When the sun eventually emerged from the mist on the morning of October 6, 2018 a new test lay in wait for bicycle race enthusiasts in Virginia's Blue Ridge.
The Sherwood Archer's played host to 68 entrants. The test- 3 downhill stages played out over the course of a 15 mile loop. 3400 feet of humid climbing. 2018 has seen more moisture fall from the skies in Roanoke than any year on record- and that humidity and the unrelenting workload on the transfers brought more than a few under-prepared riders to their knees. As I pedaled down Timberview Road to pick up timing cells I witnessed more than one competitor dripping with sweat cramped up at the bottom of stage 3.
Roanoke's Skip Huffman sweated his way to 5th on SP3 in the 40+ class Travis from GoRace Suspension is a literal Rockstar- he was one of the only finishers in April's Harrisonburg to Roanoke 175 mile mostly singletrack Rockstar200. He own's a bussiness taking care of all sorts of suspension products for two wheeled vehicles and he used his supple dampers and local knowledge to finish 9th fastest on the day and take a commanding win in the 40+ class. Leila Husain grew up in Harrisonburg and goes to school in Blacksburg, so a 3400ft day in crushing humidity is pretty much just an openers workout before Creature Enduro the next day. Gavin Kline- Pinned on a front flat down Royalty Daniel West is from the Charlotte, NC area. When I spotted him in practice on Friday I knew he was talented but I didn't expect him to have the fastest overall time of the day, or to take the fastest overall time on two of the three stages! We need more enduro racing in the Southeast so I get more chances to watch this kid ride! Russel Phelgar was practicing with Daniel West on Friday. There was a collected gasp from my friends when the two of them dropped into Buck. Russel won the U18 class, had the second fastest overall time of the day and was the overall fastest on Stage 2! Total domination by the groms in green! George Barlow is from NC but claims The Cove as one of his main "local" stomping grounds. 6th fastest of the day and 3rd in Pro for this guy! Jamil Hodge finished up a shift at work in Maryland at 3am and was waiting at the gate of the archery club when I showed up to unlock around 7am! He finished solidly in the middle of the field on no sleep, racing blind! Boone's Chris Curtin took 2nd in the 40+ Women's Pro winner Magic Cycle's Susan Curtin made the trip up from the NC High Country count, and took the last two stages to ultimately finish 16 seconds up Lucas Colley is a student over at Radford- we ran into him leading an outdoor trip for his classmates in Pandapas pond the day after the race. He was wearing a different shirt. Speaking of shirts: Angeloam_Duff with the gunshow. Don't be like Angelo. Please, future, Endurists wear a shirt! And keep your helmet buckled on the transfers, the insurance policies of race promoters everywhere thank you. But dang, it was definitely humid out there! Perennial southeastern DH racer Rachel Kelleher got her first ever enduro off to a great start by taking the stage 1 win down Buck, only to lose her lead to Susan Curtin- but second on the day from the Richmond native and whitewater guide was an auspicious start to what I'm going to assume is going to be more enduro races! Timer(and Massanutten Bikepark Manager) Jonathan Albert put down a mighty fine time, good enough for 6th in the Pro/Open. Devin Cutter took the Pro/Open category win on SP3 with a freshly dislocated pinky. Jack DiChara gets around! Jack just wrapped up the Downhill series overall in the U15 category in the 8 race Maxxis ESC. The JTracing Pittsburgh grom hails from the Charlottesville area and no doubt viciously schralped the heck outta a few corners. A big getoff at the top of stage one took him out of contention, but he fought back for the tenth fastest times of the day on SP2 and 3. Solid results for his first Enduro start. Intro women's winner Katie Sykes Smith isn't just a new transplant to Roanoke- she got her first MTB last year and raced a bike out of the Guerilla Gravity demo fleet . Katie went on to finish the Creature marathon race the next day! Weevil Supply Co's Connie Ferrell made the the trek up to sample The Creature's delights Less than a month earlier, I drove this guy to the hospital with a pretty nasty shoulder separation after he got caught up in slower traffic during practice at the 81dhduro- but Andrew Issem fought back into form to finish with the 7th fastest time of the day and 3rd in the hyper-stacked U21 class. Ryan Claey's took the first stage for the Open class The day it almost was! 2007 UCI Jr. DH silver medalist JD Swanguen is back on the scene! Dizzle is one half of the coaching staff behind Chris Grice, and for good reason. For a guy who has mostly been on the couch for the last 6 years his absolute speed and control is pretty amazing. JD was the rider that the day's PRO winner Andrew Slowey followed while winning the race blind. If it wasn't for a slip up on Sp2, the big winner on the day would have been a retiree on 26" wheels. Cane Creek's Andrew Slowey won the biggest check- and he rode every stage 100% blind on a bike he was riding for the first time following JD Swanguen. Racecraft matters people! Christopher Grice! Slowey wasn't just riding blind- he was being chased by this MONSTER. I've known a lot of talented and hardworking young people in 25 years of mtb racing, and young Master Grice(aka MicroGrice) is the real deal. Once Chris's racing age catches up with his talent I have no doubt he will follow in the footsteps of his neighbors, Neko Mullaly and Luca Shaw chasing points in The Majors. The guy who built bikeva.com, Cole Inman got a new Sentinel a month ago, after only having a 4" bike for years and years, he rode bikepark for the first time during the 81DHduro. He entered Creature in the Intro Category and won! Lucas Pound's enthusiasm can't be contained via traditional framing techniques. Keep it in the frame next time buddy! Low is fast. I(Mickey) may have promoted The Creature From Carvin's Cove Enduro, but without Ken Lee(3rd in 40+) I doubt I would even live in Virginia. Thanks for the support, bub. Conradical was our volunteer medic on the day! The best place to give him free beer is at the Roanoke star on Thursday evenings. Intro Men: Jake King(3), Cole Inman(1st), Lucas Colley(3rd) LOCAL CRUSHERS! Women's intro: Mona Raza(3), Katie Sykes Smith(1), Emma Runquist(2) 40+ Men: (Ken Lee, Travis Jones, Chris Curtin) U18: Three locals, one on a borrowed bike, and the second fastest overall time of the day! Alex Metz, Russel Phelgar, Wesley Bailey. Young Russ was 7 seconds faster than ANYONE else down Gauntlet. FASTEST OF THE DAY Daniel West put 25 seconds into Chris Grice, which is not an easy thing to do. West was .4 seconds faster than Junior category winner Phelgar and 19.9 seconds up on Pro winner Andrew Slowey. Blue Ridge Gravity gave West a check for $100 for the fastest time of the day. Women's Pro: Susan Curtin stormed off to win a Virgina's Blue Ridge cooler full of local beer, coffee and chocolate, and a tidy check to boot! Rachel Kelleher and Leila Husain couldn't overcome Curtin's consistency. Leila was the 6th person to complete the course and return her timing chip. Pinners! No One was having any fun, especially the race promoter or Second Place in Open, Brandon Montgomery. Pro/Open men: George Barlow(3), Andrew Slowey(1), Brandon Montgomery(2) Full Results on Roots and Rain A huge thanks to our event Sponsors: Virgina's Blue Ridge and VBR Sports -VBRsports provided us with sweet category winner prize bags full of local SWVA beer, chocholate, snacks - $700 in gift certificates for all of our podium finishers Worldwide Cyclery bikeshop- Prize bags from Orange Seal's and shop merch Just The Right Gear donated time and material to print race signage Sun Solutions in Vinton-
Ian Bognard for the use of his Mig welder to fabricate trophies with scrap metal from Eastcoaster's Bikeshop in Roanoke.
An even bigger thinks to Jonathan Albert for letting us debut his new timing system at what we hope will become ONE OF the many new Enduro races that pop up in Virginia in 2019.