Another great #enduro weekend at Tyler State Park! Kodiak Tough, once again, hosted an incredible event for racers and spectators alike. The setting at Tyler State Park was perfect! That awesome podium was surrounded by a really cool vendor expo and the five race stages were setup to be very friendly for spectators to get to. Add in some great weather and darn good food, it was recipe for fun! It was also very exciting to see so many first time Enduro competitors.
I brought in a very similar package to what I had in Comfort, the Giant Bicycles Trance Advanced 0 with a 160mm MRP Stage Fork and Industry Nine Trail 245 wheels. I was feeling pretty confident after my pre ride, but I knew it was gonna be a tough day. The stages were relatively short compared to Comfort, so any mistakes would be magnified. Add in the two loop format on the five stages, it was going to be a pretty long day in the saddle, true enduro style!
After taking down the Skratch Labs #hyperhydration, I set out to transfer to Stage 1: After rolling in on one of the super cool Progressive Trail Design features, it was time to open it up on the first part of the stage. It very quickly came into a rolling, somewhat off camber and very loose, left hander. My main focus was to get through smoothly and not push out into the soft stuff. All of a sudden I lost traction up front and had to pull my foot out to keep from going down. I quickly recovered, but had some trouble getting my foot back in. The remainder of the run went well and I was pretty happy as I made my way to stage 2.
Stage 2: This one started with a couple fairly tight switch backs, which I got through well, then it was hammer down to a quick right before a large tree(which was giving people problems all weekend.) From there, the goal was as much speed as possible as you headed towards the intoxicating sound of cowbells and screaming fans! Another Progressive Trail Design feature awaited, a spicy kicker, that was boosting the racers much to the delight of the crowd. I did what I could to throw a little style in the mix and maintain as much speed as possible throughout the descent. Towards the bottom, it made a rolling left hand turn that required a decent amount of finesse, then it was an all out pedal for about 30 seconds though the finish. I was pretty cooked after this one!
Stage 3: Short but SWEET! A very deceiving stage, it has you going from fast, flowing single-track, to super tight and techy downhill switchbacks. Again, the plan was roll through smooth and carry as much speed as possible. That went out the window quickly as I had to pull a foot out and was unable to get it back in for nearly the rest of the run. Feeling a bit of disappointment, I headed out to stage 4.
Stage 4: I was looking forward to this one since it was the longest of the day. The start was a bit tricky and had you hopping over a big log and then into some slower speed, rolling turns. You could easily be lulled into carrying too much speed here, so more finesse was name of the game. After focusing on technique through those early turns, I uncorked it a bit as it headed into a short little uphill chute before dropping into some SUPER TIGHT, rooted out switchbacks. “Slow in, FAST out” was the mantra as I navigated the turns and prepared for the longest pedal section of the day. It got brutal at the end as my legs filled with lactate and transitioned into what felt like concrete! The transfer to stage 5 was up the largest hill in the park and the legs took a bit of time to come back to reality.
Stage 5: LEGIT! This stage was awesome!! I rolled through the timing beacon full tilt and had my focus as far down the trail as possible. About 1/4 of the way in, I could hear the fans yelling and the sound of the cowbells got me even more fired up. They were lined up on the outside of a pretty difficult turn and I just focused on my line, stayed smooth, and rolled out as fast as I could. From there, I headed into what many were saying was the hardest turn of all the stages. I carried a ton of speed into this super loose, decreasing radius, right hander. It then immediately switches back to right and the big, nasty roots abound! I hit my line perfectly, floated over the roots, transitioned to the far outside and used every square inch of that trail! Although the urging of the gathered crowd was motivating, I was quite cognizant of my seven month pregnant wife right there on the side of the trail, yelling her signature phrase “Vaminos Rico!” I also knew my baby boy was in her belly saying “Drop the hammer dad!” It was a perfect way to end 5 sweet stages! We transitioned back to turn in our timing chips.
Although happy I was leading, I certainly wasn’t surprised that I only had 7 seconds on blazing fast rider Joey Pratt. Add to mix the Arkansas duo of Josh Pottridge and Dustin Slaughter, as well as Austin legend Jeremiah Work, I knew my work was cut out for me.
Probably one of the best components of Enduro Racing and this series in particular, is the community aspect. Everyone spent time eating the incredible lunch that was provided, sharing stories of their runs, and getting themselves psyched up for the second loop.
After some Skratch fueling, I headed back out for my second loop of race runs. My outlook was simple: Tighten up the technique, ratchet up the effort a bit, and lay down faster times on each run.
Stages 1 & 2 went exactly to plan, although my legs weren’t feeling so great. It was now back to Stage 3 and those pesky switchbacks. I came in focused and ready to stay clipped in and carry speed. The smile on my face as I rolled through the finish timing beacon said it all, I nailed it!
I was getting a bit concerned though, since Stage 4 had the longest pedal and my legs were starting to revolt a bit. The transfer was slow and once I got the stage started, I just put the pain out of my mind, kept the technique tight, and focused on maintaining my speed so I wouldn’t have to brutalize my legs anymore then necessary. The uphill transfer to five wasn’t pleasant, but thankfully I planned ahead and had a bottle of Skratch #rescue hydration prepped.
Stage 5, the final one of the day, went off perfectly. I charged through that last beacon, gathered my thoughts, and headed back to the Expo area with a group of similarly stoked riders!
After turning in my timing chip, I was very happy to have accomplished my goal of going faster on the second loop of stages and taking the overall win. It was pretty close though and I certainly have my work cut out for me at Round 3 in a month. I’ll certainly ratchet up the training for March 27th at Dinosaur Valley.
Again, a great weekend all around!! Thank you Kodiak Tough for an awesome event! To Andy Lai Photography for the killer shots.!! Of course, Plano Cycling & Fitness for all the support! Thank you Skratch Labs Industry Nine ZOIC Clothing Scorpion Bike Stands ESI Grips for the amazing products!