Sun, Dust, Rain and Velcro Dirt at Ashland Enduro Round Two
Ashland Oregon was the Nomads next stop for round two of the North American Enduro Tour. With Arthur still out from racing we joined forces with Dunbar cycles rider Ross Rosengrave for the trip down to Oregon. We packed into his tiny VW Golf for the 1000km journey. With three bikes camping gear and bags it was a tight fit for the 10-hour drive. Arriving in Ashland we met up with a few Local rippers that we had met previously at other races Trevor Pratt, Matt and Austin were happy to show us around their local trails, kind enough to give us a few shuttles.
Heading from rainy Vancouver we were greeted with 32 degrees temperatures in Ashland. The four stages were split between the old Super D course from previous years and the West side of the mountain that hosted the chainless downhill also the year before. The West side would have Stage 1, which was “Horn Gap” the trail mostly ridden in the opposite direction as a climb. Horn Gap consisted of tight single track with pine needles littered over the trail, which made it super loose and sketchy. On Friday the rain obviously chased us down from Vancouver and let loose on Ashland and continued into race day on Saturday.
The trail had changed significantly with all the rain and with 80 odd riders going down before us, ruts were forming, blown out off camber corners and a nice greasy surface had everyone guessing what traction was going to be like during their race run. Wolsky had a dismal start to this stage by slipping a pedal out of the gate and had trouble getting into the groove of the testing conditions. Chris kept his cool and found a nice happy medium in the slick conditions and secured himself a 3rd place.
Stage 2 was “Hit Road” last years chainless course with some added fire road to the beginning of the trail. The rain made the fire road slow rolling but still left us spinning out our 38t chain rings for the first 3 mins of the stage. After you come off the fire road you are greeted with a water bar sender, which launched you into Lower Hitt road at lightning speed. The road is super fast with big water bars and drainage gaps and a few tight loose flat corners, which caught out a lot of racers.
After day 1, local rider Nathan Riddle was leading by 5 seconds followed closely by Josh Carlson and Chris Johnston tied for 2nd with Dylan in 16th. The times were super close with the top 20 within 30 seconds of each other. This meant anything could happen coming into day two’s stages 3 & 4.
Day Two was on the famous Super D course, which is an epic 12miles long with 5000ft of vertical that would be separated into two stages. Stage 3 was from the top of Mt. Ashland ski area, which consisted of 4 minutes of fire road with a total of three turns. It came down to who had the biggest chain ring. The majority of people had 36, 38 tooth rings and a handful had 42s. The time differences were significant with the different size rings. Tucked low on your handlebars, no brakes and spinning out your gears was the key to a solid time.
Stage 4 started a minute further down the Super D course after the fire road and would have racers finish down in the town of Ashland at the base. This stage was action packed with epic single track, traverses a short climb and yes a fire road section to split the course half way down and then it finished off on some flowy and fast single track littered with a few little jumps to bring you to the base of the mountain.
Conditions were perfect with the course drying out, as pros were last to go in the afternoon. You could hold all your lines and rail the corners it was velcro dirt! We both gave it all we had knowing how fast some of the other guys would be smashing it up along the climbs. Carlson took the lead for day 2’s stages with Riddle 11 seconds back. Johnston took 10th spot with Wolsky following closely in 11th. With the combined times of day 1 and 2 Chris finished in a solid 4th place and Wolsky after an ordinary day one reeled back a few spots to 13th.
A big thanks goes out to Bill and Sue from Ashland Mountain Adventures for making this event a cracking good time. And a big shout out to the hard working volunteers.
Video Recap From Ashland