By Jean Ann Berkenpas

Two local kids participated in the Valemount Mountain Bike Park’s first enduro style mountain bike race on September 14th. Elli Taylor and Kirby Scheller both had their first experience competing at the event, and tackled the same challenging course as the adults.

Enduro is a format of mountain bike racing in which participants pedal a route, but are only timed on designated descents. It is a more casual format of racing than XC or Downhill; people can ride with a friend, take a break at the top, and then race each other to the bottom. This race was nicknamed the “Valemount Funduro,” to stress fun over competition. The course was 28 km long, and riders did three descents in the bike park. They pedaled to the top of the 7km Munday Grind climbing trail once, and again halfway up for the second stage. For the third stage all racers enjoyed a ride with Peak Shuttles to the top. In total the participants climbed an elevation 670m under their own power and descended 1050m in the three timed descents.

Elli was the only youth girl to tackle the challenge of the race, and was also one of the youngest competitors at 10 years old. She and her mom, Jasmin Gasser, rode the course together. Her bike had been stolen from her backyard the week before and is still missing, so she completed the ride on a bike borrowed from a friend.

Elli rode the race with her mom, Jasmin Gasser. Her dad won the Open Men’s category. The family, along with her younger sister Autumn, rides the trails together a lot. /RUBY HOGG/WIDE OPEN WORLD

Elli’s most challenging part of the day came right at the start, with the long pedal up to the top of Munday Grind climbing trail for the start of the stage one at Tinfoil Hat trail. The first timed descent down was also the longest, with quite a bit of pedaling in the bottom half of the stage. Once she got that major challenge behind her, the second time pedaling up to stage two seemed a lot easier.

When asked what the best part of the day was, Elli responded “Finishing!” Completing the long and challenging course was a major accomplishment.

Elli Taylor receiving her medal in the Youth Under 16 Girls category from Donalda Beeson. /RUBY HOGG/WIDE OPEN WORLD

Elli took home some big prizes for her efforts too. She won a helmet, two Peak Shuttles gift cards and a water bottle for 1st place youth female. She also won the biggest draw prize of the night, which was an ice climbing adventure for two with Rockaboo Adventures. She plans to take her dad, Brendan Taylor (who also won the Open Men’s race). You could say the family cleaned up the awards and draw prizes of the day.

Kirby on his way to 2nd place in his first mountain bike race /RUBY HOGG/WIDE OPEN WORLD

Kirby Scheller competed in the youth (under 16) boys race, and had a very good workout riding his heavy downhill bike through the course. He had a great time and enjoyed the last most technical downhill stage on the Stinger and Coaster trails the best. He was the fastest in his age group on this stage, and second on the first two stages, which set him up for a second place finish overall.

Kirby knows the trails in the bike park well. He not only spends a lot of time riding them, but also volunteers a lot of time repairing and maintaining them. This summer, when VARDA was looking to hire another person to help with trail maintenance, Kirby volunteered. He has been apprenticing under the main maintenance guy and trail gnome, Randy Pruden. He helped to improve the safety of some trail features, put calcium on dry berms to retain moisture, and also worked to repair braking bumps and general wear on trails throughout the summer.

When asked if they will do the race again next year, both kids responded with a definite “yes!”

“The race was super fun and enjoyable,” said Kirby of the event. He certainly plans to do it again. You can bet both kids will be faster next year too!

See more on this year’s Funduro event here