This is the third year of the Cranksgiving Enduro and Super D put on by Upstate SORBA in Greenville, SC. The past two years all events have been held at Paris Mountain just north of downtown Greenville, but this year they changed the format.
Saturday, the Super D and the first three stages of the Enduro were held at Pleasant Ridge Park on trails built with the proceeds from last year's race. There were four stages scheduled for Sunday back at Paris Mountain.
On Friday night, Nico, Laura and I drove up from Atlanta and Kurt drove down from Charlotte. We camped at Paris Mountain and it was effing cold! I can only think of one other camping trip that may have been colder. I slept in my clothes including my down jacket. And that was inside a 20 degree bag.
We had to get up pretty early on Saturday to drive to Pleasant Ridge and the sub-freezing temps made it tough to leave the relative comfort of my tent. Luckily the sun was out and it warmed up quickly.
I totally sucked on the first stage. My legs felt wooden, I started out in too hard a gear and I blew the only couple of corners there were. Kurt came down right after me and said he had a similar run.
Trying to keep warm, we headed to the second stage. When we rolled up there was no line which was nice. We were able to keep things moving. The second stage was a lot fun. Nothing steep or technical, just lots of rollers to pump. I would compare it to the fast parts of Flying Squirrel at Chicopee.
The third stage of the Enduro would also be the Super D course. From the start there was a rolling descent, then in the middle of the stage there was a climb just gradual and long enough to suck. Then a fun steep(ish) section followed by a short climb and descent to the finish.
After you finished the first three stages of the Enduro, you were free to shuttle the Super D course as much as you wanted until the timed runs started later in the afternoon. Seeing as how there wasn't anything particularly tricky about the course, I only opted for a single practice run.
I put some more air in my fork and shock before my Super D run hoping to add some efficiency for the pedally section, but I ended up being two seconds slower than my Enduro time. Kurt also beat me by two seconds in the Super D.
The trails at Pleasant Ridge were fun, not a destination (yet) by any means, but a good option for locals. The Kona Process 153 was waaaaaay too much bike for the trails. I mean it's too much bike for most trails, but it was particularly over-gunned for these. Something with less travel or even a hard tail would have saved me a ton of time. Run what you brung, though right?
Ed joined us Saturday after the race and we convinced him to race the night XC eliminator. He had a heads-up race in his bracket and took the win even with a failing light! In the finals he wasn't able to repeat, so we all just focused on what we're really good at. Drinking beer and hanging around the fire.
The rain rolled in late that night making it hard for me to sleep. Getting up in the freezing cold is bad, but getting up in the rain might be worse. Especially if you have to go ride your bike.
Jarrett Peek, the organizer, told us they were cutting out one of the stages on the backside of the mountain as the rain was predicted to only get worse throughout the day. After we were released from the riders meeting I booked it up the road to the first stage. My thinking was to get the day over with as soon as possible. I hate being wet and cold.
To my surprise, I was the first one to the top of the mountain. I felt like I was riding well, staying loose on the bike and pushing hard in the turns. Then the trail split and there were no markings. No tape. No volunteers. I literally yelled, "Where the fuck is the taaaaaaaaaape!" But no one was around to hear it.
I made the decision to go left, but immediately reconsidered as the trail started to go up. So I went crashing through the woods to meet up with the trail that went to the right. The ordeal felt like it took forever and it probably cost me a good 10 seconds or so. When I finished the stage I told the volunteers there that the turn wasn't marked.
I headed to the second stage, still in front. The second stage was tough. My glasses fogged up and I couldn't see what I was doing. There were a couple of awkward rock piles to get up and over, which I ended up having to run since I was riding blind.
The trail merged at the same point as stage one but this time I made the turn. I hit the root section as fast as I have ever ridden anything in the wet. It felt great knowing I was riding on the absolute edge of my ability. It sucks that I lost the time up top.
The third stage of the day was the Super D course from the past two years. I was really familiar with the trail so I felt like I rode it well. It was pouring at this point and the trail was under water. It wasn't muddy yet though as I was the first one down it. Bonus!
With all the water I finished the third stage cleaner than I had started. I rolled through the finish and headed back to camp to shower and pack. Breaking down camp in the pouring rain sucks. Not only because you're getting soaked doing it, but also because you have to unpack everything when you get home, let it dry and then repack it. So many steps.
On to results...
Eric Nicoletti (expert) finished 5th in the Enduro (3rd overall for the series) and 6th in the Super D
Laura Colbert (expert) finished 6th in the Enduro
Kurt Rampton (sport) probably doesn't want to talk about the Enduro since he missed the turn, but he was 5th in the Super D!
Aaron Chamberlain (sport) 6th in the Enduro and 6th in the Super D
All in all, it was a really fun weekend of camping and racing. I'm glad to see people like Jarrett and all the volunteers busting their asses to make events like this happen. Greenville is a cool little city with a great riding community.