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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.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!