Fortunately, in this age of mountain bike contests, there’s never a very long period without an opportunity to have someone say GO and have a crack at it.
I’m growing ever more enamored with the burgeoning Enduro racing scene, which has finally landed in The Northwest in the form of the new for 2012 Oregon Enduro Series (formerly the Oregon Super D Series). The new format, which, just to clarify, exchanged the old Super D format (one long downhillish run) for the European Enduro format of multiple timed downhill “Specials” connected by untimed but still to be ridden uphill or traversing “liaisons.”
It’s kind of like rally car racing on bikes, but only on the good parts … It’s also the future, I hope.
Due to massive storm carnage in Hood River’s Post Canyon, the series opener was moved to Bend. Perfect, I could ride from my house to the race. And have local knowledge. Which proved kind of irrelevant, as I don’t really make a habit of riding at 110% pace and commitment in my backyard. Doesn’t really seem sustainable…
Series organizer Devon Lyons fingered Slaven, Anthony, The White Buffalo and I to star in a course preview video. Check out the terrain here. A proud field of the nation’s top bike riders turned up to see just how their particular skill set would stack up with this unique format. I was quite curious myself. Would established Super D guys like Timmy Evens, Nathan Riddle, Matthew Slaven and Jason Moeschler use the shorter, less pedally stages to give XC bandits like Carl, Josh Carlson and I a run for our money or would the proper gravity guys like Curtis Keene and Brian Lopes (yikes!) roll and smoke everyone with their precision and snap? Hmm.
I had the extra layer of advantage/uncertainty/pressure that came with riding this sweet new bike I’ve been working on for nearly a year with Giant for the first time in public. It has big wheels, biggish shocks and does great wheelies and skids. Plus, it’s the fastest color other than white. Black. Seemed like a good choice for racing on the good parts, but you know how it goes, if you win it’s because of the bike, if you lose, well, that bike sucks.
I won. By a decent margin (luckily, because a rookie mistake involving basic bike maintenance starting stage 4 nearly cost me the farm.) Whew, the bike IS good. And condensing the racing into the really good bits with time to reflect/BS/get stoked in between with your buddies, or strangers, is pretty ideal.
Not to get all caught up in the stage times and what not, there was one notable test from a time comparison standpoint. Somehow, in 2:12 spent on what amounts to a downhill BMX track, I was only two-tenths slower than Lopes. Neat. And, how the hell did I do that?
Side note – The sketchiest, shortest, lippiest, most 9-year-old kid looking jump on the course? The one some people just rode through the bushes around? Yup, I built that one fateful Wednesday evening last spring. Sorry for the danger, I’ll go fix it the next time it rains…
New Giant Factory Team rider Josh Carlson overtook Lopes on stage 5 for 2nd and Carl did the same to Curtis Keene for 4th. So, in the top 5 we had two XC riders, a proper DH’er, an ex-pro motocrosser (Carlso) and, well, Brian Lopes, however you define that guy (maybe really good is enough definition).
The rest of the top 10 included the usual Enduro suspects. Our Shimano Boss, Joe Lawwill was 22nd, dead-nuts in the middle of the 45-rider strong pro field. He’s a huge proponent of this Enduro business and we’re glad to have the support from up top. There was a good turnout from the bike industry, everyone seemed to be waiting with bated breath to see how this event was going to play out, wishing success upon it as the next coming of bike racing. I’d say we got off on the right foot, pros and amateurs alike were stoked on the format and amount of riding done throughout the weekend. Some kinks need to be worked out here and there, but hey, it’s riding bikes in the woods, fast, it’ll all come together…
OK, two more bike meets to go.