Defending US Enduro National Champion Amy Morrison is coming into 2021 Nationals full speed ahead. After scoring her first National Championship in Winter Park, Colorado in 2019, she navigated a difficult 2020 by racing closer to home, including handily taking the overall victory in the highly competitive California Enduro Series, where she amassed more than double the points of the second-place finisher. Coming into 2021, Amy and her Fuji Rakan LT will once again return to Winter Park to defend the stars and stripes jersey throughout 4 high-altitude stages. We checked in with Amy to go over what makes her Fuji National Championship ready.
Matt Jones (MJ): First off, that raw silver frameset is gorgeous; is this a standard Fuji option or something that you had done for yourself?
Amy Morrison (AM): The silver frame is rad! It is a special colorway from my sponsor, Fuji, but I think it should be a production frame color down the road!
MJ: How much travel are you running front and rear? Will you change anything up after practice and before racing with your setup? In general, do you prefer a setup that is on the softer or the firmer side of things? Faster or slower rebound?
AM: I am running 170mm Fox 38 in the front and 150mm rear. I was running the new Pro Float X, however, after one practice day, I am trying a fresh X2. The X2 will have a softer feel and it’s a little bit heavier. I typically like things to run stiffer, but this course has some legit downhill sections like the Pro DH run on Trestle for stage 4. There are also some flowy sections and stage sprints so having a balanced setup will be key.
MJ: Walk me through the cockpit setup on your Rakan LT.
AM: I am running 760 bars, a new Tennet 37mm stem, and 150mm dropper post. I’ve been running to set up similar to this for a couple of years so it feels very natural.
MJ: The Rakan LT comes stock with a 160mm fork and a 63.7-degree head angle. You’re running a 170mm fork, which brings that head angle down to 63.2 or so. The bike must demolish technical sections! You’ve got an air shock on the rear of this bike; what makes you choose to run this over a coil?
AM: The longer travel fork allows for a more aggressive head angle and feels very planted in rough terrain. I feel this aggressive geometry doesn’t come at any loss of pedal efficiency. The Fuji M-link is great for pedaling and I haven’t noticed power loss on sprints. I have a coil shock on my Auric LT, which is a mullet. I enjoy the coil in the park. It has a much softer feel to it and I feel for Enduro too much energy is lost with a coil shock when sprinting.
MJ: For Winter Park, what wheel and tire setup will you be running? Weather is always changing up this high in the mountains, so soil conditions can be quite variable. How do you plan on adapting if the weather shifts the day of the race?
AM: I am running WTB CZR carbon rims. They have been great, strong, and stiff. I always run a 2.5 WTB Vigilante in the front. I considered running a light case entirely based on the 2019 course - however, this course is much different [less flat stage]) and there’s a lot of rock that I don’t want to risk flatting on so I will run a tough high grip. In the rear, I usually have a tough and fast WTB Trail Boss, but with tire shortages, I am unable to have a tough casing and it is too risky to run the light casing I have. Therefore, a good equivalent I’ve found is the Specialized Eliminator. It could rain here, however, I don’t find Trestle to hold water. It dries quickly and we race early in the morning so we might have hero dirt from a shower the day before. I’m expecting dry trails though. If it doesn’t become muddy I’ll slow suspension down and put a WTB Judge Tough high grip in the rear.
MJ: Most riders are racing with tire inserts these days; what inserts will you be riding and why?
AM: I’m riding a Mynesweepers insert in the rear. I run it because the risk of flatting and being totally flat is not worth saving weight. The Mynesweeper is only .25lbs and I don’t notice it. That was my goal with adding an insert. I still run pretty high rear tire pressure with it at 28psi.
MJ: You’ve been with Fuji for four years now; how has the Rakan evolved into the bike that it is now and how involved have you been in the process?
AM: Yes, it has been four years with Fuji! When I started with Fuji the Rakan LT had been designed with a year until production, but with some unexpected hiccups, it has taken longer. When I got it last season I was pumped. I enjoyed the evolution of racing the Auric LT, then making it a mullet and racing that mostly last year to getting the Rakan LT in late August and spending the winter training on it. I feel it checks all the boxes - fast-rolling, aggressive, good pedaling, etc.
MJ: How do you feel about your chances at defending your National title? What are your post-Nationals plans?
AM: I feel positive about defending my title. The women’s field is getting stronger every day it seems, but I’ve had some really good racing so far this season. The highlights have been my win at TDS and making a really strong comeback on the last stage at Silver. It tells me the training I’ve done with Julie Young is working. I feel technically fast, as well. My last race at China Peak was an off race for me and I still managed a 2nd. A week-old finger break and a bad cold leading into the race were mental and physical barriers. While my finger isn’t completely healed, I know what to expect with it pain-wise and feel more confident that falling on it won’t be quite as traumatic as when it was a more fresh break at China Peak. I know I just need to trust myself on race day and put together 4 good runs!