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Photo Essay: Big Mountain Enduro Finals in Moab, Utah

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The Big Mountain Enduro held it’s fifth and final stop in Moab, Utah, which also served as the finals for the North American Enduro Tour (N.A.E.T.) The biggest names in this emerging discipline made their way to the desert to go head-to-head in five stages, two of which finished the weekend on the iconic “Whole Enchilada”.

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Dylan Wolsky (The Nomads) rails a corner on Stage 1: Bull Run, a 13-minute hard effort through sandy singletrack, slick rock and wide open spaces that allowed for creative line selection. Wolsky was a consistent face in the Big Mountain Enduro Series all season long, ending up 10th for the weekend.

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Not to be outdone by the young-guns, Mike West (Yeti/FOX) demonstrates classic style with a huck-to-flat maneuver on Stage 3, Gold Bar trail. Although there was much debate if this was the faster line, West evidently spent more time in the air and less in the sand and won this stage by 1-second over Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Trek Factory Racing).

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Nate Hills (Mavic/SRAM/Yeti) rides strong all weekend long for a second place finish in the overall weekend. Hills stood on the podium at every Big Mountain Enduro event, and his finish in Moab catapulted him to the top to win the Big Mountain Enduro Overall Series. When asked what he attributes his success to, Hills sums it up with “always enjoying my time on the bike, consistency, and eating bacon daily.”

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Krista Park (Cannondale) focuses on the dots that create the trail, Great Escape for Stage 2. Park made her mark in the enduro scene in her inaugural season, standing on one of the top two steps of the podium at every BME event, and finishing second in the Big Mountain Enduro Overall Series.

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At the end of Day 1, riders gather around the results to see where they stand after the first three stages. Horgan-Kobelski, West and Hills lead the Pro Men category, while Heather Irmiger (Trek Factory Racing), Heidi Rentz (Ibis) and Rosara Joseph (Yeti/FOX) take a commanding lead for the Pro Women. With the “Whole Enchilada” looming the next day, nothing is sealed until everyone crosses the final finish line on Porcupine Rim trail.

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Fresh snow tops the La Salle mountains after an evening storm drops a few inches of moisture in the high-alpine near the top of Burro Pass, the start of Stage 4. There was much speculation if this stage would be raced, but everyone knew it wouldn’t be the “Whole Enchilada” without starting from the top. Racers trudged up the 1,000’ climb to get to the top in sub-freezing temperatures, to enjoy a fast, slippery descent, lasting less than 10 minutes for most.

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Nick Dru, racing in the Amateur Men 19-29 category, navigates the icy conditions smoothly after 75 pros already skidded their way down Stage 4 on Burro Pass trail. In the Pro Men, Chris Johnston (The Nomads) put down a time that made his competitors think he was racing on hero dirt. This stage and his consistent performance all weekend long contributed to Johnston’s fifth place for the weekend, which gave him the points needed to win the entire North American Enduro Tour.

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Reid Bakken, racing in the Amateur Men 30-39 category, sets up for a corner in LPS, the fifth trail that comprises the “Whole Enchilada”. Riders start above 11,200 feet and drop down to the desert floor at just over 4,000 feet to ride Burro Pass, Hazard County, Kokopelli trail, UPS, LPS, and finishing on Porcupine Rim trail. “We felt that was the perfect trail recipe for the BME and NAET finals to culminate, containing high alpine descents (in the snow) and super technical riding down the red rock of Porcupine Rim. The various ecosystems to be able to race through, the great weather Moab is notorious for, as well as the support of the local community were all key additional elements for this to be home of the 2013 finals,” said Brandon Ontiveros, director of the Big Mountain Enduro Series.

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Half of the field walked the infamous “Snotch”, which marks the halfway point of LPS. Tom Perkins, racing in the Masters 40+ Men, rolls the dice and commits to the final move down the staircase of rocks. A large crowd of spectators gathered at the Snotch, cheering on any rider who attempted the move.

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DC, the DJ, teams up with Meatball, the Chihuahua, to present the Big Mountain Enduro awards ceremony that included the top five in each category for the weekend’s event, Big Mountain Enduro Overall Series and North American Enduro Series. DC was at every BME event to keep the vibe alive and the music flowing.

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All smiles on the Pro Women podium, with Irmiger, Jospeh, Park, Rentz and Beth Roberts (Rim Tours), who mix in local talent among the best in the country for the top five. “It made it so much more special to be out there, having such an inspiring group of girls to hang out with in-between stages and being out there with a variety of talents was very exciting,” Rentz said. “It made me want to race harder, because I knew what I was up against. I was blown away of how well everyone performed on the trails we ride every day.”

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The Pro Men podium for the weekend was stacked and separated by seconds after nearly an hour and a half of racing. Horgan-Kobelski, Hills, West, Alex Petitdemange (Yeti Cycles/Smith/Mavic/MRP) and Johnston finished their seasons strong by standing on top of the box. When not traveling back and forth between Europe, Petitdemange resides in Moab. He has ridden trails all over the world, and feels “these stages were longer than anywhere else which I think is better for enduro. The original enduro is riding trails, not a “downhill stage race”. Enduro should be “trail racing”. That is what I like to do, riding as fast as you can.”

BME #5, Moab Final Results

    Men
    1. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski 1:27:28.975
    2. Nate Hills 1:28:31.143
    3. Mike West 1:28:51.738
    4. Alex Petitdemange 1:29:29.436
    5. Chris Johnston 1:29:30.985

    Women
    1. Heather Irmiger 1:43:00.262
    2. Rosara Joseph 1:43:14.034
    3. Krista Park 1:47:41.045
    4. Heidi Rentz 1:48:12.083
    5. Beth Roberts 1:52:06.604

Big Mountain Enduro Series Overall

    Men
    1. Nate Hills
    2. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski
    3. Chris Johnston
    4. Mike West
    5. Ross Schnell

    Women
    1. Heather Irmiger
    2. Krista Park
    3. Jill Behlen
    4. Cait Dmitriew
    5. Lea Julson

North American Enduro Tour Final Standings

    Men
    1. Chris Johnston
    2. Adam Craig
    3. Aaron Bradford
    4. Nate Hills
    5. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski

    Women
    1. Heather Irmiger
    2. Rosara Joseph
    3. Krista Park
    4. Kelli Emmett
    5. Margaret Gregory

More info & full results: www.bigmountainenduro.com

Words: Sarah Rawley Photos: Nicholas B. Ontiveros

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