The Sturdy Dirty Enduro

Jun 17, 2015
by Colin Meagher  
It was a strange day in the woods. As racers came rocketing out of the woods, they were instantly greeted by a cow and fairy, with the cow scanning the wrist timing chip and the fairy making a manual notation of time and rider number. A leprechaun ushered racers to an aid station to re-hydrate and grab a Clif bar. A few yards away, re-charged racers were queuing up to start stage 3. So ended the second stage of the Sturdy Dirty Enduro Race held last weekend at Tiger Mountain, just outside of Issaquah, WA, a few miles east of Seattle. It was a surreal moment that kind of encapsulated the whole event.

Sure, I know, you're thinking "Not another enduro race!" But what made this race different wasn't the fact that a cow and a fairy were doing the timing on the second stage, but the fact that it was a women's only enduro. Ok.... what's so special about that? For starters, the most recent Oregon Enduro Series race drew 27 women out of a field of some 228 participants. And the most recent Cascadia Dirt Cup race held on the infamous N Shore of Vancouver still had only 27 women entrants despite having a field of 286 entrants. The Sturdy Dirty Enduro drew a field of 229 entrants, with 16 of them racing in the pro category. All of them women. Nor did it offer prize money (although it had a hell of a raffle). WTF? Where did all those female racers come from? And why aren't there those kinds of numbers of female racers present at other popular races? I have no idea how to answer either of those questions, but I think it's pretty damn cool to see that many women out there given 'er, particularly when you see how many of them shred. And costumed timers and course marshals aside, this was a pretty serious event even if it had a healthy dash of party added in.

The Sturdy Dirty is the brain child of the Seattle's Sturdy Bitch Racing team, an all women's mountain bike race team. The team was founded six years ago to create a more supportive riding and racing environment for its members. As part of their ethos, the team has been putting on women's only events every year. During that time, they've seen a steady growth of women taking up mountain biking. For many of the women entering the sport, though, the desire to race was there, but deciding to race can be intimidating. Since the team was formed to support women's riding and racing, they decided to put on an enduro race in 2014 in an effort to give all levels of female mountain bikers a supportive racing environment as well. That first event, held in Washington's Capitol Forest, was a raging success and the word spread. This year's Sturdy Dirty moved to Tiger Mountain at the invitation of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, a mountain bike trail advocacy group that's been instrumental in the creation of miles of new trail at Tiger Mountain, and the field size doubled from the previous year's offering.

There's definitely an element of fun at the Sturdy Dirty; the Sturdy Bitches make an effort to keep the racing somewhat light hearted--hence the costumed course marshals and volunteers, the limbo station, the bacon hand ups and snowcones at the top of the first climb, the jello shot station rumored to be somewhere on the third transfer, etc. But at its heart, this is a serious race and the tracks, while not all f them are overly technical, are by no means easy, either. There are plenty of roots, rocks, drops, jumps, and tight trees to thread between; beginner and sport racers scaled 2700 vertical feet and raced over 4.5 miles of trail during 3 stages; while the pro and expert divisions climbed an additional 1300 feet in their quest for the podium, as well as hit up the new "Eastbound and Down", a descending trail not officially opened to the public yet, that drops 1200 vertical feet in a mile and a half before spitting racers down a steep rock lined ramp to the end of the stage.

Overall, the 2015 Sturdy Dirty was also a great success. 229 stoked racers is proof positive of that. Keep an eye out for next year's offering at sturdydirty.com.

The Sturdy Dirty T-shirt says it all.
  The Sturdy Dirty T-shirt says it all. Tiger Mountain has one of Seattle's oldest mountain bike trail systems, and one that's seen six new trails created in the past 3 years.

There are only a few things in life better than racing bikes. Bacon is one of those things...
  There are only a few things in life better than racing bikes. Bacon is one of those things...

The pre race ritual waiver signing get your number find the timing chip and then grab your race plate. Jaimie Didier getting ready to rock.
  The pre race ritual: waiver signing, find your number assignment, grab your timing chip, and get your race plate. Jaimie Didier from Hood River, OR getting ready to rock.

The final push to the top of Tiger East Peak was a bit of a grind. The worst thing about hitting the wall on the first lap up was knowing that they had to climb it a second time around.
  The first transfer stage of he Sturdy Dirty entailed a 4 mile, 1200 vertical foot climb to the top of Tiger Mountain's East Peak; the final push to the top was a bit of a grind up the "wall", the final steep push to the summit. The worst thing about hitting the "wall" for the racers on the first lap up was knowing that they'd have to climb the wall portion of East Peak on the second transfer stage, too.

Once at the top racers were greeted with a stunning view of Mt Rainier s 14 441 high peak.
  Once at the top, racers were greeted with a stunning view of Mt Rainier, looming just to the south.

The formula was simple climb nearly 4 miles and 1200 vertical and then buckle up to giddy up for stage one s roller coaster of fun.
  After soaking in the views from the top, and maybe taking in another bacon hand up, it was time to buckle up to giddy up for stage one's roller coaster of fun.

It s been ten long years since Leanna Gerrard raced the NORBA circuit as a pro DH racer but she s still got the bug and laid down some solid times despite a mechanical.
  It's been ten long years since Leanna Gerrard raced the NORBA circuit as a pro DH racer, but she's still got the bug, and laid down some solid times despite a mechanical.

Kathy Salisbury holding her own on stage two.
  Kathy Salisbury holding her own on stage two.

Course volunteers were dressed in all sorts of costumes during the Sturdy Dirty from Daisy Dukes to the happy leprechaun to prom dresses to Chiquita Banana. It s all about having fun while supporting the racers.
  Course volunteers were dressed in all sorts of costumes during the Sturdy Dirty, from Daisy Dukes to the happy leprechaun to prom dresses to Chiquita Banana. It's all about having fun while supporting the racers.

Local Pro Karen O Connell taking the direct line on stage two.
  Local Pro Karen O'Connell taking the direct line on stage two.

Nikki Hollatz charging hard on the upper part of stage two. This was a decider stage for many racers with a deceptively long uphill climb in the middle of the stage.
  Nikki Hollatz charging hard on the upper part of stage two. This was a decider stage for many racers, with a deceptively long uphill midway through the stage.

Racers were greeted by a cow and a fairy at the end of the Off The Grid Trail stage 2 . Now that s how you enduro
  Racers were greeted by a cow and a fairy at the end of stage 2, the "Off the Grid" Trail. That's not likely a scene one will see on the EWS, but it made for a bit more fun for the racers.

Amy Josefczyk pushing up the final stage and grabbing some liquid courage from the cowardly lion before dropping in and seizing the Expert Masters win.
  Amy Josefczyk pushing up the final stage and grabbing some liquid courage from the cowardly lion before dropping in and seizing the Expert Masters win.

Pro race winner Emily Sabelhaus on stage four. Sabelhaus swept the first three stages by a fair margin and was then able to maintain that overall lead on the final stage despite serious challenges from a field of experienced downhill racers.
  Pro race winner Emily Sabelhaus on stage four. Sabelhaus swept the first three stages by a fair margin and then maintained that overall lead on the final stage despite serious challenges from a field of experienced downhill racers.

Elaine Bothe made the journey from Portlandia to take part in the SD but wasn t quite able to step on the box.
  Elaine Bothe opted to run a full face on the new "East Bound and Down" trail that made up stage 4 of the Sturdy Dirty.

LA Woman Liz Miller pushing her Pivot Mach 6 through the rocks and roots of stage 4.
  LA Woman Liz Miller pushing her Pivot Mach 6 through the rocks and roots of stage 4.

Luckily for the expert and pro racers who got to sample stage four the new descending trail at Tiger Mountain it was dry as there were multiple off-camber root lines that would have been down right nasty in the wet.
  Luckily for the expert and pro racers who got to sample stage four it was warm and dry during for the event, as there were multiple off-camber root lines that would have been down right nasty in the wet.

Post race the course markings pointed to the party where racers were able to belly up to a plate full of tacos and roll the dice with the raffle with prizes from Kore FSA the Lumberyard Liv Giant and many more.
  Post race, the course markings pointed to the finish party and the awards, where racers were able to belly up to a plate full of tacos and roll the dice with the raffle, with prizes from Kore, FSA, the Lumberyard, Liv Giant, and many more. Additionally, race organizers donated $3000 to Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

Start em young Nyla Stephens age 9 was the youngest racer on the course followed by her tutu wearing father. Inspirational to have someone that young take part in the event.
  Start 'em young: Nyla Stephens, age 9, was the youngest racer on the course, followed by her tutu wearing father. It's pretty inspirational to have someone that young take part in an event like this.

Women s Pro Podium L-R Sara Johnson 4 Veronica Voracek 2 Emily Sabelhaus 1 Karen O Connell 3 and Jaimie Rees 5 .
  Women's Pro Podium (L-R): Sara Johnson (4), Veronica Voracek (2), Emily Sabelhaus (1) Karen O'Connell (3), and Jaimie Rees (5). And that's a wrap. Until next year, that is. Overall, this was again a well received event. Liv took on the title sponsor role and donated a complete Liv Intrigue bike to the raffle, while the Sturdy Bitch Racing donated $3000 back to Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance in an effort to give back to the non profit organization that was so instrumental in creating all the tracks that were raced during the event.


MENTIONS: @EvergreenBryan / @meagerdude




21 Comments

  • + 24
 Nyla Stephens is my new hero. Way to go. Ive always told my daughter Id do anything thing for her, and I would wear a tutu for her, but I dont know if I could smile. Way to go dad.
  • + 6
 Thanks. Really the bad part of the tutu is that it was super hot over biking clothes. Got lots of compliments from the ladies though.
  • + 6
 Wearing a full face helmet to race that EAD trail is a good idea. If they include that trail in the Tiger Enduro in September, and its as wet as previous years, it'll be interesting! Great photos, awesome turnout.
  • + 5
 that s some burnt-ass looking bacon.a tad too crispy for me.
  • + 4
 Oh man I love the atmosphere of this race so much! Especially the costumes and that party sign on the course!
  • + 2
 Any lady riders looking for a race with a very similar vibe in the PNW should check out www.hotonyourheels.ca It's a great race in Squamish.
  • + 1
 It's almost a 1600 foot vertical climb, not 1200 feet. From the lower parking lot at elevation of approx 1400 and 4 miles to the top at just a hair above 3000 feet.
  • + 3
 Great shots @meagerdude and looked like an awesome event.
  • + 1
 Great coverage, and banger shots as usual Colin! Looks like it was a fun event, makes me want to get back to Tiger after a long absence.
  • + 1
 Looks like all the gals had a blast out on Tiger.

Also, did the Descent trail just get an actual name? I didn't realize it'd been named yet!
  • + 3
 It's had a working name for a while now with the builders. Just finally time to put it out there for everyone else. Crazy day indeed and from a volunteer perspective it was awesome to see the amount excitement these ladies brought to the race. Thanks CDC for providing the timing system as well.
  • + 1
 That is awesome that they included the new trail as part of this race. Sturdy indeed!
  • + 2
 Way to hold her sturdy there ya dirty bitches!
  • + 2
 Pretty sure that's turkey bacon, not even real bacon.
  • + 1
 Nice shots and solid coverage Colin. It was great to meet you out there. -Chris
  • + 1
 Chris, you were no slouch with your photos either.
  • + 2
 East Bound and Down!
  • + 1
 Ride the tiger! You can see his stripes but you know he's clean!
  • + 1
 yumm bacon, bikes and babes.....
  • + 1
 Dirty people Riding the Tiger.... Right on.
  • + 0
 Where was stage 1 for the race?

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