Richie Rude and Kate Lawrence Clinch Victories at BME Series Opener in Ironton, MO

May 3, 2021
by BigMtn Enduro  
Words and Photos by Eddie Clark

The Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro Series presented by Maxxis started the season with a one-day race in Ironton, Missouri on some of the more technically challenging tracks ever seen at a BME. The race also served to showcase the newly constructed Shepherd Mountain Bike Park which was built by Jagged Axe Productions for the City of Ironton to bring mountain biking and enduro racing to central Missouri. Needless to say the town opened its arms to mountain biking with a big friendly welcome.

The event couldn't have had better weather with mild temps and blue skies for the two practice days, and then an overcast and slightly misty race day. Practice required everyone to earn their turns to learn the five stages that featured 3,000 feet of climbing and descending as there would also be no lifts or shuttles for race day. To kick the race off, there was a opening festival on the town square in the race village with live music, fresh food and libations after practice was over on Saturday.

Richie Rude sets his tire pressure before heading out to practice on Saturday.
After practice, Blair Reed spreads the spirit of enduro cheer.

Actual field artillery used to defend the town and fight back the Confederate forces at the Battle of Pilot Knob during the Civil War.
Live music and a town party on a Saturday night before race day were another BME first for the weekend.

Racing kicked off with a large e-bike field that was won by Justice Berry.

Ari Soto took the win in the U21 Women's race.

Jack Brown took the competitive U21 Men's victory.

Lia Westermann was first to drop in the Pro Women's race.
Anatalia Joy showing some form on stage one.

Skylar Schaetz locking in a berm on stage one.
Lauren Bingham with eyes on the prize.

Kera Linn came out swinging with a second place on stage one.

Putting in two days of practice paid off for Kate Lawrence as she took the win on all of the first four stages.

Stage one got off to a shaky start for Jimmy Smith with course tape in the back wheel and a bit much extra sauce on this turn.
Mitch Ropelato showed up ready to race, and took second place on stage one by less than 3 seconds to Richie Rude. Unfortunately mechanicals would slow him down and result in a DNF after stage 4.

Shane Leslie kept the pace up for Fast House Racing to lock in 9th overall.
Warren Kniss deep in a corner to take a 5th place on stage one.

You can't keep a good man down, and for Shawn Neer that meant getting over practice crashes and some aches and pains to pull out a solid 3rd place on stage one.

Max Sedlak getting up to speed on stage 2.
No shortage of water features, mud, and slick rocks at Shepherd Mtn.

Quin Reece rallied hard, but finished in 6th place just 1.4 seconds off the podium.

It's all business here, and the business was good because it was all W's for Richie Rude.

Richie crushing stage two

Stage two had plenty of off-camber and slick rock gardens, and Trevor McCutcheon keeps it upright to take a 12th on the day.
2019 series winner Evan Geankoplis finished with an equal top 10.

Kate Lawrence staying focused on stage 3 for another stage win.

Richie Rude soaring to another stage victory on 3.

Shawn Neer taking the triple down line on stage 4 to take 2nd place overall.

As racers dropped into stage 4 with rough working muddy bikes, things would just get harder as the queen stage would put everyone on the ropes with it's steep lines and rowdy rock gardens.

Lia Westermann on the big rock slab of stage 4.

More stage domination by Richie Rude on stage 4.

Nik Nesteroff had a consistent day to claim 7th overall.
Warren Kniss rode to the occasion to claim 3rd overall for a Yeti top 3 podium sweep.

Slick rocks
and slicker mud.

A welcome sight for many, one and done.

Porsha Murdock keeping the hammer down mud puddles and all to take a hard earned 3rd overall.

Kera Linn put in a break through performance to take second overall for a great series start.

Lauren Bingham bringing it home for 5th overall.
By the time riders were on stage 5 the hardships of the day were obvious.

Get used to this face. Backing up a win at Windrock earlier this year, Kate Lawrence proved herself by holding on to the overall victory despite flatting on stage four and racing all of stage five with a flat rear tire. Tire inserts for the win!

Cody Kelly took an equal tenth place overall, but keep an eye out for him when the series heads back west to familiar terrain.
Max Sedlak kept it together on stage 5 to claim the fifth spot on the podium.

Colton Peterson earned an 8th overall by squeezing every millimeter and second out of stage five.

Pro Women's podium.
Pro Men's podium.

Full Results HERE.

The highly anticipated race series will continue to offer up some of the biggest and most challenging mountain bike terrain in the country as Big Mountain Enduro next heads to some of the best enduro tracks in the Northwest at Big Sky, Montana on July 24-25.

Regions in Article
Shepherd Mountain Bike Park


  • 43 3
 I'm just envious of people hanging out in crowds without masks. Missing events and races so hard.
  • 136 1
 You know the worlds gone to shit when a mountain biker from BC wishes he was in Missouri.
  • 7 0
 @bocomtb: Lol true. The world dumps on ozark riding a lot but most of the people that do have never seen the terrain here. That terrain is starting to get used now and things are changing.
  • 5 0
 @cougar797: Good, it's welcome to see places like Bentonville (also I know this location isn't Bentonville or Arkansas) get recognition and trail development. They've got lots of good research about the impacts which helps with our local trail development when making the case to land managers we can cite impact reports out of the Walton Family Foundation and the work they do in NW Arkansas, IMBA reports on Ozark trails, etc.. They seem to have a bit more progressive trail development culture there, than they do around here (CO front range).
  • 3 0
 @chacou: Well and there are places like this popping up where there are big hills, challenging terrain, and enough elevation to do the bike park thing in. That’s really the last thing the area can be made fun of for and that excuse is disappearing fast. Course I’d people don’t want to come that’s also ok Smile
  • 23 1
 Great trails! Also BME and the small rural town of Ironton did a bang up job of hosting this event. I hope it returns next year.
  • 7 0
 I heard it’s a two year contract and next year will be two days and more trails
  • 1 0
 @samdeatley: not a 2-year contract but it's highly likely they'll be back next year
  • 2 0
 @ksilvey10: hopefully! And hopefully you get to race next year!
  • 2 0
 Was an awesome week of riding and racing down there! More rocks on that hill than most the trails in CO combined. Looking forward to coming back next year, see what new trails they have in store for us...
  • 3 0
 @jkipp: *rubs hands together while laughing in an evil manner...*
  • 20 0
 A small middle america town welcoming a bike race with a town wide party and celebration....sounds an awful lot like the movie rad..
  • 18 2
 You shoulda got a shot of the Expert mens winner Jared Tebo. He's also one of the worlds best off road r/c car drivers.
  • 32 7
 Heck Yes!!! Bummed I didn't get a mention, thanks for the shout out!!!!
  • 2 2
 @JaredTebo: congrats! Not surprised at all, I’ll still remember you smashing the jumps over in Lake Paris behind the RC track. I’ve heard quite a few of the guys are out on MTB’s now.
  • 10 0
 I was there, and it was fantastic. Well done to all involved
  • 9 0
 Such a fun race! Thanks BME, Shepherd Mtn, and the town of Ironton!
  • 5 0
 Yes, Yeti is a big sponsor, but my impression from being there in-person is that the BME staff and the event was not a Yeti show at all. They definitely care bigtime that EVERYONE thinks the race is a good one, and it was! All that has to happen for it not to be a Yeti show is for other brands to pay riders who can beat Rude, Neer and Kniss...
  • 1 0
 BME's last year and not sure any MTB racers get paid!
  • 8 0
 man that track legit looked insane,
  • 1 0
 It's the Show-Me state. We knew we had to kill it to make believers out of folks!
  • 7 0
 Wonder if he celebrated with a roid claw? (half white claw half vodka)
  • 5 0
 Place looked rad, hopefully can make the race next year!
  • 7 3
 No caption under the photo of all the amateurs waiting to drop in. Speaks for itself.
  • 10 3
 That's BME for ya...
  • 4 0
 That track looks tough! Love to see Neer on the podium but would love to see him beat Richie.
  • 2 0
 Interesting to see mitch on a cannondale. Yesterday it was an evil at strsight acres, today a Canondale. He's one of my favorite riders. Mitch, Cody and Braydon are so much fun to watch on a bike.
  • 1 0
 I'm a dufus. I totally forgot he rides for Canondale now.
  • 4 0
 Nice photos, but would love to see a results list?
  • 2 0
 I wish that place was open when my in-laws lived in St. Louis and we visited twice a year. I rode some good trails in the area, but Ironton looks legit.
  • 1 0
 Where y'at Whambat?
  • 1 0
 @hunterborders: Eagle, Co
  • 2 0
 Oh man that race looked amazing!! So cool to see people out and enjoying races again. Could be a big year for enduro races in certain US states!
  • 4 1
 OK, fine, I'll spend all the money to get a Yeti
  • 10 8
 Genuinely surprised every pic didn't include a yeti. Wink BME and yeti are butt brothers.
  • 2 0
 Incredible race! Was happy to be there!
  • 2 0
 *surprised Pikachu*
  • 2 1
 yeah Kate!!! Fudging KILLING it!!!
  • 1 0
 The top 4 10-16 times were legit
  • 1 0
 You mispelled Kate Castro's last name aka The Queen of Leatherwood
  • 1 0
 Why does it say equal 10th place like 5 times in this article?
  • 2 1
 BME bring back TWE!
  • 1 1
 Well, I know what bike I'm going to buy!
  • 2 2
 so basically i need to buy a sb150 if i want to race enduro
  • 1 0
 That's what Yeti would like you to believe! But it ain't true!
  • 1 0
 You can buy a fully rigid cromo bike instead
  • 1 0
 nice megadeth reference
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