Kingdom Enduro: Ali’s Race Journal

Words: Alison Zimmer

East Burke, VT – Fair skies, cool end of summer temps and an abundance of sunshine made for a perfect weekend of enduro racing action in the NEK. Although last week was a bit rough from being under the weather and feeling some end of the season burnout, I was pumping myself up Friday for some epic riding while making the short 2 hour drive to East Burke, VT after a morning of work.

Click image to enlargePhoto: Ryan Thibault

2pm: Pulling into the lot to see friend’s smiling faces ready for some practice had my spirits high. The course was similar to last year’s Kingdom Enduro, however the first stage was down Roly Grail, the new flow trail made with help of a Bell Helmets and IMBA grant. Racing this track took not only lungs and legs but great cornering skill, with a few fun doubles when the speed was right. The second stage was Dead Moose Alley, with the short DMA section added this year for a little DH flair and to make it a bit less XC. The third was lower J-bar, a sweet enduro stage, fast, flowy and arguably one of the best trails in the state.

Of Note: Upper to lower J-bar would be a perfect enduro stage in my book, however, I am told that the state has limits on events in upper alpine terrain, thus this is not possible to host an event in the upper mountain terrain for now…

Click image to enlargePhoto: Ryan Thibault

Practice was going well, until a less then stellar decision had me over the bars and in a heap of rocks on DMA (too fast off the drop to flat!) with some busted ribs and feeling like I had a knife in my side I was thankful that I was still riding! With some ibuprofen and VT grit there was only one thing to do, ride on. A beautiful starry evening camping with the Cycles Xprezo team, many of which had come for there first enduro experience led to a great fire as my brain tried to comprehend the plethora of french canadian dialogue I was surrounded by.

Luckily I found a position that I could sleep in and had a few hours of rest before waking to a stiff body in the morning. Vitamin-I to the rescue, Peanut butter and honey and a little morning coffe and my body was ready to go. After putting the number plate on the Super-D I decided to change the zip ties so I could make it tighter to the bars. No scissors could be found, so a blunt knife would have to do. Stubbornly I persisted, paying attention to not damage the hoses of the bike wrestling to break the zip tie, when the knife went through my Carhartts and left a hole in my leg. Not only had I already won the idiot award for the day, but had a bloody mess to clean up. With a few band aids and medical tape I made a tourniquet as best I could and rode down to the racers meeting. Initially discouraged, my mind and spirits eased with the morning sunshine, and seeing the group of riders gathered and ready for action. Grin, Bear it and have fun was my mantra for the day.

Click image to enlargePhoto: Ryan Thibault

Stage one started well, as it was smooth and I felt fast on the berms, although my legs felt a bit sluggish on the pedaling bits. This was followed by a nice mello climb up the ‘Shire’ and ‘Camptown’ to Dead Moose Alley. Stage 2 felt slow, but smooth, as a very XC stage, with tight corners and a little tech. We had a nice mandatory wait in the woods to chat with other riders, laugh and recharge while waiting for the timers to be prepared for Prime 2, up Blacksmith, Camp Town and the CCC Road to J-bar. Then it was time to rip Lower J-bar. Last year I overtook a woman on this stage and lost time, and was trying to avoid this again. I dropped in behind another rider who appeared skilled and had ridden the World Enduro at Whistler Crankworx. Not only did I assume I would not catch her, if I did I thought she would yeild. Not the case, as I was right behind her on top of the Jbar climb, and she did not give me ample opportunity to pass until the Kirby Connector corner. A bummer, with some certain time loss, but a smooth run non-the-less, and my body had held together. Taking first in all 3 stages and the overall was a pleasant surprise as I had not felt stellar, but perhaps consistency and smoothness is the key to enduro riding?! With momentum going into the last 2 legs of the Triple Crown Enduro Series (Mountain Creek’s and Highland Mountain Bike Park’s enduros in October) I am first looking forward to a needed break, some R&R, and attention to Winter preparation over the next month. Rolling on…

-AZ

Click image to enlargePhoto: Ryan Thibault

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