Chris Armstrong|

May 26 '16. 8:49 am|

 

The North American Enduro Tour launches this weekend, and along with it comes big news: two additional races have will join the tour’s 2016 calendar.

The action kicks off this weekend with the Whistler Spring Classic on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, in British Columbia’s Coast Mountain Range, the same corner of the continent where the latest races have signed on.

NAET will be back in this neck of the woods at the beginning and end of August for a full-throttle, five-stage Squamish race, The Gryphon presented by Giro Sport Design, and the Chuckanut Enduro, race three of the EVIL Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by SHIMANO, in Bellingham, Washington.

“Enduro in North America is really taking off this year and we are stoked to be a part of the thriving scene NAET is building. It’s amazing for the sport and it’s really great news for talented up-and-coming athletes, and strong amateurs, looking to take the next step towards the Enduro World Series,” says Darren Kinnaird, NAET Racing Director.

The new races are strategically positioned on both the map and calendar to attract some of the world’s best EWS athletes who are in North America to participate in the Aspen Snowmass Yeti Big Mountain Enduro stop and the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized, both key EWS stops. While neither of the new NAET events are EWS qualifiers, their dates and location make both races an obvious choice for pro riders in for the EWS, so it’s expected a core contingent of elite riders will stay on in the region to make both events.

“This is a great way to race some of the best terrain in North America and ride with the world’s elite. Bellingham has great trails and absolutely stunning views of Puget Sound and Squamish is quickly becoming a cycling industry stomping ground as it has so many rad trails and such an array of technical terrain,” says Kinnaird.

The 2016 season marks the third year for the Gryphon which, set against a backdrop of the ocean views and snowcapped peaks in Howe Sound, is the only NAET race to end in cocktails. Come across the line and racers will be greeted with the INTENSE Caesar Station, a tomato-clam juice and vodka concoction that is a Canuck staple—DJs to follow at the Gryphon after-party.

“The trails selected will be a good mix of everything Squamish, but athletes should expect an emphasis on fast, technical descents, paired with a few punchy climbs within the stages. August brings little rain to the area, so racers can also anticipate dry conditions for a quick, slick race,” says Dylan Smith, Gryphon race organizer.

The Chuckanut Enduro, meanwhile, is one of the original Cascadia Dirt Cup enduros. The CDC was the first North American enduro series created as a non-profit organization to feed the trail network of the region. To date, it has raised over $50,000 for trails in the Cascadia region of the Pacific Northwest.

“Bellingham could be called a loam factory. The trails on Chuckanut Mountain weave through an old-growth forest that provides that abundance of soft, Pacific North West dirt. When the trails get steeper, they snake around some crazy sandstone ridges that break up the flow and add a technical aspect to some of the harder sections,” says Trey Wilson, Chuckanut Enduro race organizer.

Chuckanut is a longer course at 26 to 28 miles, with 4000 feet of climbing, over five or six stages, course varying year over year. The day ends in a good meal and a beer, and while it is competitive, the atmosphere is always low key.

The two new races mark races five and six in the now eight-race tour.

This weekend marks the first race in the calendar – the Whistler Spring Classic. The course was released last night for the four-stage race, with two stages in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and two on Blackcomb Mountain.

Race registration closes at 11:59 p.m. today, Thursday, May 26, and a few spots still remain. Athletes can register on NAETmtb.com.

The Gryphon presented by Giro Sport Design will run August 6, 2016 and the Chuckanut EVIL Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by SHIMANO race will be held August 27. Categories, prize details and registration information is available at NAETmtb.com.

The 2016 North American Enduro Tour race schedule now includes:

  • May 29 – Whistler, British Columbia, the Whistler Spring Classic
  • June 11, 12 – Angel Fire, New Mexico, a SCOTT Enduro Cup (2 day race) *
  • June 25, 26 – Sun Valley, Idaho, a SCOTT Enduro Cup (2 day race) *
  • August 6, 2016 The Grphyon presented by Giro Sport Design
  • August 27, 2016 Chuckanut, an EVIL Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by SHIMANO
  • September 10-11 – Whistler, British Columbia, the Whistler Fall Classic (2 day race)*
  • September 17, 18 – Mammoth, California, part of the Kamikaze Bike Games and California Enduro Series (2 day race)*
  • November 12, 13– Mascota, Mexico,run by the Big Mountain Enduro Series – NAET Finals (2 day race)*

Events marked with an asterisk* are Enduro World Series qualifier events