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Race Report: A Perfect Mix of Tech and Flow in the Penultimate Race of the Montana Enduro Series

Aug 27, 2019
by The Montana Enduro Series  
Photography: Jason O'Neil (IG @jasononeil) // words: Michael Grimland (IG @grimlandm)

One of the Tetons' best places - Grand Targhee Resort - played host last weekend to the traveling party that is the Montana Enduro Series. The Grand Enduro, as the race is affectionately known, was the penultimate race of 2019 SoFi Montana Enduro Series. The race saw several red-hot series points battles unfolding and a shift away from the MES' namesake state, meaning a change in local advantage.

The first of two races held outside of Montana in 2019 (not counting the NAEC bonus round in Kellogg, ID), The Grand Enduro delivered with perfect days of riding, racing, and camping at the resort’s amazing venue. With Friday dedicated to practice, racers made good use of the lifts to work in lines on well-known stages, as well as learn the race’s several new stage offerings.

Brandon Lesniak engaging the boosters early on Day 1.
Brandon Lesniak engaging the boosters early on Day 1.

It may have been August, but autumn made its presence known at the racer meeting. Saturday dawned bright and chilly, but hands were stuffed in pockets and exhaled breath condensed into clouds as rider’s listened to MES Race Organizers Tony Zammit and Eric Sivers explain the finer points of rules and things to watch out for on the course.

Sheldon Anderson kept it dialed taking home 3rd for Expert Mens.
Sheldon Anderson kept it dialed, taking home 3rd for Expert Mens.

Finn McArdle sending it bigger than most of the big boys and girls. He may be 13 but this kid can send it.
Finn McArdle sending it bigger than most of the big boys and girls. He may be 13, but this kid can send it.

Holden Archie earning his number plate for Junior Males over the weekend.
Holden Archie earning his #1 number plate for Junior Males over the weekend.

Just as the pre-race email hinted, racers were in for a Super-D style treat to start off day one, bringing bicycles and their shivering riders from the resort's base elevation of 7,500 feet to almost 10,000 feet in a matter of minutes. Fortunately, racers were granted a bit of a warm-up descent to the start of Stage one, consisting of the appropriately named trail Buffalo Drop and leading into Sticks 'n' Stones. A Targhee classic, Sticks 'n' Stones has been a staple of the Montana Enduro Series for years. Known for its remarkable ability to swallow wheels whole, while also encouraging a race pace that far exceeds riders' sightlines, Sticks 'n' Stones claimed numerous victims before ending just short of its lower section, slated to be raced the following day.

Beach or Buffalo Drop
Beach or Buffalo Drop? The dry, dusty conditions were in full force for the race weekend.

A short push up the Resort’s Sacajawea Road led participants to the day’s second of three stages, a yet unraced trail named Ain't Life Grand into a side country classic known as Peaked.

Immediately, this trail set the tone for the rest of the day. Functioning dropper posts, last deemed necessary in Helena, MT, at Round 1 one of the 2019 campaign, became crucial once again. Undulating terrain tested the racer fitness, while flat, loose corners tested traction. Crossing the timing line near mid-mountain, participants were treated to one of the shortest transfers in MES history as they queued for the final stage of the day: Andy's. Andy’s offered similar terrain to Stage 2, with slightly more tree cover. Mistakes on Andy’s were significant; the narrow trail meant a misplaced wheel or foot dab was heavily reflected on the clock. And similar to Stage 2, Stage 3 again pushed limits of everyone's VO2 before ending at the Race Tent and timing station.

Jared Jimmerman diving into a day of dust and rocks.
Jared Jimmerman diving into a day of dust and rocks.

Mark Weirich was in his element this weekend taking 2nd in Masters Male.
Mark Weirich was in his element this weekend, taking 2nd in Masters Male.

It s Jet Doing Jet things
It's Jet doing Jet things!

Don t call her a princess Keaton Ramm taking the top spot for Sport Women by nearly two minutes.
Don't call her a princess! Keaton Ramm taking the top spot for Sport Women by nearly two minutes.

No shortage of bikes or bodies that got punished this weekend. This is enduro.
No shortage of bikes or bodies that got punished this weekend. This is enduro.
A good friend is one that buys you shots at the bar after a day wrecked by flats.
A good friend is one that buys you shots at the bar after a race day wrecked by flat tires

Will Lowe conquered the dust and took home 1st for Sport Male.
Will Lowe, here on Day 2, conquered the dust and took home 1st for Sport Male.

Day two began again in the lift line, this time accompanied by gusting winds that promised to wreak havoc in the air. After disembarking from the lift, riders trickled down to the start of Stage 4, the new favorite Blondie. Loose, steep, and rooty, the trail promised to shake up day one’s standings. Navigating it quickly meant using less brake than one was comfortable with, and pin-point accuracy was required to avoid contact with the duff and loam that made up the entire trail.

Robin Lyons took home the top spot for your Pro Women.
Robin Lyons, here on Stage 4, took home the top spot for your Pro Women.
Pump track party laps to warm up for Day 2.
Pump track party laps to warm up for Day 2.

Scott Mooney adapted well to the moon dust and took 3rd for Pro Male.
Scott Mooney adapted well to the moon dust and took 3rd for Pro Male.
RIP to all the derailleurs tires and ribs that met their demise on Blondie.
RIP to all the derailleurs, tires, metacarpals, and ribs that met their demise on Blondie.

Even with 30 second intervals lots of dust hanging in the woods made it hard to see.
Even with 30 second intervals, lots of dust hanging in the woods made it hard to see.

Not only did Macky destroy the field this weekend he did it one handed. pureenduro
Not only did Macky Franklin put down the fastest time of the weekend, he did it one handed. #pureenduro

A pedal up Shoshone road was followed by another opportunity to play take-your-bike-for-a-walk-up-a-ski-slope brought riders near the summit again. Stage 5 was a trail that needs no introduction and is a Grand Targhee staple: Rock Garden. Stage 5 awaited racers as they nervously checked the wind’s direction and speed. Containing a bit of everything, Rock Garden carried riders down the nose of the mountain, with significant exposure to the elements, all while riding on a wicked combination of sharp shale bedrock and sharp shale that isn't attached to anything. A mid-run set of jumps required riders to stay low to avoid the wind gusts. A fast finish down narrow, sidehill single track deposited riders near the bottom of the mountain, ready to transfer to the final stage.

Style and steeze from JD Hass.
Style and steeze from JD Hass.

Wyatt Matheson cutting up Stage 4 with the worst views in the world.
Wyatt Matheson cutting up Stage 4 high above the valley floor below.

Steven Handke battled his way to 3rd for Sport Male.
Steven Handke battled his way to 3rd for Sport Male.

The race’s final stage took riders back to Sticks 'n' Stones, this time to race the lower section. The shortest stage of the race was a crowd favorite, combining the technicality of day two with the flow of day one - a quick sprint finish gave riders a chance to earn a beer or three as they spilled out of the trees and onto the deck of the resort’s Trap Bar.

Taylor Arave at full gas on Stage 5.
Taylor Arave at full gas on Stage 5.

The Canadian Bill Belichick.
The Canadian Bill Belichick.

Fastest in Sport Male would be Will Lowe.
Fastest in Sport Male would be this guy, Will Lowe.

So did Sam ride this out
So, did Sam ride this out? He certainly found the edge of what his tires could do.

No stranger to the podium Christy Graves held down 2nd for Pro Women.
No stranger to the podium, Christy Graves held down 2nd for Pro Women.

Tyler Schrowe dropping into a beautiful sunny day at GTR.
Tyler Schrowe dropping into a beautiful sunny day at GTR.

James Turcotte dropping into the moonscapes of Blondie.
James Turcotte dropping into the moonscapes of Blondie.

Johnny Podgorney breaking through the clouds of dust.
Johnny Podgorney breaking through the clouds of dust.

A crash in practice the day before took out her derailleur but it didn t stop Addison from laying it down for Day 2. Another top spot for the ripper.
A crash in practice the day before took out her derailleur, but it didn't stop Addison from laying it down for Day 2. Another top spot for the junior ripper.

Camber Hass would end her weekend in a solid 2nd place for Sport Female.
Camber Hass would end her weekend in a solid 2nd place for Sport Female.

[PI=17660356 ]Your Pro Female Podiums: 1st: Robin Lyons (38:24.2), 2nd: Christy Graves (39:21.7), 3rd: Allison McCuskey (39:37.7)[/PI]
[PI=17660355 ]Your Pro Male Podiums: 1st: Macky Franklin (29:28.9), 2nd: Jeremy David (30:11.5), 3rd: Scott Mooney (30:34.3)[/PI]

2019 Grand Enduro Official Results:

An incredible event, at a spectacular venue, The Grand Enduro did not disappoint. With The Grand Enduro in the books, the Montana Enduro Series heads to Jackson Hole, WY for the series finale where, for the first time (and weather permitting), bicycles and riders will be loaded onto the world-famous Jackson Hole Tram for what promises to be a wild finish to the season on September 21, 2019. You can find more at https://www.montanaenduro.com!

Check out the full photo album for The Grand Enduro right here on Pinkbike!

Boogity boogity boogity let s go racing boys and girls
Who needs a sunset when you've got the Tetons to ride off into?



3 Comments

  • 5 0
 "The Canadian Bill Belicheck"

BEST PHOTO CAPTION EVER! Hahahahah
  • 4 0
 Montana has an enduro series but Utah doesn't. Awesome.
  • 2 0
 GREAT photos as always!

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