With a brutal day of practice under their belts, racers took to the course Saturday for the first day of racing the 2018 North American Enduro Cup. Braving six technical and intimidating stages, nearly 6000’ of climbing made sure competitors were never complacent. The heavens broke in the evening, letting loose a short, but needed, deluge upon the trails. Sunday’s trails will have some added firmness and confidence.
Racers started their day by navigating the blisteringly off-camber side cuts of “Soup Kitchen” and “Mom Jeans,” two trails cut in just for this event, and only opened the day prior. Stage one continued, spitting out on the to the jagged, exposed ledges of Silver Mountain Bike Parks’ famed “Snaggletooth.” From there, racers crossed down the rest the longest stage of the day, landing back at the lodge for a gondola ride back to the peak of Silver Mountain.
If Stage 1 punished, Stage 2 rubbed salt into the wound. Racers were thrown down the historic downhill course “Franken Beans.” In addition to the sing, they were challenged to test their zest in a steeze off, sponsored by Iron Horse Brewery, to see who could get the raddest off of the iconic Baby Swiss drop. In the end, it was the monstrous (and always classy) bar hump from Hudson Jacobs that wound up taking the day. You can’t beat a classic.
The next two stages were a breath of fresh air for racers, trading tech for flow, and giving racers an opportunity to rest their forearms while mach chickening through sculpted berms, whoops, and dumping elevation like J-Lo dumped Ben Affleck. Truly, a refreshing moment after the hell that was of Snake Pit.
Stage Five was unique to this race: Pro only, and a fresh cut track used for the first time at the NW Cup only a week earlier. The NW Cup tested riders on their DH sleds. This weekend, riders pedaled to the top and charged the stage with nothing but single crown forks to be seen, Stage six did not make things easier for anyone. Starting down Spooky Woods, riders had to challenge themselves to the edge of physical capability as they kept pushing down some of the classic Silver Mountain trails.
If Saturday was the “slow and steady” day (it wasn’t), then Sunday was do or die day. With a day of racing already under their belts, and the bruises to show for it, racers were feeling the day before they even rolled out of their beds (Vans?). A $12,000 pro purse on the line helped get them moving - the sooner they went off, the closer they'd be to the finish line and finding out their fate.
Starting out with a hellish 3000’ climb that took them off of the Silver Mountain Property and on to private timber land where they were granted the opportunity to tear it up on what has historically been a locals only Moto trail. “Monday Tuesday” exposed riders to the highest straight away speeds of the weekend, and possibly the rowdiest rock garden as well.
Stage 8 kept racers on Moto trail, but rather then the bootleg power line straightaway nature of stage 7, racers were exposed to the hane of “sticks and stones”, a Moto trail that encompasses some of the rowdier parts of the Hard Moto Enduro that takes place just two weeks before the NAEC. It’s always a safe rule of thumb that if it’s burly on a moto, its extra zesty on a bike, and “sticks and stones” payed back in spades.
If that wasn’t enough, the final stage 10 was a full top to bottom, running competitors down the Bike park jump line “Hammer” and into one of the only stages that we’ve raced for all three years of the NAEC “Mutton Conductor”. Racers were subjected to nearly sixteen minutes of arm pump hell before being spit out on the rail and pealing back to venue.
At the end of the day, we saw podiums stay consistent, with Carson Eiswald just edging out Luke Stroble for the win, with Aaron Bradford slipping into third. and privateer Damon Sidevy took fourth, and Lars Sternberg took fifth in true party in the woods style.
On the Ladies end, Porsha Murdock held her lead over Hannah Bergermann, with Amy Morrison taking third, Chelsea Kimball hammering down fourth and Alicia Leggett rounding off the podium.
Check out the overall results here: 2018 NAEC Results