Daily Archives: 08/10/2017

Layton Meyers wins USA National Champ Enduro title at Snowshoe

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!

Scott Countryman and Becky Gardner report from Aspen EWS

All Photos: Sven Martin

Becky Gardner and Scott Countryman gathered with the top enduro athletes in the world at the World Enduro Series, Aspen recently. Racing enduro takes skill and strength but racing an EWS is a whole different animal. Racing the best in the world takes a lot of training both physically and mentally. With over 100 pro men and 40 pro women, a rider needs to work hard to get a top spot. Here is a perspective of racing from both the men’s and women’s field.

Scott:
I can not remember the last time I was as scared on my bike as I was at the Aspen Snowmass EWS. I don’t get scared or intimidated by steep, rough, or technical trails but the sheer speed a rider is capable of achieving on the tracks that we raced turned what would normally be a blue trail into a high adrenaline test of balls, for lack of a better term. Average speed for all six stages was 20.6 mph over nearly 50 minutes of racing which racked up over 15,000 ft of descending! Don’t forget this all took place over 8000 ft elevation. Can you feel the burn yet?

The race hosted some of the best trails I’ll race all year. Aspen and Snowmass really welcome the event and allowed new trails to be built just for the weekend of racing. By the end of the four days of riding and racing, the new tracks had developed serious ruts and bomb holes. In the end, riders were tested on nearly every aspect of racing; steeps, high speeds, switchbacks, berms, off-cambers, jumps, single track, double track, fresh loose dirt, blue groove, sprinting, flowing, etc. I was hoping for dry and blown out conditions but a rainstorm the night before the first race day, unfortunately, left us with serious hero dirt and a few wet roots. Oh well!

, during the 2017 Enduro World Series in Aspen, Colorado.

I’ve never had a huge desire to compete in the Enduro World Series. Don’t get me wrong, it is something I will take advantage of if the opportunity arises but I feel I have more to gain racing national events. After racing the Aspen Snowmass EWS this past weekend, that all changed. I’m not sure if it was just a matter of time or if the surroundings of incredible riders flipped a switch in my brain but I suddenly saw that there is potential for me at this level. I can see the path to being competitive at the world level, have changed course, and am starting down that road. Can’t wait to start training for next year!

Becky:
This was my second year racing the Aspen EWS. Last year went…. not quite to planned with a lot of crashes and mistakes by the end of the race. However, last year’s race was a turning point for me. After switching from DH to enduro, and only racing a few enduro’s previously before the EWS I knew I had to start training differently if I wanted to compete at this level of racing. So I switched up my training and worked on my endurance all year. This included long training rides in the high country, more races, and hitting the gym all winter.

, during the 2017 Enduro World Series in Aspen, Colorado.

Going into this years EWS I felt ready, and it really showed. I felt good in practice and was excited to see the courses had been ridden in more since the previous year. They also added a new stage 5 that was steep, rocky, and loose. This course I knew would be my favorite coming from an East Coast riding background. Both practice days were sunny and dry, until the night before racing commenced, it started dumping rain! As racers awoke and chaos started to set in about what tires everyone was running I couldn’t help but crack a big smile. I simply love riding in the rain and wet conditions. Although the rain did stop before racing we all knew to expect some slippery courses. Excited to get the day started we headed to stage one where we discovered some prime riding conditions. The rain made these dry courses exceptional all day. After three clean runs, I was sitting mid pack and ready to kick up the pace for our last day of racing.

, during the 2017 Enduro World Series in Aspen, Colorado.

Sunday brought the sunshine and the trail’s carried over moisture from the following day. The days’ courses involved one super pedal course and two downhill style courses. I knew if I pedaled hard and used my DH skills I could take make up some time. I ended the day with another three smooth and clean runs and found myself sitting in 21st just a few seconds outside the top 20. I was stoked to have felt strong all weekend with clean runs after last years sub-par performance. Aspen left me eager to push my riding even harder and keep racing strong.

Stage Racing the North East Kingdom Way

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom has always been a place that contains multitudes. Dairy farmers brush shoulders with hippies at the bar, tractors share the roads with SUVs, and more than one piece of singletrack shares the forest with vast networks of maple syrup sap lines. Since the 90s, the N.E.K’s mountain bike scene has started and stopped in most folks’ minds with the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, a trail center boasting over 90 miles of singletrack that attracts visitors from all over the US and Canada. But, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, networks grew up all over the Kingdom, turning the region into a mecca, with sculpted flow trails sharing the spotlight with classic New England rocks and roots.

Tucked in the southwest corner of the Northeast Kingdom you’ll find the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, a four-season resort best known for its Nordic skiing and rowing (and its growing fleet of Kona rental bikes). With years of hosting elite-level Nordic events under its belt, along with an XC race that has become a popular annual stop on the Eastern Fat Tire Association circuit, the Outdoor Center is undertaking a new venture: a weekend-long stage race that showcases some of the best under-the-radar singletrack in the Northeast Kingdom.

The VT3 (“vee-tee three”) is the brainchild of Ollie Burruss and Sheldon Miller, Outdoor Center employees and riding buddies. Miller brings an extensive mountain bike background to the Outdoor Center, having spent years as a mechanic and racer. Burruss came to Craftsbury as a Nordic racer, competing for the Outdoor Center’s Green Racing Project elite team, but mountain biking has become his off-snow passion since he retired from elite competition. With Miller providing the spandex perspective and Burruss the trail rider’s passion for fun, the VT3 was born. A race by riders, for riders, with courses that focus on placing fun first and foremost in XC competition.

The VT3 opens on Friday, August 11th at the Hardwick Trails in Hardwick, Vermont. The network in Hardwick is one of the best examples of community-driven trails. The small network contains a mix of Nordic trails and singletrack, the majority of which was hand-built by a small community of riders and volunteers. A paired time trial (two racers every 30 seconds, each against the clock), Stage 1 pits racers against an up-and-down ~5-mile course with tight lines and an old-school feel. To quote MTB media luminary, Thom Parsons, the Hardwick Trails “are the kind of stuff you see in videos of kids ‘enduro-style riding,’ where it’s loamy, it’s steep.”

If Stage 1 was an homage to N.E.K. riding’s technical, hand-built roots, Stage 2 is a vision of the present and future. A 20-mile XC course on the side of Umpire Mountain at the Victory Hill Sector, a well-known enduro venue that will host an EWS qualifier on the very same trails the weekend before. Victory Hill is a collaboration between the vision of John McGill, an avid road rider who bought the land to turn into bike trails, and Knight Ide, the godfather of Vermont freeride and trail builder/inspiration for the Burke Bike Park. John and Knight have collaborated to create a network of scratched in, rake-and-ride trails alongside modern enduro tracks, carefully sculpted by Ide and fellow builder Ryan McEvoy.

Stage 3 brings racers to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for the final day of competition. The Outdoor Center network has grown in the last few years from old school singletrack linked by ski trails to include machine-built trails that flow up and down the hillside of the Black River. Riders will transition from grin-inducing flow to challenging tech and back throughout the 11-mile course, with ski trails scattered in to allow for ample passing opportunities on the final day to improve one’s GC position. After Stage 3 riders will enjoy a post-race BBQ and awards ceremony, along with a Longest Wheelie competition and a Pumptrack Elimination Challenge.
We hope you’ll join us for the first running the VT3.

Registration is open now and there are still some spots available that include lodging at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center (including three meals a day from our excellent all-you-can-eat dining hall buffet!). Questions? Email bikes@craftsbury.com.

Bonus : Watch all of the VT3 course preview videos, plus a tour of one of the new Craftsbury Outdoor Center cabins you could stay in, courtesy of DirtWire.tv: