Seriously, the mountain bikers threw themselves down the mountain repeatedly at this past weekend's Massanutten Hoo Ha Enduro. The local players involved were Kyle Lawrence, Collin Vento, Sam Skidmore, Harlan Price, and Me. I was pretty intimidated heading into the race. These guys all have amazing skills and great fitness. Harlan and I competed in our first downhill race at the Massanutten Yee Haw, back in May, and he destroyed my time. Last year I was runner up to Sam Skidmore. Every stage he increased his lead. I finished two minutes behind him. My goal this year was to close the gap on Sam.
Enduro racing is a mix of Cross Country (XC) and Downhill (DH). It requires climbing to the beginning of stages and then racing mostly down hill timed segments with some pedally climbs in the middle. This racing is highly skill based but requires a lot of fitness as well. The event this past weekend took six and a half hours to complete. We had to climb up the mountain once and race four timed stages down the mountain.
Stage one was a short seeding run and it was a mud pit. The lead riders were Ellen Kasiske at 1m:41s and Eddie Anderson at 1m:29s. The top 5 times were between 1 minute 29 seconds and 1 minute 33 seconds. I was in 8th at 1m:35s.
Stage two was the longest and had a few tough climbs. It started at Kaylor Knob heading north and dropping down the west side of the ridge routing down Laird's Nose and around the pond. The stage claimed some tires but Collin Vento was ready and only lost 45 seconds after plugging and CO2ing his tire back into action keeping him in the top 5. The winners of the stage were again Ellen and Eddie. Lindsey was a favorite for this stage in the women's race but had a bad flat that took a few minutes to repair. I had a clean run and finished second on the stage 17 seconds behind Eddie. At this point the men's podium was still undecided. Eddie had a substantial lead of 25 seconds but 2nd-5th were very close including Collin, Sam, Harlan, and me.
We got a shuttle up to the overlook where stage 3 started. This stage heads north on the ridge and drops into Upper Ravine trail then traverses across Lower Ravine to Lower Hanenkahm. I thought I had a really clean run but the three guys behind me were quickly reeling in my second place spot. Collin won the stage 8 seconds ahead of Eddie followed by Harlan, Me, and Sam. After this Stage I was still in second but only had 11 seconds on Collin.
The shuttle took us back up to the overlook for the 4th and final stage. This stage is the Super D and starts on 2000 Hours to Berm Trail to Lower Homestead with a nasty Gravel bit with a hill to the finish. Last year Sam put 20 seconds into me in just the last stage so I knew there could still be changes on the podium. During the stage I dabbed 3 times at the beginning of the run but regained my flow and finished strong. Lindsey won the final stage and a lot of time back from Ellen but couldn't make up for the flat earlier in the day. Sam Skidmore won the stage with a significant margin
I was happy to see that I gave up only 10 of my 11 seconds on Collin and held onto 2nd overall behind 18yo Eddie Anderson from Richmond. Collin Vento was 3rd followed closely by Sam Skidmore and Harlan Price. Kyle Lawrence had a strong showing in 6th Place in the Enduro and went on to win the XXC the following day.
Thanks to Massanutten Resort and Shenandoah Mountain Touring for putting on such a great event!