Tennesse National Enduro Review
A little background on the venue. The bike park is part of the expansive 72,000-acre Windrock Park in eastern Tennessee. Windrock Bike Park was created three years ago by professional mountain bike racers Neko Mulally, of Pisgah Forest, N.C., and Sean Leader, of Knoxville, Tenn. With a shuttle service and bicycle rentals, the Downhill Mountain Bike Trails consist of 550 acres. Every time we go down there are more and more trails with over 2,100 feet of vertical drop. The park is also home to some pretty gnarly xc trails too! The bike park crew built a new rhythm section, where spectators can watch several big features from the shuttle road. The track feature all of the raw, natural terrain that makes Windrock unique, along with new, high speed jumps and berms. Book an AirBnB and make the drive, it is well worth it. We were able to book a whole house from Friday to Monday for a very affordable rate.
This whole thing kind of felt reminiscent of being a kid in a candy store. The crew hung out after pre-ride to watch people do some seriously intense things. Top notable experiences included our team member Randy doing a front flip (unintentional) at the Friday whip contest, #frontflipfreddy. Our team member Andrew put baggies and pads over his XC gear and did his frist enduro ever, and he had fun! My favorite remark from him being “I can’t believe I’m tired”. I got to stand behind Downhill National Champion and Kona Factory Rider Miranda Miller in line to pick up my timing chip for the enduro (but was to scared to say hello). Oh, and none of us died.
Pre-ride was Friday and Saturday, the race was on a Sunday. If you haven’t done an enduro, you go out to pre-ride the stages to identify drops, jumps, and features. At many races they shuttle to stages for pre-ride to help you “save your legs”. There weren’t many shuttle opportunities at this race, I guess they just they assume your in shape if your gonna sign up for a EWS qualifier. So…. we pedaled our big travel bikes quite a few hours up up and more up then down from Friday to Sunday. For me the worst part is feeling automatically 10lbs fatter from practically carrying a spare bike in your fanny, all the pads, layers, the the full face, ugh its just so much. Like if Bear Grylls rode a bike, he would enduro.
The amateur race had 4 stages the pro race had 5 stages. Our race was something like 19 miles with 3,500 ft of climbing. The pro race was something like 23 miles with 5,000 ft of climbing. I’m not real big on numbers/Strava, sorry if I don’t have all the facts perfect. It was cool they let you do them in any order, it gave the event some strategy. We did stage 1 first, it took us almost an hour to climb up to it. The pro men were ripping down in 8 minutes, pro women in 10. I face planted in front of a crowd and took 14 minutes, so there was room for improvement. 4 was pure pedaling, I think I looked down and saw a HR of 185. Stage 3 was jumpy and everyone’s favorite. Stage 2 was a mess from the rain. They actually had to move the start half way down the stage due to deep deep mud. I fell down the bank just trying to walk my bike to the stage start and laied in the mud thinking why do you get yourself in these situations. Major features included a decent size drop and some pretty gnar gnar rock gardens.
Over all we came out hyped and primed for this 2019 season. Many of us are signed up for stage races this spring and summer so it was nice team bonding and training on terrain we just don’t get to see up here in Western Pa. I know my xc bike feels like a tooth pick to pedal now! Here is to encouraging everybody to try new things this year! It will make you a better rider and create some unforgettable memories.