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Battle Born Enduro Race Report: Matt Balzer

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Battle Born Enduro

By Matt Balzer

Last weekend I pushed my comfort zone and raced the Battle Born Enduro MTB race. Battle Born is the second race in the California Enduro Series and draws hundreds of riders from all over California and Nevada. Enduro racing consists of timed downhill segments (six at this race) and un-timed uphill “transfer” segments that get racers to the next downhill. Although the uphill segments are un-timed, there is still a lot of work involved: in this case 4500 feet of climbing and descending over 29 miles.

I say “pushed my comfort zone” for two reasons: First, I like riding uphill fast and have never raced a downhill. Second, the first stage of this race was just a little scary, with two sections consisting of “the rock garden” and “rock waterfall.” Pre-riding the course on Friday I stopped before the “rock waterfall” only to have the three guys in front of me: flat, crash, flat and crash. This wasn’t the reassurance I was looking for. Thankfully I was with my teammate, Curtis Duncan, who rode it flawlessly. I made it down without crashing, and then started to get nervous about racing, not riding, this segment the next day.

Race morning was beautiful, and it was just amazing to see so many riders on our home trails. I went off in a lead group of about 10, as I’d head stories about long wait times at the downhill segments. Thankfully the first stage was the one I was worried about and we were getting it out of the way early. I let a few guys jump in front of me as they were top level pros and I didn’t want them sailing over me as I’d only have a 30 second buffer… good thing, because the guy that was supposed to start right behind me ended up winning the entire race by only .2 seconds, and I would have slowed him down enough to take away his win! I got through the first stage slow but unscathed — my primary goal for the entire race.

As we started up to the second segment I couldn’t believe how slow everyone was riding. I guess when you spend all day on a bike and the pros are separated by less than a second, they save all their energy for the downhill! But I just couldn’t deal with the slow pace anymore so I went off the front (Lexi had two soccer games that afternoon so I needed to get done early). I figured riding a solid pace on the climbs and going into the downhills a little tired would still be great Xterra and XC MTB training!

In the end I didn’t crash, and I PR’d on almost all the downhill segments! The race staff, volunteers, and other racers were all amazing, and made for a great overall experience. I ended the day 7th in the Expert 30-39 category with my teammate, Curtis Duncan, killing it for 3rd in the Expert 20-29 category just weeks after taking the MCAT.

My new Trek Remedy 9 was exquisite, and climbs so well for a 140mm travel bike, and Nature’s Bakery fig bars were the perfect fuel for a long day in the saddle.

Strava… https://www.strava.com/activities/576038782/overview

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