Our trip started at 5 AM on Sunday. We flew to Baltimore, and from there we drove five hours on some West Virginia back roads up to Snowshoe Mountain. On our way, we encountered tons of deer, a pack of raccoons, and a massive opossum. We arrived up to Snowshoe at around 11 PM East Coast Time. We woke up early the next morning for a riders meeting then out for the first practice session. This race was a two-day, eight stage enduro. I rode all four of day one’s stages on Monday. Stage one was the pedally stage which was called 6,000 steps. This trail was literally like you were riding on 6,000 steps. There were more roots than dirt on this six minute stage. Stage two was up next and this trail was more fun. It was all downhill with lots of roots and line choices. The tight trees and tight corners made it hard to gauge how fast you could come into these corners. The terrain on Stage three was very similar to Stage two but the trail was a little bit more high speed and straight on. Stage three was the shortest of day one, being under two minutes long. Up next was Stage four, which took place in the downhill area. We rode parts of both the pro and amateur downhill course. This stage was the gnarliest stage on day one but also my favorite! This side of the mountain was rockier than the other side. It was high speed and super techy, with a couple of rock gardens and flow corners.
Tuesday was day two practice, so I headed out to Stages five and six. Both trails were on a flat, dried up riverbed. These were the pedally Stages for day two. Big rocks, slick roots and muddy corners made for a couple physical stages. Stage seven was my favorite stage of the whole race. The whole trail was loose with moist loam and many different lines to choose from. After that, we headed back over to the downhill area where Stage eight took place. This stage was a flowy trail with a couple techy rock gardens. Not nearly as gnarly as Stage four but still one of my favorite trails!
Wednesday. First day of racing. I was a bit nervous on our way up to Stage one but excited to get going. Stage one went well for me, no bobbles or anything. The main thing I focused on was trying to pedal everywhere I could. Stage two was up next. All went well right up to the end where I took a wrong line and it shot me into a tree. We then took a short transfer to Stage three. I nailed every line I took in practice on this stage. This trail was about trying to pump everything you could to find the right rhythm. Stage four was up next. I was stoked to race this trail but a bit nervous because I got super squirrely in one of the rock gardens in practice. Right when I dropped in I felt like I was in the flow. I took it pretty easy in one of the rock gardens then let it rip in the lower section to finish my first day. I was only six seconds behind first place.
I woke up Thursday ready to race, and knew what I had to do to make up those six seconds. We all headed out to Stage five and six. Both of these stages at race pace were the most physical stages I have ever raced in my career! Both went well for me, just my only thought was to pedal, pedal, pedal! The transfer to seven was around 30 minutes of easy climbing. As we made it to the top of seven, fans were lining both sides of the track. Since this was my favorite stage, this is the trail I wanted to rip. Right when I dropped in I felt like I skipped over every root. I was in my rhythm the entire time on the trail, roosting corners and getting loose in some of the steep sections! Last stage was eight. Since this was the final stage of the race, I wanted to give it my all and pedal like a mad man. I dropped into eight feeling good. I scrubbed everything I could and tried to pump through the root sections. I tucked through the bottom section and ripped my way through the finish line.
Now the toughest part… waiting. As the first set of results came, mostly everyone’s Stage eight times were incorrect. So the officials had to get everyone’s time off the manual timing system for the last stage. We waited up until 2 AM when we got the email that said I was the 2017, 15-18 USA National Enduro Champion by an 11.5-second margin!
I am super stoked with my finish and how I rode at Nationals! Due to the timing issues, the podium ceremony was postponed until Friday evening. Unfortunately, I had to miss it because we had to start our long trek back to the Pacific Northwest!
I am super excited to achieve my very first national title of my racing career!
Thank you to Kona Bikes and to Jim Brown and RAD Racing NW for your sponsorship and support!