I rode Paul’s Dirty Enduro for the first time this year. Every September, as the summer riding season draws to a close, it’s a major fixture on the Southern Ontario racing calendar, drawing in hundreds of riders from across the region.
Paul’s is in its 19th year, so when they say “enduro” they mean XC Endurance, not the Trail/DH blend you might think of today.
The race is run by an amazing group of volunteers raising funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association and is named after Paul Rush, a local rider who took his own life back in 1996. You can find out more here: http://www.paulsdirtyenduro.ca/#!faqs
Hosted in the Ganaraska Forest (until recently the home of an official IMBA epic ride), there is a 100km loop for the seriously dedicated, but also 60, 30 and 15km options for those that don’t want to suffer the consequences of spending between 6 and 9hrs in the saddle.
I only rode the 30km loop, and with a mass, charging start (in polite Canadian style of course) the trail climbed along double and single track for the first few kilometers. In my excitement I set off too fast and found myself slowly slipping down the field as the pace I was trying to maintain sapped my energy. At about the 10k mark, after one particular singletrack switchback climb that almost caused my legs and lungs to mutiny, it was like everything changed.
I found my stride (and the fear of an impending heart attack) subsided as I got comfortable with a pace that I was just about able to suck enough air down to maintain. There were long sections of fast flowing, twisty single track and I even started overtaking a few people.
There was a feed station around the 20km mark, and I was glad for the chance to replenish my energy levels. After one more climb, if felt like I was descending almost all the way for the last few KMs to the finish line, with some tight turns and rooty runs thrown in, making sure you were still paying attention to the trail.
Of course, for longer races it’s always smart to take a few essentials with you but, if you were unfortunate enough to crash out or suffer a mechanical failure, it wouldn’t take long for another rider or one of the sweeper team to check that you were ok, maybe even offer you that tube or chain link you couldn’t fit in in your pack.
The fastest time on the 100km course was 6hrs 18mins by Tim Carleton, a feat that I have a huge amount of respect for.
I completed my 30km in 2hrs 40mins, an hour off the winning pace in my category, but I was definitely still smiling, coming in 72nd place out of 121. Maybe with some serious training I might try the 60km next year… maybe.