The 2020 season got off to early start this year as I traveled down to Las Vegas, Nevada to race the first stop of the Enduro World Series (EWS) North American Continental Series. I was worried about what a mid-February race would look like as it is a solid two months before I normally start racing. My winter training consisted of a lot of backcountry skiing, desert dirt biking, and indoor trainer rides as the Sierra mountains and Carson Valley where I live received cold temps and snow.
The race course was made up of one downhill run and three heavy on the pedals tracks. I was able to practice with my friend and 3rd place overall in last year's EWS, Andreane Lanthier Nadeau. Hearing her talk about the course being very physical made me feel better about feeling tired, even in practice. I tend to be hard on myself when it comes to racing and I was doubting my fitness for this very physical course.
My race bike was a newly “mulleted” Auric LT, meaning I swapped in a 150mm 29er fork, and I was excited to get more time on this capable rig! The result of this super easy swap was better rollover in the front, while still feeling snappy in the rear. Mentally, I decided this race would be a test run for my bruised up body (from a training crash the week before) and new bike.
Stage one started with a one hour delay and no chance to warm up, so it was a rough start for us all. I was nervous and didn’t hit my lines very well. I did better towards the end of the run, but lost time over braking and dabbing a foot here and there. It wasn't the best, but I could live with a non-crash run on such a gnarly first stage.
Stage two was my least favorite - it started off rowdy and downhill, then quickly changed to uphill pedaling. The second half was mostly flat with technical rock features to get up and over. In a steep g-out, I over compressed my fork and panicked. I grabbed brake and flew off the trail and lost time, as I had to run back up the hill. Andreane gave me a little pep talk at the finish and I regrouped for two more pedally stages.
Stage three started flat and then turned uphill before going into a long flowy and fast section. I loved the fast section and it showed, with me being within a second of Andreane on this stage.
The fourth and final stage I dug deep and pedaled as hard as I could on this slight downhill stage with flat corners. I knew being smooth would pay off big time, so I tried to relax in the corners. This was another stage I was one second back from Andreane.
After the race, we hung out at the campsite and exhaustion coughed as we awaited for race results that would not come. Timing on stage one was messed up and it would take race organizers a few days to sort out. When the results finally came, I was stoked to see I ended up with a 2nd place behind Andreane! This reassured me of my capabilities and will be motivating as I get back to training.
Next up on the schedule is the Sea Otter Downhill in Monterey, CA on April 19th followed by TDS Enduro the following weekend.