2020 was not the season that anyone anticipated. US National Enduro Champion Amy Morrison made the most out of the uncertain season, racking up wins across the West. She capped off the season with a final win in the California Enduro Series.
The California Enduro Series consisted of three stops this year. The last one was in Ashland, Oregon. I had raced in Ashland earlier in my career, but I hadn’t been out in a few years. The 4,000-foot descent from the top is always a blast and the super-fast and mostly smooth trails down always leave a grin on everyone’s faces. The stages are notorious for including high speeds, but also a lot of sections of flat or slightly uphill power.
I was feeling depleted most of the week from the 46 miles and 7,600 feet of climbing in Ely, Nevada at the Fears, Tears, and Beers Enduro the previous week which was my longest race (and ride) ever- but at the same time racing seven stages over a 9-hour day gave me a boost of confidence of where my fitness was at. Heading into Friday’s practice, I wanted to keep it short and just get a refresher on the trails I’ve ridden years prior and take it easy so I could feel as peppy as possible Saturday morning for a 30 mile, 5,000-foot race day.
With a race fleet of three super-capable Fuji bikes, I had a tough choice to make of which bike to race. My choices were:
Most of the races this season were done on the Auric LT mullet (170/160 – 29/27.5). This bike served me well on the chunky bike park terrain at Shasta and China Peak.
In Ely, I decided to race my new 2021 Rakan LT (160/160 - 29er). The trails did not need a big bike, but I wanted to get comfortable with the big wheels and long travel.
Being back to work as a teacher, I had been spending a lot of ride time on my Rakan, which is a great bike for the mellower terrain in Carson City (140/120 – 29er).
Ashland does not have much terrain that requires lots of suspension, but I decided on the Rakan LT to ensure the sections that did would go smoothly and to also have stability on the high-speed sections. I knew my Rakan would pedal better, but I felt the confidence of the Rakan LT would pay off more than a slight pedal advantage.
Race day started with the longest and most physical stage. The stages for the most part had short transfers in between, with a long climb back to the top at the end. Without live timing, I had to go off how I felt in the stages to predict my status in the results. I felt strong and my motto was ‘keep it smooth’. Botched cornering would require extra pedaling, so I conserved energy for the power points in the stages by setting the corners up well.
The Rakan LT wanted to roll fast as long as I kept it moving. After four seemingly smooth stages, I pedaled back to the top where I anticipated the last timing chip in for the season. My name appeared at the top and showed me sweeping all the stages! Winning is always a race day goal, but it felt great to win all the stages to prove consistency and focus through long stages, as well as short technical ones!