Enduro World Series 2022 - Round 6
by Andrew Trueworthy • September 06, 2022
Enduro World Series
Sugarloaf Maine, USA
The Best of The Best were on display this past weekend to the marvel and enjoyment of all in attendance. The build team at Sugarloaf had been hard at work over the past 3 months scouting, planning, and executing the creation of trails worthy of the world’s best enduro mountain bike riders. From what could be heard and observed from those elite riders, the Sugarloaf Team had hit the mark! Famous for its skiing, Sugarloaf Mountain can now be known as a ‘if you can ride your bike here, you can ride your bike anywhere in the world’ kind of resort. Seeing the parking lots full of team tents and industry vendors was an exciting change to the typical dusty desolation that one might observe up there during the summer months. Everywhere you looked there was a new frame being built up, a suspension fork being torn down, or some dealings between competitors being made.
I was up there for 3 days. Camping, socializing, and volunteering. Former Olympian Adam Craig was in need of help to fill needs around the mountain throughout Saturday and Sunday, facilitating the racing of both amateurs and professionals alike. Even though I hadn’t planned on volunteering, the opportunity to lend a hand was too great to refuse, I enlisted the help of two friends and we transformed from casual observers to empowered person of authority as soon as we slid into the hunter orange staff t-shirts. Now able to bring our enduro bikes up the chair to access our assigned Marshall Stations, our daily paces quickly morphed from slow slog to white-knuckle bombing down Sugarloaf’s access roads and where able, parts of various race stages. A blast!
Three broad rider categories encompassed all participants; EWS Pro, EWS 100, EWS 80. EWS 100 and 80 are Amateur classes EWS Pro riders competed on 6 Stages over 2 days wherein EWS 100 & 80 riders competed on 5 Stages on Saturday Only. Sugarloaf had 5 unique courses on offer, with Pro riders competing on the Pro Stage twice; once on Saturday as Stage 1 and again on Sunday as Stage 6.
Sugarloaf did an excellent job of providing directions for spectators and marking out the mountain accordingly by way of the Spectator Guide made special for this event. This enabled all spectators to determine where they might want to view the race (all spectator spots were “action spots”) and provided detailed directions on how to get there easily. Even as a seasoned Sugarloafer, this little tool came in handy more than once!
Time and time again I was amazed at the speed which these Pro riders are capable of! Looks fast in-person and REALLY fast on video as I came to discover. The conditions at Sugarloaf were rather favorable, wet on practice day giving way to mostly dry conditions on Sunday. Standing in any one spot for a period was a constant reminder that at Sugarloaf (if not elsewhere around the globe) that the faster you ride through the ugliest terrain the smoother your ride becomes, bringing credence to the old adage “Fast is Smooth. Smooth is Fast”. In the most-technical sections of any Stage the persons who rode the fastest were jerked, jostled, and kicked around noticeably less than their less-aggressive or else slower counterparts.
Two spectator spots were favorites of mine. The first was on the Pro Stage (Stage 1 + 6) up high toward the start of the race. The Stage crosses from the woods across the Sheerboom ski trail beneath the Super Quad chairlift and directly over a very square rock drop measuring about 4’ in height for the rock itself plus another 1-2 vertical feet to the anticipated landing at the forefront of a quick catch berm before redirecting the rider back towards the woods on the opposite side of the trail. To my surprise there was not much carnage here even as the Amateur classes rode through any unfortunate miscalculation or tumble was promptly righted and the rider again zipping along toward to flowy lower section of the trail. The Second spectator spot that I enjoyed was about 1/3 the way down Stage 3, a top-to-bottom run utilizing every last inch of vertical drop the Sugarloaf has to offer. The section of trail is classic Sugarloaf; jagged rocks, exposed roots, steep terrain, weaving in and out between tightly spaced trees. In the section the ground was still damp from Friday’s rain storm which really separated the bold from the rest of the pack. Again, it was here that staggering speed won the day as it seemed to disrupt the rider’s line less the faster they rode. At the bottom of the technical entrance was two compression spots each with a square edge rock on the tailing edge. I was astounded how rim shot after rim shot was not met with an immediate flat tire! So much so that as I write I remain mesmerized by the fact. Obviously some combination of heavy-casing tires and/or tire inserts were in-play there and their intended purpose fully warranted. I learned very quickly the sounds of an aluminum rim hitting stone vs. a carbon rim striking the same. A subtle difference, but clear enough.
At day’s end I had made my way down the spectator areas of both Stage 3 and Stage 5. The Stage 5 triple was a big attraction as it was low on the mountain for hikers uphill and featured a 40 or so foot gap that most riders hit in stride. This was a great opportunity for anyone with a camera to grab some high-speed shots of some big air!
Definitely a treat to see International racers in their element doing what makes them known. The crowd was excited, the riders impressed, and the both the Pro Men’s and Women’s winners decided on Stage 6. Jesse Melamed (CAN) of Rocky Mountain Race Face and Isabeau Courdurier (FRA) of Lapierre Zipp Collective teams were the respective victors.