Coopers Rock, Benduro 2016 - Getting Wild on Wonderful Trails

May 16, 2016
by Prophet-eer  
Coopers Rock Benduro 2016
Story and photos by Lucas Reilly:

A weekend of rain, shine, snow and hail welcomed the second race of the 2016 West Virginia Enduro Series at Coopers Rock State Forest just outside of Morgantown, W.Va. This marks the third running of the race and series after Benji Klimas, of Bruceton Mills, started the series in 2014.

Benji is many things: a good guy, father, trail-builder and a lifelong mountain bike racer who opts out of racing for several events a year to put on enduro races that show off West Virginia’s epic trails—he’s also a madman. It’s this final facet of Benji that came alive this weekend, and is the reason this Sunday’s race was designated the Coopers Rock ‘Benduro’.

The four-stage enduro took riders all over the state forest, with some admittedly tough transfer stages and a stage four end that required riders to ford a rocky river with their bikes overhead. The word ‘epic’ was tossed around more than once. And that’s exactly what Benji tries to show with each event: West Virginia’s mountain biking scene is gnarly, deeply rooted and fast growing.

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Despite a daunting weekend forecast, over 50 riders showed up to tackle the trails. The first two stages were fresh-cut lines from Benji and his friends. Stage one began in a power line cut with a spectacular view, sending riders down an all-out bomb, where brakes only need be touched when a rider’s fear of baby-head-sized rocks and their liable damage to frame and components conquers their stoke. Then, the trail entered the woods for a steep-and-sloppy rut fest, quintessential of West Virginia riding.

Stage two put the ‘enduro’ in ‘Benduro’, requiring riders to put in a few pedal pushes up top before diving into a slew of loamy turns and optional rock drops that encouraged pre-riding. Stage three and four were classics from the last two Coopers Rock Enduros, filled with baby heads, ruts, and rhododendron tunnels. Stage three ended with a blind huck down to the base of the Henry Clay Furnace, a historic iron furnace built in 1834. Stage four found riders careening down a hold-on-and-stay-straight chute of chunder that opened to a beautiful finish at the edge of Cheat Lake.

STAGE ONE:

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

DEEP ROOTS

This series, though only in its third year, has consistently brought out a horde of riders to face troublesome terrain at various trail systems throughout the state and neighboring Ohio. Equally hardy and gnarly as Benji, fellow shredder, John Herod is the co-mastermind of the series, helping him put together races, cut trails, photograph events and gather sponsors. He too sacrifices race starts to ensure the events run smoothly. Both offered their trucks for the weekend to provide shuttle service on Saturday for pre-riding and a ride back from the bottom of Stage four to the Chestnut Ridge Campground, where the event set up home base.

Benji and John wangled a whole tent-camping area for racers to crash Saturday night and keep warm with firewood hand-gathered by John. The race was timed and tracked by several volunteers who were in high spirits all day. Benji’s wife Molly managed to feed the 50+ riders and volunteers, making PB&J’s in the morning and quenching their appetite upon completing the race with a nice spread of spaghetti, cake and more.

Many of the series’ serious riders have raced in it since the beginning, including Pittsburgh’s, Trevor Thomas, who has ridden a single-speed hardtail all along. Thanks to Trevor’s devotion to pain, this year’s series features a hardtail (or ‘hard ass’) class along with the other categories of Junior, Masters, Men and Women’s Sport and Men and Women’s Pro/Expert classes. Paul Broughton, of Charleston, W.Va. is the reigning master of the Masters Class, riders who are still shredding hard past 45 years of age.

The West Virginia Enduro Series welcomes all riders, bringing in stoic competitors from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and elsewhere to have their bikes thrashed by the rooty, rocky wildness and wonderfulness the Appalachian Mountains have to offer. Expect this series to grow old like the mountains that cradle it and the trails to stay gnarly like the riders who race them and those who make such events possible.

STAGE TWO:

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016
Trevor, the OG of the Hard-Ass Class

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

STAGE THREE:

Henry Clay Iron Furnace - Stage 3 end
Henry Clay Iron Furnace - Stage three end.

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Chainring Carnage

Costa Rican Daniel Rodriguez, of D.C., broke his chainring off on Stage three

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

STAGE FOUR:

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

RACE DAY:

Sunday’s race was anyone’s game. Sure, pre-riding had given those with proximity to the area an advantage of knowing what was ahead, but unpredictable weather and wetness had made the trails somewhat of a new beast. Stage one and two, with fresh cut loam and loose rocks, were forever changing as more and more racers dug through the dirt.

The day began cold and snowy but was sunny and bright by the end, adding to the mélange of track conditions seen by each racer’s rubber. Some had trouble with Stage three’s rocks, perhaps expecting them to come loose like other trails’ baby heads and instead contacting components with inert stone. In the true spirit of enduro racing, a broken chainring or a bent crank arm didn’t phase the pack of riders, who knew that stage four was mostly fed by gravity.

Coopers Rock Benduro 2016

Standings check
Standings check

Benji Klimas mad man behind the West Virginia Enduro Series
Benji Klimas, mad man behind the West Virginia Enduro Series
John Herod co-mastermind of the West Virginia Enduro Series
John Herod, co-mastermind of the West Virginia Enduro Series

Series regular and rowdy-man, Tim Carson won Pro/Ex Men’s Category, despite missing the optional double drop on Stage two—a feature he reckoned would shave 10 seconds off his run—with an overall time 23:53 for the 22-mile, 3000+ ft. race. Carson’s race comrade, Kohl Aumer, who did nail the double drop, came in at second for the Pro men.

The legendary, Cassie Smith led the Pro/Ex Women’s podium with a time of 32:27. Jake Fiola won the Men’s Sport class at 25:45. Paul Broughton won the Masters title at 27:29, with his son, Tristan Broughton atop the Hardtail podium with a time of 28:34.

Riders looking for their pictures should look here. The next stop of the West Virginia Enduro Series is the Mayhem Enduro on Sunday, May 29 in Zanesville, Ohio.

Junior Podium

Junior Podium


Men s Sport Podium

Men's Sport Podium


Masters Podium

Masters Podium


Women s Sport Podium

Women's Sport Podium


Hardtail Hard Ass Podium

Hardtail (Hard Ass) Podium


Women s Pro Ex Podium

Women's Pro/Ex Podium


Men s Pro Ex Podium

Men's Pro/Ex Podium



MENTIONS: @Prophet-eer



17 Comments

  • + 13
 Anyone that goes to a WV enduro series event comes back raving about the experience. Not only are the trails legit natural gnar, the people are also awesome. I've never seen a more positive vibe. The fast guys are just as stoked for new and slow riders as they are for each other. And damn are they fast! My prediction... this series is going to blow up in the next year or two. Thanks for all the hard work Benji, John and crew!
  • + 8
 Got to do three races in the series last year, as well as Coops this year. So far some of the funnest races I have ever done, period. Amazing trails, super welcoming people, supportive, on the ball (and fast as hell) organizers, and very competitive racers in all classes. If you want a TRUE enduro series on the east coast that uses rugged backcountry trails that make for an all-day adventure on the bike, WV Enduro series is where it's at.
  • + 10
 Benji is the man. Dude rips on a bike. Up and down! Looks like a good time.
  • + 1
 Please don't stroke this guys ego anymore, he might blow!
  • + 5
 No doubt the most fun that I have ever had on my bicycle has been with the people I have met at the West Virginia Endure Series. Great race report Lucas thanks for the awesome shots.
  • + 8
 Worthy of front page exposure! Nice write-up!
  • + 7
 Excellent story and writing.
  • + 5
 Sweet photos too!
  • + 5
 West Virginia Enduro races make you a better man first, then a better mountain biker.
  • + 3
 Thanks for the great write up and photos! School has snatched me away from these first two races so I've been living vicariously through the coverage, excited to start up round 3 at Mayhem!
  • + 4
 SO glad WV enduro is getting this exposure, such a great community of people!
  • + 4
 I know I will be back next year. Great fun
  • + 2
 Rad Enduro Series brought to everyone by some great people. West by God in the spotlight!
  • + 4
 good shoots Lucas
  • + 2
 Awesome to see my backyard trails in the spotlight! Good work Benji and John.
  • + 4
 Ruckus!
  • + 1
 WV Enduro Series Family for Life!

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