We all know what a motorcycle enduro is. You know, timed sections and transfer sections, you have to arrive before your start time etc… That same format has been brought over to MTB. There are transfer sections, which are mostly uphill, and then timed sections which are mostly downhill. The transfer sections are a chore and the ripping fun DH sections are what the payout is. Just like the moto format, they are really relaxed. Not chill-axing easy, because you do have to get up the hill before your start time, but not like an XC puke your guts out up the hill intense either.
To start with, you are probably riding a bike that has more travel and is more laid back than your average XC rig. I like that, because I am not really an XC head. I like the more relaxed angle and fun focus of a full suspension bike that is made for going faster. Gives me big grins per mile.
My friend Hansi has been trying to get me to come up to Duluth to ride for some time. He has been telling me that it is really great. I knew he wasn’t lying, it was just that there are so many options for riding. Duluth seemed like it was probably good riding, but I really didn’t see how it could be worth 6 hours of drive time and past so many other riding areas. How wrong I was.
So I signed up for the enduro at Spirit Mountain. Spirit Mountain is a ski area just outside of Duluth. Like a lot of ski areas, they have made their mountain into a summer attraction for MTB riders. If you want to check it out, you can find a bunch of info about the riding at the area here and here.
I hopped in my truck early from Hayward and headed up for a 8am arrival and a 9am start. Now, understand I was driving away from about 100 miles of single track riding right out the back door of the cabin. This had better be good.
Duluth is a former sleepy little town on the edge of the biggest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Superior). Duluth was a bustling city in the early 19th century that had a huge mining and forestry, shipping and ship building industry. In the early 19th century it boasted more millionaires per capita than any city in America. But, that was a long time ago. It has always felt just a bit rundown to me now. Boy was that POV outdated.
It is still run down feeling on the west side, and even worse across the border in Wisconsin. But, the city has recently been voted the best outdoor city in America and there is a ton of money pouring in to the city revitalizing it. It is boasting 100 miles of single track being built inside the city limits. It has the lake, ice climbing, kayaking, snow biking in the winter, running the biggest ski areas in the upper midwest, XC ski trails in town. It is a great place.
But, the enduro is what I was here to experience. Let me just tell you now, Tracy Mosely is completely right. Enduro is the most fun you can possibly have on a MTB. period.
The little enduro at the Duluth MTB festival was just 3 transfer sections and 3 timed sections. The first was a flowing trail called Candyland. Great fun, with small berms and jumps. The second was called Knowelton Creek and had a lot of rake and ride virgin trail. The 3rd was something called Smorgasboard, and completely rocked. It was pouring down rain from the middle of my 2nd run, but the event was the most fun I have ever had on a MTB.
Joe – Out.