Ashleigh ventured east to the Pisgah National Forest for the Pisgah Enduro Mountain Bike Race. Here her thoughts on the trail conditions and the epic-ness of this race!
I am fairly new to the Enduro racing world, but have done a couple of races in Colorado. While traveling in the South, my husband and I ended up in North Carolina the weekend of the Pisgah Enduro. I thought this would be a fun way to check out the biking scene in the Southeast. I had never biked in the south or east before this trip and did not know what to expect. My few expectations were that the trails might be rooty, slippery, and technical. Coming from Colorado, I expected the climbing to be no problem. Boy was I in for a surprise!
The Pisgah Enduro puts the endurance back into Enduro racing. The few enduro races I have done in Colorado were on ski areas with lift access that cut out the first 1,200 feet of climbing. On the other hand, the Pisgah Enduro is located in Pisgah National Forest, with no lift access, just surprisingly steep mountains. The pedal to the top of the first stage had us climbing over 1500 feet in a little over 2 miles on paved and dirt roads. That woke my legs right up! We continued to ride 30 miles (including the timed downhill portions) and climb 4,300 feet the first day. Between the climbing, the heat, and the humidity I was about as tired as I remember being in a long time! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through day 2, with the daunting climb up Heart Break Ridge!
After an early dinner, a late dinner, a lot of Naked coconut juice, some time wearing my POD Sox compression stalkings, and a good night sleep, my legs felt better than I expected. I woke up ready for day 2. Initially, I was worried my quads were not going to get me up the 4,000 feet of climbing to the top of Heart Break Ridge for stage 1. Turns out, I should have been more worried about getting blisters on my heels because we did a lot of hike a biking! After riding about a third of the way up, it became obvious by the hoards of walking racers that the best way to save my legs for the rest of the day was to push my bike up the steep single track. So I joined the line and pushed my bike too…for a long time, but it was tolerable because I was not alone. Everyone was pushing their bike, having a good time yelling “Enduro!” and “Strava!” as we slowly pushed our bikes up through the temperate rainforest canopy. By the time we reached the top of heartbreak ridge it was 2 hours and 2,800 feet later.
The second day was also much more technically challenging, with larger rocky drops, a lot of slippery roots, some very narrow trail sections with close trees, and alarmingly steep drop offs. When all was said and done, the second day came to a close with lots of smiles, 28 miles on our bikes, and over 6,000 feet of climbing. The 2 day total for the race was 56 miles on our bikes and an impressive 11,000 feet of climbing!
The Pisgah Enduro was an incredible weekend with some amazing scenery, great people and great biking. This race is a true test of all around biking ability, needing to be a cardio killer and a downhill badass to compete. It is a true Enduro race.