With the Decker Fire taxing the county’s emergency medical services, the Monarch Crest Enduro was changed from a race to a tour on Saturday.
“The only difference is we didn’t time it,” said organizer Keith Darner of Chocolate Bunny Productions. “They got in the same riding, but they didn’t have any pressure on them.”
Even without racing to the bottom of each stage, the two-day, five-stage mountain bike event still challenged the 14 pro and expert-level riders who participated.
They pedaled up to Canyon Creek, raced down and pedaled back up the trail to Horseshoe Creek Trail and rode down, climbing more than 6,000 feet to ride over 13 miles down.
“It was super hard,” Robert Blackwell said. “It took everything I had to finish the day.”
Blackwell said the climb up to Canyon Creek was tough, but it was “totally worth it” when he got to ride down the trail.
On Sunday, the riders rode the three stages off Monarch Crest: Starvation Creek, Green’s Creek and South Fooses Creek. Each stage was more than 5.3 miles long and required the riders to pedal almost as far to reach them.
“Today we got three of the best stages in Colorado,” Blackwell said, adding that Starvation was his favorite.
Fred Zacherl participated in the event for the third time.
“Because of the timing and the location, it’s one of the best enduros in Colorado,” Zacherl said. “It isn’t comparable to anything else.”
He said it differs from mainstream events held at ski areas, noting that it doesn’t oversell.
“Here it feels like everybody is just out for a rad group ride,” he said. “It’s like a lot of mountain bikers came together and a race just happened.”
Without the stages being timed, the event’s workers got to enjoy the trails too.
“It was super fun,” said Evan Cline, who worked the enduro and got some riding in. “It was awesome to meet a bunch of cool people and ride bikes.“
Darner said everyone had a great time, even without the racing.
“There was perfect weather, amazing colors and the riders were super grateful to ride these five courses in two days,” Darner said.
“The amount of riding we do in two days here is the best way to ride the Crest,” Zacherl said.
Darner also said the “local support was awesome,” thanking sponsors Absolute Bikes, Boathouse Cantina, Brown Dog Coffee, Elevation Brewing and Wood’s Distillery.