I’m not a racer. I do the occasional local race and Killington Bike Bum races, but rarely compete outside of that. However, when the Clif Enduro East came to my backyard, I decided to make it my first foray into the world of serious racing. The race was spread across two days, with the first day located at the infamous Green Mountain Trails (GMT), and the second day at the Killington Bike Park.
I started re-exploring the trails at GMT starting about 10 days before the race. There was new trail opened, in addition to creative connections across existing trails. Matt yet again showed his building prowess, and we specifically found the new stuff off Devil’s Throat quite challenging and fun with multiple technical rock features scattered into an already awesome trail. Race day, however, added a whole additional level of difficulty courtesy of mother nature with a record setting total of 2.39 inches of rainfall through the day. All stages were pedal access, so take 3300’ of climbing (4400’ for the pros) and add in torrential downfalls, lightening, and hub-deep mud and the difficulty suddenly skyrockets. I can’t even explain how much mud there was!
Day 2 shifted to Killington for an additional 4 stages. The good weather and lift access were welcomed by all. Though still muddy, these trails were not plagued by the hub deep mud that GMT had. The Enduro course utilized a large amount of the mountain including the first stage (Stage 4) starting at the top of Ramshead, and the remainder taking off from K1. The course utilized much of Killington’s hardest terrain including Funny Bone, Yo Vinny, The Beast, Goat Skull, and Low Rider.
The biggest surprise to me for this race was how physically demanding it was. I trained, I was in shape, I ate well, and I practiced the technical sections. However, take 3300’ of climbing and 14.4 miles of total distance on day one, combine that with four 2-4 mile stages of downhill on day two, and add in severe weather and you have an exhausting race. I was expecting a half marathon, and it was more equivalent to a Spartan. All of the guys I was racing with felt some leg burn and arm pump by the end of day two. Just look at stage 7: four miles long starting on a long traverse across the blue trail Solitude, then dumping into the super fun Cable trail, and ending in a muddy technical double black back-to-back Yo Vinny followed by lower Funny Bone.
I was left impressed with the pros and amateurs alike who are regularly racing and sending it full tilt down these trails. To say the course was difficult is an understatement. If you are thinking about racing Enduro for the first time, I would advise you to train hard, ride the trails you will be racing on ahead of time at race speed, and be prepared for it to be very difficult. Most importantly, take a friend! The crowd is certainly friendly, however it’s nice to have a friend to pedal all the transfers with- shoutout to Brian and Mike for riding with me!
In SummaryRace: Clif Enduro East
Location: Green Mountain Trails and Killington Bike Park
Place to Stay: Rutland for cheaper options, Killington for close to the action
Local Suds: Check out Foley Brother’s IPA selections
Places to Eat: Long Trail Brewery, the Peak Lodge at Killington, I hear Sushi Yoshi is kind of good 🙂