Timing is everything they say. And in the case of the Oregon Endure Series (OES), that's definitely the case. OES got started in 2012 by Devon Lyons after talking with a number of pro riders like Mark Weir, Ross Schnell, and Richie Schley. The timing was just right: the OES was able to ride the groundswell of the rising demand for enduro racing in the USA , and with four years under their belt now, the overall stoke factor remains consistently high: the prizes are good, the event sponsors are solid, raffles are tip top, and there's a heavy emphasis on maintaining a strong fun factor.
Heading into the 2015 season's first race in Bend, OR everything looked stellar: rain the previous week had given way to blue bird conditions for the week leading up to the race, and riders from across the USA were converging on Bend to race, including a field of 40 pro men with Kyle Warner, Curtis Keen, and Adam Craig all in the mix, as well as 7 pro women, and full fields of expert, sport, beginner, and junior racers—263 racers in all. Bend is situated in a high desert climate, though, so the rain soaked trails of the prior week quickly gave way to dust as riders trained on the stages the week heading into the event.
When asked about the somewhat loose trail conditions, Curtis Keene just grinned and said, "Everything's running super fast out here. Sure, it's a little dusty, but it's so fast!"
The only potential downsides heading into the weekend were a forecast of unseasonably high temps for race day (95 degrees F/35 degrees C) mixed with a few prescribed forest fire burns nearby. Heat is one thing—racing in the heat sucks; but the fires could potentially effect air quality. The wind played nicely, though, keeping the smoke well away from the venue, although the heat was just as blistering hot as had been forecast. After a quick pre-race meeting, riders started to head out to stage one to begin racing. That's when things went a bit awry: the night before the race, a chain reaction of failed computers and networking issues began, forcing a delayed start to stage one. The snowball effect of that initial computer crash and networking error created a delay in the OES' ability to move the timing system used on stage one to the fifth and final stage and have it set up before the first pro racers started descending. The net effect of that error forced the OES organization to nullify the fifth and final stage for all racers, which is a shame as that final stage might have shook up some of the final standings. More importantly, it also created a massive delay in establishing accurate timing for some of the stages, and forced some podium corrections—most importantly in the pro men's field—moving Kirt Voreis from the top step down to seventh overall, and moving Alex McGuiness (aka "Krunkshox) up from fourth to first. The results are all now accurate, though, having been painstakingly rebuilt by hand (thank God for dedicated OES staffers and Thump coffee as a sponsor).
The delays definitely upset some of the racers, but overall most competitors took the errors with a grain of salt and remained pretty stoked on the event—after all, no one could have predicted the computer failures that created the fiasco, and OES went the extra mile to ensure accurate results, even if it took them 24 hours of grinding to get it done.
| Dan Bauman of Thump coffee was at the venue bright and early to serve up complimentary (tips appreciated) sublime nectar for all comers all day long.|
| Dan Bauman wasn't the only person at the venue bright and early: Chris Zeger from Fox, and Tommy the Tech from Shimano were on hand for final pre-race tech work for racers in need.|
| While his World Cup DH racing days are well behind him, Men's winner (if stage 5 had counted) Kirt Voreis has definitely NOT lost the competitive bug. Kirt was the first to jump on stage one after the delayed start, and never looked back. "I broke my chain on stage 4, right at the bottom. I was shifting and cranking at the same time and snapped it on a bad shift. I had to hike back up and get it so I could ride stage 5. And then I hit the bottom of stage 5 and there wasn't a finish line: it was leaning up against a truck (he laughs, in typical Voreis style). I'm super bummed because I had a good effort on that stage, but I had fun."|
| Jeremiah Newman slipping the line between the rocks on the Funner Trail-aka stage one. Most of the race tracks were buttery singletrack, but every once in a while, something semi technical like this would come up, forcing riders to make a choice of gambling by taking a harder, more technical but shorter line for a faster time or skating by on the easier and longer line. |
| Jack of all trades (except wheelies) Cody Kelly splitting the notch on stage 1.|
| Transitions, with the exception of the transition from stage 3 to stage 4, weren't too terribly long, but there was virtually no respite from the blazing sun; the spotty shade did little to cool down the riders suffering in the heat. Race organizers did the best they could with aid stations for the riders carrying water bottles, like Nathan RIddle; but the sun and the heat were definitely a factor during the race. |
| Rocking the number one plate for his win last year, Krunkshox-aka Alex McGuinness-was charging hard all day long. That effort paid off with another "W" for the Bend, OR rider, edging out fellow local and EWS racer Adam Craig by a second after just over 21 minutes of racing, as well as big dogs Curtis Keene, Kyle Warner, and Brian Lopes. |
| Yet another rider from another era who hasn't lost that competitive drive yet: Flyin' Brian Lopes on stage 3 taking the transfer from a double into a berm.|
| It's been a hard luck spring for Nick Hardin of Kickstand Coffee & Kitchen in Hood River, OR. First there was that broken thumb, then there was that incident where he nearly sliced off the first two fingers of his left hand. The fact that he's out there charging hard says a lot about desire and how tough he is. Eleventh on the day for the Devinci rider. |
| You can always tell the riders with DH experience when you see them in the air; rather than looking for their landing, they're already looking for the next feature. Curtis Keene looking well into the next corner instead of the landing zone. Keene was barely edged out of the win, finishing one second back behind second place racer Adam Craig and two seconds back behind race winner Alex McGuiness, |
| The future of MTB? Nathan Riddle rocking a set of the Plus size 29er WTB tires and rims on his Tallboy LT. I have no idea exactly how wide those WTB tires are, but they definitely did not appear to be slowing him down at all.|
| It's in the genes, that's for sure. Neal Strobel-Luke Strobel's brother-tearing the hell out of a berm on the third stage of the day. Fast swooping berms and the odd jump made for a super fun stage, although it was a bit peddly in places. Strobel later had a close encounter with a tree that pushed him down in the standings, but look for him to bounce back for the OES race in Hood River in a couple weeks.|
| Santa Cruz Bicycles Allan Cooke-the 2002 X games BMX gold winner Allan Cooke-carving his way through the dust that littered the track. He may have retired from BMX back in 2009, but Cooke still gets after it on two wheels, mixing business and pleasure by overseeing Santa Cruz Bike's Enduro race efforts. Which means not only attending enduro races around the globe, but occasionally jumping into the mix, too.|
| Fresh from EWS races #2 and #3, Adam Craig smashes through stage 3's swoopy berms.The locals definitely were on it, with Adam finishing merely one second back behind Krunkshox on the overall. |
| Despite heavy rain the week before, Bend, OR sits on the edge of the Oregon desert, meaning that the trails dry out shockingly fast. more than one rider slapped from sliding out on the loose powder and kitty litter in the corners.|
| Decisions, decisions... Yeti rider Kim Russell charging a drop on stage 4.|
| Abby Hippley's been focused on school, but that lack of training time hasn't slowed her down much; she came home second on the day.|
| Thumbs up. By the end of the transfer to stage 4, riders were sapped by the heat and the long climb. Almost every rider opted to push the final bit up to the start of stage 4. Sapped, but not broken.|
| Ido Magen drove all the way from LA to put tires on Oregon dirt. "It's not too bad of a drive-12 hours? And I get to ride trails like this? No, it's not too far to drive for this race."|
| Parley Ford with the scrub on stage 4. Lots of corners, lots of reverse grades, and lots of pedalling; but still a damn fun stage.|
| Post race it was all about rehydrating with some of Oregon's finest beer-although that's not really a rehydrating beverage-as well as refuelling from the hard day of racing with choice mexican food from Barrio Food Cart. The OES knows how to throw down on post race food and drink, that's for sure.|
| Killing time post race while waiting for the results. Ten Barrel brewing had a bean bag toss going on with a selection of fine beers for contestants.|
| With the timing errors, times were constantly being corrected. Adam Craig and a fellow racer check stage 3 yet again. Eventually organizers were forced to check times by hand in order to determine the race winners for podium. And then forced to change that order a day later. "OES has invested $30k into a timing system to eliminate human errors, and to have problems like we had at this race is embarrassing," said race director Devon Lyons. "We are actively working on a solution so that it never happens again." |
| No results yet? No worries-along with the killer food and great beer, racers were throwing down on the venue's pump track: Allan Cooke and Jon Buckle throwing shadows in the dust.|
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