Thursday, August 2, 2012

Brian Buell's Winter Park Enduro Report

Brian's Race Report

While racing on the east coast, I was looking forward to this weekend. Before last years event I had never participated in an Enduro style event and I had some great success and couldn't wait to do it again. The weekend started off with a bang on Thursday in the Air DH where I took the top spot alongside teammate Jess who was right behind me in 2nd. I felt good as I was using this race as a warm up for the weekend, I was worried that I would still be fatigued from traveling and from the altitude, but I felt as fresh a daisy going into Friday. 

The first race was chainless and very downhill oriented so I was extremely confident going into it especially since I smashed it last year. It was not going to be a repeat as I left too much on the course riding conservatively. I wanted to get off to a good start, but a few momentum killing mistakes and too much brakes left me playing catchup in 19th place after stage one. 

The second stage was also very downhill oriented and once I put my chain back on I was determined to leave it all out on the track. I rode so much more aggressive and it paid off with a great 2nd place result. This moved me up from 19th place to 7th overall after the first day of racing. 

Day two would be tough as the stages were getting longer with a lot more peddling. Stage three was an extremely fun track involving the air downhill course that I won on earlier in the week and finished on a freeride trail littered with jumps and drops. I once again put down a good run and was half a second off the top spot finishing 2nd again. This moved me up into 3rd place overall leading into stage four and the last of the mini stages. 

Stage four had a good mixture of flow built into it but there wasn't anytime to relax. If I wasn't turning, I was churning and burning. There were two flat peddling sections including one that was named 300 yard walk, which was a road with a slight crown to crest over before bombing back down to the finish. This stage I gritted me teeth and put my head down for a well deserved 3rd place on the stage. This would move me into 2nd place overall going into the fifth and final stage. 

The last stage would be a canon start, meaning that riders would start in the order of the overall and how many seconds behind each other they are. It was also going to be around a 25 minute race to the bottom with multiple climbs and slower trail conditions. The morning started with a 20 minute slog up the road from the top of the base lift, all racers had to get themselves to the top unassisted. This proved to be a nice little warm up to get the legs going before really putting them to the test. Going into the last stage I knew I had my work cut out for me in order to improve or to even stay in the top ten. I had done everything in my power to work out the fatigue 3 straight days of racing had put on my lower limbs and was going to leave it all out on the trail. Once the gun sounded I sprinted out of the gate with 3rd place behind me on my wheel. I rode hard for about 5 minutes but the momentum robbing roots and spongy conditions started to take their toll. I dropped back into 3rd place trying to pace the man in front of me but to my despair I had already hit my threshold and needed a recovery. Two more riders sprinted by me like I was standing still. In 5th place I tried desperately to find my rhythm again but it was too little too late. I had blown my legs and hit the wall and there were riders teaming up working together to get around me. My legs felt like cinder blocks as I made my way up the last climb in 8th which I would hold until a minute long road sprint towards the bottom. I gave it one final go but my 34 tooth combined with my lack of power output wasn't enough as I moved back into 10th place before the final plunge to the finish. Unlike the previous year, the last stage was extremely XC oriented suffer fest and did not bode well for me. I've been training and riding 3-5 minute World Cup downhills and I was not properly prepared to confidently ride to the best of my ability flat out for 25 minutes straight after multiple days of racing. I was still extremely pleased and proud to have put myself on the podium multiple times, scored a top 10 overall and in podium position amongst the whole North American Enduro contingency. 

Ride On!
Brian Buell

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