Life On Two Wheels: Uriell Proft and the world of women’s downhill enduro
Special to the Daily
Uriell Proft is one of Summit’s hottest up-and-coming mountain bike riders. The Breckenridge local has taken the enduro racing scene by storm, placing first in the Women’s Amateur division of the Big Mountain Enduro (BME) Keystone stop, two years in a row. What many people don’t know, however, is how new she is to the sport. Proft has only been doing serious mountain biking since 2009, and even then, focused on mostly cross-country riding.
“It was kind of like one of those things, where I was doing it, and was like, ‘Gosh, why am I doing this,’ but when I would finish every race I would go, ‘Oh man, I want to do another one of those,’” Proft giggled.
Then in 2014, everything changed for Uriell, when she won the Juliana Bicycles’ My Roubion photo contest. Her winning entry was a stunning photo of her riding the 401 Trail in Crested Butte, amid a lush meadow with a foreboding peak in the backdrop.
“It’s my favorite place to ride in Colorado. I love it … . You’re riding a lot of buffed out single-track and trees in the forest, and there’s just tons and tons of long runs you can do,” explained Proft.
One of the prizes for winning the contest, was a Juliana Roubion bike, a light, carbon fiber model, ideal for enduro-style riding. Proft had never rode in an enduro race before, but felt that she owed it to Juliana and the bike to at least give it a try. After winning her first ever race at the BME series stop at Keystone, she was instantly sold.
“I loved it. To me, enduro is a perfect combination of endurance with pedaling, but also, downhill and that group of skills, so it was perfect for me,” explained Proft. “I don’t mind climbing, and I don’t mind going for a long time to make it to the reward of a downhill. It’s going to get you to a descent that’s going to be worth every bit of the hike … . Since, I’m from a cross-country background and I’m used to pedaling, it’s kind of what I’m OK with doing.”
Another prize from the contest, was a guided bike trip to Roubion, France. To her pleasant surprise, the variety of terrain found in this alps region, was similar to the enduro courses she so adores.
“It’s just these huge spines and mountains … . A lot of the terrain is old trails people would use to get from one village to another in France and they’re not built to be biked on at all,” Proft remembers. “ Some of the terrain is just riding through cow pastures … there was one day we were riding in the rain, and it was probably a couple thousand sheep, just running down the side of this hill to get to the bottom where I guess the shepherds were with their food.”
A particularly memorable enduro experience came for Proft last October, when she competed in the Moab Ho-Down in Utah.
“I only got to pre-ride the trails the night before at like 7:00 as it was getting dark. So it was a little bit scary, but that’s kind of the spirit of enduro, is that sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to be riding, and you have to go into it blind,” said Proft passionately.
Flying across red-hued rocks and through white-knuckle singletrack turns, Proft admits that the race was well-outside her comfort zone. However, adversity clearly brings out the best for the Vermont native, as she still finished 2nd in the women’s expert division.
“It was really fun, it was a good kind of new experience, and it made me test myself … . That’s what’s great about racing. It gets you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, if you were just going out and riding,” explained Proft.
Hearing Proft expound on the joys of enduro riding makes it obvious that it is one of her deepest passions in life.
“I really like the fast, flowy sections, where you can be in your big ring, pedaling and flowing, and pumping your bike, because that is an incredible feeling. To be able to use the terrain and pump your bike in and out of terrain, and over little hills and rollers and things like that; you can get a lot of power out of that. But also, there’s also something to be said for those technical sections that everybody at the top is talking about, being like, ‘OK, I need to get through this technical section. I need to get through this turn, and over this rock section and I’ll be good.’ And that’s the stuff that really makes it exciting and gets your adrenaline going.”
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