Kona Super Grassroots rider James Rennie tackles the Gryphon aka The Squamish Enduro

Last weekend marked the return of the North American Enduro Tour to the Sea to Sky corridor for the second time this year. This weekend it was disguised as the annual Squamish Enduro ‘The Gryphon’, a race that has become a solid fixture over the last couple of years providing great racing on Squamish’s awesome trail network.

With the Whistler Enduro World Series race the following weekend, there was a high caliber of riders in attendance. As I hadn’t raced in two months I thought this would be a good warm up for Whistler. Unfortunately, after leaving work early on Friday afternoon with the goal of practicing a couple of the stages I had never ridden before, I got caught up in some infamous Vancouver traffic. I sat at a standstill for close to an hour before turning round and going home, deciding my time would be better spent prepping my bike than sweating in the driver’s seat.

The weather in Squamish was perfect for racing on Saturday, making for a nice climb up Legacy to the first stage. Angry Midget is a Squamish classic and one of my personal favourites as it combines a good mix of speed and technical sections, I was more than comfortable to ride this one without any practice too. Unfortunately my day was over almost as soon as it started as I sliced the sidewall of my rear tyre around 30 seconds into the stage! It seems to be just my luck this season! I pulled it off and fixed it, making sure I had close to a billion PSI in the rear tyre as my track record with tubes is terrible at best.

A little disheartened I pressed onto stage two, keen to redeem the day with some good stage finishes. Stage two started on IMBA Smart before a short climb linking onto Freds, a great trail to ride, but a physical one to race. I had never ridden IMBA Smart before so I started off trying to push as hard as I could to see what I could get away with, the tight trail didn’t really reward this and after a couple of close calls I decided to back it down and just finish the stage. I was 13th for the stage, not really what I was looking for.

After a short climb and stop at the ‘Desert Oasis’ feed station, it was onto stage three. A technical descent over by Alice Lake called Entrails. Entrails is what some would consider classic Squamish riding, rock slabs, tight turns, steep, it’s a trail where I feel comfortable. I attacked keen to make up with an average first 2 stages and was rewarded with 3rd place for the stage, much more like it!

It was then on to stage four, a short descent down Icy hole of Death. This was another blind stage for me however I knew it was short so I pushed hard and only made a few mistakes here and there when I wasn’t sure where the trail was going. I ended up 10th for the stage, not too far off the time of the front runners.

The final stage of the day was another one of my favourites, Crouching Squirrel, Hidden Monkey to Kiki. This stage started off fast before some short technical climbs in the middle, followed by some blown out dusty turns in Kiki. I started off the stage strong trying to be smooth in the fast rocky top section as it is very easy to flat, I pushed hard up the slabby climbs in the middle and dropped into Kiki strong but got caught out in a couple of surprisingly deep dusty corners so backed it off in order to stay upright. All in all a solid stage finishing up 6th.

Overall my result was terrible due to the flat but my stage results later in the day showed I have some good speed. Hopefully I have better luck this weekend in Whistler at the Enduro World Series! Huge thanks to the Squamish Enduro team for another solid race!