The Rendezvous Enduro marked round three of the 2021 Montana Enduro Series. Taking full advantage of the terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the penultimate race of the 2021 MES campaign treated racers to four stages of racing on a bluebird day in September.
With the Tram currently undergoing maintenance operations, riders began their day on the Bridger Gondola. While the gondola did erase some of the pedaling riders still had to complete nearly 1,500' (460m) of climbing that started at 9,100' (2,772m) above sea level after disembarking.
Stage 1 started a few feet (1/3 of a few m) below the summit of Rendezvous Mountain and proceeded down the ridgeline before dropping into Cody Bowl. That descent into Cody Bowl served up quite the adventure, with scree fields, rock drops, and high speed meadows. As if the elevation wasn't enough, two punchy climbs kept heart rates pumping. Stage one was planned as a part of the 2019 race
, but was cut the morning of the 2019 race day because the snow drifts that accumulated during the night made the trail impassible on race day. But redemption was had in 2021; the only drifts this year on Stage 1 were the kind happening on two wheels. The trail descended through the high alpine meadows and across two cliff bands before depositing riders just below the climb to Stage 2.
Stage 2, with its start nestled at 9,800' (2,990 m) above sea level, saw riders starting in the alpine rock again but quickly changed as the stage followed the Cirque Trail and dropped into the white bark pine forests. The tight trees and short runs between ribbons of trees led to a short section of double track before giving way to a trail perched below one of the Teton Range's countless cliff bands. The fast, exposed line rewarded the courageous, but eventually treated everyone the same with the scree climb. It wasn't long, but it robbed any of the gravity-fed speed that had been amassed below the cliff. The punchy climb on Stage 2 only saw 3-4 riders clean the climb. Everyone else dismounted and ran their bikes, at over 9,000' feet (2,740 m) above sea level, to the top of the climb before descending to the finish of Stage 2.
Stage 3 too riders down Wildflower Trail, which was a switchback laden adventure through rock buttresses, tight trees, and rock gardens that comprise the floor of the mid-mountain forest. Rocks and roots were abundant, but so were the wildflowers that give rise to the trails namesake. Also present on Stage 3 were some of the Jackson locals: a black bear caused a 10 minute course hold on Stage 3.
Stage 4 was Dirty Hairy. This new trail at the bike park tested the skill, nerves, and physical ability of riders. The first turn informed riders what was about to happen to them: A staked-off, 90-degree turn made on a grassy, 45-degree slope that required absolute trust in the engineers' work designing the side knobs of tires. That turn led to a short run on a 150' (50 m) of relatively smooth trail, which was the last chance to take a breath before committing to the next 0.8 miles (1.3 km) of chaos.
The upper half of Dirty Hairy was more akin to a series of rollers covered in moon dust and loose rock that weaved through much bigger, fixed rocks and trees. If the technicality of the trail wasn't enough, the true challenge came from the fact that Dirty Hairy was changing constantly throughout the weekend. It genuinely felt like no two runs down the trail were the same. The combination of loose rock and moon dust meant that the best line from the morning may have disappeared by the afternoon. Smooth and controlled was fast, and riders eventually finished Stage 4 mid-way down the bike park.2021 Rendezvous Enduro Official Results
The Montana Enduro Series will wrap up the 2021 races in Helena, Montana, with one of the longest-running enduro races in North America, the Helenduro. Check out www.montanaenduro.com
for more info!
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