Brian Buell of Team Geronimo/Bans scored a 13th place in the Pro Men's field. Photo by Devon Balet/devonbaletphoto.com
The long awaited and sold-out Big Mountain Enduro Series finale, The Whole Enchilada crowned two winners, already well-respected in the enduro circuit, Nate Hills (SRAM – Wolf Rock Racing) and Kelli Emmett (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) with the fastest times of the day at 1:20.48 and 1:33.02 respectively.
“Whole Enchilada is an epic adventure on one of the best trails in the country. I can't wait to come back next year. There is really no other place in the world where you can start on pristine dirt in the high alpine and end in the desert, 7,000 feet later,” Emmett said. “I really think this is the adventure that racers are looking for these days. A unique experience on great trails! It reminds me of what mountain biking used to be.”
Both the pro men and pro women’s field were stacked with talent, including Mike West (Yeti Cycles), Alexander Grant (Cannondale Factory Race Team), local favorite Kyle Mears and Jeremy Horga-Kobelski ( Subaru/Trek) taking over the top five for the men, and Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek) and Heidi Rentz rounding out the women’s podium. Other enduro stars studded the field including Josh Carlson (Giant Factory Race Team), Ross Schnell (Trek/SRAM) and Carl Decker (Giant Factory Race Team), however mechanicals and crashing took many out of contention.
Kelli Emmett (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) took the Women's Pro win with a margin of 2:06.33 over Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek). Photo by Devon Balet/devonbaletphoto.com
“The hardest part of this race was finding the balance between riding as hard as you can, but not so hard that you destroy your bike,” Hills said. “This was a great way to wrap up the season to win on one of the most classic, world-renown, trails that is true to mountain biking.”
One hundred and fifty riders were shuttled up to the top of Geyser Pass, about 6,500 feet above Moab at 6 a.m. where they were released in mass starts in their category to climb to the top of Burro Pass, more than 1,000 feet in 2 miles. From the top of the pass, they were released individually to race down Burro Pass, through the aptly named Hazard County, Kokopelli Trail and infamous sections of UPS, LPS and Porcupine Rim.
The course did not favor one type of rider. With four climate zones to race through, riders had everything from high alpine to slick rock, steady climbs to power moves. The best all-around rider prevailed in the race.
The Whole Enchilada was not solely for pro racers, nearly 100 amatuer competitors also took on the challenging 21-mile course. Photo by Devon Balet/devonbaletphoto.com
“This track is a true test of skill, fitness and being dialed as a racer,” said Sarah Rawley, race organizer for Bigfoot Productions. “Keeping it together for nearly 21 miles of demanding terrain is no small feat, especially on a trail like Porcupine Rim where tires are prone to flatting and knowing the trail is key.”
This was the first year of the Big Mountain Enduro Series, and with enduro racing becoming an increasingly popular discipline, the promoters see lots of growth for the series in the near future. “From a promotional standpoint, this race provided logistical challenges unlike any other event we’ve put on. But based on rider feedback, the rewards were equally matched,” said Keith Darner, race director for Bigfoot Productions.
Bigfoot Productions was established in 2006 in conjunction with Yeti Cycles to expand and improve mountain bike racing in the Rocky Mountains and promote bike industry involvement in racing. The 2013 schedule will be released November 2012 for all Bigfoot Production events. For further inquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.