Sea to Sky Enduro Series Round 3 – The Shore

Sea to Sky Enduro Series, round 3, Fromme

Fromme on Vancouver’s North Shore

May 24th marked the third stop of the Sea to Sky Enduro Series and the first weekend that went back to back, following the great event on the fast, flowing and dusty trails of Pemberton. This third round was run in Vancouver, on the classic North Shore, with Fromme being the mountain of choice. With the event being in Vancouver, a number of us were expecting it to be a really busy one, and were more than a little surprised when we heard there were 120 racers entered for the day. That’s not to say this is a small amount of riders, because its not, but using the Squamish event as a benchmark—which saw ~170 racers—we figured that being in a mecca like Vancouver would result in a larger turnout.

Regardless of rider turnout, it was a busy day on Fromme with some classic North Shore trails and the weather greeting us with some classic Shore conditions! It had rained the days previous leaving a number of competitors a little nervous of what conditions would be like come race day, and while there was some moisture here and there, overall conditions were really good!

Trail selection for the day saw an interesting mix with plenty of awkward pieces among those selected, keeping riders in check with where exactly they were riding—classic Shore wood and all. The course also saw riders go from the Eastern side of the trails, all the way over to the far Western edge—making it difficult for everyone; riders, spectators, photographers, everyone. The course definitely demanded a strong, fit foundation, with many riders missing the more gravity fed stages of Pemberton the week previous. This is enduro racing though, and physical fitness is a big part of a successful racer.

Stage 1—Floppy Bunny to Roadside Attraction

Sea to Sky Enduro Series, Rd 3, Stage 1

The day began with one of the shortest transitions followed by a reasonably short decent on the first stage of the day. Following the short decent down Floppy Bunny was what can only be described as predominantly a slog out on Roadside attraction, getting riders heart rates up nice and high early on.

The first pro men stage win of the day went to Drew Pautler, putting 4 seconds into second placed, Davis English and leaving Jesse Melamed back in third, six seconds from Davis—an unusual start to the day for Jesse. The Pro Women category was the smallest it has been for the series (come on ladies, where were you?), with only three competitors. The day began with Amy Pryse-Phillips taking a 20 second lead on her competitors going into stage two.

Open Women had a good turnout with some consistency through the field to boot, thanks to a number of riders hitting the race the week previous and one competitor participating in all three races thus far! Simmone Lyons—I imagine the current series leader, despite not having a standings overview to see—started her day off well, with a win over Deborah Motsch, putting seven seconds into her. In Open Men it was Brett Grayson with a great start to the day, and showing off his local roots, taking a 15 second lead over Ken Perras heading into stage two! Young film extraordinaire, Max Berkowitz put down his camcorder and picked up the bike for some fun on his local trails, throwing down and beginning his day with a third place, seven seconds back from Perras.

Stage 2—Leopard, Kirkford, Crinkum Crankum to Cedar trail

Jesse Melamed on Stage 2 of the North Vancouver enduro

The second stage of the day start after the longest transition and saw riders hit the first of the good ol’ awkward Shore we all know. Some good tech pieces and everyones good ol’ pal, woodwork, greeted riders as they made their way down the eight minute stage (for the quickest open men). Riders started off with some serious pace, but as with the past races, it was Jesse Melamed that left us scratching our heads, pulling a line that we had not seen (or thought possible) and riding out like he was on a bike path—piece, of, cake.

Jesse’s line choice worked in his favour, taking the stage win over Drew Pautler and moving in on him, though not quite close enough to place ahead, with Pautler moving to stage three still out in front. Amy Pryse-Phillips took out stage two in the Pro Women, pushing her lead over Megan Rose, in second place, out to more than a minute after just two stages of racing!

Open Women saw the battle between Motsch and Lyons heat up, with Motsch putting some serious time in on stage two, edging ahead by 31 seconds! Brett Grayson continued to lead Open Men after stage two, but only by a hair, losing valuable time to Ken Perras and leaving the door wide open for Perres to make a move. Pat Forster, who is now becoming a regular on the podium in the series, made large gains, moving from ninth all the way up to third, a solid effort going in on the longer stage.

Masters Men saw a serious shake up in Stage 2, with the winner of the first stage, Martin Van Essen, dropping all the way to ninth and Lars Andrews keeping it consistent and moving from third on stage one, up to first. Aaron Lyons also took advantage of stage two, moving from 8th after the first stage of the day, to second by the end of stage 2.

Stage 3—Pile of Rocks – Mtn Hwy – Expresso

Matt Ryan on the Gas, Stage 3

Stage three had a wicked surprise for riders, with Pile of Rocks spitting the racers out onto Mountain Highway, where they then went full pinner down the road, through a speed trap, and into the woods on the new work that Expresso has seen in recent months. Its fun, but at race pace, would be challenging to keep on line.

Melamed came down through the speed trap flat out and on the gas looking for more! The rest of his stage must have gone equally well, seeing him move up into first position for the first time of the day, heading into stage 4. Pautler remained consistent, but just wasn’t quite quick enough to keep up with Melamed, seeing him drop into second place for the first time. Davis English put his skills to good use, and held onto third place heading into the second last stage of the day. Pro Women remained the same a previously, with Amy Pryse-Phillips remaining in first, Megan Rose in second and Isabelle Jacques in third. This is how the competition in Pro Women remained the rest of the day.

Open Women was a similar story, with Motsch remaining in first place after grabbing ahold of it on the second stage, and Simmone Lyons—despite clawing back a couple of seconds, still in second. They remained in these positions the rest of the day, though Simmone nipped away at Motsch’s times, consistently taking wins on the remaining stages, but it was never enough to get the lead again from Motsch. In Open Men, Ken Perras remained in first place, putting time into second placed, Brett Grayson.

Masters Men also remained fairly stable through stage 3, with Lars Andrews holding down the lead, while Aaron Lyons and Jason Bond pushed to gain time. One major mover after this stage was Pemberton’s Ed Witwicki, who jumped from 8th after stage 2, to 4th by the end of this 3rd stage, staying consistent while at it!

Stage 4—Baden Powell to Dreamweaver

Racer rallies Dreamweaver during the North Vancouver Enduro

The fourth stage of racing saw riders get shook up some more, with a number of riders appearing to have perhaps come a cropper—a complete guess would be some bad moves in the early parts of Dreamweaver, right after jumping off Baden Powell. It was a little wet here, and requires some bigger, semi-committing moves in order to flow through it and keep the pace up.

The awkward lines appeared to be little issue for Melamed, as he rolled through with ease, even cracking a smile as I hooted from the ditch on the low side of the section! Jamie Biluk was another stand out through this section, though must have had some issues elsewhere, as he was off the pace and dropped from 4th to 10th by the end of the stage. Drew Pautler seems to have had a shocker also, seeing him drop from second down to 8th in the standings. Pemberton’s Davis English remained solid, remaining in 3rd place after the Stage. The big mover was Paul Stevens, making serious moves and putting himself in 2nd place, up from 8th previously! A sign of what could have been?

In the end, Pro Men had this stage dropped, apparently thanks to a number of riders taking a wrong turn thanks to poor markings. Its great to see the organizers are open to these sort of adjustments (stage one was dropped from the Pemberton race, thanks to a timing problem), though it would be great to have the course flagged properly. To be honest, I had to stop at one point and try and figure out where it was going—I followed the skids and was fine, but a racer can’t be expected to to this mid race. Hopefully the rest of the series runs trouble free in this regard.

Stage 5—Baden Powell

Battling the awkward entry rock garden on Baden Powell

The fifth and final stage for the day was on a very well known section of trail for locals and visitors alike, with Baden Powell being somewhat of a main artery, with many riders utilizing it to get back to Mountain Hwy. This was the shortest stage of the day, actually taking me by surprise with just how much so. Nevertheless, after the racing that had gone down already, its no doubt that a number of riders were happy it was so short.

Melamed took the win after the five stages of racing, holding onto it once he got control after stage 3, in the end winning by 17 seconds. With stage four being dropped, Drew Pautler was able to hold onto second place for the day and Jamie Biluk pulled through with a third, 25 seconds back from Pautler. Pro Women ended how it begun, with Amy Pryse-Phillips taking the win, 2:34 up on second placed Megan Rose. Isabelle Jacques kept within about a minute of Rose throughout the day, ending up 39 seconds back after almost 40 minutes of racing.

In Open Women, Simmone Lyons continued to put the pressure on Deborah Motsch stage after stage, but couldn’t quite get enough on her, with Motsch taking the win by 12 seconds in the end. Leanne Tompkins was back in 3rd, only 22 seconds back after a little over 40 minutes of racing. Open Men ended stage 5 how it did stage 3, with Ken Perras in 1st, 21 seconds up on Brett Grayson in second place, and Squamish’s Pat Foster finished in 3rd, almost a full minute back from Grayson.

A racer battles the roots at the bottom of Dreamweaver

Fromme offered up exactly what most expect on the Shore, with some typical, foggy weather to start the day and some moisture remaining after the rain days previous. Despite this rain, it really wasn’t that wet and most of the trails were running really well. General consensus was that it quite a pedally race, demanding strong fitness from the riders and a number of those that did well have their hard work over the winter to thank.

After three rounds we’re seeing a couple of definite trends, despite each race being very different from the previous. Melamed seems to be in his own league, with his loose, carefree riding putting him ahead of the field. The first stage of this race was the first time in the series that he has not held the lead from the start of the day! Pat Foster has been on the podium for Open Men at every round as has Simmone Lyons in Open Women, and the main thing is that everyone seems to be stoked with how the events are going. The vibe at each is great, with everyone just happy to be out on their bikes! Next we’re off to Whistler where we look forward to seeing what that course brings to the fold, and who will adapt best.

Visit the Straightshot Flickr Album for all (keeper) images from the race.