Oct 4, 2012

Lifted and twisted.

This past week I was supposed to be in Utah, racing over the weekend in Moab at the Whole Enchilada. Due the wonderful position of being a landlord I had the pleasure of canceling my trip and kissing plane tickets, entries, and dreams goodbye. So I sucked it up and went for the next best thing. New Jersey.

I took a drive north with friend and biking fellow Matt to check out the King of the Mountain Enduro in Vernon, NJ. It was my first time at the Mountain Creek Bike Park where many a good soul has returned from with glowing commentary.

My bike park world is limited since I traditionally have tended to be a 'keep it on the ground' type of rider. Meaning; paying to ride a lift with my bike just seems a little to lofty of an idea. But, if you wrap a two day ticket into a race entry fee then I feel a little more liberal with my time and money.

This was a five stage enduro with three stages in Saturday for amateurs and pros and two stages just for pros on Sunday. I think it's a misnomer to say 'pros' since anyone could race both days, riders just need to consider themselves capable of handling the terrain. There is no governing organization that has determined what a "pro" in Enduro is anyways. So go ahead and define yourself anyway you like.

Matt and I left before light and arrived with a heavy cloak of fog, clouds, mist and drizzle on the mountain. It's definitely fall and the color saturation was strong on the hill. We suited up and said hi to a crowd of racers who's faces are new but becoming more familiar with each event. After years in the xc racing world it's neat to go to a race and realize it's a whole bunch of new people, bikes, styles.... It's also a little daunting since my memory is crap and trying to remember a new crew is intimidating.

Dave, Paul, Jim, Derek, John, John, Chris, Matt. This is not my forte`.

One of the best things about this group is we are all challenging ourselves on the bike in a way that is new to me. Long days in the saddle used to be my obstacle, now it's how am I going to clear a berm-to-hip step-down. I didn't get it yet, but now I know it's another skill to add to my bag one day. This is the world of surfing bikes hard. Finding edges, pressure control, and body positions that add up to a feeling of dominance, a desire to high-five, and a little chest thumping. This is called getting my neanderthal on. It's pretty primal. Kind of like collecting primitive furniture.

So the race was really fun. Legendary bike guru/ trials rider Jeff Lenosky designed the stages and spent a lot of time thinking about them. Enduros are such a new beast that everyone is trying to interpret what they are and it seems that each one that comes around has it's own taste. Even though it's a style that is supposed to cater to a group of riders who have not traditionally had a venue to race at, most people who show have some experience in the xc race world or the lift access world. When you bring the two extremes together there is going to be something about the course that someone isn't comfortable with. Pedaling for the bike parkers and tabletops for the xc guys.

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