I raced an Enduro last Saturday in West Wendover, Nevada across hundreds of thousands of acres of public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. By sunset Friday, driving through a bleak and desolate western Utah, I captured this image of the Bonneville Salt Flats – about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide – mostly underwater.
After a pit stop in Delle, Utah – with bumper stickers like “I’m on a highway to Delle,” and “Welcome to Delle,” – crossing the state line, I knew instantly that I wasn’t in Utah anymore. The town of West Wendover is home to a handful of different casinos and has that glitz and glam Vegas feel that’s so obviously missing in Utah where there’s not even a state lottery. I digress.
At sign up on Saturday morning, one of the ladies working for the club hosting the enduro flattered me by asking if I was signing up for the Junior Girls class. “No,” I told her smiling. “Do you have a Women A class?” One of the men spoke up: “No, we just have Women B and C.”
Great, I thought and signed up on row 32. Then, with key time being 11:30 a.m., that meant I didn’t start until 12:02 p.m., so I waited almost 3 hours for the race to start and by then I almost needed a nap. Around 10:30 a.m. the club hosted a riders meeting to go over a few rules for the majority who said they had never ridden an enduro before. I lumped myself into the first-timer group having never ridden an enduro out west before and not understanding their scoring system. “Basically, you can take as much time as you want during the transfers,” one rider explained to me. “They only score you during the test sections,” which is unlike the East Coast enduros where everything is counted and you have to be on time at each checkpoint. Out west, you only have to be on time at the start of each loop; at the tests, you just line up and they mark your time when you start and once again at the end of the test. So it weeds out the people on your row and allows you to really ride hard during the test sections and take much-needed breaks at the transfers. The only part I didn’t like was how easy the test sections were compared to the transfer sections with tight and technical rock washes and uphill climbs that didn’t count if you cruised through there unscathed. Naturally, the only time I crashed was during a test section, and both times due to a downed rider who was in the fast line and forced me to a rough outside line where I crashed. I lost at least 5 minutes in the second test when I came around an off-camber corner and saw a rider stuck down in a ditch. Guess where I ended up? Down in the ditch with him…I had no way out except to launch my bike up over the ditch and back onto the trail where I found my groove and managed to keep it on two wheels for the rest of the race. I came into the end of the last test just 18 seconds behind a fellow ponytailed rider who had started 15 seconds ahead of me. She ended up winning our class by more than 2 minutes and I finished second less than a minute ahead of the third place girl, so how’s that for some competition?