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by Noah Sears
photographs by Eric Odenthal/Enduro Cup

It's finally here - the Year of Enduro has started domestically. The world-famous slickrock slabs of Moab, Utah played host to the first major U.S. enduro race of the year, stop number one of the three-race Enduro Cup series. Well over one hundred racers showed up to the recently legalized and popularized Mag 7 trails which served as the venue. The routes stressed equal parts bike-handling and fitness. While the courses lacked consistent descending, their rough nature certainly required more than super-human fitness if a rider hoped to do well. With the four-stages of the race all around the seven-minute-mark, there was not much room for error in navigating the courses or coming back from crash or mechanical.


Stages 1 and 2

Riders left the staging area and had a 10-15 minute climb on Gemini Bridges road to the trailhead, a perfect warm-up. Stage one and two were fought on Bull Run trail which rips along side massive canyon walls on predominantly slickrock and sand surfaces. The Men's Open class was comprised of 37 riders with a variety of different backgrounds - local shredders, endurance specialists, experienced enduro riders, downhillers, and elite cross-country riders. Equally notable was the age range in the Open class. There were young guns not yet out of their teens all the way to seasoned vets who cut their teeth on rigid bikes with bull-horn bars.


Ross Schnell and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski traded stage wins in the first two segments and both jumped out ahead of the rest of the competition. In the Women's field, Trek's Heather Irmiger, won both stage one and two. She would go on to win every stage despite stiff competition from Giant's Kelli Emmett and Moab superstar Heidi Rentz. Emmet and Rentz swapped the two and three-spots in the rest of the stages.

The vast slickrock expanses on both stage one and two lead a couple riders (including Schnell) off-course and desperately scoping for cairns and paint dots. Well-known Moab ripper, Kyle Mears, got on the gas a little to heavy out of the gate on stage one and snapped a chain, ruining his chances for a spot on the overall podium.

The author, Noah Sears, getting on it.

Stages 3 and 4

After a mellow, social spin following stage two, riders arrived at the common staging area for stages three and four, on Arth's Corner and Great Escape respectively. Arth's Corner was (at least in my eyes) the most physically demanding portion of the race. Following an initial, punchy climb, riders zig-zagged up and down a mountain of a rock. Everytime momentum was built up, it seemed a guaranteed 180-degree turn was ahead, riders to hypoxic up a short, steep climb. Schnell's incredible ability to find flow paid off on this stage and he handily nabbed a six-second advantage over Horgan-Kobelski. Yeti rider and fixture on the Colorado race scene, Mike West, had his best stage, coming in third another seven seconds behind.

The fourth and final stage, Great Escape, was the longest of the four for most. It was much the same as stage three; rough, pedally, and technical. Searching for the flow was critical with momentary lapses in concentration leaving riders either at a dead stop or on their ass, OTB. Once again Schnell put his unparalleled bike-handling skills to use and wrapped up the win. He was again about six-seconds faster than Horgan-Kobelski. Kyle Mears had his best stage of what was surely a frustrating race, coming in third another six-seconds back.


Post Race Wrap

With the racing wrapped up for most before the clock struck noon, racers gathered in the staging, start/finish area and threw down the complementary burgers, hot dogs, and brewskis for most of the afternoon, swapping stories and anxiously awaiting results. The organizers were on-point and quick to post results and settle any concerns with timing. An after party followed in the evening at the Chili Pepper Bike Shop with awards for the top three in every category. All winners received Bell's sweet new enduro helmet, the Super and there were some insane raffle prizes that included the ENVE wheelset of your choice!



Round two of the Enduro Cup series is set for July 21 at Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. For more information go to The next major event on the domestic enduro calendar is the opening round of the Big Mountain Enduro Series in Angel Fire, New Mexico June 15-16.

A big thanks is due the Moab BLM field office for their support of the event, too.

Top Results - for full results visit
Open Men
1. Ross Schnell
2. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski
3. Macky Franklin

Open Women
1. Heather Irmiger
2. Kelli Emmett
3. Heidi Rentz

AM Men 19-29
1. Steve Goodman
2. Bryce Straka
3. Aaron Russell

AM Men 30-39
1. Joseph Saperstein
2. Joe Hanrahan
3. Christian Gauvin

AM Men 40+
1. Zach White
2. Scott Crabill
3. David Beeson

Junior Men
1. Dylan Crane
2. Preston Bagley
3. Joshuah Anderson

AM Women
1. Debbie Preller
2. Carly Clifton
3. Tschana Schiller

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