The third stop of the Big Mountain Enduro series presented by Specialized brought racers to the town of Brian Head, Utah this past weekend. This is canyon country, but don't be fooled because the base elevation is 9,600 feet above sea level and the air is thin.
The terrain at Brian Head Bike Park and the surrounding area is technical, loose, rocky and incredibly unique. It took a bit of getting used to before racers were able to find their flow on the varied stages. This area of the US sits on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, the foundation of many geological wonders like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. That said, steep - fall line trails are commonplace in this part of the country and added some extra spice to most of the tracks that racers tackled at BME stop #3.
The racing included 7 total stages, with around 8,500 feet of descending and 3,600 feet of climbing over the course of two days.
Familiar faces from the North American Specialized Enduro team, Maxxis Factory Racing, Yeti Cycles, Cannondale, KHS, Pivot and many other teams battled it out on the tracks. Most of the pros were coming off of a 3-race stint from the EWS, so fatigue is starting to set in as the end of the race season approaches.
Day 1 of racing had two stages in the backcountry followed by a very technical third stage back inside of Brian Head Bike Park to round out the day.
Day 2 started with a steep transfer to the top of the mountain (a brutal hike-a-bike) before doing the final four stages in the park that included a mixed bag of challenging tracks that tested every racer out there.
Ultimately, the riders who could push the limit and best navigate the gnarly tracks were Porsha Murdock and Colton Peterson who took the wins in the pro categories.
In the Pro Men's field, Peterson managed to snatch the win from Kelley by a narrow margin of two-hundredths of a second (nearly 33 minutes of total racing), making for some exciting racing this weekend. The two racers traded stage victories all weekend long with Kelley winning 4 out of the 7 stages and Peterson winning the remaining 3.
In the Pro Women's field, three ladies traded victories all weekend long - Porsha Murdock taking 4 stage wins, Rachel Anders taking 1 and Kailey Skelton (the US Downhill National Champ) taking 2. Ultimately, with a lead she had been pulling away with all weekend long, and even after a crash on stage 6, Porsha managed to win with a 35.4 second lead over her next closest competitor. Final results for Pro Men's field:
1st: Colton Peterson
2nd: Cody Kelley
3rd: Max Sedlak
4th: Duncan Nason
5th: Aiden ChapinFinal results for the Pro Women's field:
1st: Porsha Murdock
2nd: Rachel Anders
3rd: Lia Westermann
4th: Kailey Skelton
5th: Kate Lawrence
See the BME Results page for full rankings HERE
Big Mountain Enduro prides itself in equal payouts for men and women, in addition to offering tens of thousands of dollars of product prizing to its amateur categories which includes Specialized gear, Maxxis tires, FOX suspension, Shimano pedals, POC protection and eyewear, Stans No Tubes wheels, Industry Nine hubs, DT Swiss wheels, FSA components and wheels and 10 Barrel Brewing beer (to those 21 and older).
Also included in the amateur prizing was a Specialized Enduro frame won by the winner of the Amateur Women's category for this stop. A different amateur category is chosen at random for each event.
The final stop of the 2022 Big Mountain Enduro series takes place in Bend / Mt. Bachelor, OR in just a couple of weeks on September 17 - 18. The Overall Series winners will also be awarded at the BME Finals, so racers won't want to miss the action and huge prizes that will be handed out at the last event of the season.
Until then, check out the photo essay below to get caught up on the action and keep an eye out for the Brian Head BME Highlights video dropping around noon on Wednesday, August 31.
Words by Dirk Badenhorst
Photos by Dirk Badenhorst, James Stokoe & Eddie Clark