Moab Trail Race News
This post is not on trail running but on the enduro mountain bike event this past weekend. On Sunday September 30th 150 mountain bikers race from Burro Pass (11,200ft) to the Colorado River(4,500ft) a 23.45mi race course. The trail system is known to all Moab locals as the Whole Enchilada and now becoming world famous amongst the mountain bike community. The trail received its name because it links up various trails from the La Sal Mountain range down to the Colorado River. These trails are: Burro Pass, Hazard County, Kokopelli, UPS,LPS, and Porcupine Rim, hence the Whole Enchilada.There’s over 7000ft of descent and the riders went through four climate zones. Here’s a link to course description & elevation profile.
The race started at 8am Sunday morning and temperatures were brisk at that elevation. The riders weren’t cold for long because each rider had to jockey their way up a 1mi steep climb to the top of Burro Pass, which would determine their position on the steep downhill over the other side of Burro. These leaders who were quick enough were: Nathaniel Hills Team SRAM, Mike West – Team Yeti Cycles, Alexander Grant – Team Cannondale Factory, and Kyle Mears – Team Death to Nomads.There were many locations along the course to watch the riders descending to the finish line, I chose the Notch.
The Notch is a sandstone crack or gateway on one of the rims, which allows the rider to descend down to a lower level of a big drainage off of the Porcupine Rim trail. This passageway “Notch” is steep and has small ledges within it. At the bottom is an old juniper tree which had padding on it, just in case riders who gone over their handle bars may not catch a sharp branch into their torso. From what I could tell there was only one line, so if you decided to ride this section you better be on it! Most riders opted to dismount to play it on the safe side and walked their bike down the Notch. There were about a dozen or so riders who dared to ride this section and that is why I chose to watch the race from this location, in hopes of seeing carnage.
It took about 40 min for the first riders to appear where I was watching the race. To my surprise the first three riders walked this section. I thought for sure the first six to ten riders would have rode the Notch but at the same time most were not local Moab mountain bikers. Our first daring riders to ride the Notch were TJ Cowern – Team Poison Spider (local bike shop) and Kyle Mears – Team Death to Nomads. These local guys are amazing fast riders and well respected here in town and out on the trails. Kyle is probably the fastest downhill rider in Moab, he does have the local course record, 1hr 39min that’s flying but TJ was the first to descend down the Notch and to no surprise left unscathed. The spectators who gathered at this area cheered TJ as he rolled his bike through and over broken ledges but you can almost hear the disappointment in their voices. I don’t think I was the only one at the Notch that day to see riders munch hard. Kyle Mears was the second rider (local) to ride the Notch but there’s something different when Kyle rides. Kyle rides with finesse. He approached the Notch with precision but once inside the line, that’s where he rides with style. I seen him on many occasions ride technical downhill when I was out on a trail run on these same mountain bike trails. Kyle and I have also gone out together for a quick run/ride. I would run while he rode his bike and both of us jockey for footing on steep ascents/descents singletrack. If you are ever out in Moab for a trail run and someone or something just flew over you that’s not the Moab Air Force that was Kyle Mears doing what he does best, flying while ridding.
The first local pro women to approach the Notch was Heidi Rentz who took 3rd pro women overall. Heidi is a local rider who is also an amazing trail runner. She won the Moab’s Red Hot 33k twice in a row with hardly any training! The Red Hot isn’t an easy race to win it attracts top name male & female runners from across the country, its also apart of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series. Heidi did walk this section but with much cheering and support from here local fan base. Another favorite local gal is Terri Ann Tibbits who diffidently rides with her own sense of dress style! Terri Ann always puts a smile on my face when I see her out on the trails. Usually she has Pee Wee Herman along for the ride, strapped to her bike or hydration pack. Her riding attire could be a cross between Burning Man or dominatrix. Got to love Terri Ann Tibbits!
All in all there wasn’t any wrecks because the majority of riders rode on the caution side but the energy of the event was fulfilling. It was great to see all the local riders representing and having a good time. The local spectators also had fun out there cheering on our riders and heckling (in a fun tone) each rider as they approached the Notch. If Big Mountain Enduro decides to bring this event again next year, I with many other locals will be standing at the Notch, but next time with signs rating the riders and more beer.