Photo Credit: Eddie Clark

It should go without saying that it felt so good to be back on the bike and between the tape racing at the Big Mountain Enduro Series race in Big Sky, Montana. The terrain was steep and technical, the race vibe was refreshing and the area is incredibly beautiful. It was a breath of fresh air (until the wildfire smoke rolled in) to pad up, see friends and pin it for two incredible days of racing. Here’s how the racing went down.

Day One
Stage 1: I broke my chain coming out of the starting gate.
Stage 2: I fell off a bridge racing across open ski slopes.
Stage 3: Finally, a clean run.
Stage 4: A second clean run to finish out Day 1 of racing.

Day Two
Stage 5: A tree and I had a meeting when I was coming in a little hot.
Stage 6: Thank goodness for another clean run.
Stage 7: DOUBLE FLAT, whomp-whomp.
Stage 8: Full on crash with two turns left to go. Brutal.

But get this: I still managed to win the Men’s 50+ Division despite all these issues! It was frustrating to not be able to have a smooth race because I was feeling strong, rested and ready to go. Over time, I’ve learned though that panicking does no good and you have to keep a level head when faced with challenges like a broken chain or double flat. It’s not easy but I committed to making the most of the race weekend instead of dwelling on all the bad that happened.

The most important lesson to come out of the weekend was “Why am I not remembering the things I’ve learned?” After stage one where I did my best old guy impression of Aaron Gwin, I wondered why I didn’t have that same “find speed” attitude during the rest of my runs! ARGH!

Photo Credit: Eddie Clark

I’m sure you can agree, but I’ve spent hours upon hours practicing line choices on my local trails, pumping rollers and working towards seeing lines how the pros see lines. If I could actually put all those skills into place in all eight stages instead of just stage one I could have shaved seconds off each stage. Sheesh. Shoot, If I can get even 30% better between where I am today as a racer and the level that the pros race, I would have measurable improvements in my performance. We should all strive to improve ourselves as racers and athletes, remembering the lessons learned along the way.

This weekend I’m heading up to Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park for the second and final Big Mountain Enduro Series race of the season. We’re all racing on limited schedules so we should all be trying to make the most of the season possible. I don’t have any particular expectations for this track other than a clean race and a bit of redemption from Big Sky.

If you’re at the race, come stop by the Enduro MTB Training tent and introduce yourself with a virtual fist bump or high five. I always have a few self therapy tools like rollers and lacrosse balls if you need them, too. Fair warning though, I have a bad tendency to forget names. It’s not you; it’s me. And since you’ll be all masked up, the chance is even worse, haha! BUT, I still love you, m-kay 🙂

In case you missed it, here’s my best Aaron Gwin impression from Stage 1.

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