Steamboat’s Enduro-X race helping put bike park on the map | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s Enduro-X race helping put bike park on the map

Austin Colbert

Leland Turner competes in Sunday's Enduro-X mountain bike race at Steamboat Bike Park.

— Rawhide, one of Steamboat Bike Park's most difficult downhill mountain bike trails, is no joke. Starting from the top of the gondola, the trail is a viciously fast descent through aspens, with a few switchbacks and plenty of rocky obstacles waiting to surprise you.

"That was definitely my favorite stage for sure," said Salt Lake City's Cody Kelley. "Coming from downhilling, that's what I like to do a lot is point and shoot. There was very little pedaling on like an eight-minute track, so it was fun."

Rawhide was the second stage of Sunday's Enduro-X mountain bike race on Mount Werner, and it was Kelley who won the men's pro division with a clean sweep of all four stages. Kelley, 21, is a sponsored rider for Marin Bikes, Enve Composites and Troy Lee Designs, and considered Sunday's win to be a major step in his young Enduro career.

"This is my second year (doing Enduro). I raced downhill for three years and then competed in Enduro last year for the first time," Kelley said. "This was my first big win in my career, so I'm pumped for it."

Enduro is a growing discipline in the biking world, combining traditional downhill with cross country racing. Unlike downhill racing, which requires little pedaling with stages that last only a few minutes, Enduro stages can last upwards of 20 minutes and requires a higher level of fitness with the cross country aspects mixed in.

Steamboat's Enduro-X race, in its third year, is one of nine stops on the North American Enduro Tour, which has three more races remaining this summer. Kelley currently sits in second place in the tour, with his Marin teammate, Kyle Warner, holding onto first place. Warner took second overall in Sunday's Enduro-X race at Steamboat Bike Park, 36.12 seconds behind Kelley's four-stage time of 37 minutes, 18.14 seconds.

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"I'm just a little ways off of first. Stoked for the rest of the year," Kelley said. "It's going to be hard. I'm battling with one of my teammates Kyle Warner and the dude shreds on bikes and he won it last year, so he knows how to do it. It's not going to be easy."

The NAET will be at Northstar in California next week.

Colorado Springs pro takes women's field

Kelli Emmett is a big fan of the Steamboat Bike Park. The 38-year-old Colorado Springs resident was at Canada's Whistler Mountain Bike Park when someone told her to check out Steamboat's young, but growing, summer playground.

"That's like a huge compliment, because Whistler is like the best in the world to everyone. And it is. (Steamboat) lived up to its name, so it's been great," Emmett said. "I haven't been in Steamboat in over 15 years. It was just a great opportunity and I've heard great things about the downhill park, so I really wanted to check it out … I would say it's the best mountain in Colorado."

Emmett is a pro rider for Juliana, the women's division of Santa Cruz Bicycles. She raced cross country for 13 years before wanting a new challenge and recently transitioned to Enduro. And she is no stranger to the podium, having won the Big Mountain Enduro at Snowmass in June.

She competes in the Enduro World Series, where she is currently ranked 12th in the women's open division. The EWS will take her to Spain in late September and Italy in early October for the final two rounds of the eight-round tour. Stops, similiar to the one she made Sunday in Steamboat, are just bonus.

"It's just kind of whatever sounds fun and sounds interesting to me," Emmett said. "I'm still trying to work on those downhill skills. It's my weakness, but it's awesome because it's fun and it's a new challenge."

Emmett didn't look too challenged Sunday, winning Steamboat's pro women's division with a time of 45:25.31. She edged out local racer Yvonne Delahunty, who finished second in 45:35.14.

Both Emmett and Kelley earned a $650 check for winning.

Another Steamboat resident competing was Sonoran Cycles-sponsored rider Jon Freckleton, who won the amateur master men's 40-plus division with a time of 43:16.07.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

Enduro-X pro results

Pro Men

  1. Cody Kelley, 37:18.14
  2. Kyle Warner, 37:54.26
  3. Leland Turner, 38:34.34

Pro Women

  1. Kelli Emmett, 45:25.31
  2. Yvonne Delahunty, 45:35.14
  3. Sarah Rawley, 46:30.52