The Laramie Enduro was this past Saturday. This was my third attempt at the event (last two were 2005 and 2007). The popularity of the Enduro has really increased in the past several years. In previous years I've been able to register the week of the event. This year the event filled up in less than a week. Goes to show how popular endurance MTB events have become. We may be witnessing the slow death of the traditional XC race. I know I wouldn't drive to Laramie for an hour and a half XC race! Now a 6+ hour race over 70+ miles! Sign me up!
The race was Saturday, so I took off on Friday in the Disco. Solo drive across the great State of Nebraska and into Wyoming. Rolled into Laramie with plenty of time to hit the rider check-in at one of the local bike shops. Laramie is a cute little college town with lots of cool shops and eateries. I wandered around after checking in and eventually stumbled upon a Farmer's Market. I picked up a few things while I waited for teammate Scott to arrive from Vail. Scott and I split a room on the edge of town and had great accommodations (free continental breakfast, laundry service, Internet access, etc).
Rain crept in late Friday afternoon. There was only a 20% forecast, but it was coming down in sheets. I knew the course could take it, but still was a bit bummed. The water crossings were gonna be super deep!
The race begins at 7 AM sharp. At 6:45 we started lining up. Pro/Open in the front followed by Single Speeds, Sport and everyone else. I'm not sure the official headcount at the start, but the race registration maxed out at 400.
It was a bit chilly at the start (around 40 degrees), but I wasn't too concerned cuz the forecast was for mid 70's. I wore some wool arm warmers with my kit and that was it. I was fine all day.
The race starts on a gravel road and instantly goes up a slow climb. The key is to get a good hole shot as not to be delayed going into that first small stretch of singletrack. Unfortunately, I got stuck in traffic at the front and ended up having to wait in line at the top. Not a big deal, it was gonna be a long day.
The race started off at a good clip and everyone sorted out into their respective pecking order. After the first small section of single track, the course opened up into some rolling gravel roads. Yay gravel! I was in heaven.
The Enduro has a lot of gravel/fireroad sections. I'd say over 60% of the course is open gravel. The rest is singletrack or grassy fields. The singletrack is bitchin' and the gravel is rocket fast. It had just the right balance of terrain variety in my humble Nebraskan opinion.
Pacelines quickly formed as we pushed forward into the wind. Some folks would try to peel off the front during their turn to pull only to be quickly reeled back in. This group blasted past the first aid station without stopping. I had plenty of supplies so I followed.
This section of singletrack was bitchin'. Some small steep rocky climbs followed by fast flowing descents through the trees.
I tried to get a few pics, but these fellas were on a mission and didn't ease up much so I had to put the camera away.
At the second aid station I stopped for some sustenance. The aid stations in this event are the best I've ever seen. Tons of supplies and lots of friendly and happy folks willing and able help you out. As soon as I rolled up to the aid station, folks were grabbing my bottles and asking what I needed. It was awesome. I stopped at all of the aid stations except the first one. All my stops were less than a few minutes.
This was almost a great pic of one of the gnarly water crossings, but my camera takes about 10 seconds to power up. So the three guys in front of me were already through and onto the next crossings as I snapped this pic. Bummer. This crossing (around mile 50ish, I think) was mid thigh deep for me and most likely waist deep for most competitors. Ahhhhh....refreshing.
The rest of the race I found it tough to bust out the camera. I was getting tired and didn't want to take my hands off the handlebars through most of the second half. The second half is a lot tougher than the first. Luckily I knew that and was prepared.
I ended up riding into the finish with Eszter Horanyi, the female winner. She rides a Waltworks 29er and rides it well. She's been tearing up the Rocky Mountain Ultra Regional Endurance Series.
How'd I do? Well, I improved upon my previous time by about 40 minutes and was just out of the top twenty in the Open field (21st). I finished in the top 30 overall (5 singlespeeders ended up beating me!). I felt pretty good all day and didn't bonk, cramp up or have any crashes, and most importantly I had a great time. I seem to have more fun when I'm not worrying about how I'm doing in the race. I got passed by plenty of racers at aid stations, but didn't really care. Part of the fun for me is chatting with the folks at the aid stations and getting some pics on the course.
Roxy and Ryan at the finish. They both had a great time and enjoyed the event. Roxy unfortunately crashed at mile 10, but continued on for 60+ miles to finish in 7th! Now that's tough! Her knee looked quite nasty after the race. Roxy hope your knee heals up quickly!
Steve coming in for the finish. Steve hit the same mud pit that I hit, but he ended up worse than I did.
Scott, Ryan, Roxy and I wrapped up the evening with some fried banana bread and ice cream. It was a satisfying day!
I'll definitely be back again next year!