Race Report: Round 3 of the 2019 Montana Enduro Series - Big Sky Resort

Jul 30, 2019
by The Montana Enduro Series  


Lone Peak's Revenge isn't just a name. It's also a description. Lone Peak, home of Big Sky Resort, claims for itself derailleurs, tires, wheels, frames, skin, bones, spirit and pride. It ruthlessly saps energy with racing grueling, steep terrain at 9,000' above sea level. It throws unpredictable, changing weather and trail conditions at everyone. Revenge is what the mountain seeks. And it's what the mountain gets.

The rain started 10 minutes after the racers set off from the start of the 2019 Lone Peak’s Revenge presented by DialedMTB. The racers watched a gentle mist develop into a deluge, covering the landscape and surrounding mountains with sheets of driving rain. Big Sky Resort, the host and venue for this stop of the 2019 SoFi Montana Enduro Series, is known for its incredible variety of trails from low angle flow to the steepest of rock waterfalls and root filled chutes. Naturally, the race took place on the latter, with the route designed by now-infamous course designers John and Lisa Curry.

Busy morning at the base with check-ins and final bike inspections. The 2019 course featured more climbing and took racers on a tour of the whole mountain. This year s course featured 6 stages with 6000 of climbing and 7700 of descending. Not for the faint of heart.
Busy morning at the base with check-ins and final bike inspections. The 2019 course featured more of just about everything, taking racers on a tour of the whole of Big Sky Resort.
John Curry giving racers the course run down during the racer meeting.
Course designer and local legend John Curry giving racers the course run down during the racer meeting.

Racers started the day’s 6 stages: 6000 feet of climbing and 7,700 feet descending, with a service road grind up Lone Peak’s only-slightly less imposing sister mountain, Andesite. Once arriving at the top, they were granted a bit of a downhill transfer to the start of stage one. A coalescence of old-school downhill trails, updated with berms and a hip jump near the beginning, stage one asked riders to trust their tires in the wet slate and grease before a hard-right turn that led into a very steep climb. Thankfully, the climb was under substantial tree cover, so it maintained excellent traction under foot as most racers ran up it beside their bicycles. Once clear of the uphill, it was back on the bike for a slippery, root-filled decent to Stage 1’s conclusion. Riders converged at the finish of the stage to lend tools and advice to the many who suffered mechanicals on course.

Nothing like a 2-mile 1 200 ft climb to get the blood pumping first thing in the morning.
Nothing like a 2-mile 1,200' climb to get the blood pumping first thing in the morning.

Nick Dunn making it look smooth and stylish as he airs a tricky hip on Stage 1. Racing Expert Male he s a veteran of the MES Series - he s raced in 11 races dating back to 2016.
Nick Dunn making it look smooth and stylish as he airs a tricky hip on Stage 1. Racing Expert Male, he's a veteran of the MES Series - he's raced in 11 races dating back to 2016.

If you aren t racing Big Sky with copious amounts of air and tubes you re doing it wrong. RIPtires
If you aren't racing Big Sky with copious amounts of CO2/air and tubes, you're doing it wrong. #RIPtires

Now thoroughly soaked but still in good spirits, participants made their way up the longest transfer of the day. Back to the summit of Andesite Mountain, this time via a pleasant, if long, XC trail before a hike straight up a ski run through soaking knee-high grass. Fortunately, mountain weather stayed true to form and whisked away the cloud cover to reveal blue skies and warmer temperatures. Standing at the top of stage two, riders contemplated whether the rain had rendered the course’s most notorious trail, Revenge, a slippery mess or a tacky dream come true. Built by madmen in the early 2000’s, Revenge is a conundrum. With the potential to flow well, it leads riders on a roller coaster down the mountain, half technical downhill and half technical trail ride - all with serious consequences for pushing limits too far. Roots made slippery by rain hid in the shadows near the bottom, waiting for poor body position or over-commitment. Emerging from tree cover in a sprint, racers crossed the stage’s finish line and filled up water bottles as the sun baked the wet earth and clothes began to dry.

Stage 1 saw lots of 180 degree corners as it snaked its way down the mountain. Expert Male James Turcotte carried his speed throughout the day and earned himself the top spot for the weekend. q
Stage 1 saw lots of 180 degree corners as it snaked its way down the mountain. Expert Male James Turcotte carried his speed throughout the day and earned himself the top spot for the weekend.

Pro Male Jeremy David earned himself a well respected 3rd place finish.
Pro Male Jeremy David earned himself a well respected 3rd place finish

Now joined by Juniors (who started on Stage 3), the day’s third transfer ushered riders up Lone Mountain proper. Service roads were used and riders with time to spare took the opportunity to walk bikes and attempt to dry helmet-pads and goggles. The top of Stage 3 gave racers the opportunity again to ponder, this time about the entrance to Lobo, another of Big Sky Resort’s original trails. A savagely steep affair, Lobo was rife with A and B line options, although B lines offered little respite from the trail’s white-knuckled A options. Fortunately, the rain then sun combination improved traction in many of these sections, allowing racers to really push down the race course. The stage ended and immediately the transfer began on a set of wood skinnies out to destroy derailleurs. For those that survived, the categories split ways, with Pro and Expert racers heading back up the service road again towards stage 4, and Masters, Sport and junior riders heading back to the base area for a lift ride to stage 5.

Dialed MTB the presenting sponsor for this years Lone Peaks Revenge hooking up participants with the goods.
Dialed MTB, the presenting sponsor for this years Lone Peaks Revenge, hooking up participants with the goods
Expert Female rider Eva Culpo sharing some wisdom with Junior Female s Addison Roush prior to the race.
Expert Female rider Eva Culpo sharing some wisdom with Junior Female's Addison Roush prior to the race.

Blaise Ballantyne with the game face before departing with the rest of the Junior crew.
Blaise Ballantyne with the game face before departing with the rest of the Junior crew.

...and this was the B Line.
This was the B line. Lobo showed no mercy for mistakes.

Stage 4’s start was a rather unassuming spot on the fire road, punctuated only by a Montana Enduro Series start sign and group of nervous riders checking, and double checking the condition of brake pads and rotors. On paper, the stage was made up of three trails: Brown Rice, Hollywood, and Buffalo Jump. No one had ever heard of the first, but the other two were known entities. In reality, Brown Rice is, to-date, the steepest and most sustained pitch the Enduro Series has ever included a race. Racers knew from practice that the speed one carried at the top had better be glacial, as the section was roughly 200 feet straight down, punctuated by clusters of roots and one or two trees, before a mandatory left turn spit participants out onto tight single track. Also present was a steep climb two thirds of the way through, and an all-out sprint to the stage’s conclusion on Buffalo Jump that could more than make up for some trepidation down the initial steepness of Brown Rice. A short ride to the base area before the days only lift assist gave riders a chance to refuel and rehydrate.

Eva Culpo absolutely destroying the A line on Stage 3. She solidified the 1 spot for Expert Female.
Eva Culpo surfing the A line on Stage 3. She solidified the #1 spot for Expert Female.

Stage 5 consisted entirely of the popular ‘Nameless’ trail. Tight, heavily wooded, and composed of loose fast corners and steep rock and root filled A, B line options (the theme was really sinking in at this point.) Nameless is quintessential Big Sky enduro. The trail rewards excellent cornering skills, bike setup, and the ability to maintain focus after previously riding/surviving the gnarliest trails on the mountain through the first four stages.

Having traversed a large portion of the resort that proudly touts the ‘Biggest Skiing in America,’ racers now found themselves linking various service roads and now familiar sections of hike-a-bike, all marked by cheery yellow tape tied to trees or rocks, as well as the occasional signs indicating the end was near, and beer was only a stage finish away. The queue for stage six provided quite the vista, with snow filled couloirs giving way to tree line and eventually the resort’s ski lifts and condos. Racers embarked on the day’s longest stage, starting on Elkhorn trail and showcasing a lesser known side of Big Sky Resort. A descent from near-alpine altitudes, meandering down the mountain in and out of trees, Elkhorn Trail was physically demanding, as riders had to put in pedal strokes after every corner before braking heavily into the next. Giving way gradually to Otter Slide, racers were met with well-built doubles and even triples in and out of bermed corners before sliding across the finish of the rowdiest race of the season.

Results:
2019 Lone Peak's Revenge presented by DialedMTB Official Results

The day ending just as it had begun. Soak to the bone rain.
The day started with rain, and the day ended with rain. A torrential downpour - one that rendered even the race tents essentially useless - postponed the post-race awards and left everyone scrambling to get under cover.

Check out the full photo album for Lone Peak's Revenge presented by DialedMTB right here on Pinkbike!

Regions in Article
Big Sky Resort


4 Comments

  • + 5
 Congrats Eva Culpo. Helena Home town girl making us proud. And super gutsy showing from Addison Roush. Fearless
  • + 2
 Thanks for the good times! Lone Peak's Revenge is always a high point of the summer.

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