Words by Joey Schusler
Photos by Nick Ontiveros
The final day of a week long epic was nothing short of incredible. While the first four days of the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro were far in the backcountry, today was held entirely in the bike park. It was a nice change of pace for many of the racers. While the trails may have not been as epic, or unique, the level of racing certainly elevated to a new level. It honestly felt as if we were doing three downhill races, which is only fitting because it was race day for all the downhillers at the UCI World Championships. Many of us gathered early before the race to spectate the event via the online feed. This set the tone for the day.
The racing went quickly. We pushed on through all three runs and before we knew it, the week had come to a close. Many of the positions for the overall were already locked up, so many riders were just riding to conserve their position that they had worked so hard for all week, whereas those that had suffered a mechanical or a crash, were gunning for good stage results. That being said, at this point in the race, results weren't really the worry of most people. Everyone’s experience had panned out either for better or for worse, and everyone was ready to share a few beers and hit the road home.
One thing I noticed after the race was over was a huge sense of achievement from those who placed well and those who didn't. Anyone who had completed the long days in the sun, the high altitude, the raw trails and the racing experience as a whole all had a sense of achievement. Many new friends were made over the course of the week. The camaraderie you find at an event like this is unmatched. This would be such a huge adventure if I rode it alone, but the fact I shared the experience with so many people only makes it that much more rich.
I would expect to see many of the same faces back next year for the event. It will certainly become a yearly ritual for me. Crested Butte is definitely one of the new hotspots for enduro as well. Beyond having some of the best trails in the world and stunning scenery, it is now set to host a round of the Enduro World Series. I don't think it will disappoint, and I'm looking forward to all of the world’s top races coming to my home state to race next year.
What a week it was. The grand finale of the event was a massive train down the jump trail at the bike park. 20 of the top pros linked up for a run of whips, berms and good laughs all ’round. I couldn't think of funner way to top off a fantastic week of riding.
Thanks for reading along and hope to see many new faces at this event next year!