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Cranksgiving Enduro at Ride Kanuga Bike Park in Hendersonville, NC

Deidra James

If you have not heard about this amazing downhill bike park that opened its doors to the mountain bike community in July 2020 it is time you Google it and plan a fun weekend getaway to Hendersonville, NC. Just 30 minutes from Brevard and Asheville.
Founded by professional mountain bikers, Neko Mulally and Dave LaMond. Ride Kanuga is rider built and rider approved! These trails are high quality, safe, and unique mountain bike specific trails. They are meant to encourage both new riders and seasoned professionals to gain new skills and help you progress as a rider. There is a mix of natural features, jump lines and trails unlike any in the Southeast region. It is the perfect place to have an Enduro event.

My husband and I planned to drive up Friday morning so we could be at the park by the afternoon for some necessary recon and trail sessioning. I knew it would be a long day but we wanted to make sure we did the bulk of our practice runs on Friday so that we had Saturday to chill and recover. Sunday is race day in the Enduro world.

The mountain is a little over 500 feet in elevation. Riding to the top of Kanuga was not too tough the first day. There are two routes; the singletrack and the double track. The singletrack, “High Rocks Climb”, is a winding trail that gradually takes you to the top of the 500-foot hill. Coming in at just over one mile long, climbers pass some of the downhill sections and often get to watch other riders drop in and speed past.

The alternative climb is the access connector “Copperhead Road”. This is a wider, smoother climb but is a bit shorter (about one mile). It climbs the same amount as High Rocks, making it steep enough in certain spots to necessitate pushing the bike up. I was able to clear the climb each time on the first day. By day two, I joined the best of them and pushed my bike to the top just so I could save my legs. They were feeling a bit fatigued from the day before. We noticed many riders were out there on e-bikes. It seemed like it was the preferred choice of machinery for pre-riding. To put it in perspective: Friday, I had 8 miles with 2100ft of climbing. Saturday, I had 9 miles with 2200ft of climbing. Sunday, 14 miles with 2400ft of climbing.

My race consisted of 4 stages. In an Enduro race, the downhills are timed, and the uphills are not. Riders are timed in stages that are primarily downhill, with neutral “transfer” stages in between. GNCC was the first stage. It is listed as intermediate. It has a natural, raw feel with small mandatory drops and flat cornering. It was a nice warm up that made me feel right at home!

Rhodo Ruckus was stage 2. Another intermediate flow trail with tight, bermed corners. They had cut in new sections around the corners to make it more difficult and off camber. Fresh cut sections with loamy dirt was meant to slow you down and keep you struggling for speed. This trail flowed into another trail called Tortuga with its own set of challenges. It was smooth and fast with fun risers that warms you up for a big lifter at the halfway point that has the potential to launch you into next week. I felt like I was soaring through the air. It was probably 2 inches off the ground! But, it seemed like I was flying and that is all that matters. Ha!

Stage 3 was top secret. I don’t think anyone was able to pre-ride it. From what we gathered it was on private land and not normally open to the public. It was another gem that was a fun romp through the brush and loamy dirt.

My favorite trail was stage 4, Hemlock Epoch. It is an advanced trail with lots of rocks, fast drops, jumps and gaps. I saw myself making the most progress riding this trail multiple times.

Overall, I had a great race. I was happy with my performance. I came in 10th out of 30 or so racers. I just wish I had more in the tank for race day. My fastest time for all of the stages was on Saturday. The day it didn’t count. Unfortunately, each downhill must be earned and we only had so many climbs in us before we started to wonder to what extent our riding was going to be affected the following days’ to come. We were just so excited to be there for the weekend and experience something new that we exhausted ourselves having fun. Not a bad thing, right? It was a blast of a good time and we will be back for Cranksgiving 2021.