro timed sections consisted of three runs. The first was a slight fast downhill with lots of turns over a couple of miles. The second followed a decent climb up to a rocky ridge line where you had one short timed climb through some rocks and then a hillside downhill screamer with some burl to keep it real. The third section required a short hike a bike up to a high ridgeline directly above the staging area for the start. It began with a steep descent around a loose switchback, went into a short technical section and then dropped off the slope into large ravines which you had to grind out of.
The race unbelievably started in steady rain - which rarely comes to the desert! The resulting hero dirt was pretty sweet though and the dust typical of riding here was history. The style of the enduro category was great with everyone riding their own pace and chatting on their way to the segment start points where we were staggered by about a minute. Timing was all done with chips in your number plate and sensors on the side of the trail. My Kona Honzo CR DL was a perfect weapon for this ride and was a blast to power down the mountain.
The first segment was more of a time trial as you could pedal hard virtually the way down the couple miles while feathering your brakes In turns. This was the weakest of the three segments for me at this point and I was starting to run out of top end power by the end. I’ll definitely train for this type of effort more specifically as I get through the season. The second segment was a blast on the edge of a ridgeline flying over wet and slippery rocks. Makes me happy! The third segment was where I had planned to do the most damage as the most technical of the three and the kind of stuff I love to ride. Things were going great until somehow I lost my chain off the cassette where it jammed with the frame and small cog. I ended up with no speed at the bottom of the two hills and had to jump off and run up the hills to the finish. BUMMER! Still not sure how this happened as I have ridden this steed hard for over 1,000 miles of trails this winter and not had an issue. Neeedless to say I’ll be looking real hard at my limit screws! All in all the enduro category was KILLER. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun racing. I’ll definitely be back for more.
My seven year old daughter - future team Bikeman rider- competed in her first MTB race and was stoked. It was a legit trail ride with a mile of rolling singletrack crashes and all the drama of a Tour de France! Was really cool and all the kids were amazing. She was the star of the family with a come from-behind 2nd place finish. She was so proud that she wore her medal to school the next day. There was a great crowd of kids having a blast and was really moving to see the next generation of our sport working hard in the dirt and loving it!
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