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2019 Big Mountain Enduro - Stop #4 Big Sky, Montana

The fourth stop of the Yeti Big Mountain Enduro p/b Maxxis brings the race series to Big Sky, Montana. Depending on your geographical location, it's more than likely going to take you a while to get here, however, damn, it's worth it.

2019 Big Mountain Enduro - Stop #4 Big Sky, Montana

If there was one quote that I heard over and over this weekend, it was, “HOLY SH!T!!! That track was awesome!!”. Big Sky is one of the funnest, fastest, rowdiest, most amazing places to play bikes that I've ever experienced, and as a result, I think that everyone who loves to ride their bike needs to make the trip to this mind bottling place. 

When I first heard that the Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro presented by Maxxis announced that their fourth stop of the 2019 season was to be in Big Sky, I had to pull out the old Google Maps and see where exactly it was, sure, I’ve heard of this place in passing, but I’ve never really given it too much thought. Once I plugged in the request for directions from my base location of Colorado Springs, Colorado to Big Sky, Montana, I was not stoked to see that I would be embarking on a 12 hour journey. I had committed to shooting the event long before I asked exactly where this place was, so I downloaded a couple new podcasts, chucked a half eaten pizza and some questionable snacks in a cooler, threw the bike on the rack and headed north. 

Located in the Madison Range, the fourth stop of the Big Mountain Enduro included six stages over two days, a total of 21 miles with just under 7,000’ of climbing and 8,500’ of descending - the first stage of both days were lift access. Although this event was based at a “bike park”, once you got on the trails, you definitely forgot that this was a bike park, the trails were fast, loose, chunky and delivered a sh!t eating grin to all that made it to the bottom. This BME differed slightly from previous events this year with a smaller number of participants, which is somewhat understandable considering the location, however, I think this added to uniqueness of the event. There was more of a camaraderie felt at this stop than I’ve felt at other stops, even to the point that all of the pro class waited for one another after their final race run, and then embarked on a party train down one of the jump trails - there were definitely sketchy moments. 

Talking with the racers during and after the event, it was easy to conclude that Stage 2, known as Revenge to the locals, was the clear favorite, this stage was steep with the majority of it being in dense woods. After a heavy storm the night before the racers were faced with super slick conditions, where the key was to just stay on the bike and ride the rollercoaster down hoping you didn't slide off the tracks. The general start area of Stages 1, 3 & 6 offered some breathtaking views, however, you were pitched immediately into steep single track, and although all three of these stages actually joined together towards the last quarter of the runs, each stage felt very unique. Stage 3 was especially unique with some steep and loose single track, the baby doll heads under your wheels acted as a floor of marbles to ensure you're about to lose control of your speed, then boom, a 90 degree corner. The Big Sky trail crew have free reign to build these world class trails with the intention to scare the mess out of you. Any section of trail that was not loose with rocks was carpeted with roots - the kind you see in a haunted forest, there were very few "smooth" sections for riders to collect themselves before dropping back into imminent death. 

The results speak for themselves, and it was a close race, no doubt. Cooper Ott took the win for the Pro Women with the familiar faces of Lia Westermann and Stefanie McDaniel taking second and third respectively. Todd Renwick grabbed the big “W” for the Pro Men with Evan Geankoplis, fresh off a win at the Telluride BME the week before, grabbing second and Yeti/Fox Devo team member Quinn Reece taking third. More important than the results was us getting the opportunity to explore this thriving bike community and the amazing trail system. This outstanding event threw a spotlight on the incredible location and will stick in my head for many years to come with fond memories of huge smiles and mega high fives, and let’s be honest, what’s more important than that when you’re playing bikes with your buddies?!

Adam Prosise is a staple of the BME community. He also skips down the lane hand in hand with style - this dude oozes talent.

Stefanie McDaniel blowing through some loose single track.

The stoke was high on the morning of both race days, and it did not diminish throughout the weekend.

Zephyr Sylvester charging her way down one of the many rocky chutes, with an amazing backdrop to boot.

U21 racer, Dugan Merrill weaving in and out of trees as if they were cones and it was a Friday night at the local roller disco. Merrill ended the weekend in 6th.

Jena Greaser didn't have time to stop and smell the wildflowers, nor did she have time to look.

Eric Bodine on his new Guerrilla Gravity carbon frame, slashing the corner and gingerly kissing the stump that caught many a rider out.

Talking of that stump...Talus Lantz found the stump with full force.

Quinn Reece getting low and dirty in a sea of beauty.

Beers, puppies and bike racing. A real nice way to spend a weekend. Maybe Olive Garden later, if there's time.

All the racers were brave, this event was not one for the faint of heart, however, Alex Phipps wanted to make sure that there are no children in his future...bold choice my friend, bold choice.

Amy Morrison - Fast AF.

Todd Renwick with his pan shot Friday entry as he stormed his way to first place in the Pro Men category.

There was no way for me to really justify how steep this chute was through pictures, and it was immediately after another super steep, slippery and gnarly chute. Cooper Ott didn't seem phased...

Second place finisher Evan Geankoplis must've done this intentionally, but he pre-hopped into this chute, again the true steepness of this is lost in this picture. He made it out alive.

Lauren Bingham working her way through the waist high brush found on the exposed single track.

Unfortunately this wasn't the only wheel to bite the bullet this weekend. The rollercoaster of emotions of the owner of this wheel was, "What the actual eff?!", "What just happened?!", "Damn man, this sucks.", "Oh well, I guess this is racing." Good on you Austin Hemperley, glad you walked out of there in one piece and with a positive attitude.

Pure grit and determination from Bartolomej Stuchlik.

Jeremy David, Montana Enduro Series regular, put down some fine lines with an apparent locals' familiarity.

Just some random objects in the middle of the woods, an old gondola carriage, a picnic table to boot, you know, the usual.

There were no shortage of views for the racers and spectators, Jeremy Robinette just drinking in those views.

Yeah boys! The Pro Men category hanging out together before dropping the last stage of the day...this is what the Big Mountain Enduro is about, camaraderie.

Damnit Trixie.

Todd Renwick created enough dust off this berm slap that we had to call in FEMA for an air quality control plan.

Amy and Zephyr were quick to get into the Montana spirit. It's all fun and games with these girls, but Amy earned herself a well fought 4th place.

Congrats lads. Solid work out there.

These ladies are fast, so damn fast.

Another staple of the BME family, Arnie serving up the goods for all the hangry riders.

It's a family affair at any BME event. Cooper and her furry son Bowline celebrate the win.

Almost as good as corks on the podium, right?! Congrats to all racers, everyone made this event a roaring success and I personally can't wait to get back here.


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