The Big Mountain Enduro season finals were held this last weekend, August 24, in Moab, Utah. The race was only one day and only two stages on the Whole Enchilada. Now, I bet you're thinking, "Moab? In August? WHY?" I know, I thought that too. However, the weather ended up being pretty much exactly the opposite of what I (and everyone else) was expecting. I was expecting to be drenched in sweat, dying of heat, and worrying about getting sunburnt. Wrongo. It rained in Moab pretty much everyday leading up to the race, which was scheduled for Saturday, the 23rd, and all day race day which lead the BME organizers to push the race back to Sunday.
Scott and I arrived in Moab late Thursday night, errr... early Friday morning and pre-rode that afternoon. Since we rode in the Whole Enchilada twice a couple of weeks ago we only rode from Hazard County down. We could obviously see that it was raining up on Burro and with high elevation comes the cold, plus all the creek crossings and the super slick roots and rocks... I was glad we skipped it. The storm kept coming our way, following us down the slick rocks trails, but luckily it evaded us by about 20 ft. Literally.
Friday night at the riders meeting it was announced that the pros would be leaving at 7:45am instead of 5:45am so the trail could dry out a bit more. Well, I woke up at 5:00am to the sounds of rain and thunder and had a hunch that the weather would not be in our favor that day. Oh well, we went over to the shuttle area at 7:45 and waited in the rain for organizers to call the race. They had been in contact with the Forest Service and knew that getting up to Burro was not possible and that Kokopelli was not rideable, so that left them with two options: run the race only from UPS down, or postpone it until Sunday. Thankfully they were able to extend the permits from the Forest Service for another day and the race was rescheduled for the following day. We spent Saturday meandering through Arches National Park and played about 78,932 games of Gin and Hungarian Rummy.
Sunday morning when we woke up the skies were blue and the temperature was perfect, so we loaded shuttles and up we went. Because of all of the rain we still couldn't run the race as planned. Originally the race was supposed to be one stage down Burro Pass, followed by a transfer to the top of Hazard, and a second stage from Hazard all the way down to the bottom of Porcupine Rim. I don't know if you realize how hard that second stage is. It's 15.6 miles. Yes, it is downhillI (it seems ridiculously flat) but it is rough, technical terrain and there are a good number of little climbs on Porcupine Rim that make you feel like you are being strangled. Last year it took me an hour and fifteen minutes to finish that stage. ANYWAY, this year we could only run two short stages: one from the top of Burro, and one from the top of Hazard to the top of Kokopelli. The race was won and lost in a matter of 19 minutes.
For those of you reading this (and I know it's not many) who have not ridden Burro Pass, it is silly steep with some silly tight switchbacks, lots of roots and overgrowth that makes following the narrow single track more like a guessing game. Not to mention the multiple creek crossings that make everything more slick and cause your brakes to not work quite as well as you would wish. It's awesome. Really. On race day the slippery mud had pretty much turned into tacky, moist, perfection (not everywhere) but the roots and rocks were still terrifyingly slick. At the top my sole goal was to make it through all the switchbacks without having to take a foot out or stop--mission accomplished. In the middle my goal was to traverse and navigate over and through the wet roots and rocks without slipping or crashing--mission accomplished. At the bottom my goal was to keep my head up and eyes ahead so I wouldn't get lost in the knee high grass or accidentally miss the hard left turn to avoid the creek gap--mission accomplished. Though I felt as if I couldn't have gone any slower the whole time I was racing stage 1, I still ended up getting second (only to the Moab Queen, Beth), so I was pretty happy with that.
Stage two was Hazard County top to bottom. I love, love, love this section of trail. It's fast, it chunky, it's wide-open and then closes in on you, the corners come faster than you could ever expect (even when you've ridden it 100 times), there are awkward rock gardens, and WATCH OUT FOR THAT COW! The dirt is like concrete, except where it's not, so pay attention. The bottom half of the trail is this kind of awkward up and down traverse through the oaks, and there is one particularly devious, up-and-down-to-the-left-back-up-to-the-right turn where either the oak root to your left wants to grab you or the rock to the right wants to bring you to a halt. Well, I knew it was coming and evaded both rock and root, but tried to go a little to sharply and quickly into the next turn and ended up laying over and tweaking my handle bars 45 degrees to the right. Dang it. But I was so close to the finish line I decided to say, "Screw it, I'm riding like this!" That lasted about 10 seconds. I had to jump back off and wrench my bars into submission. I still ended up 3rd on that stage, behind Heather and Beth, off by just a little over 30 seconds. After the crash and the fix I wasn't disappointed--I rode well until that point and after, so that's that.
I ended up third for the weekend, behind Beth (2nd) and Heather (1st). I'm pretty pleased with that. I also ended up 6th in the overall standings, only 10 points off of 5th place, even after missing the Keystone race. Again, pretty pleased with that. Thank you to the staff and volunteers of Big Mountain Enduro for making this race happen, despite the weather difficulties, thank you for putting on all of the other races, and thank you in advance for the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro! Thank you as always, Flag Bike Rev, for all of the love and support. Crested Butte is next week, September 3-7.
Sorry this post is SOOOOO late. After Winter Park I was off to Crested Butte and Moab for another week of adventuring with my bicycle! I am finally home, with internet and a broken bike, so I have no reason to not write.
BOOM. First EWS race DUNZO.
The Enduro World Series came to Winter Park, Colorado for the fifth stop of the seven stop international tour July 25-27. The tour stop was in conjunction with the Colorado Freeride Festival. The original roster listed 40 open women, including Tracy Moseley, Anne Caro Chausson, Anneke Beerten, Rosara Joseph, Cecile Ravanel, Anka Martin, Tracey Hannah, Kelli Emmett, Heather Irmiger, etc.; the final results at the end of the weekend only had 27 finishers on it. Fortunately, I was on both of those lists.
For starters, Trestle Bike Park is totally wicked. It is a great combination of manicured jump trails and perfect berms and features, along with totally raw single track laced with roots and rock gardens. Wanna pedal? There's plenty of that too. The race was 7 stages over three days. Two stages the first day, three stages the second, and two stages on the final day. Even though the stages are usually between 5 and 15 minutes, three days of racing had me feeling pretty beat by the end. The format of the race could have lent itself to that a little more than usual though. At most races, the courses are announced several days in advance so that riders have the chance to pre-ride, if they so choose. Not the case for the EWS. Courses were announced at noon the day prior to racing them--so Friday's stages were announced Thursday, Saturday's on Friday... Of course you can still show up early and make well-educated guesses about what trails to ride but pre-riding stages after a morning of racing was definitely tiring.
The experience of my first EWS was something that cannot be described by any word other than inspiring. I was surrounded by some of the fastest men and women on two wheels, I got to watch them ride and chit chat with them like they were friends I have had for awhile. That seems to be the nature of every badass biker I meet: laid-back, friendly, helpful, easy to talk with. That makes the oh-so-intimidating race line-up a little easier to swallow.
In the days leading up to the race I was not feeling particularly spectacular. The Friday previous I had crashed and it cost me a trip to the plastic surgeon and 10 stitches in my left elbow. Due to the severity of the cut on my arm, my doctor prescribed me a hefty dose of Cephalexin (2250mg a day for a week), an anti MRSA medication that made me feel drained and unattached to my body. (I am glad I had it though, as I came to find out that a girl I was racing with ended up getting a MRSA infection from just a small cut on her leg! Sorry Syd!) The whiplash I sustained from my crash was also not the most awesome thing. I could barely move until I got into to see my massage therapist; after seeing her my muscles were looser but I was incredibly sore for a couple of days. But life must go on...
And it did. Friday was 2 stages; the trails included Search and Seizure, Rain Maker, Boot Camp, Trestle DH, Jury Duty, Bear Arms, and Boulevard. AKA jumps, berms, bridges, gnar. It ended up being a decent day, but a high speed OTB at the end of stage 2 cost me a good chunk of time. Saturday was 3 stages and started with mandatory transfers to the top of stages 4&5 for practice followed by the transfer to the top of stage 3 for the start of the race. Stage 3 was Mountain Goat trail, famous for its rock garden and "rotor rock." We had pre-ridden Mountain Goat a few times by that point and had sessioned the rock garden several times. Unfortunately, I managed to hit rotor rock during my race run, mangling my rotor to the point of no return. Goat trail is really physical, and my rotor was so warped I had to pedal the whole time to keep it from stopping my rear wheel from rotating. I also lost my back brake when I bashed my rotor, so I was being extra careful about speed and using my front brake. I attempted to bend my rotor back by hand, but there was no hope. Thankfully at the top of stage 4 Tracy Moseley had a tool and I was able to bend my rotor into submission... at least to the point where it would rotate through my brake pads and not stop immediately. Stages 4&5 were two stages that racers only got to pre-ride once the morning of. They were totally rugged, meandering through slash piles and a burn area. I really really liked both of them, maybe because they reminded me a lot of Flagstaff.
The last day was 2 stages, the first was a total XC stage--10 minutes of non-stop pedaling and sprinting across flat ground... Minus the one really fast, super chundery double track. I'll be honest, stage 6 was awful. Probably not for the reason you are guessing. About 500 yards after we dropped onto the double track from a fire road, Brittany Clawson, a friend of mine from Durango had crashed. HARD. I stopped immediately when I saw her and got off my bike to find that she was unconscious and bleeding. I started yelling as loud as I could that there was a racer down and that we needed a medic and I unstrapped her helmet and took her goggles off. Thank goodness Mal had stopped just below us and came running up to help. Mal stayed with Brittany and I took off to try and find someone with a radio. There were no course marshals--the only person I saw until I got to the bottom was a photographer who I told to call someone. It wasn't until I got to the finish line that a race official started running up to help. Brittany ended up with three skull fractures, a TBI, 2 pelvic fractures, and a broken sacrum. Hero of the year award goes to Miss Mal Burda for remaining calm and in control in an awful situation and staying with Brittany while they waited for medics and race officials. Send Brittany all your healing vibes; according to her Facebook she has finally been transferred from the hospital in Denver and is ready to "make PT her b*tch!"You go girlfriend.
After a long delay we finally raced stage 7, which was the gnarliest stage of the weekend--all of Trestle DH, Bear Arms and Space Ape. My nerves were totally wacked out and my heart was beating at its max heart rate in the start. As nervous and morbid as all us girls were feeling after Brittany's crash, it was the last thing we could do to fling ourselves down the mountain like she would. I made it down without crashing, but it was by no means fast. Oh well.
Ultimately the weekend did not go as I wanted it to. A crash and Brittany's unfortunate mishap took its toll, but in the end I could not be happier that I finished my first EWS race and finished it safely. I finished 23rd out of 27. I got to meet, ride, and make friends with some wicked fast and wicked awesome people. The weekend reinforced the fact that I need to continue working on jumps and braking technique, and I though I can make my way through gnarly technical sections, I need to work on my finesse (hmmmm...) and going faster through them. I suppose that will come with time and experience--something I am lacking at this point in time. This month marks the two year anniversary of when I started riding bikes, so I suppose I shouldn't be as frustrated as I am when I get destroyed by women who have been riding significantly longer than I have. As a matter of fact, I was one of the youngest in the pro women's field. There was another girl who was also 20, and a girl who was 19. Yay, 1994!
It's off to Moab for the next and last BME (8/23) before the Ultra Enduro in Crested Butte in September (9/3-9/7) (I missed my most amazing friends birthday for this race cause I suck). After Winter Park I headed to Crested Butte with my family to try and do some pre-riding for the Ultra Enduro. We arrived Monday to some serious rain, and it continued to rain through Tuesday afternoon and beyond. Unfortunately I did not get to do ANY riding at the Butt, but headed to Moab for the next 4 days and was met with lots of sunshine.
Scott and Kyle came and met me in Moab. We rode the whole enchilada twice and Hymasa and Capt. Ahab once. It was HOT so we rode really early. Last year's race was one stage from the top of Burro pass down to where the climb to Hazzard County starts, and then another stage from Hazzard County all the way to the bottom of Porcupine Rim. BRUTAL. I'm pretty sure this year the one day race will be more than two stages (fingers crossed). It's going to be an insanely difficult and physical race regardless.
It was a long but good 12 days of traveling and riding. My body needs a break and my bike has found multiple ways to ensure that I get that break. After Moab I had to replace my derailleur, all of my bearings need to be replaced, I have a massive crack in the seat stay of rear triangle, and at the beginning of my ride this morning I discovered that the damper in my fork is no more. Sweet. Good thing I know a good mechanic;) Time to log some miles on the road bike.
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!