May 24, 2017

Big Cedar, Oklahoma and the Kodiak Tough Southern Enduro Tour hosted the first round of the IMBA National Enduro Series this past weekend with the Ellsworth O'Rock Epic. Oklahoma doesn't make most people think mountain biking, but the Ouachita Mountain trails universally beat expectations, with miles and miles of rocky, raw singletrack. Riders battled through two big days in the saddle, with nine stages, 9,000 feet of descending and 50 total miles of riding. A whopping four inches of rain on Friday night (and near-tornado winds) resulted in a few last minute course changes and extra slimy, slippery conditions for the riders. 

The rugged nature of the trails meant lots of mechanicals, and a handful of top riders succumbed to flat tires, broken wheels and other mishaps. Amateurs were by no means immune to the trailside carnage -- one racer was heard lamenting that he hadn't gotten through a single stage on Day 1 without a flat. 

Since the Ouachita National Forest is fairly remote, Kodiak Tough provided lunches and dinners for all racers -- even hot grilled cheese for a mid-ride meal on wet and misty Saturday -- as well as beer and entertainment as soon as each day of racing was complete. The final stage of Day 2 finished at the creek, and race promoters greeted riders with a trash can full of icy, cold beer.

At the end of the weekend, Emily Cox took the win on the women's side and Scott Countryman took home a commanding victory for the pro men. Full results here. Overall results will be posted on National Enduro Series website after each event.

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