With the sun beginning to set and the final riders coming down Stage 4, the full body fatigue of a 12 hour day on a bike began to set in. The Big Mountain Enduro kickoff this year at Glorieta Camps was nothing short of epic--and I hate using that word. For Kim and I, this was our first Enduro race and boy were we in for it!
Quick breakdown for those of you unfamiliar with the discipline: Enduro is typically a race that involved untimed climbs followed by timed, spaced descents. This means that riders pedal or push their way to the top of a trail, are spaced a minute a part, and race downhill against the clock. Multiple trails are called 'stages', while climbs are called 'transitions'. Rider with the best overall time on the collective stages wins. Got it?
BME Santa Fe was comprised of 4 stages:
- Stage 1 - Secret Trail descends from the lookout tower on Glorieta Baldy through high forest turns, steep drops, then into a fast and pedally final miles.
- Stage 2 - Broken Arrow also descends from the tower and starts ulta-loose and steep with switchbacks into loose rock and roots, then flat, then ends in Moab-esque rock gardens.
- Stage 3 - Jagged Axe begins on the East ridge and is fast, steep, rocky, and full of big hits. This is a proper gnar trail.
- Stage 4 - Chili Dog also on the East ridge descends quickly into fast flow followed by a new bottom section with a chunky rock garden and big showcase drop.
For those of you curious as to the total distance and elevation, riders had to cover 35 miles and 7,500' of climbing. It was a burly day indeed!
A Rookie Move...
Instead of a stage by stage recap of events, instead I want to boil some thoughts from two rookies.
- It was great meeting new riders and sharing stories, experiences with folks you literally just meet on the trail. You know you have a lot in common when they're at an event like this.
- Excellent trails! Aside from the brutal transitions, the actual descents were a great mix of everything you could want. Way to go Glorieta!
- Personally, pushing both physical and psychological limits was exciting. Knowing it was you against the clock was a lot of pressure, yet fun.
- Oh, so that's what this whole 'Enduro' craze is about. It's a legimitaley difficult discipline and I now understand the specific 'enduro' branding I see.
- Watching the pros--wow! Seeing it first hand is crazy. What a bunch of animals!
- Timing, both in the form of how the stages were setup as well as the actual timing technology were problematic. While Kim and Chapman finished around 5:00, I had just completed Stage 3 at 5:30 after standing in line for an hour. Given the climb, that would have put me coming down Chili Dog at 7:30PM.
- Flat corners....yeah, I definitely learned that I don't know how to maintain speed through those. Well, one big thing to work on!
- Long travel suspension...watching the pros showed me how I need to preload suspension and 'float' over chundering sections instead of plow through.
- Trees--my crash into a Doug Fir on Stage 2 left me wobbly the remainder of the day. Remember to not look at the object you're avoiding!
- Upper body strength...I am a total weakling there and the long, difficult descents revealed the fatigue and lack of strength to wrestle accordingly.
- Drops. Yes drops. Need to practice more drops! B-lines don't podium!
Either way, what an incredible day on the bike. Kim's Kona 153 performed flawlessly and got her out of a few poor line choices. Chapman, based on what we saw, had no problem navigating the trails on his 29, mid-travel Yeti SB4.5c. As for myself, I had a similar bike with my Trek, but would prefer something slacker for the steeps. I felt over the bars too much in the really steep, rutted terrain.
Great job Mike Chapman on the 4th place finish! Excellent all day effort from Kim, coming in 7th in women's amateur!
Hats off to Glorieta Camps, BME, and Outside Bike and Brew for the unforgettable weekend.
Whew, I am going to have another beer and keep stretching out these legs....