The finale of the 2012 AMA / FLEXX BARS Western Checkpoint Enduro Championship was hosted high in the El Dorado National Forest in between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. Three straight days of rain, several inches of snow and beautiful temperatures for riding created the perfect storm of phenomenal riding conditions.
Nor Cal Motorsport’s Ryan Powell and Dicks Racing’s Jordan Brandt had traded wins in the past two rounds and both were looking for a great finish at the finale. Another pair of riders who have been the bride’s maids all season were MSR’s Kenny Pederson and Mach 1’s Nolan Irwin. Pederson had taken a well earned 2nd overall at round 1 while Irwin had finished 2nd overall at round 3 and 6. The staging area hadn’t been used in a few years so no one rider had an obvious advantage.
The 49er Enduro would start fast with a 24mph speed average all the way to the alternate gas. Riders were off straight into the woods and low 30 degree temperatures. Pine needles, wet rocks, wet roots, wet clay, snow, ice, leaves, shadows… everything to put you on the ground or into the trees. All of the top riders were able to stay on their minutes in the traditional time keeper enduro keeping within seconds of each other half way through the 90 miles of trail. Powell and Irwin would stay neck and neck dropping only 3 and 4 seconds.
The riders would get to play the game a bit more when the speeds dropped to 13 and 15mph until one again picking up the pace when the snow got deeper. Hidden underneath the thick white layer were more wet rocks, whoops, ice and roots in between trees and bushes. “Its better when you’re one of the first riders over it.” said 250 A rider Austin Travers of Team Hammered Racing. “When you’re the 4th or 5th there is just a deep rut that wants to take you out.”
As the day went on the conditions would improve with the temperatures breaking into the 40s, the final test would be the first test run backwards. The trail was burned in, the berms were built and the traction was 100%. While 24mph was tough to keep in the morning the 32mph in the afternoon was “doable” as many of the riders described it.
At the finish the riders were begging for more, literally. “If the race was 120 miles of this I could wear everyone out” Irwin said jokingly “this riding is just to perfect, I don’t have an advantage”. Powell would take the win over Pederson by a mere 30 seconds. The riders would also go 1 and 2 in the 250 A class bumping Pederson up to second in the West Chec 250 A championship! Irwin would finish a full minute behind the two riders after dropping off pace in the final test. He would also finish the West Chec season 3rd AA. James Ptarcinski would finish just inside the top 10 after bonking on the first test of the day but would secure 2nd AA in the West Chec Championship.
Brandt would remain within 1 second of Powell all day until he burned a check just before the final gas. There was a new reset added 24 hours before the race, the speed average bumped down from 30 to 15mph and the next possible was just around the corner. He showed up to the check just to early to scrub time into the next minute. He would finish the day in 5th overall but was able to lock down the 2012 West Chec AA Overall Championship.
“Not necessarily how I wanted the season to end, but… what are ya gonna do.” said Brandt at the finish.
The Western Enduro Promoters Group would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the clubs, riders, districts and AMA backed organizations that made the 2012 season possible. Without all those who have volunteered their free time to put on the enduros in the series it would not have been possible. The 2013 season is soon to be upon us so make sure to look for updates!!! There are lots of great things in store for the future of enduro riding on the west coast!