Professional and amateur mountain biking competition will be back at Keystone Resort this weekend with the return of the Big Mountain Enduro Series and the North American Enduro Tour. The two-day, multi-stage combined event will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13.
“Keystone is thrilled to welcome back this world-class event for a second year,” resort spokeswoman Laura Parquette said.
A blend of downhill and cross-country style racing, enduro events typically include timed downhill portions and untimed uphill transitions.
“Enduro’s been around for about 10 years in Europe,” Big Mountain series spokeswoman Sarah Rawley told the Daily. In the U.S., it’s starting to explode.
This weekend’s event will include six stages — three on Saturday, three Sunday — with one untimed uphill transition. Competitors will have the benefit of access to Keystone’s lift-served bike haul during most stages. Unlike other courses in the series, Keystone’s will have a more aggressive downhill focus.
“It’s a handwrecker,” Rawley said of the course. “Keystone is on the far end of the spectrum as far as the most technical and rowdiest terrain.”
Part of the draw of the growing discipline, she explained, is that it’s less cardio-intensive than a cross-country style race and more focused on the technical aspects of riding terrain — without being completely downhill focused.
“You don’t have to ride 20 hours a week to be able to excel,” she said. “You just need to be able to be a very good bike handler.”
But as a multi-stage event there is certainly still an endurance factor in the competition. Highly technical courses such as Keystone’s are still physically and mentally taxing. Simply put it’s a different kind of endurance.
Another attraction to the discipline is that it doesn’t necessarily require a specialized bike.
“It takes a bike you would ride most of the time,” Rawley said.
At Keystone, however, a dual suspension is highly recommended.
Rawley also cited the atmosphere as a draw. “Part of the beauty is the community of it. It’s all high-fives and drinking beer. Everybody walks away from an enduro weekend with stories.”
Limited spots are still available for the weekend-long competition, which has been capped at 300 participants. Should it fill, there may still be some day-of registration available because of no-shows.
Competition starts each day with the pro division at 10 a.m. and is expected to close around 3 p.m. The Keystone Bike Park will be closed to non-racers during the day. The resort will, however, re-open the course in the evenings from 5-7 p.m. with discounted lift passes.
Spectators will be allowed to ride the lifts to watch the race. Winners will be determined by their combined stage times, with awards for each racing class.
“A lot of our riders are really excited for this stop,” Rawley said. “We have pros coming from all over the country.”
This weekend’s competition will be the third in the four-event Big Mountain Enduro, and one of 10 stops on the North American tour.