Kona enduro team riders Miranda Miller and Rhys Verner just wrapped up their first enduro of the season with a first and third place finish, respectively. The Tennessee National Enduro was the culmination of a week of testing with SRAM at Windrock Bike Park. The race was the perfect proving ground for Miller and Verner to get used to working with the Kona team and test out their bikes under pressure. Next stop, Rotorua, New Zealand for the first stop of the EWS and Crankworx!

“I felt I had a very smooth day, with the exception of the final stage. (It was awkward and so was I.) I felt what held me back was trying to rely on course memory and knowledge, instead of instincts which limited me to how fast I rode the tracks. I had a strong focus and always felt relaxed and smooth in my riding, but could have physically pushed it a little more. Because of the physical toughness of this race it was a good indicator that I’m strong but need to work on the race craft of utilizing my strength.” -Miranda Miller

I am very impressed with the trail network at Windrock Bike Park. The first half of our week was focused on bike set up and testing, so, unfortunately, I didn’t get to sample everything they had to offer, but I did get a sense of the terrain and the variety. We were faced with some challenging conditions for testing, but by the end of the third day, and after making Dupelle and Pointer change my bar height 1000 times, I’ve landed on a set-up that I am comfortable with and look forward to further testing in NZ and Tasmania. 

Stage 1 & 5 of the Enduro dropped from the top of the mountain, into the bike park and finished in the parking lot and they were unreal! Steep, off camber, long and rough. Tricky with the conditions but some of the coolest pieces of trails I’ve ridden in a while.” -Miller

I was pretty happy I got the opportunity to do a race before the first EWS. There’s so much practice and race strategy that can come into play. I managed to work out a lot of quirks, like a new GoPro, new helmet, new bike etc. They seem small and trivial but when you’re trying to be efficient at practicing and time management you want to be able to film all of the stages and have quality footage to review. I made a point of only riding the stages once, like an EWS, to try and get better at that format. As a downhiller, I feel that is something I need to work on. While at this race, I didn’t really review the footage like I would at an EWS, but I made sure I had it anyway!” -Miller

Riding at Windrock was great! Lots of variety made for a great enduro course and just, in general, a great riding venue. It seemed to have a bit of everything. The stages ranged from steep and gnarly to fast and flowy with everything in between. All in all, I think Windrock has the potential to be a top mountain biking destination. ” –Rhys Verner

“Getting that first race under the belt that wasn’t an EWS was definitely a great call. We rode all week and I was a bit surprised by how tired I was aftr the race. Definitely good to get a feel for a big day on the bike and to kind of get the juices flowing before NZ. I rode fairly conservatively throughout the stages and kind of took it as a warm-up race.” –Verner

Overall I feel pretty good about the race. I was a bit hesitant to take risks so on the slippery stages, I reined it in a little bit. After breaking my scaphoid at the first race last year I think this was the right call, even if I did lose some time here and there. I felt I rode well within my limits and was still able to post some pretty solid times, so I’m very happy with how the race went overall. -Verner

Looking forward it was good to be able to get some time in start gates and get the pre-race season jitters out of the way. Also having the SRAM camp all week we were able to test out different suspension setups and really get the bikes properly dialed in. I feel super good about my bike setup now and have the confidence that my equipment works amazingly well. Also to be able to post some stage times that were within seconds of Damien Oton gives me confidence that I have what it takes to race at a high level. Bring on Rororua!!!”  –Verner