I’m not usually “afraid” before I do a race. That changed a bit this weekend. I’ve wanted to try an Oregon Enduro race for a while and I decided this would be the weekend.
An enduro is basically a race against the clock on down hill sections of trails. Hood River, the home of this weekends racing has some steep and technical section of downhill.
Friday practice was a real eye opener! Stage one was great, had a tangle with a section of wet roots, at this point I knew I was in a bit over my head. Stage two included “the rock garden” as I rolled into this section there were women scattered all along the hill doing a clinic. It was actually nice, since the instructor of the clinic started shouting at me to follow a certain line and that helped to only stop twice. After all that, there was a big drop onto a muddy slick landing hill. Phew, I made it through that, what else is left? Stage 3 was killer buff groomed riding. Berms and jumps for 10 minutes straight! Stage 4 had more wet slick roots and of course that meant more time in the ground for me.
Now we have what will be stage 7 on Sunday for the finish. That was like riding on grease, and there were two big g out hills that you just hung on for dear life not daring to touch the breaks on.
Some how I made it down. Now I decide I should go back up and check out the rest. Stage 5 was an upper rocky burner section and also included doing stage two all over again. So through the rock garden one more time, this time only putting a foot down once.
Stage 6 had a very steep section that ended with a drop that just did not sit we’ll with me. So I just ran that little bit, then it was re-doing stage 4 as an end to 6. This time I avoided the stage 7 mess.
This was just practice! Didn’t sleep well, scared of falling, worried about holding people up with my old man speed. Well, stages 1-4 on Saturday went ok. No crashes in stages 1, over the bars, in the lower part of the rock garden when I hit the wet root section. Damn roots! Stage 3 sent me over the bars again, not really being very good on the high speed bermed turns. Oomph! Stage 4 just saw me off course a bit, but not on the ground. Actually had more fun than I would have thought.
Sundays stage 5 and 6 pretty much had me running the really hard sections, as it had rained the night before and I needed to be at work on Tuesday. Stage 7 was so slick it was not even slightly fun. I just wanted to be done.
Over all, I’m sure I was close to DFL, but I don’t really care. My bike and I came away functioning and only slightly more worse for wear. The timing system for this series is still not really working to well, so results may never be published.
I learned that the right tool for the job is important in this type of racing. My bike would have done a ton better had I installed the correct tires. I was only about 1 of 10 guys of 350 on a cross country rig. Also, enduro is really a young mans gig at a place like Post Canyon. I may try again sometime if I were to have a different bike.
So back to cross country mountain bike races for me! -Jeff Standish