Right on the slopes of Sierra Nevada, Spain, there is a small town, Güéjar Sierra. It is just twenty minutes drive from the well-known and bigger city of Granada which is visited by millions to enjoy the amazing Moorish legacy of the Alhambra. But our focus lies in the Sierra Nevada, and the endless trails all around this mountain range that holds some of the highest peaks (+3000m) in the Iberian Peninsula, Mulhacen and Veleta. Located at around 1100m of altitude, Güéjar Sierra village has a long history as a popular tourist destination, with trails stretching all over the surrounding Sierra and enjoying astonishing views. Some of these trails were chosen for the second edition of the Sierra Nevada Enduro race. The first race was held in 2015 and it was a total success so many locals were eager to repeat. 2017 came along and everyone was waiting for race confirmation. Once the organization had all authorizations and permits to access the trails, inscriptions were open and up to 140 riders rushed to be able to enjoy a good weekend of racing.
With one eye on the weather report and other on the calendar, the appointed date was approaching and all seemed perfect. Some rain prior to the event helped to settle the terrain and wash away the dust from the dry and hot summer. Daily temperatures of around 20ºc were perfect for riding. Finally, the weekend arrived with the race consisting of four special stages, over 39km with about 2000m of climbing and descent.
Saturday, as usual, was for scoping and training. But in this case, training was not mandatory, not even one of the stages needed to be completed. Many riders chose to ride at least SS2, 3 and 4, avoiding the first stage to reduce climbing down to just
1300m and preserve some stamina for Sunday's Race.
Training on SS2, hidden in between the high grass.
SS2 done, next one please.
To get to the second stage, there was a grueling 10km climb with almost 900m of vertical. Irish rider Nathan McComb didn't seem worried about this.
The start of SS3 was fast and flowy, unlike the second part. Borja Marron and Marketa Michalkona were enjoying themselves.
Marketa Michalkova, from Madrid, she never misses a race with her brand new Yeti SB5.5c.
Some trail cleaning after training and ready for race day
Sunday started with good temperatures and no rain, not even one cloud, race day was forecasted to be perfect, and it was. Scheduled time to start was 09:00 but due to some issues with the timing system the race briefing was a bit late with riders departing at 10:00. This caused the whole schedule to shift one hour. Regarding timing, it was not an issue as the chosen method was just to give the riders seven hours to finish the route, without being timed on liaison stages or having mandatory stage start times. This seemed to be the riders preferred race mode, as there is no pressure on them and they administrate their own times, stopping whenever is necessary and pushing a bit if they feel they need to. There were two feed stations, one at the end of the first stage and another one at the crossroads where the start of the 2nd and 3rd stages met. Water and snacks were always available for riders. Also, there were plenty of fountains and mountain creeks on the route to refill your bottles.
In the female category, Marketa Michalkova, was the overall winner with a time of 29:34, followed by Marta Zanon with 33:29 and veteran M50 rider, Jenny Mayhew, with a 36:24.
As many expected, the Irish rider with EWS and other big races experience, Nathan McComb, took the win in both elite and the overall. Local riders Alvaro Tito Ruso and Master40 local legend Mario Arjonae were tied on second spot, 49seconds behind Nathan.
All results can be checked here
Fun, that's what it's all about.
Free beer? Nope, the timing chip pickup queue.
Last minute repairs on rear brakes issues on the bike of Matias, a well-known rider from Cordoba.
Nathan The Lizzard with Happy Tommy and Tracy.
That red bike is taking some attention
Briefing, race about to start folks!
Some serious climbing to get to first stage
Nathan McComb started early so he could finish as soon as possible
Stage 3 scenery, just relax and enjoy the Sierra Nevada
Race winner Nathan, enjoying himself on the start of rocky section of SS4
After almost 40km and several hours on the saddle, the rocky section on SS4 was a problem for some.
The rock garden on SS4 was a moment of nervousness for many and joy for a few.
Breath taking views from stages 3 and 4.
Overtaking is a normal part of the racing here.
The crowd cheers on the winners and capture that special moment in time
I'm done with this, let's go home please