My First Enduro

The transition to the new bike was harder than I imagined. I would throw a leg over the most magical bike in the world and it would take me away to the most exotic places on wings of speed… Instead, I couldn’t keep it on the trail and I had no feedback from planet earth. And there was the insane weight. Brand new it was 32 pounds but I got it down to 27 with a 29er set of carbon cross country wheels. When the dust settled, however, I received a new mindset. I had to give up on lightweight race rigs. My skills changed from over the bar crashes to off the back crashes. Once I was keeping it straight and started to carve corners I experienced an identity crisis. I remember taking a rest break and just sitting on a log across from my bike.

My 27.5+ setup

I was alone so talking to it was no big deal. Look at you. So beefy and aggressive. I could just huck off a drop and you wouldn’t bat a pedal. You’re ready for a 24-hour race or a backcountry adventure. I wonder if you could fat bike in the winter. As my mind considered the possibilities of the bike now called Cruzie, it spoke out. It spoke in the language of consciousness and to be honest maybe I am a little off my rocker.

… “I am enduro” …

Heck, why not? Why not try an enduro race. I finally have a capable machine. It was settled, the Helenduro would be my curious inspection of enduro. At the very least I would do this one race and chalk it up to another adventure. And I always dreamed of doing downhill racing. Yes, secretly I really have.

I was so lost. I signed up and was uncomfortable from the get-go. I am used to lots of information. Like a schedule and a description of a course. Hell, no pun intended, I had to plan out the race … right? Come to find out it is very low-key and the kicker is that no details are posted until a day or so before the race. So mysterious.

And what is a “practice day”? You mean some of these races included camping out and practicing?  So it’s not just a day event? Holy shit … so cool. Well, I could just show up and race I suppose. But I wanted to see what I was up against.

I was up against a test of skills for sure and when I showed up ULTRA EARLY on Sunday I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know the program and really this was my first official and real bike ride on the new machine.

Helenduro 2017
Top of stage 1

“OK good luck everyone … go”, the race director said from inside The Garage. I thought to myself, OK, now what? Where is the course? I mean I knew the course but it was a long way away.  Off to the bike shuttle. Then I followed what seemed to be a group ride to the top of the first stage. And then just if there were any competitive juices left it was drained away by sitting around and chatting for like seemed to be an hour until the start marshall got to the scene.

Helenduro 2017
Riders start 1 minute apart

After about 3 hours I was having the time of my life. This was literally a huge adventure. Endurance sprinkled with intense speeds going down through the trees like an x-wing fighter through the death star.

Helenduro 2017
The last stage would school me on rocky terrain

The honeymoon was over on the last stage where I encountered the roughest terrain yet. I was out of control and it was intensely scary. If anything would go wrong I could be paralyzed for life. This was not snuggles(Mo) approved! I barely was able to hang on and finish out the day. And, I might add, with the biggest grin I have had in a while.

Helenduro 2017
I got 3rd

Enduro … shit … a big group adventure ride. Hanging out with new friends and challenging myself to terrain I have never had the bike to ride before. Damn this was cool! I signed up for the Lolo Enduro as soon as I  got home.

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