Spirits are high in New England as the snow is gone and it’s finally time put tires on dirt (or mud) again. It’s been three years since we last raced at in Cumberland, Rhode Island’s Diamond Hill and Maxxis ESC Specialized Enduro Series racers were stoked to return. This was the first enduro venue where the Maxxis ESC broke the 200 racer threshold back in 2016. This weekend had 277 riders eager to kick off the 2019 season. Two separate ski areas once operated on the steep hillside East of Diamond Hill Road until the 1980’s and now the town park offers a roughly 10 mile network of mtb trails on both sides of the road, which provides a perfect venue for Enduro racing. Although the hill measures around 350 feet vertical, there’s no shortage of large rock features here, as Diamond Hill is the largest mass of crystallized white quartz in New England. The place is literally one big, not-so-hidden gem tucked in the northeast corner of the Ocean State. Although the race stages here are shorter than usual, there are six of them all linked by pedal transfers, making Diamond Hill the perfect warm-up for the rest of the season.
New England saw 21 days of rain in April and that would again be the case this weekend, although not as much as the forecast called for. All things considered, the trails at Diamond Hill are still in great shape and the rocks here do maintain some grip in the wet weather.
With Rhode Island’s turkey hunting season running through the month of May, racers were required to wear at least 200 sq. inches of blaze orange while riding. We didn’t see a single hunter all weekend but at least everyone matched their new Box Components number plates.
Can you believe the Maxxis Eastern States Cup is 10 years old? Along with new medals, Specialized Bicycles has joined the party to sponsor the 2019 Enduro series. Several other sponsors are back again to provide prizing for racers, including the new SDR Clothing Rewards, which will pay podium finishers $100 for 1st, $50 for 2nd and $25 for 3rd on top of regular prize money when classes exceed 50 racers. This weekend we had three classes qualify, podium finishers in the 21-29, 30-39 and 40-49 all went home with some extra cash in their pockets.
Intense Cycles is also on board for 2019 with their Podium Payback Program for those who finish top 5 while piloting an Intense frame. They’ve also outfitted the Maxxis ESC crew with Tazer e-bikes to help make course setup and media coverage easier than ever. Want to take one for a spin? Go see Willem at the Intense tent!
The top of Stage 1 started on a series of rock slabs which then transitioned to this muddy section littered with slick roots. Kim Quinlan kept it calm and composed on the high line, finishing just off the podium with a sixth place for the Pro Women.
Stage 1 winners from each class with their swag from the Flat Tire Defender Super Stage. Our fastest amateurs, Caroline Allen and Nick Girioni, each won a pair of FTD tire inserts to help with those square rocks which Diamond Hill has no shortage of.
Stage 4 featured a combination of stone walls and this huge rock slab followed by a wooden gap jump to keep riders on their toes. Team Granite’s Ryan Coleman points it and stays off the brakes to take the runner up spot in the 30-39 men’s class.
Stage 5 was no walk in the park, throwing racers into a loose rock garden followed by a series of steep corners right off the bat. Cycle Craft Fitness and Intense Cycles rider PJ Renquin handles the chunky rocks with ease, beating a stacked field in the 21-29 men’s class with a final race time of 11:41.
Stages 5 and 6 were located on the steep hillside near the parking lot where the ski trails once operated. Bo Fuller demonstrates a flawless slalom turn on the switchbacks of Stage 6 while securing fourth place in the 50+ men’s class.
With off season team and brand contract changes aplenty, there were quite a shiny new rides rolling around the parking lot at Diamond Hill. Among those is Seamus Powell’s Canyon Strive which is paired with components from brands the U.S. National Enduro Champion hand-picked while building a new sponsor program for 2019.
Normally the Fox Transfer Seatpost Climbers Challenge is decided by a timed climb but since all the timing equipment was used on the six stages this weekend, the Fox Transfer dropper post was awarded to our fastest finisher in the Amateur Women’s class, Caroline Allen.
CFM Cycles rider Alisha Darin is a frequent flyer on the Maxxis ESC Specialized Enduro Series Pro Women’s podium. Strong results across the board this weekend, including a second place on Stage 6, would land her in third place come Sunday afternoon.
Kathryn Lawrence is an experienced XC and CX racer who entered her first Enduro race this weekend, won the final stage and ended up taking second place in the Pro Women’s class. Not a bad start to her Enduro career!
Rachel Pageau has a new Pivot Firebird for 2019 but she’s still up to the same old tricks, taking the win by 34 seconds, winning all but one stage. “It was so good to catch up with all the friends this weekend, I was so excited to come down to Rhode Island (also my first trip there). With the rainy weather, the miserable travel days and all the finals I had just been through, I didn’t feel like I was riding to the best of my abilities but the trails were super fun and challenging. I love my new bikes, they’re fire!”
Willem Cooper is no stranger to the terrain at Diamond Hill, he rides here often and had a hand in planning/building sections of trail used in the race. His local knowledge would pay off with a Stage 3 win and third place finish in the Pro Men’s class.
First race, first place for Defiant Racing’s newest recruit Max Beaupre, winning four stages with a final race time of 10:19. Max and his dad John both won their classes and took home some extra cash through the Intense Cycles Podium Payback Program. “Linking up with Defiant Racing was a big move for me this year and I’m so grateful to have the chance to be on such a rad team. We have such a great group of guys who are 100% focused on racing and I’m super stoked to be part of that! Winning on my home track was a dream come true. I’ve been riding Diamond Hill nearly every day for the past couple of months trying to dial all of my lines in with that gold medal in the pro class on my mind. I’m in a really good headspace right now and I’m going full gas into 2019. Coming home to my family with both my dad and I having gold medals was such a great feeling.”
Bike season has officially arrived on the East Coast, wash ’em up and get ready as we head south for the next Maxxis ESC Specialized Enduro Series and EWS Qualifier race May 19th at Glen Park in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The Maxxis ESC stop at Glen Park has sold out the past two years and holds the record for the largest mtb enduro race in the east at 289 racers in last year’s series stop. get registered soon on the Maxxis ESC Website