The first amazing thing about the AOA/BikeFettish Mayhem Enduro is that it exists. Ohio is not known for mountain biking, most people think it is just part of the sea of corn that stretches across most of the middle of the States. In other words, fly-over country.
The second amazing thing about the Mayhem Enduro is that it is awesome. Southeast Ohio was spared when the glaciers flattened the rest of the Upper Midwest, they left a rolling countryside covered in forest as much as anything. Creative trail work makes the most of the elevation, with natural gnar, roots, and rocks, supplemented by man-made gnar: why remove a fallen tree when you can jump it?
Into this potent mix of improbability place a team of dedicated mountain bikers intent on putting on the best show in Ohio, and you have the Mayhem Enduro Bike Festival, three days of clinics, riding and shenanigans.
Several bike manufacturers brought out demo bikes for the first day of the three-day festival, treating attendees to the finest of steeds for a pre-ride for the Enduro. IMBA certified instructors Angie Weston and Rae Gandolf put on clinics Saturday morning, followed by a kids race.
Once the children were sent home to bed, the real fun began, with a mini-slalom- full grown adults riding tiny Kona children's bikes through a slalom course with all the carnage one would expect. The fun continues into the night with the Paradise Garage Night Games, but there was also a quiet camping area, for those wanting to be fresh for the race the next morning.
The race itself starts innocently enough, beer tent from a local brewpub, a food truck, DJ pumping tunes into the roar of cicadas. Racers can climb out of their tents and start the race less than 100 yards away. The DJ turns down the music long enough to send a group on their way, and off they go, down a gently zig-zagging trail through a field.
Then it gets interesting. Three miles of roots and rocks, the trail dancing along cliff faces left from strip mining a half-century ago, and then the start of section one. A man, a laptop and berms. On 'go' riders slip through a series of berms and then over a huge gap jump (with optional ride around for more sensible folk) and the down into head-high table tops. After the last jumps the trail dives into Ohio wilderness, into a valley of tight singletrack and out the other side to the finish. The rest of the race is a mix of the same, part all-out dash through the Ohio wilderness, part bike park rollercoaster, with berms, jumps and wall rides appearing out of nowhere for a wild thrill ride through the woods.
The final section, a rapid descent through rocks and lush Ohio forest ends in a cacophony of noise, with rider options of a jump over a creek to riotous applause or a ride around through the creek to a howl of friendly heckling from a few hundred of your newest friends. This year Washington state native and 5 time mayhem attendee Angie Weston acted as MC, leading the crowd in cheers for riders making the daring leap over the creek, and awarding them style points for a good landing. By they end of the race, when the last teams are finishing and the pro solo men and women are putting on a show, the party along the creek has the air of a bike-themed carnival, with new friends comparing their rides and pausing long enough to cheer on the next rider to cross the creek.
The regional flavor of the race was in full display in the final times; repeat winners in the solo divisions were Gus Michaels of North Carolina and Marla Streb of Maryland. Local riders took the team category, with the HWB Cycling team leading the way. A half dozen states were on display in the standings.
The AOA/BikeFettish Mayhem Enduro is an annual race at the Wilds mountain bike trails in Eastern Ohio, a few miles outside the hamlet of Cumberland. It is the main fundraiser for Appalachia Outdoor Adventures, the IMBA chartered club that builds and maintains the trails. Traditionally held on Memorial Day weekend, it features rider clinics, and a gravel grind as well at the Enduro. Camping is available on site, and hotels can be had in Cambridge, New Concord or Zanesville. For more information, visit www.bikeaoa.org
Words by Chris Crook, photos by Chris Crook and Katsu Tanda. Thanks Katsu!Ohio mountain biking trails