After months of planning, the first ever Ganny Enduro mountain bike race was held in Millbrook last month.
According to the race organizers, Alex Schmidt and Alex Lefebvre, the goal of the Ganny Enduro was to provide an accessible enduro stage race experience with a west coast vibe for mountain bikers here in Ontario. Enduro stage races are common in British Columbia, where the terrain is more mountainous, but the format is just beginning to catch on here.
Both Alex and Alex are elite mountain bike racers who were looking to give back to the community and help grow the local scene here. Having raced in enduro events out west in the past, including the Whistler EWS (Enduro World Series), Alex Schmidt wanted to bring a similarly high quality event to Ontario and hopefully kick-start something great.
The enduro race format is unique in that riders are only timed over several short stages of the course. These stages represent a relatively small portion of the overall course length. When timing does begin, riders are strictly racing against the clock and not jockeying for position with other riders. The result is a highly social event with only brief periods of intense personal competition. As a result, the trails are highlighted more, conversations are had, and the overall mood is more casual and fun.
There were two different course lengths, a 30km distance and a 50km version. Both courses started and finished in Millbrook and used a combination of private land, Township and Provincially owned land, and the Ganaraska’s Central Forest. The private landowner partnership was key since not all trails in Millbrook are open to mountain bikes.
Speaking with organizer, Alex Schmidt, about the race, he said that, “things went really well and people had a great time. The weather wasn’t entirely on our side but those who braved the rain were treated to some pristine trail conditions thanks to the fast draining sandy soil in the Ganaraska forest.”
119 people registered, making the event the largest of its kind this year, in Ontario. Riders came from as far away as Windsor, North Bay, and Montreal, and ranged in age from 13 to 63. 18 volunteers donated their time to help make the event a success.
Alex paraphrased some of the feedback that he heard from race participants. The reactions were all incredibly positive and included comments along the lines of, “these trails are awesome”, “I didn’t know trails of this quality existed here”, and, “I love this format of racing. It’s so much fun!”
The day had several winners but Peterborough locals and Millbrook MTB club members, Jeff Faulds and Rebecca Christensen, took home the titles of Open Men’s Long Course Champion and Open Women’s Short Course Champion, respectively.
After the race, Rebecca commented, “I absolutely loved the Ganny Enduro. It was a lot of fun to participate in and race on my local trails. This was my first enduro style event. It was by far the most social and fun race I’ve ever done. It’s awesome that you can have fun riding with your friends all day and then charge some timed sections and continue to ride with your friends again.”
Both Alex’s expressed a huge amount of gratitude to local trail organizations like the Millbrook Valley Trails Committee, Millbrook MTB, and the Peterborough Trailbuilders Association for keeping the trails in such great shape. They were thankful to Jonathan Head and his family for hosting the event at their home. They also wanted to acknowledge the support of their title sponsor, 9Point8, for jumping on board early and trusting them to create such a high quality event.
The organizers plan to bring the Ganny Enduro back to Millbrook next year and hope to make it even better.
By Dave D’Agostino