The Enduro World Series in Snowmass and Aspen July 30 to 31
The Aspen Times
IF YOU GO...
What: Enduro World Series bike competition
When: Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31
Where: Snowmass Village, Snowmass Bike Park, Buttermilk Mountain and Aspen Mountain. See maps for more trail-specific information.
Cost: Free for spectators.
For more information, visit http://www.enduroworldseries.com.
Pedal up a mountain at high altitude. Race down the hill as fast as possible. Repeat.
This is more or less the gist of enduro cycling, a form of mountain biking that combines timed downhill racing and uphill cycling over the course of several stages. On July 30, Round 5 of the eight-round Enduro World Series kicks off in Snowmass, drawing 400 of the best mountain bikers across the world to town.
What sets enduro racing apart from traditional mountain biking and other sporting events is that athletes must put their endurance and fitness to work before the games begin.
“These athletes have to put a lot of physical effort just to get to the starting line,” said Snowmass Tourism groups and events manager Dave Elkan, referring to enduro bikers’ ascension to the start of each race.
Because enduro races involve more than one timed race per day, enduro cyclists’ “recovery” between races is spent pedaling up a mountain in order to reach the next stage of competition.
“That’s what makes enduro so unique. It introduces a level of fitness that perhaps traditional downhill mountain-bike racing didn’t serve,” Elkan said. “It takes a special type of athlete. They need to be physically fit but also skilled in downhill bike-handling skills.”
The Enduro World Series offers the highest level of enduro biking.
Aspen and Snowmass are the only U.S. destination to host the 2016 Enduro World Series, which passed through Chile, Argentina, Ireland and Italy for its first four rounds and will travel to Canada, France and back to Italy for its final series.
The two-day Aspen and Snowmass series has six stages and will start and end in Snowmass, with trips to and from Buttermilk and Aspen mountains between. The first three stages will occur July 30 and the final three July 31, Aspen Skiing Co. Director of Event Operations Buck Erickson said.
Both race days will last from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Erickson said, with an awards ceremony on July 31 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
See map for route-specific information; see sidebar for details on the trail closures that will take place from July 28 to 31.
PAVING THE PATH FOR THE SPORT LOCALLY
At the forefront of enduro biking — and prior to the October 2012 inception of the Enduro World Series — are Elkan and Erickson, who started the first enduro race in Aspen and Snowmass five or six years ago, Elkan said.
Elkan reported that 75 local cyclists participated in the first local enduro race, which is roughly one-fifth the number of athletes he expects to compete in the local World Series event.
“Aspen (and) Snowmass (have) always been on the cutting edge of mountain-bike competitions,” Elkan said. “The sport of enduro has really exploded and become, in my opinion, the focal point of mountain-bike racing in the world.”
Enduro athlete and cycling enthusiast Flynn George, who has competed in enduro bike races since the first local competition five or six years back, said he has been “very impressed” watching the sport grow within the community and also on a national level.
“Snowmass has made great strides in developing trails to suit the growing need to the mountain-bike and enduro race scene,” said George, who intends to compete this weekend. “I cannot wait to see Snowmass and Aspen continue to bring international racers and tourism to this amazing area.”