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.
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!