At the beginning of the year, Fuji Enduro athlete Amy Morrison was looking forward to an exciting season racing with her new National Champion kit and Fuji Auric LT bike. Unfortunately, COVID derailed those plans, and Amy was left to reassess. Since Enduro is a largely solo discipline, after the initial wave of COVID in the US, she was able to get back to racing and took some impressive wins. We caught up with Amy at the beginning of her off-season to learn a little bit about her roller coaster of a season!
Fuji: Pre-COVID, what did you have planned for your season?
Amy Morrison (AM): Originally I had planned to tackle many of the EWS Continental Series. I was able to start off the season with a 2nd place at Bootleg Canyon for the series in February, but all of the races after that were canceled due to Covid. I had also planned to race the NAEC Enduro Cup at Silver Mountain, EWS Burke Mountain, and make the Trophy of Nations US team, and race Finale Ligure at the end of the season. Sea Otter and TDS enduro were also other events that were canceled that were apart of the initial race plan.
How did COVID change your training?
AM: Covid actually helped my training. School was switched to online mid-March and I taught from home. This allowed me to get a ride in when the weather was best in the day. I was also able to implement better pre-ride mobility and post-ride stretching. Strength training was difficult at first due to gyms closing, but my close friends quickly built up a home gym and I was able to resume strength training. Sticking to training posed a risk with so much uncertainty, but in working with my coach Julie Young, I was able to stay on track and used the training as a way to get through the uncertain time - focus helps us forget the outside noise of panic.
How did you mentally re-calibrate when races started getting canceled?
AM: My first race back was the (California Enduro Series) CES China Peak Enduro. A race I have done in previous years. I was jonesing to get back to racing and felt a lot more prepared than I did for the Bootleg race. There were a lot of nerves before the first stage because I wanted to feel like my training efforts had paid off. There was also a good group of girls racing due to the fact this was the first race that happened in our region since Covid hit.
How did COVID affect your job and day-to-day life?
AM: My life is pretty Covid friendly, in the fact that I like doing activities outside and I’m not a big restaurant, concert, or big event goer. The teaching side of things changed to online, but eventually, we went on summer break so that wasn’t much different than normal. I just spent every day outside up in Tahoe, working around my newish owned home, and tried cooking new recipes in the kitchen.
What new goals did you set when the season restarted?
AM: I reset my new goals to dominating the California Enduro series. I gave up two stage wins at China Peak in my pursuit of an overall win but knew I could have won those. With bigger goals set on racing the EWS, I knew that I needed to push stages harder than I have in previous years. This mental switch was something I learned at EWS Northstar last year. I pushed without any fear and found I could not only win a stage, but end up in the top 10 even with some unfortunate mechanicals. The rest of the season I took a sweep of all the stages and I was really proud of that focus.
Did racing look different when it re-started?
AM: Racing was mostly the same since I stayed in the region. Driving to the races and camping was a normal method of racing prior to Covid for regional races. Thankfully enduro is naturally Covid friendly in nature, so the differences at the race were minimal. Just less gathering and mask-wearing when not in-stage racing.
What are your plans now that racing is wrapped up for the year?
AM: Currently I am taking it easy and starting a long endurance base. Switching up the activities to hiking, swimming, and biking when it feels desirable. I like this time of year because I don’t feel the pressure to ride, but have lots of options to still enjoy the fall weather. I am looking forward to some winter backcountry and cross country skiing and getting back into the hard training middle of winter.
What are your goals for 2021?
AM: My goals for 2021 are to race EWS Chile, Burke, and Northstar. The top goal would be to podium at Northstar. Having an EWS return back to Tahoe was awesome news to hear earlier this year. Tahoe is a unique place with super loose dirt and chunky rock. Having learned to mountain bike in this area, my confidence and speed are high here. Also to have the support from mechanics and friends, as well as not having to travel far is huge for racing at the top level. I’d also like to add in the EWS Continental races if they fit into the schedule and try to take a continental win. Nationals return to Winter Park and while I got off the hook this year to defend my title, I’d like to add 2021 National Champ to the resume!