Three trips to Moab since I arrived in Colorado back at the end of March, and every it gets even more fun. While Land Run was my first official race of the 2015 season, the Scott Enduro Cup in Moab was the first race of my Colorado Living Experience. I’d never been to the Klondike Bluff Trails, but I’d heard they weren’t super gnarly or technical, so I wasn’t too worried about bike choice (the Mach 6 is on order, as are a set of I9 wheels… I’m hoping they get here by my birthday at the end of the week). I packed up the Jet9 and headed west Thursday, dropping little old Indy off (he’s 15 this week!) at Karen’s Canine Campground on the way in to town before checking in and heading off to pre-ride the race course.
My basic strategy was to roll through the stages to look for anything off-the wall on my first go, then come back the next day to go at them a little faster and stop/re-ride anything that’s worthy of a little extra practice. I know you’re all hoping for a bunch of photos, but I’ve somewhat resolved to not attempt to capture the scenery at Moab. It’s too vast and expansive for a camera phone. Hell, there were nice professional photos on the walls at the place where I stayed, and they still didn’t fully grasp just how huge and awesome the views are here. This is about all I got-
The first pre-ride went well. I was slightly worried about the fact that two of the four stages seemed to start (according to the published map) in a manner that would include no fewer than three 1-3min climbs. Living at altitude has decimated my 1-3min power, so I was feeling bad on those parts. Luckily, the next day, a few course markings were up, and they revealed that the timed sections would start following the kickers.
The Friday pre-ride was a lot of fun. I met a handful of people and did lots of chit-chatting and socializing. Ileana and Max were especially nice and I tagged along with them for the last couple of runs.
The enduro crowd is pretty laid back and friendly. Not that other crowds aren’t friendly, but the atmosphere is very group fun-ride-ish. Friday after I rode, a rain storm came through. At the riders’ meeting that evening, they said that the planned start times (which had been moved up half an hour because of the chance of afternoon rain on race day) would stand unless more very bad weather came through (which it didn’t).
Saturday morning, I was up early and race-prepped. It was a little cloudy, breezy, and chilly in the parking lot, but I was excited to get going. I was mostly ready for my 8:00 start time when I heard the pro men being started at 7:30… thirty minutes later than scheduled. I had time to take jittery pre-race pics.
Katie Compton… getting ready to smash the pro field on her Superfly 100 (no dropper):
My group finally went off at 8:40 (hey, at least it was only 10 minutes late from the originally-publish-not-moved-up-for-weather start time). We promptly took a series of wrong turns because we’d all pre-ridden different routes to the first stage, and we didn’t see any course markings until we’d been riding for 2 miles. We arrived in plenty of time, though. It was still about a 30 minute wait to begin the first stage, so I just considered it some extra warm-up miles.
My first stage went alright. I felt sluggish near the top, but loosened up and felt fast as it progressed. I checked my Garmin as I crossed the finish of the stage and watched for the next girl coming down a minute after me. By my count, she was a few second slower. Success.
The second stage was the only place where I had a major error. There was a sharp downhill-to-steep uphill left hand turn that you needed to be ready for, and I blew it… I made the turn ok, but I was in a stand-and-sprint downhill gear, and couldn’t pedal up the steep kicker. I had to get off and run for a second before remounting and continuing on. The girl who’d started behind me on the 1st stage had gone a minute ahead of me at the 2nd one (after stage 1, everything else was 1st come, 1st serve). I asked the timer at the bottom of the hill how I did compared to the lady ahead of me on that stage, and he said “1 second slower.” Not bad for having a significant screwup.
Stage 3 was short (once we found it… we missed another turn that wasn’t marked and almost ended up crossing the race course), and I was really getting my rhythm. Stage 4 was my favorite, and I descended it like I wanted to break the slickrock with my tires. I knew at the bottom that I’d done well and was excited to get back and see results.
Seeing results took a while. They never actually published time limits to the transfers between stages, so some people took as long as they wanted. Eventually, though, they posted results, and I was 2nd in the expert category by 6.7 seconds. It didn’t seem to add up based on my experience with stages 1 and 2, and lots of racers had similar experiences. Katie Compton was astounded that she’d won. She wasn’t expecting it because she’d felt like Kelli Emmet was faster all around (apparently Kelli had some starting buzzer penalties added). See results for yourself HERE.
I’m not too bent out of shape about the possibility of the results being wrong. I won a set of nice tires I can use on my new bike, and I was happy with my times, which would have placed me exactly in the middle of the Pro Women’s field. That’s ok, because I know that with my inexperience, I left a LOT of time out on course. It’s not like back when I was finishing mid-pack in endurance races and feeling like I was almost at the ceiling of my ability. I had a good race, and I’ve got a ton of room for improvement right now.
I’ll have some post-race interviews with the winners up on Mountain Bike Radio soon. Hopefully some podium shots will show up as well.