Day 1 of racing the Big Mountain Enduro Keystone was never short of rugged, physical terrain. It took it’s toll, with many very experienced racers taking hard crashes. But they rise to fight tomorrow, with a whole new set of challenges.
Beautiful skies greeted racers early on Saturday morning. The weather had been wet recently, would that pattern hold?
Crowds of racers were gathering, talking strategy and getting pumped for a big down of gnarly terrain at Keystone, Colorado.
Mason Bond was prepared with his down puffy jacket. He knows what Colorado mountain town mornings can be like.
The gondolas are nice when cold outside, but this morning was gorgeous and everything you want from a high mountain day.
Nate Hills giving Craig Harvey the stink eye. “Dude, you know I’m a caffeine junkie. Where’s mine?”
With Breckenridge in the distant background, JHK tries to pick up steam and continue his winning ways from Durango.
One of the first turns on the first stage had a gorgeous mountain backdrop. Not hard when you start above 11,000 feet elevation.
And away we go. Keystone Big Mountain Enduro kicks off. Ski the peaks in the background.
Was Cody Kelley smiling, or gritting his teeth. Probably both, this kid is happy to be racing, and a fierce competitor.
On Stage 2, Nate Hills was comfortably in the lead by opening a huge gap on Stage 1. This is his home mountain and take over he did.
I’ll bust that berm for you Mr. Photographer. Nice work rider.
Unfortunately for Cody Kelley, he went down hard shortly before this photo, but wanted to finish the stage. Early report is a separated shoulder and sidelined for a few weeks. Heal up Cody!
This stage, on lower Sanitarium, had plenty of rocks, at the end of a physical stage, and was extra hard on every racer.
Recent rain keep duff and dust to a minimum, but there was still a bit of roosting to be done.
Noah Sears was attacked by a bear (or so the story goes) but continued after some quick first aid and did his usual destroying of the course.
Brittany Clawson isn’t afraid to stick her tongue out to rugged courses.
Rachel Throop riding strong on stage 2.
Nate Hills was on fire today, winning every stage by margins. Wow!
Marco Osborne working hard to find his rhythm. He was slightly off pace from Hills all day.
JHK coming fast through the rock garden.
Tyler West isn’t afraid of some puny little rock garden called Wild Thing.
Beth Roberts trying to find calm and smooth through one of the tougher sections of the day.
Dylan Crane getting sideways on his way to rock smash-age!
Heather Irmiger on the gas, weaving in and out of the lodgepole pines, leaving plumes of smoke in her wake.
Sarah Rawley knows these trails well. Does she have enough in the tank to catch Irmiger on Sunday?
Rachel Throop looking super smooth after busting the lip behind her. Riding strong to a 5th place standing today.
“Ja mon!” Team Rude Boy is always a colorful force on the course. Comin’ at ya!
Wild Thing at times seems like one big, steep, rock garden. Finding the line was key.
More roots to test that new suspension on. Rough going throughout.
One pan for the peeps. I think the only smooth part of Stage 3.
The end is near, you can see it just in the distance. Keystone has some very real terrain and could be considered for an EWS stop in the future.
It just wouldn’t be a party unless someone stepped on a Shimano thunderstick. Fireball to blame? Perhaps…
Preliminary and Unofficial Day 1 Results
Words, Photos: Daniel Dunn