Last years Corduroy enduro was my first. They don’t call it Canada’s toughest race for nothing. It chewed me up, spit me out and left me going home with my tail between my legs. After this, I told myself for the entire year that I would finish this race in 2017 no matter what.
We’re always so concerned that the Cord will be wet and rainy. But did any of us really think we needed to worry about 40 degree temperatures and humidity?
2017 would see the 64th running of the Corduroy enduro. The amount of work that goes into this event is uncanny. The head of this operation is none other than seven time Corduroy enduro winner Blair Sharpless.
As I arrived in Gooderham Ontario the Friday before race day, just unloading my bike would have me pouring sweat and struggling to stay hydrated. Registration could be completed on the Friday to avoid congestion and delays the morning of the race. Sound test and numbers are handed out and we’re on our own to get whatever sleep we can the night before such a torturous race.
Saturday morning arrives and we’re ready to race. Standing in the sun during staging, I’m starting to doubt my attempts at hydration. Other riders seem to have certain hacks, supplements and energy capsules to keep them going. Here I am with my good ole water and nothing but a stale peanut butter bagel in my system. I should be worried about the race at this point but all I can think about… I hope I don’t fall off the ramp to the start platform. As my minute is called up, my nerves subside and I’m finally excited to ride my dirt bike. Starting right from the Gooderham Community centre we head west on a 143km loop through the Halliburton Highlands.
Trails were gruelling Saturday but not too difficult. The first test was at Scott and Sue’s and was a great warm up for what was to come. We’d eventually cross the infamous Burnt river which claimed a few victims this year and Pro/Expert classes would tackle the tunnel of love on this day as well. We rode a lot of roads and rail beds on this loop which were actually a nice break. I’d take advantage of this opportunity to take my goggles off to get some airflow in my helmet and drink as much water as I could.
After getting beaten up on for 5 hours, arriving back at the Gooderham Community centre was a pretty good feeling. You’ve conquered the day and all that’s left is to get your bike into impound for the night. We had 15 mins from our finish time to do any necessary work to the bike. Those lucky enough to have a spare wheel set could mount up some fresh rubber but most of us would make do with a fresh air filter and chain lube. The impound would be home for 182 Bikes that had survived day 1 of the 2017 Corduroy enduro.
That night I fell asleep in seconds, no amount of pre-race anxiety could keep me up this time. The heat stroke was real. Did anyone else have the most ridiculous acid trip dreams ever on Saturday night?
Sunday Morning was tough. I was still nauseous, it took me 45 minutes to eat a plain bagel nibble by nibble. I was surprised to see several riders were not even getting geared up for day two.
We’re allowed in impound only 15 minutes before our start time. We’d then have to walk our bikes to the start platform and cold start them when it was time to race.
Sundays loop seemed much tougher than day one. Fewer kms than Saturday but more trail and less roads. The pro class would to start their day with a run up Greens mountain however I’m told Greens was quite dry and didn’t provide much of the chaos that everyone expected.
The test sections this day could throw some big curve balls at you. One minute you’re flowing through some nicely laid out single track then out of nowhere you have to cross a mudhole, climb immediately up a rock face onto a rooted rocky uphill section. Energy levels were depleting quickly. The toughest section of the day had to be “Big Baldy”, maybe it was because my exhaustion level had reached an all time high at this point but I had tough time navigating the rocks in this section.
The end of the day had us arriving back at Scott and Sue’s for an altered version of the test that started us off on Saturday. You would have gotten a second wind at this point because you knew you were almost done.
We headed back to the Gooderham community centre where we anticipate being awarded with that small piece of wood that riders consider more valuable than gold. Receiving this finishers medal is a badge of honour in our world. Having one proves you have the Grit and determination to push your bike and body to their limit and beyond.
The action didn’t stop there. New to this years Corduroy enduro was an endurocross event for the Pro class which would be the final test of the day. I’m shocked at the energy levels that these guys had at the end of such a taxing race. They raced hard over 5 laps of tires, sand, logs, jumps and mud while the rest of us watched.
Congratulations if you managed to finish the 2017 Corduroy enduro as it had been the hottest one yet. Out of 238 riders that started the event, 182 Completed day one and only 130 would finish the whole thing.
If you didn’t make it this year, don’t worry. You’ve got a whole year to prepare for the next one! Blair has already set the dates for 2018, September 22 and 23rd. See you there!