New courses, larger field highlight Sunday’s Enduro-X stage race
What: Enduro is a mix between downhill mountain biking and cross-country racing. In its third year, the Steamboat Enduro-X is a four-stage race.
When: Sunday, beginning with Stage 1 at 8:45 a.m. Awards are at 2:30 p.m. at Slopeside Grill.
Where: Steamboat Bike Park at Mt. Werner
How: Online registration is closed, but bikers can register in person from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at One Steamboat Place.
Steamboat Springs — In its third year, the Steamboat Springs Enduro-X mountain bike series has downsized while simultaneously growing larger than ever.
“We are scaling back and kind of focusing all the efforts on this one event,” said race director David Scully. “We have the largest registration numbers that we’ve had. This is our third year, so I’m psyched about that. We have the largest pro field that we’ve ever had before as well.”
Previously, Steamboat’s Enduro-X races have been part of a small summer series. But this year, it will instead be a lone multi-stage race that will take place Sunday at the Steamboat Bike Park on Mt. Werner.
Enduro, short for endurance, is a mix of downhill and cross-country racing. The typical downhill race, like those found in the local Captain of the Boat series, lasts no more than five minutes. The Enduro races are a bit longer, lasting anywhere from five to 20 minutes and requiring more pedaling than the downhill event.
“We are going to be seeing stages that are like 17 minutes to 18 minutes,” Scully said. “Usually, the downhill guys are on a bike they can’t pedal very well, and the enduro bikes are designed to be able to pedal and handle the more aggressive downhill aspects.”
Sunday’s race is one of nine scheduled races as part of the North American Enduro Tour. Riders compete throughout the summer in these events, with seven of the nine races counting toward the overall series standings. Steamboat’s Enduro-X race is one of six that will count toward the overall rankings by default.
“I’d say it’s about 90 to 95 percent folks from out of town,” Scully said. “We are seeing more pro riders coming out that are participating in that tour, so they get points for racing the series. There are a lot of pro riders here chasing those NAET points, and that’s helped our registration a lot. It’s actually helped Steamboat Resort put their bike park on the map.”
Scully expects more than 150 riders to compete Sunday, with about 40 combined men’s and women’s pro riders. The first of four stages starts at the Rainbow Saddle Trail hub, just opposite the Vista Nature Trail from the Thunderhead lift. Stage 2 will include the bulk of Rawhide, with Stage 3 starting near the Storm Peak summit and ending on Moonlight, just before Spur Run. The final stage will take bikers down Creekside with a finish at the Thunderhead Base Trail hub.
“We have changed it up. We are racing on three new trail sections this year,” Scully said. “One is a new trail section that has been re-routed. The other trails are just sections of trail we haven’t incorporated into a race before.”
Spectators looking for a good spot to watch the race can walk up the Headwall Hiking Trail, located a short walk up Zig Zag from the base area. Otherwise, seeing the race will require a gondola pass and a lot of serious hiking.
While online registration is closed, bikers can still sign up in person at racer check-in from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at One Steamboat Place, near Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare’s mountain location. Cost is $115 for amateurs and $150 for professionals. A $4,000 purse will be on the line.
Pre-registered bikers will have the opportunity to practice on the trails throughout the day Saturday with a half-price lift ticket. There will be a benefit party and barbecue from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday at One Steamboat Place and a required racer meeting at 7:15 p.m. near the stage at Gondola Square.
Sunday’s practice session goes from 8 to 8:30 a.m., with Stage 1 getting underway at 8:45 a.m. The post-race awards ceremony and lunch will take place at Slopeside Grill at 2:30 p.m.
For more information and full course maps, visit enduro-xrace.com.
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