In Durango, it was beautiful - too hot even at times and no rain atop the ever ominous and lightning-infested Kennebec Pass, pictured above, that racers, like Marco, shredded with no relent.
Shredded with no relent? Yes, with no relent. An entire section of the Colorado Trail was closed by the Forest Service for the event - through hikers and bikers had to stay put as racers blazed past. It started at close to 12,000 feet - high alpine, exposed, barren, big scree making metallic clinking noises as tires deflect and rumple through it, incredibly narrow, off camber ribbons of trail hopelessly clutching big menacing hillsides... followed by throwing riders into a tightly packed canyon and walled-in drainage overgrown with foliage, haphazardly strewn with tragic land mines of wet, rounded river rocks. It has an enveloped, forgotten, and foreboding feeling lurking at the bottom. The course elevation profile, courtesy of Big Mountain Enduro, gives it some perspective:
Then, there's a lung-searing, brain pulsating, eyeball boiling grunt up of around 1,000 feet - worry not, you're at a mere 9,600 Oxygen deprived feet, then it starts over again, bombarding riders with switchback impacted misunderstandings. Somehow, mixed in, there are fleeting moments of the sublime, pictured below, that seem to mock based on the severity of the rest, a weird sensation:
J&B local Rep Roy Hughes, sporting a Breakout / Vigilante combo on KOM rims, pictured in one of those scenic, fleeting moments, where it looks like this event must be cake.
The next day two punchy profiles were endured, pun intended, and then high fives, smiles, more hot weather, more good times. Shops were visited, employees stoked, a properly good trip. Marco seared his Breakouts, Frequency i25 27.5" Team TCS rims, Moto-X Clamp-on grips, and prototype carbon-railed saddle to third place.
Photo Credit: Mauro Cottone / Superenduro. Check out a full recap at: http://www.superenduromtb.com/en/home-news/superenduro-pro-3-madesimo-so-ben-cruz-trionfa-sotto-la-pioggia/
In Italy, Ben Cruz battled a different tale. Torrential rain (peep the hydration bag cover above) left racers and organizers scrambling. It started, it poured, it seemed to not end. Heads were scratched, stages considered, yet the race went on, through it all.
Heinous mud, spattered goggles, howling brakes, foolishly sharp rocks, slippery roots, grime, Ben slammed through it all. Feeling incredibly confident in our new tires, Ben consistently stayed ahead of those snapping at his heels. When the rain-filled fog lifted, it was Ben standing atop the podium, Ben's first European win! From all of us at WTB, a huge congrats to you Ben, you're letting people know it's no joke and we all couldn't be happier seeing you win, you've worked hard and it shows. Ben ran Frequency i23 27.5" Team TCS rims, Vigilante and Breakout tires, Moto-X Clamp-on grips, and a prototype, carbon-railed saddle. Also, a congrats to fellow WTB athlete Lars Sternberg on KOMs, Breakouts, Tech Trail Clamp-on grips, and a Volt Team, taking 9th. Another great weekend of racing, from blazing heat to belting rain they did it again.