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2019 Big Mountain Enduro Finals - STOP #5 - Aspen, Colorado

2019 Big Mountain Enduro Finals - STOP #5 - Aspen, Colorado

The fifth and final Yeti Big Mountain Enduro of 2019 finished with a bang here in Aspen Colorado this weekend. Blue Skies, prime temps, and a healthy mix of fast, flowy, and freshly cut trails gave everyone what they’ve come to expect from Aspen Snowmass … a damn fine time! 

The Elk Camp Gondola whisked us away to kick off two days of practice and revealed the massive views of the 11,335’ Snowmass Bike Park summit. Just a few pedal strokes from the famed Maroon Bells overlook, is Vapor trail, what would be the gateway to Stages 1 and 2 of our first day of racing. 


Praccy days are for finding lines. Quinn Reece locked and (pre)loaded with the low altitude line.
Local Pilot Flynn George opts for the low-drag thin air of Snowmass' upper atmosphere.

Two days of practice provided a chance to dig into some old favorites such as Animal Crackers —> Two Creeks DH (what would be stage 2), as well as the famed Aspen Mountain tracks of East Rim and Scotties (Stage 5), but in typical Aspen Snowmass fashion, Stage 2 also had some fresh offerings for us. Trail 8/9, a raw rollercoaster ride that had been ridden just enough to show some personality, but still brimming with opportunity for new lines, had just opened the week prior and was in top form.

Racers were quick to make tracks, and the 18k’+ of descending would prove to take all the practice time they could get to sniff out lines and come up with a game plan for the race days ahead. Aspen Snowmass may be a familiar venue for locals and series veterans alike, but the commitment from BME to offer fresh trail is ever present here as over 50% of the stages consisted of race-only tracks that open during this series. Classics such as the Banzai DH and the unrelenting descent of Aspen Mountain have been included in prior BME's, but as in years past, the team arrived a week early to work with the Snowmass Crew in buffing (and roughing) out a healthy offering of fresh routes. 

Rich Drew, who mined himself some Silver over the weekend (and the series as a whole!), expressed that "the diversity of the terrain here is incredible!! It really didn't favor any rider or background. . . you really had to be ready for it all and keep your focus from top to bottom"

Mike West didn't take the series lead for his division by stopping to smell the flowers, and he certainly kept that momentum here in Aspen.

Race day was upon us and it felt as though (maybe) everyone had these first three courses figured out. Stage 1 demanded some attention, but provided enough flow up top to get warmed up, and finished on the freshly cut Trail 8/9 which twists and turns its way through a variety of rock and soil of every kind. Stage 1 put the first 2k or so of descending on the board... Carson Lange and Cooper Ott quickly found their grooves, taking the stage for the mens and women's pro pack, and it seemed that every categories eventual leader would follow suit, establishing their position from the first track.

In this corner, weighing in with just the right lean, your reigning champ, Cooper Ott!
And in this corner, leading with a left hook and ready to go six rounds, Lia Westermannnn!!

Shane Leslie, just getting started on what would be two pretty good days of racing!

Lia Westermann and Cooper Ott didn't waste time kicking off another head to head battle, with unbelievably close results. Absolutely incredible to see two very different riding styles land in such proximity by the end of the weekend. The Women weren't the only close call on the first track as the U21 and Youth/Groms also had themselves a fight right out of the gate, with George Poggemeyer and Forrest Christian taking a close-race lead for each or their divisions respectively.

There are certainly worse places to wait your turn and / or heckle your friends. Aspen, you're alright.

Stage 2 grew to be another close match as racers descended one of the field favorites of the weekend. Cooper described Animal Crackers -> Two Creeks DH as the "first opportunity to turn it loose up top, and really find some speed at the bottom, with plenty of variety to keep you looking down the trail". David Camp certainly did turn it loose and responded to Carson Lange's first stage win by finishing 2 seconds shy of his time and teeing off another of the weekends head to head races. 

Looks pretty WFO to Corinne Prevot.

Stefanie McDaniel has been absolutely charging through the whole BME season and landed herself a bronze souvenier from the circuit. Animal Crackers provided ample room to run.

Jubal Davis had himself a real good time getting back on the bike. Fresh off an injury, and showing up for a well earned 4th place!

Steven Cisar dusting and thrustin through Stage 2.

Clayton Haskins found his lane on Stage 2 and kept it rolling the rest of the day, snatching up 2nd place for the weekend.

Stage 3 closed out the first day of racing with a true statement to the commitment of this series to bring real variety to the menu. The earlier two stages had taken place on somewhat similar turf, but the transfer to Stage 3 revealed another side of the hill with some additional variety of the loose/rocky kind. Not only did the transfer demand a good amount of end-of-the day fitness, but the track itself descends steep and wide-open ski slopes full of brick sized skree with a taste for downtubes and shin meat. Classic DH here and a fitting finish to the day!

Noteable performances included the start of a 4 stage rally from Mike West who put some distance between himself and Jason Hilimire's stage silver, Colton Peterson broke the U21 gold streak of Poggemeyer,  and Erik Obermeyer, Forrest Christian, Dee Tidwell, Amber Tinstman, Ashlyn Puzey, and Megan Cerise all closed out their respective category Day 1 triple crowns!

The final stage of the day also tightened up the Pro Women's race as Lia Westermann  took the stage win with a slender .8 second lead over Cooper Ott. 

It's rare to find Lia anywhere other than lazer focused and eyes ahead.

Dave Camp handling the rubble and taking Stage 3 ahead of William Farmer and Trevor McCutcheon who rounded out the top 3 for the final stage of Day 1.

The finish line of Stage 3's West Government Trail meant a chance to rest and crack a cold one for some, while others prepared to race in Saturday's Downhill on the Aspen Snowmass classic, Banzai DH. For those that stepped to the plate for a fourth time that day, the course provided plenty of thrill and the chance to increase the medal count for the weekend. Yeti's Lauren Bingham took the top step for the women, while Shane Leslie collected himself a W too. 

Attention Roaring Fork Valley farmers: This corner probably has the most aerated soil for 100 miles. Banzai DH / Stage 6 was shredded properly this weekend.

Lauren Bingham on her way to the win on the Banzai DH course.

Although Saturdays physical demands likely lasted through the night for some, Sunday proved to be the bigger day with substantial pedal transitions and 3 challenging and diverse stages that continued to test everyones stamina and skills. Sunday also welcomed the addition of the newly added Sport Class and participants from the Vida Women's Clinics to the start list.

Powerline and Starks trails comprised Stage 4 and provided plenty to warm up with as this course had it's fair share of corners and pedaling. They also provided some incredible dirt beneath the canopy of the Aspen groves that gave the green light to lean in and go! 

Victor Major, wide open and runnin for a 4th place weekend.

Forrest Christian midway through a stage smashing mission that would run all weekend long.

Pretty laid back guy, that Mike West. Letting it slide on Starks.

Megan Cerise firing it down the line on a second day of sweeping up the stages.

There were some serious high-speed straight aways through the Stage 4's Aspens. Carson Lange wasted no time finding another gear and catching up to Dave Camps two stage-wins the day prior.

Kent Meyers battled hard for the AM MENS 2nd place slot on stage 4, narrowly taking it over Van Ralen's 3rd place run.

I could write a whole article with just the praise I gathered from Quinn Reece's peers. Seeing him come up through the ranks with the drive, sportsmanship, and natural talent he has seems to have everyone impressed. Keep it up Quinn!

Stage 4 spit everyone back out into the real world where they had two pedal transfers and an equal number of challenging stages ahead them. Although the journey to Aspen Mountain was relatively easy, it was not lost on anyone that they had to conserve all the energy they had for the last two tracks of the weekend. Towering high above downtown Aspen, the duality between the unrelenting stage 5 and the famously posh community below is somewhat comedic. As brake pads torch rotors a few thousand feet up the hill, its likely that an equally hot pastry torch is glazing some fancy desserts below. Mmmmmm, d-e-s-s-e-r-t.

Aspen Mountain is again one of those special tracks that is rarely "officially" open, yet makes an appearance on the BME's course map each year. This trail easily makes any short list of long descents as it fires 3,300 feet from the 11k' + summit of the Silver Queen Gondola all the way down to that French restaurant below.

Arkansas' Rich Drew spoke highly of the track, but expressed that its "11 thousand feet of nowhere to hide!" and that with the punchy little climbs right out of the gate, and 15 minutes of fast paced descent, "it's really a long time to have to stay in the pocket and you have to dig deep to keep focus and hang on through it all." Rich managed another silver coin behind Mike West, so you know he certainly kept his focus.

Occasionally, there ARE corners amongst the straightaways of Aspen Mountain, and as one would assume, local Flynn George likely knows them well.

Stefanie McDaniel doing what she does well...letting go and firing it down the line.

Scott Countryman might spend a lot of time in the desert, but he can dig in the dirt with the very best of them. Easily a favorite to watch in this series!

Lauren Bingham a little ways into Sundays 17 minute suspension test.

While the pro's rotors were still sizzling at the base of Stage 5, the earlier-to-drop divisions had finished pedaling back to Snowmass and were beginning the final climb to the top of the famed Banzai DH for the 6th and final descent of the weekend. Nerves undoubtably ran ran high for some as the aforementioned trail has a healthy mix of high-speed and tech without much of a segue between them. To put down a good time simply means to handle what's tossed at you at race pace and hope for the best...just ask Carson Lange who had some first hand experience and nearly slipped from contention with a crash that pushed him back to 19th for the stage. Certainly a testament to the potential for things to go south quickly on the Banzai course, but a quick recovery and earlier victories secured his lead.

Cooper Ott also found some troubles on the final stage, resulting in some tree hugging that likely cost some time. Similarly, she had put enough time in the bank earlier to keep the lead over Lia, albeit slight. Westermann had a good rally down Banzai as her talent for the tech, and willingness to really open it up towards the bottom resulted in her third stage win of the six. The final tally was a shocker though as again, these ladies demonstrated that two completely different riders can match one anothers pace across two days and six stages of racing. . . this time to the the tune of .6 seconds for the whole weekend.

U21 Mens athlete Christian Atkins found Banzai to be the course for him to pick up his first stage win, just ahead of Aiden Chapin and Sport Women also saw streaks broken as Mikayla Weatherford bested Sierra Hawksley and secured the Aspen win as a result.

Sheldon Sims, and the rest of the "fast growing" youth/groms division for that matter, was ready to take on anything the course threw his way. In the case of Banzai, he threw it right back.

Jarrod Ray takes the plunge into "Hells Kitchen". Just a couple turns to go from here, but they just might be the most demanding of the track.

When all was done and dusted, the wins were hard fought and well deserved, but anyone that had crossed the finish line would have done so by putting it all out there on the mountain. This was a weekend of legitimately demanding tracks and incredibly close races. Aspen Snowmass proved yet again to be a fitting venue to cap off a great series! 


Mens Pro Podium: (L/R) William Farmer, Dave Camp, Carson Lange, Shane Leslie, Jubal Davis

Womens Pro Podium: (L/R) Corinne Prevot, Lia Westermann, Cooper Ott, Antonia Wurth, Lauren Bingham

Jake Ingram had plenty to be happy about with a hard fought win here in Aspen, as well as the overall Expert Mens Title.

We all needed a good rinse after a few days in the dust and sun.

The friendliest battle you ever did see. Cooper Ott and Lia Westermann went back to back the whole BME season.

Consistency pays off. Antonia Wurth and Lauren Bingham were firing on all cylinders throughout the weekend and certainly earned their 3rd and 4th place spots.

For a complete list of results, please visit the BME site HERE

All images provided by Cort Muller Photography

Rich Drew finding that lane that feels just right.

DL Wood


Shane Leslie

Cole Fiene, Stage 4.

Jackson Roseberry, Stage 2.

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