Kona Super Grassroots Enduro – Ryan Gardner’s Hood River Recap

Last weekend I took the 18 hour drive north to Hood River, Oregon for the first stop of the Oregon Enduro Series. On the drive, reports of rain and snow began to pour in over text and Facebook. After months of dry and dusty conditions here in Southern California, it looked like I was finally in for some real dirt. Although I had never ridden the Hood River trails before, several trustworthy sources had informed me it was an amazing place to ride and I was excited to finally check them out. The race consisted of 7 stages over two days which were partially shuttle and partially pedal accessed. The stages had a variety of terrain including sweet single track, wide open double track, manmade jump trails, and a tough rock section with plenty of opportunities to get rowdy. Then there was stage seven. Stage seven, the final stage, was altogether different. Seven was much steeper and sloppier than any other track of the weekend. Slick mud, off camber, high speed, a recipe for a good time. Although it dried up a little by race time, stage seven gave racers something to think about before the final sprint to the finish where riders would be greeted with cheering fans and a cold PBR. After scoping all the trails on Thursday and Friday, it was finally race day.

Saturday consisted of stages 1-4 and despite my best efforts, it seemed like nothing was going right. Every stage seemed like a struggle as I kept trying to find some flow. The varying conditions kept me off balance and I eventually crashed on stage three in an icy slick burm. I ended up sitting in mid pack by the end of the day in 33rd – nowhere near my aspirations. There is nothing worse than putting in days of driving and hours of practice to perform below your ability. Saturday night brought more rain and a great party thrown down by Dirty Finger Bike shop. If you’re ever in Hood River, check out Dirty Finger. It’s a great shop complete with everything a self-respecting bike rider needs, bikes, coffee and beer.

Lucky for me, Pros went last on Sunday which gave the dirt some time to dry out after the overnight showers. By the time my start time rolled around I was met with perfect hero dirt. Finally getting out of my own head I let loose a little and actually used my Process DL for what it’s good for, smashing trail. My runs on Sunday went way better and I was able to climb back 11 places to 22nd to finish my weekend. Although it was far off of where I wanted to be I was stoked on my ability to get back at it after a frustrating day. On a positive note, Enduro is flourishing! The race had an amazing vibe with free cold pressed coffee provided by Stumptown and a tri-tip lunch provided by Chris King. Overall, it was a great weekend complete with plenty of good friends, sick trails, and just enough ups and downs to keep it interesting. I’m stoked I had the chance to check out the Oregon Series, and will be back to race a few more times before the year is over!