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Winter Park, Colorado, hosted the third stop of the Big Mountain Enduro series this past weekend, with the local’s favorite course at Trestles Bike Park serving up a selection of groomed jump trails and chunky rough sections. The enduro series has made Winter Park a staple venue, and it was one of the two locations that got the green light for racing in 2020, amid a season truncated by COVID-19. Last year, the amateur class raced in snow, before it melted off for the remainder of the field, but this year welcomed a typical Colorado summer day—not a cloud in sight until the racers were winding up their day early afternoon.
Racers faced four stages spread over a Saturday of riding; a pedal transfer started the day out, requiring athletes spin up just under 1,000 feet in elevation from the base village to mid-mountain, to get to stage one. Stages two through four started at the top of the mountain and racers were treated to the use of the lifts for these transfers.
As with any Big Mountain Enduro, the event brought out some of the biggest names in American mountain bike racing, but there were at least two athletes that made the pilgrimage across the borders, namely, Jared Graves from Australia and Kasper Woolley from Canada, both of whom are part of the Yeti/OneUp Pro Team and were stoked at the opportunity to be racing in the U.S. again. Woolley took the win in Winter Park in 2020, and Graves’ accomplishments at this location span decades of racing. Also representing Yeti was the series leader Richie Rude, and Jubal Davis, who made the trek from California. Perpetual podium threat Shawn Neer was out due to an injury sustained during training. Rude ultimately took the top of the podium after winning three out of four stages, with second place Cody Kelley taking the win on Stage Three.
The Pro Woman category saw the return of Stefani McDaniel to racing after an injury had kept her away from the first two stops of the 2021 season, but it was McDaniel’s Pivot Cycles teammate Lia Westermann who took the top step for the day with three out of four stage wins. A notable mention goes to local ripper, Leah Vanderlinden who took the win on Stage Two, and put up a battle all day for an overall fourth-place finish. One face noticeably missing from the podium was series leader Kate Lawrence, who had a significant mechanical issue on Stage Four that took her out of podium contention.
The racing was tight and the stoke was high, and the Winter Park village was bustling with big smiles after the race and plenty of high-fives were shared. Athletes have a couple of weeks to recover before the next stop in Durango / Purgatory, Colorado, which is the replacement for the cancelled Santa Fe stop earlier this year. Purgatory is a new zone for the BME and racers can expect two big days of racing with backcountry stages.