From Dave Harder – The 2nd round of the KR Enduro Series was in beautiful Canmore, AB at the Nordic Centre. This trail network is typically known for its great XC trails and is home to the 24hrs of Adrenalin each year so it’s quite difficult to run an enduro course at this venue. Megan Rose and local Torben Jenson did a great job, with a great course for the vertical they had to play with.
This year I got a couple of practice days in. Thursday night was the first, it was wet and muddy but in a way that helped get a good feel for what was in store for us on Sunday. Myself, and a couple of good riding buddies got to ride 5 out of the 7 stages: 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. It was a good night and we got close to 20kms of riding in. Saturday was the next day we could get out to Canmore and the weather was perfect with the trail conditions being really awesome. We did all the stages and boy the dirt had amazing grip which made it a fun day of riding. It was good to get out with Sara, Andreas and Nick for the pre-ride. We hoped that Saturday’s amazing conditions would stay around for Sunday, but the forecast for rain and/or snow was putting us off a little
Sunday morning 9am was start time for us in the Pro/Elite class which made it an early day for me coming from Calgary. As I drove closer to the Rocky Mountains I noticed that there had been some overnight snow up high. It started raining as I was nearing Canmore which stopped luckily as I pulled into the Nordic Centre. Being the same conditions as last year’s race there, I knew what it would be like for grip and trail conditions. Last year I had a great race and won in Pro/Elite. While the vertical available to race last year was restricted by a wildlife closure, this year Megan was able to set the course a little higher up the mountain and that added close to a minute of overall time to the stages from last year.
Sunday’s vibe was pretty awesome with people excited to start even though the conditions weren’t favorable. We started it a different order this year to help with the amount of racers. Close to 190 people entered this year which is a great number for this growing sport. The Pro/Elite and Open Women set off to start on Stage 2 while the rest of the field started on Stage 1. Stage 2 was quite a tricky stage to hold momentum on with punchy climbs, roots and a fair bit of pedaling in the slick muddy conditions. The times for that stage were just around 3 mins for the top guys.
Stage 3 was the longest at around 5 mins, 45 seconds, it had a bit of everything from slippery roots, a fast open meadow section which led into fast rooty tight trail, then a really fast flowy berm section. This stage was one of my favorites, and one of my strongest stages. Stage 4 was aptly named Terminator and these muddy conditions made for some really difficult sections. On the steep rooty section I had rode a line the day before in prime conditions with great success and speed. Today it was like someone had come in with a bucket of grease and thrown it all over the trail. I came in to the steeps a little too hot and the “catch berm” at the bottom didn’t really catch or slow me down at all. I washed out my front wheel and crashed pretty hard, losing some good time. My gloves were covered in thick mud which made it quite difficult to hold on for the rest of the trail, but I got down with a decent time in the end. With these conditions I was lucky that I had packed some extra gloves which saved me for the rest of the race.
By the time I was on my way to Stage5 the rain had picked up. Stage 5 was one of my favorites last year as it has a great mix of fast flowy sections to a steep rooty chute. I had a good run down this stage, but wasn’t able to hit all my favourite lines as it was getting quite slick with the rain coming down. I kept it pretty reserved on this stage, taking it back a notch after my crash on the stage before. Then it was back up the mountain to Stage 6: Soft Yogurt, this trail has some good jumps, berms and it sends you straight into Devonian Drop which can be quite tricky to ride fast on the greasy rocky corners in the wet.
Next it was back to Stage 1: Backdoor, which was a fast trail with flat corners and hidden roots which made it sporty. It went into a really fast berm trail called Killer Bees which was a great finish to the stage. From there Stage 7 was only a short pedal up and this being the last stage, it finished right in the outdoor arena. This stage was quite difficult in the Laundry Chutes section with 2 corners that are steep and hard to ride fast without getting out of shape when wet. I played it safe there because I knew I had had a good race and pretty consistent stages so far. After the Laundry Chutes the trail got pretty rooty and then opened up to a fast open section which led into some fast single track and a small high speed drop to the finish. And that was it, another fun race at the Canmore Nordic Centre. I handed my timing chip in and my time was 18:54 which got me the win by over 30 secs.
My Kona Process 111 performed flawlessly and really showed its strengths. The 29er wheels and great geometry really shined on the pedally trails. I would like to thank Kona Bicycles, Osprey packs, Bell helmets, Raceface, and Megan from BC Enduro for putting on another great race!