Monarch Crest Enduro was not on my schedule this season. The original plan was to race the 4 day Trans Cascadia, but I ended up not being able to get all the time off necessary to travel and race there.
The trails off of Monarch Crest are some of the best I know and the race last year was one of the best of the season for me. I was definitely excited to get there as a back up plan!
Gina (wife) and I arrived on Wednesday night. We got to ride 2 trails on Thursday that are some of our favorites ever! I decided to race the new Jet 9 RDO.
Day 1: Starvation and Silver Creek were the 2 stages. Short transfer to stage 1. It was raining for a few minutes, while we were waiting for everything to be set up.
I had not ridden the trail since last year at the race. I finished 2nd on that stage, only 6s from Nate Hills, so I had high expectations. Riding down, I could remember most of the sections, and I felt pretty good racing it. The result wasn’t as good as expected and that was a disappointment for the day.
We had a tailwind on stage 2, which is one of the most pedaly of the race, and that made it a lot less painful to race. The stage went well, again, the result wasn’t there. I didn’t feel that tired at the end of day, which is never a good sign. Gina raced to 2nd on both stages, a good start for her.
Day 2: Canyon Creek Just a little over 2h is the time it took to get to the top of the one stage of day 2. 12600ft at the top. Dropping in is a long and fast high alpine Moto trail. Then the wood section gets rockier with a lot of Moto woops, very playful and fast. After crossing the river, it’s another 15min of pedaly ups and downs rolling single track, making the total stage time of right under 30 min for the fastest.
Last time I rode it, was last year at the race, and it was my first time down it. Knowing how long and physical it was gonna be, I enjoyed it a lot more this year. Still not too fast tho, staying 5th and loosing another 20s from 4th. Gina rode it full blind, and was able to get 2nd.
Day 3 Greens Creek were trails that I rode a lot more, with Greens Creek voted my favorite ever, and South Fooses. It was chilly when the shuttle dropped us off at the pass.
The ride to the stages was on the Monarch Crest trail, always a pleasure to get the views and a great warm up. Greens Creek was in perfect condition. It felt very rough on the middle section, like I had to work really hard. Usually this run feels effortless. I was a bit bummed to not have enjoyed it as I should. The ride out back to the shuttle was 3 miles off smooth dirt road. I still felt like my bike was stiffer than usual, only to realize that my rear shock was switched onto the trail mode. I don’t know how this happened since I never use the switch. The Niner CVA platform is so efficient, that I don’t feel it necessary, but at least I know why the run felt harsh.
Another ride on the Crest to get to Fooses. I started to feel my legs from the past days. I arrived at the top, and couple people already dropped in. I didn’t wait and just went for it too!
That run felt good and fun. I hit my turns, pedaled hard were it needed and pumped the terrain. I felt like that how I should have been riding the race everyday. I was only 18s from winning that 18min stage, and I m glad I finished the race on that run.
I ended up moving up to 4th overall, behind the usual competition. Gina took 2nd, very close to win her first stage on Greens. Full results can be found here.
The Monarch Enduro was a good way to finish my season. With the multi day races I focused on, I races 21 days this year, and I m ready to take it easy and even stay off the bike for some time.
Alex Petitdemange is an enduro racer from Annecy, France now living and training in Sedona, AZ. He raced as a XC JR and U25 pro for 5 seasons while mixing it up with some moto. After 9 years with no racing he jumped back into the sport while living in Moab, Utah and finished well enough for a podium position and was hooked back into racing as a pro in enduro.