Race Report | The First Enduro Race in Turkey – More to Come!
A group of mountain bikers and enduro motobikers who were involved with RedBull’s SeaToSky event, came together with an idea that an event which shares the reverse route on mountain bikes could be possible…
This route lies between sea level and a summit of 2365mts altitude. There is a cablecar system which is active year round. A perfect place for gravity riders.
Since everyone on Turkish mountain bike circuit lag behind of worldwide trends, all mentions included the word “downhill” somewhere. Aybars Oge Surucu insisted that the area is perfect for enduro riding and this event could be a big bang for the start of the discipline in Turkey.
First course check was ridden by Aybars Oge Surucu and Cuneyt Gazioglu on last week of May 2014. This course check was only aiming to ride over main track for the mountain; to analyze topographic structure and logistic details. The decision has been made; Kemer would be hosting first enduro MTB event!
Semih Ozdemir & Omer Nizam; local enduro pioneers and members of SeaToSky organization, had given track details and arranged local support also more for the event. Aybars Oge Surucu was the operation guy to bring all the details together. Cuneyt Gazioglu gathered all sponsors and media support for the event.
The event would start from top of Tahtali Mountain which also known as Mount Olympus in region and would finish at Kemerbogazi canyon beside of ancient Roman Bridge. Total distance would cover 33.6km and approx. 12 kms of liaison stages and 21 kms of special stages.
Dates have been fixed; technical meeting at 9th October, official training + seeding run at 10th October + race day on 11th October. All announcements have been done, social media and on-line registration was on. And the feedback was incredible from Turkish riders but most of them has no idea what kind of race format enduro is… An avalanche of questions filled out email inboxes every day.
During the on-line registration process hardest part to eliminate mountain bike “users” from real mountain bike “riders”. Some of the applicants were unaware what kind of ride that is and insisting to ride on supermarket bikes with v-brakes!
70 participants were present at the technical meeting, most of them got the logic of special stage -SS- / liaison stage -LS- and timing for the first time there. They were not expecting an early morning wake-up call at 6 o’clock like in a military base too! We had to arrive cablecar terminal building at 8 o’clock and transfer all equipment and racers with bikes before 9 o’clock. This way, we were through before the cablecar started the normal day routine with tourists and we catch day light for slow riders.
Training day was absolutely beautiful, sunny and less windy. The seeding run was exciting for everyone, a 2,24Km singletrack with -16% slope. Finish line everyone was waiting for their ride mates to enjoy the rest of the course. There is nothing comparable the smiles of riders at night during dinner.
On Race day things changed… Weather was cold, cloudy and windy. The summit was unpredictable for us at 2365mts altitude… During the transfers clouds disappeared. Sun was up and shining but it was strangely calm.
The race radio was on and only some wind was reported. Soon, a friend of mine sent a photo from the summit; a selfie with dark and low clouds behind. They were not aware of that a thunder storm was approaching. 5 minutes later, I received the start call from race radio. Race was on and the clouds were approaching over valleys and canyons.
Fifteen minutes later, we lost radio communication because of electrically loaded clouds. Then another friend of mine texted me, summit under hail! Everywhere was white and thunder warning announced; the cablecar stopped and everyone was inside of the building.
The first riders were crazy fast on LS1; expected time was 45mins for this extremely rocky section. But the first riders passed the stage in 22mins. So, I have revised all estimated stage times to predict finish time. It seems like 3hrs. 45mins. in total was possible. Race radio was still out of order for the first hour…
And after they arrived to start of SS2, I could start to manage and follow the race. Everyone was safe, just a friend of ours had to carry his bike back to the summit since his Trek Slash had a broken handlebar. Stage timings were very good. All riders were on full pace. First finisher was a guy from Czech republic, who was a TV producer, Pavel Trcala. He had heard the event on last minute while he was in Kemer for a sports documentary shooting. He jumped on his bike and took the start without understanding the LS / SS logic for stages; he hasn’t stopped spinning even on liaison stages! But this effort was not enough, the important thing was the total time of Special Stages. Another surprisingly fast time came from a young local on a hardtail! He was suspiciously fast but upon speaking to him it seems he just went flat out!
We announced the winners circle, given out all prizes and had a perfect dinner with all participants by the river in canyon. 2015 plans already started on same day!
Words & Photos: Aybars Oge Surucu