Jason Scheiding through the woods on Stage 2
2015 Eastern States Cup Enduros
Last weekend marked the start of the Enduro season in the Northeast with the first Eastern States Cup race at Plattekill Mountain. The ESC has gained a legendary status not just locally but nationally. Between the amount of races they put on, the passion of the organizers, and the generally great and welcoming atmosphere, the ESC is the place to be on a given summer weekend. Now in its third year, the seven stop Enduro series has become a benchmark for all other race promoters on the East Coast. The courses never disappoint and the competition is always fierce.
Michael Maldonado is the raddest 11 year old you will meet
The Eastern States Cup would not be complete without a Plattekill race stop. The staple venue is the most old-school and the most iconic resort on the East Coast. The courses here never fail to serve up the raw and rugged nature of this Catskill gem. Aptly nicknamed “Splattekill,” the mountain’s terrain is best described as treacherous. Very steep grades, loose shale, big rocks, and off-camber roots abound.
Mario Centuori kicking up some dust
I could barely contain my excitement for the race and clearly, I wasn’t the only one. Everyone I talked to seemed to have high expectations for the weekend. The ESC Enduro format is pretty simple: lift accessed practice on Saturday, race on Sunday, 5 timed stages with a mix of lift assisted and pedal transfer stages. Dependable chip timing and no strictly defined start times, which allows riders to take the transfers with their friends, at their own pace.
Will Marks showing some good form on Stage 2
Every year the enduro’s been on, we’ve been treated with great weather – something you become grateful for if you’ve spent a day here during Plattekill’s infamous rainy or snowy days. This year was especially hot, with 85 degree weather and scorching sun. All the steep chutes and rock slabs were covered with a generous layer of dust. This year, the course featured more brutal pedal transfers than ever before and riders struggled with the steep grades, made worse by the unforgiving heat.
Third place Pro Rachelle Frazer
Stage 1 was the shortest and the most pedally stage of the day. It started at the top of the Triple Chair, on the right side of the resort, after a long pedal transfer and went around the top, finishing with a sharp uphill turn to the end of the stage. This stage was straightforward, the least technical of the bunch, with the only thing interrupting your flow being the last uphill right hander, which required you to shut down your speed and bang through the gears in a very abrupt motion. That corner gave grief to a lot of riders, including myself.
Mauricio Estrada showing some moto foot
The end of the first stage dropped off about a third of the way down the mountain on the same access road as the initial transfer and had riders climb the remainder of it to the start of Stage 2. This stage seemed to have it all. It started off at the top section of the 2013 ProGRT DH track – a fun roadgap with an improved run in, leading into a fast, flowy wooded section with undulating root and rock sections that were begging to be gapped. After sprinting across a loose access road, riders found themselves dropping into a steep, technical chute, followed by another abrupt turn, this time onto an eye watering fire road descent. The end of the stage came after a winding root filled section of woods that’s been a regular of the ESC Enduros and Super-D races.
First place finisher Chris Heath showing everyone how it’s done
The transfer to Stage 3 was the last pedal transfer for the day and boy, was it a rough one. This time, the climb was up the left side of the mountain, about two thirds of the way to the top, where the start of the third stage awaited. A fast fire road with optional booters that turned into a long technical section with large root balls and rock slab drops that terminated with a steep drop out onto the last ski slope and a quick sprint to the check out box. This was the second shortest stage of the day.
Leland O’Connor looking really fast. Fast Enough for third overall for the day
Finally on to the Double Chair lift for the transfer up to Stage 4. Man, was this a funky enduro stage! The top followed last year’s ProGRT DH track but veered off before hitting the big “huck-to-death” drop – as described by my teammate Jason Scheiding, then sent you onto an eye watering all out fireroad sprint and ski slope traverse.
And this is where things got interesting… the bench cut disappeared and the last ski hill traverse was just an off-camber slope that seemed to wanna send you sideways down the hill. This was followed by a short but really steep and loose climb that by practice time was already unrideable. This one required some cyclocross skills of dismounting and running up the hill – something I couldn’t master even by race time.
After this was another really fast ski hill section…. Followed by another really abrupt uphill turn into arguably the most technical section of the race. Awkwardly placed rock slabs littered the trail and off-camber roots tried to catch the riders tires. Many found this stage the most challenging. Between the varying terrain, the abrupt direction changes, and the cyclocross hike-a-bike, I tend to agree with them. But this is enduro! I welcome stages like this because it tends to keep everyone on their toes.
Fifth place finisher Anthony Coneski through the rocks.
Stage 5 was the longest stage of the day. It started out with a long and steady pedal around the top of the second peak, before turning into technical wood and field traverses, and into really steep sections of shale chutes. This was classic Plattekill dirt surfing territory. Lock up those brakes and throw your bike from catch berm to catch berm. This was another favorite that seems to make it into every race at this mountain. Despite the long pedal up top, this may have been my favorite stage of the day.
Cannondale’s Jeremiah Boobar
Second place 19-29 finisher Dan Cocks on Stage 3
Paul Dotsenko at the end of Stage 3
After everything was said and done, it was a long day on the bike. Whether you rode the transfers or walked, the heat and the grade really took it out on everyone. In a testament to how technical this race was, the majority of the racers opted to wear fullface helmets and protection. Nobody messes with Splattekill. I can confidently say that Eastern States Cup and Plattekill have done it again. Another race and another great course. There were no logistical issues and no timing issues – something that still plagues some Enduro races.
Congratulations goes to Chris Heath and Lauren Petersen for coming out on top in the Pro category. It was great seeing all the familiar faces after a long off-season and I can’t wait for the next race. If you wanna catch some of the action, the next ESC Enduro will be at Blue Mountain, in Palmerton, PA on June 6 and 7. We’ll see you there!
2015 Eastern States Cup Enduros