The ASS trades in his singlespeed for a six-inch squishy bike and tries an Enduro™ to see if this new format of racing lives up to all the hype.
Segment three sent riders from the very top of Mammoth at 11,000 feet, dropping them all the way down to Canyon Lodge at 8,300 feet.
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In case you’ve had your head buried in a hole for the past couple years, Enduro is all the rage, bro. And since the ASS is not one to jump on bandwagons very quickly, I’ve somewhat reluctant to sample this new style of mountain bike racing that’s sweeping the nation like the overhyped 29er craze did five years ago.
Enduro has become so popular that I’m surprised nobody has trademarked it yet. Don’t bother. Rich Dillen from Team Dicky already has his application in, so he’ll get a royalty anytime a manufacturer uses the word Enduro™ in their products.
Mammoth Mountain hosted the first annual Kamikaze Bike Games, establishing its return to being the crown jewel of mountain bike races.
When it comes to finding the ideal venue for a rip-roaring Enduro™ event, it doesn’t get much better than a world-class ski resort like Mammoth Mountain. The folks at Mammoth brought radical back this year, re-introducing the Kamikaze Downhill to all those young buck shredders who weren’t even a gleam in their daddy’s eye when dudes were doing 60 mph on a fire road with cantilever brakes, 65 tooth chainrings and 2-inch suspension forks.
The inaugural Kamikaze Bike Games was held this past weekend, and in addition to featuring the Kamikaze Downhill, the Games also featured a USGP Downhill, Dual Slalom, Cross-Country, MTB Fondo, a Gran Fondo for the roadies, Kids Rides for the little ones, and of course, an Enduro™.
After having signed up for the XC race with my trusty 26-inch hardtail singlespeed Ibis Tranny, I pre-rode the course and was quite underwhelmed. Maybe I was just spoiled from the past month of world-class courses, but a five-mile loop on 70 percent of pumice-laden fire road wasn’t doing it for me.
So I switched my entry to the Enduro™, figuring I might as well see what all the hullabaloo was about. I loaded my 20-pound Ibis hardtail on the chair lift and pre-rode the three Enduro™ courses that included trails like Bullet DH, Follow Me, Skid Marks, Lincoln Express and more. If you know Bullet and Follow Me, or if you’ve ridden off the top of Mammoth’s 11,000 foot peak, you know these trails are a deadly mix of loose, soft pumice and huge rocks. Toss in a sprinkling of rock drops and man-eating brake bump holes, and you’ve got a course that chews up 26-inch hardtails and spits ‘em out in pieces.
After barely surviving all three courses, my poor Tranny suffered a broken spoke in the rear wheel and rear brake pads that were completely disintegrated. If I valued my life, I wouldn’t race the Enduro™ on the Tranny. I needed to find a more suitable tool for the job.
Left: The ASS got hooked up with a demo of the 2014 GT Force Pro. It ruled. Right: Not only does it rip downhill with 150mm travel front and rear, but the GT Force Pro does it in style.
I headed over to the GT tent and met Tom the demo guy. I told him of my dilemma, and because I think he felt sorry for my complete lack of preparation, he set me up on a 2014 GT Force Pro – a sub 30-pound, carbon fiber, six-inch travel, all-mountain, get-rad-as-your-balls-allow wunderbike complete with trendy dropper post and a grip load of style.
The ASS was ready to get his Enduro™ on – except for one thing – I was missing my standard issue Enduro™ Blue baggy shorts. Actually, nothing I had on was blue. Thankfully there was no time penalty for not wearing blue, as it seemed nearly every other rider I saw hiking up to the first segment was wearing something blue.