Big Friggin' Reduced to Medium Due to High Waters. But still no "Dumbed Down XC race".
Sedona Arizona, March 19th 2011
Race Report by Shawn Lortie
The second race in the Arizona Endurance Series went off last Saturday in Sedona Arizona. Along with New Mexico and Colorado, the Arizona Endurance Series is a relatively new race format that “promotes responsible grassroots endurance racing”. These races have a maximum of 74 participants, due to National Forest Service regulations, but the daunting nature of most of the courses seems to keep the number of riders to a smaller hard-core crew at all but a few of the races. There are no entry fees, no official timing, and lots of beer and pizza at the finish!
Due to higher water levels than expected, this years Sedona Big Friggin Loop became the Sedona (not so) Big Friggin Loop, as the upper Oak Creek crossing was deemed too sketchy to send riders across. The race was shortened to about 35 miles with somewhere around 4500 feet of climbing. As most racers competing in these endurance races are used to courses near the 100 mile mark with at least 10,000 feet of climbing, quite a few people opted to skip Sedona this year. Those that did show were in for a treat, as the trail system in Sedona is growing at a rapid pace, and there is quite a bit of new singletrack to be sampled.
As Jonathan Davis, third place finisher from Boulder, CO said, “I hear a lot of complaints these days about dumbed downed race courses...well the friggin loop is not one of them! This was hands down the most technically challenging racecourse I've raced in years. 37 miles of loose sharp rock, super steep descents, single track hugging the edge of cliffs, 4500ft of vertical gain, and tons of technical, ledgey climbs, all navigated solely by GPS. It is the kind of event where skill is just as important as fitness...it is mountain biking!”
The race went off at 8 AM from the Bike and Bean shop at the edge of town. The riders got an immediate taste of what lay ahead, as the course hit the technical singletrack of Highline trail within seconds of leaving the start line. With cactus, some serious exposure, and views of the entire Sedona area, the riding demands full attention at all times. Navigation was also a crucial part of the race. A good portion of the trails in the race were not on the latest map, and race organizers posted a GPX file for download, but with the huge amount of depth to the Sedona trail network, even a GPS unit was not a sure bet.
When it was all said and done, Scott Morris, out of Tucson AZ, and Nick Gould out of Durango CO, finished together with a time of 3 hours and 40 minutes. Jonathan Davis came in 10 minutes later. In all there were 28 finishers, with ride times ranging from the 3:40 mark, to the 9-hour day. And that’s the great thing about these races. It’s not so much about when one finishes, but more about how much fun and adventure were had. Thanks to the Sedona Bike and Bean shop for hosting the race and the beer and Pizza afterwards.
For results and more about the Arizona Endurance Series: http://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/aes-results/