From Lloyd McFarlin:
Vail Resorts has once again hosted the Outlier Offroad Festival. This event is both a demo opportunity with great representation from bike manufacturers and other industry vendors, as well as a two-part race series. On Saturday, September 10, I participated in the Scott XC Short Course race in the Cat 2/3 grouping for Men 35 and up. It was great to finally get a chance to race alongside one of my Angry Monkeys teammates as Jen Kates also participated in the same event. The course was just under 7 miles and I figured it would be a nice warm-up to the next day’s longer Enduro event. However, the climbing was definitely a bit more of a challenge than I was counting on! In the end, though, Jen and I both managed to win our divisions and we came home with some beautifully framed awards, courtesy of Vail Outlier, Scott, and SRAM!
With my first race down, I just now had to get through the Rockshox Enduro on September 11. It was an earlier start, at 7:30 AM but there was, like in any enduro race, lots of waiting before stages. I just love the enduro/downhill culture where things are just a notch (okay maybe a few notches) less serious than other formats, so the morning was full of folks cracking jokes and I think I made about ten new friends while I was there. We ran through three stages with the first mostly being a flow/jump line known as “Radio Flyer." Unfortunately, as soon as I was a quarter of the way through the first run, my quads were killing me. Okay, maybe the back-to-back race idea wasn’t the best. In any case, Radio Flyer was a ton of fun and that was followed up by PMT, which is one Vail’s gnarlier black runs. Being so steep, it was a fast run with several long drops, many in quick succession. I recently upgraded my enduro bike to a 170mm travel rig and I was very thankful for that here! Despite PMT being quite the bruiser of a course, I had the most fun on that stage. Something about race pressure making you lose all of those second thoughts before plunging downward just adds to the exhilaration. Finally, things ended on a relatively easy course for stage 3 known as “Fred’s Lunch."
Overall, I didn’t do as well at the enduro event, coming in near the bottom, and my quads took a couple of days to heal up again. Next year, I’ll definitely be back to come out on a different end of the results spectrum. That aside, though, both events were well run and a heck of a lot of fun to race in!
From Jen Kates:
Being new to racing (this was only my third race ever), the pre-race excitement definitely had my stomach doing a dance reminiscent of a 1920s Flapper, but - fortunately for me - seeing Lloyd's familiar face at the race start significantly eased my race jitters. After spending the summer enjoying temps in the 80-90s down in the Denver valley, starting the morning off with a brisk Vail Mountain temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit had my racing newbie mind question if I was dressed warmly enough in my AMR kit with arm and knee warmers. Needless to say, the initial climbs during the race immediately warmed me up, and the AMR kit was perfect for the cool temps.
As Lloyd mentioned earlier, the climbing was a bit more challenging than I anticipated, but the views of Vail from the top were epic (when I had a chance to look in-between alpine segments of the trail). Having spent very little time in the saddle this season, I realized that my quads, hamstrings, and glutes were still getting a lot of benefit from the strength programming that I was following for the past several months, but the grind up the mountain was a bit grueling for my unconditioned engine. This reinforced the notion that time on the bike is necessary over time spent with a barbell! The reward for grinding up the mountain was the downhill, and that reward was so worth it! The downhill was amazing and included a beautiful and flowy alpine jaunt on "Hank's Hideaway" that I wasn't accustomed to seeing in the Front Range mountains that I often ride closer to Denver.
Given the epic scenery, top-notch race organization, and fun, hoot-hollerin' course, I'll definitely be back to race this event again next year - but with more time spent in the saddle in preparation beforehand!