Start of segment one at the Mammoth Enduro™.
If you don’t know how an Enduro™ works, the quick ‘n dirty description runs like this: There are a series of timed segments. Most of them involve some flat or slight uphill pedaling, so you must have some fitness. Once you hit the bottom, you have an allotted period of time to climb back up the mountain to the next timed segment. If you don’t make it in the allotted time, you are penalized or disqualified. Repeat this process for however many segments there are. Who ever has the fastest elapsed time wins. Pretty simple.
Enduro™ rewards those who have a perfect balance of XC fitness and DH skill. It doesn’t favor skinny, lightweight climbers because the climbing segments in between are not timed, so you can enjoy the scenery and cruise at your pace – so long as you make the time cutoff. Perfect for a fat ASS like yours truly who always gets dropped on big climbs.
Left: A wide range of bikes were used for the Enduro™. Right: Even full on DH rigs were being rocked in the Enduro™.
At the top of the first segment I was amazed at the cross-section of bikes, riders and gear. There was everything ranging from full-on DH bikes, full-face helmets, neck braces and more pads than the Steelers defensive line to a dude by the name of Alan Jacoby who had no pads, a regular helmet and a fully rigid singlespeed fatbike. Yes a fatbike. Oh, I mean Fatbike™ (Dicky trademarked that one too). A Mammoth local, Fatbike™ Alan won the Hardman Award for the day, riding all three segments and not crashing once.
Alan Jacoby tackled the Mammoth Enduro™ on his rigid singlespeed fatbike. Insane.
At that moment I realized I was not a real man, because I bailed on my Tranny. Alan was a real man. But I was okay with not being a real man because on the GT Force, I was gonna have a lot more fun than Alan. Instead of screaming out “oh shit” more times than I can count, I was gonna be hollerin’ “hooty-hoo” all the way down.
Having never done an Enduro™ before, I had absolutely zero expectation of my performance. Upon finishing the first segment, my time was good enough for first place in the Men’s 30-39 category. I knew something had to be wrong. After checking with timing, indeed, I somehow pulled off first. Probably because there was a fair bit of pedaling, I was on a sub-30 pound bike with no pads and had a mild amount of fitness. But there were still two more segments to go.
Segment two was on the dreaded Bullet DH, and after a decent start, I laid the GT Force down two times in a couple pumice-laden, blown-out corners. Getting away with nothing more than a few scratches, my second run was more in line with expectations – 10th place.
The Fox CTD system on the Force Pro makes climbing a pleasure and going downhill even moreso.
The third segment had us pedal from Canyon Lodge up to Main Lodge where the Gondola was. We had an hour to make it about 600 vertical feet and four miles; easy for virtually everyone. I put the CTD system on the GT Force in Climb mode, and headed uphill. I was expecting a complete dog of a bike up the climb, but the Force surprised me. It had minimal suspension bob when pedaling. But I quickly realized that if you don’t like hiking your bike to the top of each segment, put a triple chainring on the front. You’ll need it.
Kamikaze legend Eric Palmquist ended up 3rd in the Men’s 40-49 category.
I had a nice pedal up to the Main Lodge with Kamikaze Downhill legend Eric Palmquist, who ended up in 3rd place for the day in the Men’s 40-49 class. It was Eric’s first race in nearly 20 years, and he was loving this new style of Enduro™ racing, as was I. After chatting about the days of old and taking in some scenery, we hopped on the Gondola and went to 11,000 feet where segment three started.
Segment three had a good bit of pedaling, starting right outside the Gondola station and hitting Skid Marks all the way down to Lincoln Express and onto Follow Me, repeating the lower portion of segment one, a total loss of more than 2,600 harrowing vertical feet. It would be about a 15-minute downhill for the faster guys, so I knew I could make up some time on the more DH-oriented dudes who couldn’t pedal as fast.
The GT Force Pro rocks 27.5 inch wheels and burly carbon fiber construction.
The GT Force absolutely ripped downhill. Not only was it completely composed with its burly 27.5-inch wheels and 2.4-inch wide Continentals, but it also rolled something fierce on the flats and slight uphills. It was astonishingly fast for how much bike it was, and I quickly found myself passing five guys through the pedaling sections of the course. I didn’t drop my chain even once thanks in part to the clutch system on the Shimano XT rear derailleur, but I think I was just lucky. Some kind of chain guide is definitely recommended for Enduro™ racing.
Thankfully I had a clear shot down Follow Me with nobody in front so I could actually see the trail and finished fourth in segment three. The bike held up, my body held up and I finished third overall in the Men’s Open 30-39; a completely unexpected finish against some seriously fast downhill dudes. Huge props to Tom at GT Bikes. Like Luke Skywalker, the Force was most definitely with me in the Enduro™. I’m probably going to dream about riding that bike every night for the next week.
Enduro™ is a very social form of racing, where people hang out and talk before they get rad.
So does Enduro™ racing live up to all the hype? I’m probably a bad judge since this was my first one, but based on the outstanding execution of the event by Team Big Bear, the technical-yet-fun trails Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has to offer and the extremely social racing format, yes, in the ASS’s opinion, Enduro™ lives up to all the hype. It’s a format that’s super fun and doesn’t require training 20 hours a week to be competitive.
Really, the only downside to Enduro™ is that now I’m gonna have to go and buy a squishy bike…with gears. Ugh. Oh, and I’m gonna need a pair of Enduro™ Blue baggies. And a POC helmet. And pads. Damn it. I’m hooked.