If you Build it, They Will Come
By Chris Miller
Ely, Nevada June 9, 2012
“I have been racing internationally for the past two year and this is the best enduro in the US”, exclaims Ben Cruz, winner of the 2012 “Tears, Fears and Beers” mountain bike enduro race in Ely, Nevada.
Ely was founded as a stagecoach town in Eastern Nevada and later turned to a copper mining town. The Town sits at 6437 feet and is surrounded by high peaks that are prime Elk habitat. It is a semi-arid climate and the high peaks that see ample snowfall in the winter months.
Passing through the casino lights with the mountains above, the mountain biking potential becomes apparent. Terrain is the first ingredient to the formula for good trails, the community is second. For Ely , the stars have aligned with miles of BLM land and the Great Basin trail Alliance http://www.greatbasintrails.org/
With enduro racing gaining popularity in the United States, the town of Ely started hosting a race called Tears, Fears and Beers which is a 35 mile route where only the downhills are timed. This evens has attracted enduro icons such as Mark Weir.
The race was split into three categories drawing local riders as well as pros from California, Colorado, Las Vegas and Reno. About 80 racers lined up as well as many volunteers and spectators. The race started with a parade literally through the casinos. Racers took the climbs at there own pace and staged for the timed descents. The first few sections feature high desert/alpine terrain that was fast but had it’s fair share of “stinger” climbs. The pro/expert riders had a third loop to do which took them over an imposing mountain above town called Squaw Mountain. As many of the loops, it had more than one timed section. The first being a pedally and rolly section along the powerlines. Once this timed section was completed the pro /experts geared down for a steep climb up the back side of the mountain.
The pro race had a couple thousand dollars on the line which came down to a heated battle between a few of the elite racers. Ben Cruz of WTB Cannondale came out on top after the final gnarly descent down the 2000 foot plunge called “Whorehouse Hill.” Each section seemed to favor different riders. Some being steep, nasty while others pedally and flowy.
The race ended in town where a feast of mash potatoes, turkey and gravy awaited hungry riders. This event was very unique because people showed up on downhill bikes, cross country bikes, and everything in between. Most riders prefer something in between known as a ‘trail bike’ which has 5-7 inches of travel, often a dropper seatpost, and a suspension design that allows for pedaling efficiency.
Some riders see this type of mountain bike racing becoming the future. Anyone who goes out on epic rides and enjoys the adrenaline of pinning it on the downhill, should give this race a go.