Enduro racing made its debut in Dunedin, New Zealand, in December when a field of almost 100 riders raced the inaugural Urge 3 Peaks Enduro.
The event, organised by former XC professional and Olympian Kashi Leuchs and Mountain Biking Otago attracted a field that included competitors from Chile, UK, Germany and the North Island. The race took full advantage of the unique mountain terrain around Dunedin and linked in the three trail networks closest to the CBD.
The event started at the Bull Pen on Three Mile Hill with a short liaison to the summit of Flagstaff 668m. The first timed leg was on the Pineapple Track – an unforgiving, steep, bony descent that chews brake pads like biscuits. Yeti DH pro rider Cam Cole claimed the fastest time with his 11:00.81 ride.
Riders then climbed Mt Cargill 676m and rode down into Bethunes Gully. This time it was local DH rider Tom Lamb who chalked up the fastest time with his 10:31.98 descent – all that night riding had obviously paid off.
The final liaison took the field to the top of Signal Hill 320m before connecting up to the infamous Signal Hill singletrack network for the last timed section. Organisers made sure the final run was spectator friendly as the trail became increasingly more difficult toward the end where it connected to the Student Track and then spilled into a network of stairs and pathways directly through Logan Park High School to the finish area. Fastest on this final run was Tom again – the only rider to chalk up a sub-seven-minute descent. Despite colliding with a sweep rider and taking a massive over the bars as a result, Cam still won the DH class by more than two minutes.
“The trails were really varied – some tight technical bits and some fast flowing sections as well,” offered Cam.
“It’s a good test of an all-round mountain biker and a lot of fun.”
Olympian Rosara Joseph won the women’s open section from local riders Anja McDonald and Erin Greene. In the open men’s category, Tom Lamb, of Dunedin, held off the challenge of Rotorua’s Samuel Shaw, and Queenstown’s Jarrah Healy was third.
“It’s such a fun race,” Rosara said afterward.
“I had a great day and the tracks are really impressive with lots of variety. I enjoyed the transition stages as well and the people have been great – everyone is really happy.”
It was a privilege for riders to be able to cycle on the Pineapple Track and down Mt Cargill as the tracks are usually reserved for hikers not bikers, but the city opens them up for events like this.
Leuchs predicts New Zealand will follow the international lead on enduro.
“Enduro is going to be bigger than anything we have seen – it’s the type of riding that everyone likes to do and on bikes that everyone can ride. This is just the beginning really,” he said.
If the 2012 Urge 3 Peaks Enduro is anything to go by, then the sport is set to flourish in Australasia and the overwhelmingly positive feedback should secure this event at least on the enduro calendar for years to come.
Visit www.urge3peaks.co.nz for full results and race info