Ultra is Very Epic at the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro

By September 13, 2014News and Updates

I’ve done a few mountain bike stage races. Usually they seem to build over the course of the event. The ‘queen stage’ falls somewhere towards the 2/3 mark of the week, like the Tussey Ridge stage of the TSEpic. The Crested Butte Ultra Enduro did not follow this course. Well, maybe it would have seemed a little different had day 3 taken riders on the full the planned route, but it didn’t.

Frosty tires for the first few days of the CB Ultra Enduro.

Frosty tires for the first few days of the CB Ultra Enduro.

At the CB Ultra Enduro, the amateurs had the early shuttle each day. This meant this was the first race I was really glad to be on the ‘pro’ shuttle, which usually is sent first to prevent overlap of categories. Brandon Ontiveros and the BME crew did it opposite way here and it made for a smaller time chasm between the first and last riders to arrive back at camp. It was just above freezing at 6:30am when the AMs loaded the first shuttles at the sponsor village.

Big day right off the bat.

Big day right off the bat.

The first day of racing had us on the bike for about 6 hours and with over 5,400 feet of climbing over just under 30 miles. With the fully enduro-specific shred sled i detailed in my pre-race post (see here), that felt like a big day.

Up up and away. Sitting in (actually, more like hiking) for 2.5 hours on the first climb of the week. Rider: Casey Coffman

Up up and away. Sitting in (actually, more like hiking) for 2.5 hours on the first climb of the week. Rider: Casey Coffman

And then we hit a saddle in the mountain... are we there yet? We see no start line.

And then we hit a saddle in the mountain… are we there yet? We see no start line.

Looking back down at where we came from. The epic-ness of the week ahead was beginning to set in, and inspire awe.

Looking back down at where we came from. The epic-ness of the week ahead was beginning to set in, and inspire awe.

Turns out we had one last push to get to the top of stage 1. I use the word 'push' in mostly a literal sense here.

Turns out we had one last push to get to the top of stage 1. I use the word ‘push’ in mostly a literal sense here.

The BMC Trailfox is ready for it's first taste of Crested Butte trail slaying. So was I; after we hunkered down and hid from the wind while the Pro Women and Vet Men cleared the staging area. It wasn't a bad place to hang out really, especially on such a day.

The BMC Trailfox is ready for it’s first taste of Crested Butte trail slaying. So was I; after we hunkered down and hid from the wind while the Pro Women and Vet Men cleared the staging area. It wasn’t a bad place to hang out really, especially on such a day.

The view off the opposite side of the ridge. Towards where we'd end up after our first big output of the week. (Not to say that the climb we just endured wasn't a huge output, but the intensity was quite low.)

The view off the opposite side of the ridge. Towards where we’d end up after our first big output of the week. (Not to say that the climb we just endured wasn’t a huge output, but the intensity was quite low.)

Taking the short line down the first stage of the week.

Taking the short line down the first stage of the week. Photo credit: Devon Balet

Stage 1 was 17 minutes of rallying. 2,000 ft + of descending. Mostly singletrack with a little bit of babyhead-littered(how ’bout that compound word?) doubletrack down near the bottom. The loamy, wooded, whooped-out section towards the middle put a huge smile on my face. Had a hard time pealing that off for some time. Well, until about half way up the next monster climb.

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Nate Hills riding a section of the second climb of the day that most of us were very content with hiking. Here we’re about 2/3 the way up our second 2k+ ft climb of the day. Later the back of my heals were not so happy with me; I began wondering about my 1:1 granny gear ratio. This was another fleeting emotion which was quickly drown out by the pure stoke and speed of our next stage.

Loading up after the first day. Time for an Oscar Blues Mama's Lil' Yella Pils. Went down extra cold, and hit the dome extra hard. Pure bliss.

Loading up after the first day. Time for an Oscar Blues Mama’s Lil’ Yella Pils. Went down extra cold, and hit the dome extra hard. Pure bliss. Thank you, Kevin Soller.

Joey, and the rest of the crew on the shuttle, admire the views on our way back to town.

Joey, and the rest of the crew on the shuttle, admire the views on our way back to town.

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Our SportIdent timing chips on our wrist gave us immediate gratification once we were back at camp. Upon uploading our data to the computer, the printer promptly spit out a trophy(or a slap in the face, depending on how you did) in the form of a fancy lil’ receipt. Stage times, rank on the day, and more were outlined on the little slip. I was uber pleased with this, and comparing slips at the end of the day became one of the most instantly gratifying parts of the week; aside from feeding our faces with whatever actual food (non-space food) we could get our hands on. Nomnomnom.

Day 2 was another BIG day...

Day 2 was another BIG day, featuring what many called a very sketchy stage 3 on Roaring Judy and a very awesome stage 4 at Doctor Park. More than a little carnage happened on stage 3 and, for many, this is where consistency and preservation of equipment began to show it’s appeal.

Day 2, like most days, started with some last minute coffee slurping on the shuttle as demonstrated here by C3 Bike Shop owner, Wade Washburn. The 'Vet Men' like Wade were with the rest of the pros on the second round of shuttles.

Day 2, like most days, started with some last minute coffee slurping on the shuttle as demonstrated here by C3 Bike Shop owner, Wade Washburn. The ‘Vet Men’ like Wade were with the rest of the pros on the second round of shuttles.

Ok, we're here! Now we wait for our bikes to arrive. At least we're in the sunlight. We conversed about how cold it must have been for the amateurs here 2 hours earlier.

Ok, we’re here! Now we wait for our bikes to arrive. At least we’re in the sunlight. We conversed about how cold it must have been for the amateurs here 2 hours earlier.

A little balance-beam over a small river just feet from the shuttle drop off was enough to wake me up for the day ahead. Wade here again demonstrating impeccable technique. I didn't feel as proficient in my carbon soles...

A little balance-beam over a small river just feet from the shuttle drop off was enough to wake me up for the day ahead. Wade here again demonstrating impeccable technique. I didn’t feel as proficient in my carbon soles…

Joey Schusler makes another appearance as we near the top of the first climb of the day, which was rumored to have 27 switchbacks on the way to the top... I lost count at 2; it was steep enough off the bat to put me in the pain cave in my attempt to stay on my bike and preserve the skin on the back of my heels.

Joey Schusler makes another appearance as we near the top of the first climb of the day, which was rumored to have 27 switchbacks on the way to the top… I lost count at 2; it was steep enough off the bat to put me in the pain cave in my attempt to stay on my bike and preserve the skin on the back of my heels. The views were, once again, not bad.

Josh Carlson rips down the final chute of stage 5. This stage had a steep climb near the midway point, and some scary-fast, blind singletrack near the bottom. Many showed up in some state of disrepair and/or pain.

Josh Carlson rips down the final chute of stage 5. This stage had a steep climb near the midway point, and some scary-fast, blind singletrack near the bottom. Many showed up in some state of disrepair and/or pain.

Following a quick pit stop at the 'neutral' support station, we hit the road/grave road for some 17 miles.

Following a quick pit stop at the ‘neutral’ support station, we hit the road/grave road for some 17 miles.

Miles and miles and a river crossing later I saw some cows. So I stopped, took a piss, and ate some food. Some cows were all the incentive I needed.

Miles and miles and a river crossing later I saw some cows. So I stopped, took a piss, and ate some food. Some cows were all the incentive I needed.

After some more time on the grind, I found myself at the start of stage 6. This stage on the infamous Doctor Park was probably the most talked-about stage of the week. I soon found out why. Check out my uncut (except for my late start of the video), raw footage of the mega-ripping Doctor Park trail.

After some more time on the grind, I found myself at the start of stage 6. This stage on the infamous Doctor Park was probably the most talked-about stage of the week. I soon found out why. Check out my uncut (except for my late start of the video), raw footage of the mega-ripping Doctor Park trail.

I captured the experience of ripping Doctor Park at full tilt with my GoPro chest cam footage. It was enough to make one hoot and holler oozing with stoke by the finish. Crazy fast mid-way through and then into some loose traverses down an eroded rock face at the end. Exhilarating. Check it out here!

Some Oscar Blues Brewery beers greeted us at the finish of the day. The Root Beer was the popular choice on this day. Sweet replenishment of a very hollow variety.

Another 6 hour day in the books. 5.5k+ feet of climbing and 6.3k feet of descending over 30+ miles. Some Oscar Blues Brewery beers greeted us at the finish of the day. The Root Beer was the popular choice on this day. Sweet replenishment of a very hollow variety.

Later that evening the weather moved in and rained all over the Bud Light Whatever B.S. preparations. I didn't have much sympathy, or empathy; mostly disdain, really, but not for the rain!

Later that evening the weather moved in and rained all over the Bud Light Whatever B.S. preparations. I didn’t have much sympathy, or empathy; mostly disdain, really, but not for the rain!

And then it was on to day 3. Another big day on tap, but would it go down with all the weather we experienced overnight?

And then it was on to day 3. Another big day on tap, but would it go down with all the weather we experienced overnight?

We woke to a picturesque scene of water droplets and the sun peaking over the top of the mountains. The sun brought instant relief from the cold each morning.

We woke to a picturesque scene of water droplets, low-lying clouds, and the sun peaking over the top of the mountains, which brought instant relief from the cold each morning.

As it would turn out, the Big Mountain Enduro crew decided to cut out the first stage of the day. This greatly shortened the route and removed a huge portion of the climbing(and descending) for the day. The waterfall trail, which was set to be stage 5 (and the first of the day), was rumored to be pretty rowdy and most were bummed to circumvent that trail loop. Had the day dished out the ‘full monty’, there would have been some ragged riders by the end of the day, and furthermore, the week.

The trails were indicating good things to come on the first climb of the day. Straight up over a ridge via loamy trails with amazing panoramas.

The trails were indicating good things to come on the first climb of the day. Straight up over a ridge via loamy trails with amazing panoramas. The Trailfox is happy up here.

A couple very steep hike-a-bike sections on this route. A long, cold, rainy day on the bike was forewarned by the event staff. Many realized they were carrying way too much cool weather gear at this point in time.

A couple very steep hike-a-bike sections on this route. A long, cold, rainy day on the bike was forewarned by the event staff. Many realized they were carrying way too much cool weather gear very quickly.

Schusler and I cruised up most of the first ascent together chatting about epic adventures and admiring the views and wildflowers. The stoke was high.

Schusler and I cruised up most of the first ascent together chatting about epic adventures and admiring the views and wildflowers. The stoke was high.

I mentioned the views... Fucking incredible. If I lived here, I'm pretty sure I would be quite unproductive. Or very connected, depending on how you look at it.  Crested Butte to the lower left.

I mentioned the views… Fucking incredible. If I lived here, I’m pretty sure I would be quite unproductive. Or very connected, depending on how you look at it.  The town of Crested Butte lies in the distance to the left.

We parked it in the above field for maybe an hour. The amateurs had been held from starting for over an hour and a half to “let the trail dry”. I’m not sure who made this call, but I don’t think it was the best one. Midway down the stage is was very clear that the moisture levels in the trail were not going to change for some time… like days of time. Dense tree cover and a thorough soaking of the trails made things very interesting to attack at full speed, especially when running the trail blind. But it felt like the slippery, rooty awesomeness of the east and I finished the stage extremely pumped. Ben Cruz and others seemed to agree. Despite a slight tip-over I managed the 7th fastest time on the stage.

Fully pinned through the slippery, muddy roots. Loose is fast in these conditions. Photo credit: Devon Balet

Fully pinned through the slippery, muddy roots. Loose is fast in these conditions. Especially when rolling blind.        Photo credit: Devon Balet

Couldn't wipe away a solid grin after that stage. Wade and I found eachother on the next climb and cruised through many of the amateurs on the way.

Couldn’t wipe away a solid grin after that stage. Wade and I found each other on the next climb and cruised through many of the amateurs on the way.

At the start for stage 6, Caves Trail, along with a mess of other riders lining the trail leading to this point.

At the start for stage 6 along with a mess of other riders lining the trail leading to this point. We were stacked up and waiting for a while.

The Caves Trail hosted the 6th stage. I was moderately afraid for most of this run. A ribbon of singletrack with encroaching tall grasses and jagged boulders struck the fear of god in me of a pedal strike. I know I was not alone in this because many talked of the same concerns later that day. A really difficult trail to race blind. Multiple tight, blind switchbacks down a very steep, exposed hillside around some bear caves. I was happy to leave unscathed. My handy SportIdent timing slip later told the story and I finished the day 8th fastest. Ben Cruz and I were both pleased with our best result of the week thus far.

After the shortened Day 3 some riders chose to get a pre-ride in on the next day’s stage. Just one stage on Day 4. We found out that afternoon that the ascent to the start of stage 7 was basically a big hike-a-bike. My ankles and heels complained as crested the top. I knew just what to do for the next day when we’d have to do it all over again…

After destroying some hastily-prepared burgers and hot dogs at the sponsor village where the shuttles dropped us off, a short ride across the scenic town led us to another eatery for the night. Give. Me. More. Food!

After destroying some hastily-prepared burgers and hot dogs at the sponsor village where the shuttles dropped us off, a short ride across the scenic town led us to another eatery for the night.                 Give. Me. More. Food!

Just a single stage for day 4. Apparently trail permits didn't come fast enough to allow us to run the planned two stages.

Just a single stage for day 4. Apparently trail permits didn’t come fast enough to allow us to run the planned two stages.

Wade tuning his BMC TF01 before the day's stage.

Wade tuning his BMC TF01 before the day’s stage. We had a later start on this day, and had the liberty of extra preparations before we pedaled out of town.

Keen hiking boots paired nicely with my Shimano SPD pedals; particularly because my feet were on the ground for most of the day 4 ascent.

So, this is what I did: Keen hiking boots paired nicely with my Shimano SPD pedals; particularly because they didn’t need to interact much on the climb. My descending shoes and kneepads fit nicely in my Dakine Apex pack.

At the start line for the day. Everyone seemed to feel that the week was drawing to a close.

At the start line for the day. Everyone seemed to feel that the week was drawing to a close.

The 7th stage of the week began at treeline and descended fast for the first half. After a moment of gravel road some xc-like singetrack comprised the latter third of the stage. I was so deep in the pain cave that I completely rode off the trail on one of the 1,000 sharp bends at the bottom. A extra-small 26er with 700mm bars would’ve been the weapon of choice for that piece of singletrack. The Riggerus Maximus didn’t like these bits so much, which put me under the impression that this section of trail was not very much fun to race. IMHO…

Doing my best to get the Riggerus Maximus to turn on a dime near the bottom of the stage.

Doing my best to get the Riggerus Maximus to turn on a dime near the bottom of the stage.                             Photo credit; Devon Balet

 

Three stages at Evolution Bike Park for the final day. One pedal fest, one a little bit of both, and the new dh trail.

Three stages at Evolution Bike Park for the final day. One pedal fest, one a little bit of both, and the new dh trail, Captain Jack.

Two solid runs(10th and 11th) on the first two stages of the day had myself and Alex Petitdemange separated by a mere 8 seconds, and in the 9th and 10th positions, respectively. I was confident I could build on this small advantage on the extra-rowdy Captain Jack stage.

Ripping down one of the first two stages. Really liked the high-definition lense in my Spy goggles all day.

Ripping down one of the first two stages. Really liked the high-definition lense in my Spy goggles all day.                Photo credit: Devon Balet

This chipmunk was wondering what the hell all the commotion was at the Captain Jack rock garden.

This chipmunk was wondering what the hell all the commotion was at the Captain Jack rock garden. There were plenty of spectators and hecklers.

My turn. Although missing my mark by just and inch or two, I managed a decent run through the gnar gnar.

My turn. Although missing my mark by just and inch or two, I managed a decent run through the gnar gnar.

After the final run of the week it was time for some fun. So a slew of heavy-hitters hit the lift for a couple runs at the Timeline flow trail. What a way to cap off the week!

After the final run of the week it was time for some fun. So a slew of heavy-hitters hit the lift for a couple runs at the Timeline flow trail. What a way to cap off the week!

My GoPro chest cam again captured the experience of the Timeline Mega-train. Such a cool thing to be part of. I did my best to toss some whips and stoke the onlookers. After hearing some comments, it seemed to have worked. 🙂 Check out my highlight video here!

C3 Bike Shop owner, Wade Washburn, gets on the podium in 4th for the Vet Men on his BMC Trailfox.

C3 Bike Shop owner, Wade Washburn, gets on the podium in 4th for the Vet Men on his BMC Trailfox!

Thanks to Brandon, Mike, Sarah and others with the Big Mountain Enduro for putting on a great event. Thanks to Colorado Cycling Connection/C3 Bike Shop, BMC, Stans NoTubes, Trans-Sylvania Epic, Syntace USA, Easton, and Wenjie and friends for the support! What a season it was.

And thanks to Devon Balet for the supplementary photos. Devon is a wizard behind the lense; devonbaletmedia.com

 

Check out the full aggregate results!

 

#Ride_BMC

#Trailfox

#FlowEX

#TSEpic

#C3BikeShop

 

 

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