Words by Kona enduro racer, Ryan Gardner.
2018 marks my 10th year of racing mountain bikes. During this time I have had seasons where everything seems to go as planned and the flow just came naturally. Others though required a bit more work. This season started off as the latter. With each race came a new hurdle. Mechanicals took me out of contention in Mexico and the TDS and a tough race in New Mexico had roused those little voices in the back of my mind that suggested that I might not have what it takes this year. As I continue to grow at my 9 to 5, the responsibilities there have become more demanding, personal relationships all require time and energy, and the number of hours in the day seem to disappear quicker each year. But despite all the fits and starts of this season, the effort it takes to rally after a 10-hour work day and get out for a training ride, and all the other little sacrifices it takes to be competitive at racing bikes, I keep coming back. It’s the little tastes of success, of progress, that makes all the work worthwhile. So after three lackluster races, it was time to pack up the van and head to my first California Enduro of the year, Mammoth Bar.
Mammoth Bar is not my favorite race of the year. It’s really pedally, really dry, and often really hot. But the racing is tight and it’s a good chance to get into the swing of things. After working three-quarters of a day I ducked out early and got a practice lap in on each stage Friday night for Saturday’s race. With only four stages of racing, each stage required 100% effort. I did my best to remember the stages, stay off the chicken levers, and put power down wherever I could. When it was all said and done I was able to round out the podium in 5th place. Though not the result I was aiming for, it was a step in the right direction; no mechanicals, improved riding, and a podium spot. I even got a feel for my new Satori which has been surprising me with its quick handling and snappy feel. It’s a much different bike from the Process, but its well suited to the fast and flowy singletrack found at many of the CA Enduro Races.
With the season moving into full swing, I’m going to keep focusing on finding the flow, enjoying the ride, and savoring those small victories week after week. Sometimes things don’t come easy. But that’s exactly when the most progress can be made.