If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the photo above might as well scream Mayhem Enduro as it is a perfect representation of the weekend’s festivities. Mayhem? I think hitting a huge creek gap while your rear tire is tangled up in your frame counts – check. Impressive venue with a challenging course for both XC lungs and Enduro courage? Check. Spectator friendly arrangements complete with post race beers and partying? Check, check.
If you want to put on an Enduro race of your own, the Appalachia Outdoor Adventures Mayhem Enduro is a shining example of what can be done, even if you don’t have any “mountains” nearby. Thanks to a creative course layout, and several intimidating features that penalized you with time consuming go arounds if you didn’t hit them, the Mayhem had a little something for everyone and was massively fun all around.
Find out how David Friedman fared after that rear tire failure, next…
What did you think was going to happen? Of course, David rode it out like a boss, and the crowd went nuts. Leading into the creek gap was a sort of roller with a log over kicker that David must have hit hard enough for his rear tire to explode on impact. Whether he knew his rear tire had come off or not, he had already committed to the gap and went for it even as the crowd was screaming for him to stop. Somehow David landed it, the rear wheel didn’t explode, and he rode out a 7th place overall! If that’s not enduro, I don’t know what is.
Held at the Wilds in Zanesville, Ohio, the Mayhem Enduro might be one of the few races in the US where you can go take an open air safari immediately after the race. Fortunately, the wild animals were kept away from the mountain bike trail, where the venue had ample space for camping and setting up enduro base camp. Part of the Mayhem’s success is a well marked course with a spectator loop that allowed people to quickly get from one stage to another to see more of the action.
What do you do the night before the race? At the Mayhem you host the first ever fat bike biathlon, of course. With Kona providing the Wo fat bike, and AOA supplying the paintballs it was time to begin.
Riders took off around a set course and had to shoot at targets. Miss the targets and time was added to your score. Lowest time wins. If you can’t tell, it was a blast. This type of racing could catch on…
After the fat bike shenanigans and what may or may not have been an alcohol aided sleep, it was time for racing. If you’re not familiar with the enduro format, only certain sections of the course were timed. Riders set off in groups and pedaled to the first stage out of five. At each stage riders met a time keeper who set them off one rider at a time. Pedal your ass off through the timed stage, get to the second time keeper, and then relax and pedal your way to the next stage. Overall the race was around 13 miles with only 5 or so miles actually timed. It may sound easy, but you had to be in control when you got to the features like the Death Drops above.
Here, there were two fairly massive drops in succession, each with a kicker or lip and multiple line choices. The fastest line over the top drop was low and smooth as illustrated by Men’s overall winner Jason Blodgett, and Women’s overall winner Marla Streb – yes, the Marla Streb. Jason and Marla were too fast, these were the only photos I managed to get of them on the course all day.
On the lower drop more riders tended to air it out – which is way more terrifying than it looks. You’re basically launching into this completely blind.
Two was a fun stage – after the death drops came these massive berms that Matt Hofherr is carving…
Which eventually brought you to this fun little gap and series of jumps. Above, David Friedman shows he can jump gaps with both tires still on, and Men’s second place overall Gus Michaels was fast and smooth all day.
Stage three featured an insidious little feature on the West Nile trail that started with this kicker to off camber rock drop. Airborne rider Josh Patton makes it look easy.
Once you make it up and over the rock, you had another rock over, followed by a gnarly little rock drop/descent. Airborne rider Trevor Gay and Nate Forshey show the fast but safe way down.
The final stage culminated in the infamous creek gap which tempted riders up until the very last moment.
Some, like my friend Jason went for it (on a bike he had never ridden previously) and paid the price coming up short. He got up and walked away though. A for effort.
Others had some close calls but managed to ride it out.
While an impressive number of riders aired it out in style.
The landing to nearly flat was pretty hard on equipment though, as Vance Nonno illustrates with a fully compressed Santa Cruz for team Riding Forward.
If you declined to hit the creek gap you were forced to ride/run through a muddy creek bed on your way back up to the finish.
Some had to run anyways – Hunter Brankamp deserves some credit after tacoing his front wheel on an earlier stage and running to the finish through the remaining stages. And he wasn’t last.
To cap off a nearly perfect day, Sierra Nevada was on hand with beers – which eventually meant opening them with the spinning wheel trick. Brought to you by Kona.
If you went into the Mayhem Enduro thinking it was just another “Ohio” race, you were in for a rude awakening. Not only were the trails extremely challenging, but the organization was as good as any race I’ve attended. If you’re still on the fence about enduro, just go to a race – I promised it won’t be your last.
We’ll leave you with this awesome video of the weekend shot by Logan Robertson. The video was shot and edited entirely on the GoPro Hero 3+ Black and in GoPro Studio 2.0.
Click here for more photos of the event