When: Saturday, June 13, 2015
Where: Tiger Mountain, Issaquah, WA
Race Website: Second Annual Sturdy Dirty Enduro 2015
Pink Bike Race Recap by Colin Meagher: PB - The Sturdy Dirty Enduro
Bike I raced: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon
Acknowledgments: Thank you so much to my amazing supporters who help me indulge in the simple pleasure of riding a bike: Incycle Bicycles, Pivot Cycles, Troy Lee Designs, Smith Optics, ODI Grips and Camelbak.
My bike has taken me to some beautiful places, I have had amazing experiences and have met even more incredible people. I want to be able to share that with others, so let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way. Follow your passion, be spontaneous, have fun and capitalize on opportunities as tomorrow is not a guarantee.
I live in Orange County and Glendora, and I work full time at the University of California Irvine as a Compliance Analyst. It's not easy but it is possible to have a career and race competitively!
Introduction and Background
Enduro! I am sure that quite a few people are tired of hearing about it, but I promise you that this enduro race is unlike any other. I first heard about the Sturdy Dirty Enduro last year when scanning through some Pink Bike articles and one of the race report pictures had a woman riding her bike and was being handed a strip of bacon. You had me at bacon…
The Sturdy Dirty Enduro is the fruition of hard work and an ultimate goal of having fun by an amazing team of women known as The Sturdy Bitches (more about The Sturdy Bitch Team here: About Sturdy Bitch Racing). This year the Sturdys collaborated with Liv and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to make one heck of a party, I mean race. All the detail were set. The Second Annual Sturdy Dirty would be held on June 13, 2015 at Tiger Mountain, one of Seattle’s oldest trail systems. Registration would be limited 215 racers. The best part, WOMEN ONLY! Well, dudes are more than welcome to be part of the volunteer team. And this is where my story begins…
I told myself last year that I would do this race, but when registration time rolled around I found myself trying to find an excuse not to go. The race is far away, I would have to fly with my bike, no one else from Southern California is going, I already have a full race schedule, will I have to rent a car, where will I stay, do I want to burn some of my allotted vacation time at work, can I afford it, and the list goes on. Out of curiosity, I checked the list of women who were entered and out of all the names, I recognized one, Andi Zolton. I met Andi two years ago at the Oregon Enduro Series and we have kept in contact via Facebook. I sent her a message saying hello and briefly explaining my situation and immediately got a response telling me to register and that she would help me in any way possible. With a new sense of “I can do this,” I went to the registration page and… SOLD OUT. With all my hemming and hawing, the event filled up. The next day there was a waitlist option, so I signed up for the waitlist and was about 17 people down on the list. Let the waiting game begin… About two weeks before the race, I got the email confirmation that I had been moved from the waitlist to the registered category. The next few weeks were filled with figuring out the travel logistics and I was stoked for the adventure ahead.
Journey to the Great State of Washington
The race was on Saturday and I wanted a chance to check out the courses on Friday since I had never been to Tiger Mountain, so I booked a flight leaving Thursday evening after work. Since I booked my airline tickets at the last minute, there were limited flights available and I was stuck flying out of LAX. At work, I rushed all day to get my tasks done and the day went by fast. I signed out of my work computer, hopped in the car and started the drive in traffic from Orange County to LAX. Traffic was moving pretty well so it was not long before I was pushing my bike box and dragging my gear bag through the airport terminal. A quick stop at oversize luggage to drop off my bike and kiss it goodbye (crossed my fingers that it would survive the journey), and then off to the gate to board the plane. It was about a two hour flight to Seattle and the plane landed just as the sun had set. Everyone was shuffled off the plane and I went to the baggage claim to rescue my precious cargo, which appeared to come out unscathed. Then it was more pushing and dragging out to the hectic pickup area where vehicles were bumper to bumper, horns were honking and the police were yelling at people that the zone is for loading and unloading only. Got to love airports. After a short wait, I saw Andi making her way through the traffic and she pulled up to the curb. We hucked the bike box and gear bag into her car and hit the road. We then drove to the house I was staying at with some other rad ladies that drove down from Canada for the race. The rest of the evening consisted of making food, unpacking gear, putting my bike back together and finally sleeping.
Friday morning included making breakfast and enjoyed the view out on the balcony. Andi and I headed over to Tiger Mountain to pre-ride the stages. I am a big fan of pre-riding so that you know what to expect on race day and it enables you to get a feel for the trails. At the venue we met up with Andi’s friend, Adam Andrade (Liv Giant Bicycles) and the Liv For A Day contest winner, Stephanie Brunnemann from Salt Lake City, UT. This was Stephanie’s first enduro so we took our time, cruised through the stages and stopped to check out challenging sections. Tiger Mountain is amazing! It has a great mix of flow, rocks, roots, jumps and turns. We rode Stages 1-3 and returned the main venue area. Stage 4, a new in-progress trail named Eastbound and Down, was opened just for the Sturdy Dirty Enduro. The pro and expert categories were allowed a practice run on it and we even got shuttled to the top, thank you! Stage 4 was by far the most challenging and enjoyable. We left the venue and headed back to the house, looking forward to the race the next day.
The morning of a race is always a flurry of activity. Everyone arrived at the venue and went to registration to sign the waiver, pick up a number plate and timing chip. Numbers were quickly zip tied to the bikes. The timing chip was a little smaller than a credit card and was on a band that you wore on your left wrist. Next was the rider meeting with a brief overview of the rules, safety information and schedule for the day. Soon all the pros were lined and we were off on the transfer to Stage 1.
· TRANSITION 1 (T1) - From Upper Parking Lot, ride up the road to E Tiger Summit Trail
· STAGE 1 (S1) - E Tiger Summit Trail to start of Preston RR Trail (finish at start of Preston RR Trail)
· TRANSITION 2 (T2) - Top of Preston RR Trail then out to the road and back to E Tiger Summit Trail
· STAGE 2 (S2) - E Tiger Summit Trail to Off-The-Grid (finish at road crossing)
The steep final push to Tiger Summit was a little more challenging the second time as it continued to heat up. By the time we got to the summit again, the sport and beginner racers were lined up and waiting to start Stage 1, which was the same start as Stage 2. The pros and experts formed a second line and the race organizers interspersed us with the sport riders as the two stages only shared the first short segment of trail. Within 10 minutes, I was on course on Stage 2. Stage 2 was eleven minutes for the fastest racers and a mix of terrain. The top had many rock and roots sections, midway was a long meandering climb that challenged tiring legs, and the end was wide open with some jumps. There was a fairy and a cow at the end of Stage 2 to scan the timing chip and record a backup time. A leprechaun escorted racers to an aid station stocked full of water, cookies, fruit and Jell-O shots for some liquid encouragement.
· TRANSITION 3 (T3) - Not really a transition. Just a short wait on the road.
· STAGE 3 (S3) - Fully Rigid to Joyride (finish at road crossing)
There was no wait for Stage 3, so I dropped in after a short recovery from Stage 2. Stage 3 was seven and a half minutes for the fastest racers and kept everyone on their toes. There were tight turns, narrow trees to thread in-between, rocks and blind corners. It was important to keep your speed up to conserve energy as tapping the brakes just meant more pedaling to get back up to speed. At the bottom of Joyride, we ended on a road where finish timers were waiting. The aid station, I mean the fiesta, consisted of guacamole, salsa and all the goodies to go with it, including Tequila shots! Pros and experts still had the grind back up to Stage 4, so I decided not to indulge. There was also a kickball and limbo contest that racers could participate in. Talk about a party. I could have stayed there all day.
· TRANSITION 4 (T4) - Enjoy a nice ride back to Upper Parking Lot via NW Timber Trail. Pro and Expert continue to ride NW Timber Trail and up the road back to the Summit
· STAGE 4 – Eastbound and Down (Pro and Expert Only)
Back at the venue area, we returned our timing chips and received a printout of timing for each stage and our overall ranking. There was a big monitor which displayed the current results and as each rider checked in the rankings would update. Then it was on to the delicious food that was waiting. Rider after rider was returning to the venue with a smile on her face. There was plenty of shade to sit under and share stories of the day. From pro to first-time racers, everyone I spoke to talked about how much fun they had and that they cannot wait for the next one. Personally, it was not my best race but I was thrilled to finish in the top 10. I had some mistakes and crashes, and was competing against some super-fast ladies. However, I had so much fun riding my bike on beautiful trails with some amazing people, and I consider that better than winning. After all the racers had return, there was an incredible raffle and awards were presented. Congratulations to everyone on a great race and an even better experience. Always be sure to thank your race organizers and volunteers. Without their hard work, an incredible event like this would not be possible.
After the race, it was back to the house to pack all my gear and get my bike boxed up. Sunday morning I had one of the first flights out to get back home. Andi was so gracious to be my chauffeur one last time and we drove to the airport at 5am Sunday morning. I am very grateful to have such amazing friends. Just as the plane took off, the sun was rising over the horizon in SeaTac. What a way to end an incredible race.
One thing is for sure, I will be there next year as long as I do not have a scheduling conflict. I recommend this event to anyone who is looking for an amazing experience in a welcoming environment. Do not get me wrong, it is not for the faint of heart, there is varying terrain of difficulty and the climbs are substantial. Many sections are challenging, there is no shame in walking features and there will be plenty of women out there to lend a helping hand to those in need of some guidance and encouragement. Hope to see everyone out there next year. Keep an eye out on the website for 2016 details. Thank you to the Sturdy Bitches, Liv, Evergreen and all the volunteers for a great race.