Highland Mountain Bike Park OverMountain Enduro
Stage 3 of the Triple Crown Enduro Series
Ridden and written by Alison Zimmer
Northfield, NH – I pulled into Highland with D-Wight on Friday around noon. There had been some rain over night, however, the day became progressively more beautiful, giving way to clear skies for the full Hunters’ Moon. The extensive traveling and racing this season has sadly kept me from getting to Highland, and it felt great to be back.
Training was a little confusing. Despite being told that the “specials” (stages) were “foot traffic only” until Saturday morning, and with 3 of the stages signed and taped accordingly, there were riders on the course while we were walking who told us the Highland crew gave them the ok…. we did some free riding, walked stages 3 and 4, and after talking with a local rider, Highland crew member and race participant, were given the clear to ride stages 1 and 2. Riding what others thought was only for foot traffic still felt a bit weird and should have had more clarity. Oh well, that’s enduro.
Saturday morning: 6am wake up and a brief breakfast led to a pedal up for a sunrise run on most of stage 1 and stage 2, time to register (which took 45 minutes of waiting in line and taping fellow riders/friends wrist and ankle,) then a lap in on stage 3 and 4 before going up for the start. Conditions could not have been more epic. Cool temps, sunshine, falling leaves and lots of happy riders. Team MTBVT was representing, with myself, Knight Ide, Dylan Conte and Alex McAndrew in the ranks! Finally we had our ankle chips for timing and the crew was ready.
Our one lift “transfer” was to the top for the start of Stage 1, which took you down the beginning of Meadows End to a new cut trail that is to become a permanent fixture. Loamy single track with some nice bridges, amazing rock armoring on a few steep downs, lead into the XC system where we hammered out the longest stage. The stage went well, and was a really great mix of DH and XC that played to my strengths as a rider. Having to stop once to remove a stick stuck between the frame and tire, then getting run off trail when trying to over take a rider (who had to be reminded that she had to yield…) did not set me back too much.
Transfer 1 was a mix of some nice single track and a steep double track climb. Stage 2 was short and pedally, with little tech and some nice fast flowy sections. Felt a bit sluggish and off on this stage, but ended strong and was having fun. Transfer 2 was a short XC pedal out of the woods to the parking lot, then up Easy Rider to the top of the hill. All the transfers were un-timed, so it was relaxing and gave us a chance to chat, catch up, and enjoy the beauty of the day.
Stage 3 started on Threshold and after the first rock garden turned left into a new moderately technical section of trail and glades, crossing over to Paddy Glades and ending on the flowy berms of the Kids Zone. I dabbed and lost time at the end of the rock garden, and found myself off my line in the glades… but kept it rubber side down!
Transfer 4 was a final climb up Easy Rider again to the top. I was psyched to find my body feeling good, and stoked to rip the final stage. Stage 4 began on Happy Hour then turned left onto Shillelagh and Eastern Hemlock. A good DH stage with moderate tech, fast flow, dry rock, and some loamy turns at the bottom. A near front tire wash out and close call with a tree had me reeling-it-in early in the stage, but I kept my flow and crossed the finish line for the last time this season with a smile!
Taking the win was honestly a surprise as local legend Dawn Bourque easily humbles me on the downs. The pedally Stages 1 and 2 gave me an advantage and in the end only 8 seconds separated us in the total race time. Taking the Triple Crown Enduro Series overall win was awesome. A unique trophy, of sorts, and another sweet check has me feeling super grateful! Kudos to all, especially Highland, Burke, and Mountain Creek for getting the series together and progressing the East Coast Enduro world!
Til Next Season!