Course Map   Having never been to Mountain Creek, I was nervous to head out on practice day into the frigidly cold, rainy, and windy weather. The crew had put together a challenging 5 stage course that utilized most of the mountain and didn't give too much of an advantage to locals as most of the stages were not hosted on common bike park trails. With the amount of rain the park got in the last week, as well as the rain it was getting during practice, one thing was certain, the entire course was going to be muddy, slick, and rowdy. [caption id="attachment_807303" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Mountain Creek Welcome to Mountain Creek| Photo: Tyler Pratt[/caption] [caption id="attachment_807306" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Race Day Riders Meeting Riders meeting | Photo: Tyler Pratt[/caption] [caption id="attachment_807307" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Rainy cold Practice Day Rainy and cold for practice| Photo: Tyler Pratt[/caption]   Stage 1 lived up to that expectation. It was composed of a mixture of wider single track trail with rock and roots to contend with. Near the bottom there was a climb so wet it felt like you were riding through peanut butter right before heading into some slick technical rock faces. [caption id="attachment_807298" align="aligncenter" width="940"]03_Photo Cred_Jeb Wallace-Brodeur Stage1 Stage 1 | Photo: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur[/caption] [caption id="attachment_807302" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Finish of Stage 1 Finish of stage 1| Photo: Tyler Pratt[/caption]   After stage 1, the transfer brought the riders up a wide loose rock access road and finished with a final stretch of xc trail climb. After a quick break, riders would drop into stage 2. Stage 2 used part of Mountain Creek's xc course and started out with some flowy single track with some flat and gradual inclined traversing. It would then head down some open loose rock gravel roads with super high speeds while weaving across a wooded section with a freezing cold creek crossing. It finished with a short but steep climb and carving some open turns down the half pipe. The next transfer was the longest climb as it would bring riders up to the very top of the mountain to drop into stage 3. Stage 3 was mostly slippery open grass downhill sections, with some extremely muddy and rutted sections scattered about. [caption id="attachment_807297" align="aligncenter" width="940"]02_Photo Cred_ Jeb Wallace-Brodeur_Stage3 Stage 3 | Photo: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur[/caption]   After a short pedal uphill, the riders took the lift to the start of stage 4. By this point were pretty drenched and dirty. Stage 4 started with some steep and technical rock sections and followed it up with a technical climb, even if it was just an access road. It then headed into the only "bike park" section of the weekend with jumps, drops, and berms. [caption id="attachment_807296" align="aligncenter" width="940"]01_Photo Cred_ Jeb Wallace-Brodeur_Stage4 Stage 4 | Photo: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur[/caption]   After a short uphill transfer it was time for stage 5. Stage five was by far the most technical of the stages. It consisted of a pedally top section with tons of rocks and roots followed by loose rock bolder fields that the riders would have to pick their way through. All of the stages were slick with the rain but stage 5 by far had the slickest rock sections. After navigating a way through the boulder fields, there was a pretty flowy but sill technical singletrack section that brought riders to the finish. [caption id="attachment_807299" align="aligncenter" width="940"]04_Photo Cred_Jeb Wallace-Brodeur_Stage5 Stage 5 | Photo: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur[/caption] [caption id="attachment_807300" align="aligncenter" width="940"]05_Photo Cred_Jamie Lee_Stage 5 Stage 5 | Photo: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur[/caption]   On race day the clouds opened up and the riders were able to ride in the sun. However, the tracks remained pretty drenched and the ruts just kept getting deeper and deeper as the day went on. [caption id="attachment_807308" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Rocky_Stage_5 (1) Stage 5 | Photo: Tyler Pratt[/caption]   I played it pretty safe on the first three stages as I had only practiced them each once and didn't feel they suited me as well as the last two. Unfortunately, while on the attack, I crashed pretty hard in the technical rock section on stage 4. I was able to continue but had lost some serious time. Looking for redemption on stage 5 I had my cleanest run through the extremely difficult sections only to suffer a mechanical that made me unable to pedal at the beginning of the flowy single track section. I just focused on keeping the momentum forward and letting the wheels roll! [caption id="attachment_807304" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Mud This is enduro| Photo: Tyler Pratt[/caption]   I finished with a combined stage time of 23:10. All in all it was another incredibly fun race and I can't wait for the series finale Overmountain Enduro at Highland Bike Park on October 25th." />
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