By Matt Kaspryzk
Moab is an odd place. There are a lot of mountain bikers, ATVs, 4x4s, and hikers for obvious reasons, but there are also a lot of folks who look like extras from "Cocoon" walking around town. It makes for a strange dichotomy.
In addition to having some of the most sought-after trails, bus tours through Arches National Park and buying Native American lawn decorations must be an equal draw for this southern Utah oasis. People certainly don’t come to Moab for the nightlife, but The Whole Enchilada Enduro race weekend had a bit of a festival atmosphere regardless.
There wasn’t much of an expo area, but there were parties and group rides to keep spirits high. I was happy to run into some industry friends that I haven’t seen in awhile, let alone get to ride with. It was also a good opportunity to meet new riders from around the country.
Loading up the shuttles for the 6 a.m. roll out.
The event brought in riders from several corners of North America. Pros and amateurs mingled waiting for early morning shuttles or while enjoying PBRs at The Chile Pepper bike shop party on Friday night. Shuttles were prompt, the organizers were organized, and sponsors like Fox, Shimano, POC, DT Swiss and The North Face provided some fantastic raffle prizes. The field was capped at 150 racers because of restrictions with land management, so the event seemed almost like invite only.
Even organizers Bigfoot Productions hopes to increase that number by appealing to park officials with well-executed events and responsible riders. So if you didn’t get in this year, there could be a better chance in 2013.
The final push to the top of Burrow Pass.
The ride from the top of Burrow Pass down to the Colorado River is a bucket-list ride. Many mountain bikers who have done it believe that it was the best ride they have ever done, or will ever do. So an enduro race on the Mecca of all trails is a good idea, right? Time will tell, but a lot went well for the first official race down to Moab.
Zach White, at right, practicing his lines for the winning Amateur Men’s time.
The course sounds great on paper: more than 7,000 feet of descending along more than 25 miles. However, it’s incredibly punishing on body and bike. There were significant climbs at high elevation. Sections of the course are very technical, fast, and rough with lots of potential for serious injuries. It’s the quintessential mountain biking that most of us dream of. I just hope racing this course doesn’t ruin a fantasy epic. A group ride where you can drink in the scenery and appreciate where you are is much different than being blurry-eyed staring at your front wheel while hoping your fingers will work when they need to.
The finish doesn’t look like much here, but on race day it was the best sight ever.
If you need another reason to make your pilgrimage to Moab, this event could be it. Hats off to the promoters, sponsors, volunteers and racers. I hope to see everyone next year.