Kona Super Grassroots enduro riders Ryan Gardner and James Rennie made the decision this year to take their Process 153’s and tackle a bunch of EWS rounds, both riders figured that kicking things off with Round 1 in Chilé, South America was as good a place to start as anywhere. Over the four epic days, between practice and racing, Ryan and James rode over 120 miles and climbed over 20,000 feet. Both coming from full time work at their respective homes, the two posted some solid results over the weekend. James’ first stage result of 32nd being one of them and Ryan’s consistency, which placed him in the top 50 (surround by full-time sponsored professionals) being his. Unfortunately for James, a very similar top 50 result was thwarted as he snapped his chain powering out of the very flat stage six start. Both Ryan and James have fired through their race reports, read on to hear about round one of the Enduro World Series went from their perspectives.
Round 1 of the Enduro World Series in Corral, Chile is in the books and it was everything that makes Enduro great. Huge days on the bike, far off places, friendly people, and rugged downhills all combined to make an awesome kickoff to the season. With Corral being well off the beaten path for most EWS racers, everyone came into the race with zero knowledge of the courses. Almost everyone’s first glimpse of the stages was during practice on Thursday and Friday and with the distance between each stage, only one practice run was possible. This made for nearly blind racing on tracks that never looked overly difficult, but made for some very tricky racing. Most of the courses started with tough corners and lots of pedaling before dropping into more technical descents. The super steep and physically demanding switchbacks on stages two and five claimed handfuls of riders both during practice and the race as fatigue began to set in. World class riders, even those known for their fitness, began to show visible signs of wear as the week wore on. However, the absolutely stunning backdrop of coastal Chile, and a backpack full of empinadas made the grinding climbs a little easier to power through.
After a winter of racing cyclocross and doing big rides around California, I was hoping to meet the first round with a full head of steam and all the fitness I could ask for. Instead I was forced to meet the 120 miles and 20k feet of climbing over four days with a pretty solid cold that never quite let me feel like myself. With that in mind I told myself that I needed to just get through the weekend and not worry too much about placing. However, as any racer knows, it’s easy to get a little over excited and I pushed myself way too hard on stage one. I finally blew my hands off the bars in a hard g-out and took a digger. I got up as fast as I could and sprinted hard to make up time, only to blow out the very next corner in the loose dirt and dust. I finished off the stage and decided that it was probably better to dial it back a bit and be consistent and I managed to stay off the ground for the rest of the weekend. There were a few injuries including a compound fractured ankle that really highlighted the risks involved with riding as close to the line as you can on demanding trails with minimal practice. Enduro is continuing to come into its own and the consistent speed and concentration required to be a top international rider is truly impressive.
The whole race experience was a blast as it was visibly clear how excited the people of Corral were to be hosting an international group of racers. Each transfer stage was made a little easier by the throngs of locals smiling and waving as we passed and the Spanish cheers echoing from along the steepest parts of the descent. It was also nice to share the climbs and recap the previous stages with new super grassroots racer James Rennie who was having a killer weekend (placing near the top 30 on stage one!) before getting unlucky on the last stage with a broken chain. I am personally super happy to have made the top 50 riders and place 5th fastest American. Not too bad for an office jockey with a cold! Next up is a day or two of rest and then on to Argentina this weekend for Round 2. – Ryan Gardner
After two long days of practice I was already feeling weary coming in to the first day of racing. The trails in Corral proved to have a good mix of everything, great dirt and high speeds seemed to be the main theme though. Day one went well for me, finishing the day in 60th after losing a whole of time on stage two. I was stoked with my first stage time though, where I finished in 32nd.
Day two the weather was cooler making the climbs a bit more manageable. My legs felt great and stages four and five went well with both finishes around the top 50. After a longer wait at the top of the final stage my legs felt fresh, so fresh that I snapped my chain out of the gate and couldn’t get along the first flat section of the stage losing a whole lot of time. All in all it was a great weekend and the first EWS I have successfully finished! I ended up 73rd.
The Process 153 smashed it all weekend and it was great to hang out with fellow Kona Super Grassroots rider, Ryan Gardner. – James Rennie
Full Results can be found here.