The fifth stop on this year’s Enduro World Series in Crested Butte, Colorado saw Rocky Mountain highs overshadowed by brutal lows.
As reported on our sister site Cyclingnews yesterday, the round was called off on Saturday following the death of amateur racer Will Olson. Hundreds of riders later turned out to pay their respects for the fallen rider, more on which below.
Before the event came to a tragic premature end, we'd been on hand to scope out the tech being put into service by riders. Here, for what it's worth, is a recap of our time in Crested Butte.
Fox DHX 2 with 'climb switch'
Just for Leov (for now?) this Fox DHX 2 has a tool-free low-speed compression adjuster to make it easier to firm up for climbs
Coil shocks are showing up with increasing regularity on pros' enduro bikes. As bikes get lighter, the marginal weight penalty associated with swapping air for a coil spring is offset by their bump-eating performance and reliability.
Trek Factory racer and men’s Enduro World Series overall leader Justin Leov was sporting a modified Fox DHX 2 coil shock on his Remedy 29.
Fox created a one-off low-speed compression adjustment lever enabling Leov to firm up the shock for climbing.
“It’s super easy to turn on and off; it’s made a big difference in my riding,” Leov told BikeRadar.
Prototype Bontrager carbon rims spotted
Leov was running a yet-to-be-released Bontrager carbon wheelset
In addition to a custom rear shock, Leov was also running some prototype carbon rims. These hoops appear to be carbon versions of Bontrager’s Line Elite wheels. According to Leov, they feature a 28mm internal width (the same width as the Line Elites).
Part of being a sponsored athlete is testing products to their breaking point. Leov did just that during the first stage, where he cracked his rear rim.
While some riders run alloy rims that can be bent back into shape, there's something to be said for the ability to patch carbon back together — it might not look pretty, but it's entirely functional
“I was racing blind and didn’t realize it was going to be as fast and rocky as it was. I just tagged one of the rocks flat-out and heard a pretty substantial ‘crack’,” said Leov.
His tubeless setup held air and he was able to nurse it through the day’s final stage.
After the first day of racing his mechanics worked feverishly to repair the damaged rim with carbon mesh, epoxy and strips of aluminum. “They had to cure it with hair dryers for a few hours,” he said.
A course for double cranksets (or very small chainrings)
A 36/26t XTR crankset allowed Moseley to power through the transition stages
While 1x drivetrains pervade the enduro race scene, the massive climbs, lengthy transition stages and thin Colorado air made many professional and amateur racers reconsider their drivetrain choices.
Some opted for smaller chainrings. Trek racer Tracey Moseley came prepared with a 36/26t Shimano XTR crankset — the same setup she runs for all of her events.
“I just like to pedal my bike and not have to get off and push. I want to be able to save my legs during the transition stages,” said Moseley.
Homebrewed enduro rig
It’s good to see American ingenuity alive and well. Denver-based welding instructor Johnny Wenner chose to build his own enduro bike. His 29er is constructed from TIG-wlded 4130 chromoly steel tubing.
The frame has fair amount of flex to it, according to Wenner. “I’ve been in situations where I’ve been in a rock garden and the flex saved me, so there’s something to be said for a bit of flex,” Wenner noted.
This single-pivot suspension design uses an idler pulley to create anti-squat for improved pedaling performance, which Wenner needs, since his creation has a claimed weight of more than 40 pounds.
A turn for the worse
Riders and racers often take for granted just how quickly things can go wrong
During Saturday’s race, we were reminded of how dangerous enduro racing can be when amateur racer Will Olson, 40, of Edwards, Colorado, died following a crash on Stage 3.
Event organizers immediately halted the race and cancelled Sunday’s stages. Points from stages one and two will not be counted toward overall series standings.
“Out of respect for Will we are going to cancel this round. I think a rider’s life is far more important than points. From what I understand, we have the full support of riders in that decision as well,” said Enduro World Series director Chris Ball.
Instead of racing, more than 200 riders took to the trails in a show of support for the fallen racer.