Race Report: 2021 Montana Enduro Series Round 4 - Helenduro

Sep 21, 2021
by The Montana Enduro Series  


The Montana Enduro Series wrapped up its 2021 season on Saturday with one of the oldest enduro races in North America: The Helenduro. Dating to 2008, the Helenduro has been a staple in Montana's biking schedule. Usually, the Helenduro is the kickoff race for the season, taking advantage of Montana's capitol city shedding its snow before most other places in the state. With the shift to the season-ending race, the Helenduro took place on atypically dusty, dry trails as compared to the usual early season conditions.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The fanciest sandwich container you'll ever see.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The Elliott brothers making all the overland and prerunner owners question their automobile choices.

This year's course took full advantage of the Mount Helena Ridge. Named after the high point on its northeastern terminus, the 2021 Helenduro - the season's longest course - used nearly every trail accessible from the ridge and finished in town.


Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The feel from Round 2 was present: The transfer to Stage 1 went this way and that way and this way and that way.

After transferring up the roughly six miles to get to the start of stage 1, riders dropped in on a Helena local's favorite, the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. This iconic route meanders through forest and above rock buttresses, and includes the infamous White Rock climb, a punchy, 130 foot (42 m) ascent on loose rocks on top of bedrock. After the mid-stage climb, racers then left The Ridge and turned onto Emmett's trail, a combination of fall line, high speed trail and tight treed switchbacks.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The first rider dropping in on Stage 1. Cary Smith was the first off the line and took home the top spot in Master's Male.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Helena local Friedrich Drees early on Stage 1.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Dillon Key swapped his gravel bike and usual 90 mile grinds for the Helenduro.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Keenan Cox piloting the latest iteration of the Enduro on Stage 1. The first Helenduro happened when a new Specialized Enduro came with a 3x10 drivetrain, a dual crown fork, and 26" wheels.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Kieran Wilder taking the A line on Stage 1. Kieran took second in Expert Male.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Stage 1 had everything you could expect it to include and all that you want or need. Brendan Hoaglund and his Full Moxie about to take on Stage 1's White Rock climb.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The two tactics for White Rock: Power through, as demonstrated by Sofie Carlson who took third in Expert Women...
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
...and a sprint with your bike, as shown here by Ryan Hitchcock, who took third in Sport Men.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Calvin Wight over the rocks.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Junior Male Sully Lynn with his eyes on the prize on Emmetts.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Junior Female winner Addison Roush looking comfortable on Emmetts.

After finishing stage 1, riders pedaled up Mini Ridge, a Helena test piece climb. After the grueling ascent, racers continued their transfer only a few feet from where they left the ridge during Stage 1 at the turn onto Emmett's trail. A short, descending transfer led to another of Helena's classic descents. Stage 2 started on The Ridge then deposited riders onto Show Me The Horse. The stage followed a ribbon of dirt through meadows and patches of trees before descending into the forested gully below.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Jordan Keltz getting up to speed in the meadows in the early part of Stage 2.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Taylor Benoit riding away from the start of Stage 2.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Dade Smith in the middle of The Horse. If you ever are in Helena, The Horse is a trail to put on your hit list.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Cole Johnson, who took home second place in Pro Male, showing some evidence of the sans knee pad race strategy.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Pro Women's winner Tara Wilson in one of The Horse's high speed corners.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Alex Anderson leaving a plume of dust in his wake.

The Junior and Sport riders skipped stages 3 and 4. However, the Pros, Experts, and Masters riders proceeded to climb up to two of Helena's most technical trails. Stage 3 was Hanging Draw Alternate and Dump Out Trail. These two trails are full of technical rock outcroppings steep side-hills and high-speed flow on steep side-hills.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 The Helenduro
Finn McArdle navigating one of the rock outcroppings on Stage 3.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 The Helenduro
Second place Masters Male Chris Lambright in the sweeping corners near the bottom of Stage 3.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 The Helenduro
Brendan Hogg airing out the undercarriage on Stage 3.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Mike Stem getting dirt airborne from both tires.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Brian Stremcha coming off of the high line of one of Stage 3's final corners.

Stage 4 took advantage of a lesser used trail in Helena's South Hills. The South Dump Gulch Trail is not one to sleep on, it starts steep and follows a ridgeline with more than one rock outcropping. The trail then gets steeper and goes down a long section of loose rocks before turning onto a relatively flatter, straight run through the forest.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
South Dump Gulch, which is located above Dump Gulch, is more commonly known as Upper Decker.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Tucker Staley making his way down the steeps on Stage 4.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Expert Women's winner Ariana Woods passing by the forest fuels reduction burn piles low on Stage 4.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Noah Brown with some gas left in the tank at the bottom of Stage 4.

Stage 5 again took more advantage of Helena's lesser-used trails on the western edge of the South Hills. Diretissima Trail, Andy's Trail, and Seven Sisters Trail were linked together to create a roughly one mile track that followed old Jeep and motorcycle trails that now exist for non-motorized use. Stage 5 was a series of fall line trails interrupted by frequent, punchy climbs. With the dry conditions Helena has had for the last few months and the afternoon high winds, stage 5 turned into a dusty adventure for riders.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Sport Women's third place Allison Murphy with smiles left on Stage 5.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Sport Women's winner Talia Seltzer also with smiles left on Stage 5.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Keenan Charlton falling into a Stage 5 switchback.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Taylor Alastra at speed on Stage 5.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The man, the myth, the legend: Mark Weirich on Stage 5. Mark took home third place in Master's Male.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The chain doesn't lie: Junior Male Hutch Jehle on the gas.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Junior Women's rider Graden Daume on Stage 5.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Selden Daume showing the fast line under the trees. Selden wasn't alone, lots of people ducked under this branch.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Daniel Ranieri and Mt. Helena.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
The wind picked up later in the day, and Colter Mumford's dust trail shows just how hard the wind from the east was pushing.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Aidan Schuh low on Stage 5.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
After spending the week prior at NICA practices and the day prior helping the MES crew set the Helenduro course, Eric Herbst somehow still had the energy to crank up one of Stage 5's many short climbs.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Pro Women's second place Jessica Freeze channeling the chainsaw heckler's power.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Rachel Simms near the finish and still grinning after 5 stages.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Michael Buhman dropping the last bit into the finish sprint.
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Master's Women champ Missy Gentry crossing the finish of Stage 5 and the Helenduro.

Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Pro Women's Podium: 1st - Tara Wilson, 2nd - Jessica Freeze
Montana Enduro Series Round 4 Helenduro
Pro Men's Podium: 1st - Scott Mooney, 2nd - Cole Johnson, and 3rd - Brian Elliott

2021 Helenduro Official Results

When the last ride across the finish line of stage 5, that marked the official end of the 2021 Montana Enduro series. With four races at four amazing venues in the 2021 campaign, the MES crew is already locking down dates and venues for the 2022 season. Check out www.montanaenduro.com soon for all of the latest about the '22 season.

And because we love you, check out the full 2021 Helenduro photo album right here on Pinkbike!


6 Comments

  • 9 0
 Thanks for all the thrills, spills, and chills this season! Always a good time racing with the @MontanaEnduroSeries. Can't wait for next year!
  • 3 0
 I think chills was 2 years ago (to the day) navigating the snow in Jackson Smile

MES always out there making memories!
  • 3 0
 What a blast! Smoky, windy, tough, fun as hell....exactly how enduro is supposed to be!
  • 2 0
 What’s up with the full face helmets and no knee pads?!?!? Y’all must be pretty tough up there in Montana!
  • 2 0
 Thanks to all my MES brothers and sisters for grate race season.
  • 1 0
 Wish I could’ve made it!

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