DULUTH, Minn. — Duluth, as it continues to build its reputation as a mountain-biking mecca, features a number of different trails spread out across the city.
A new, unique mountain bike race scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct. 28, aims to include all of them.
"There are no cross-town enduro races in Duluth, and it's the longest-distance enduro race in the Midwest with 12 stages," said 18-year-old race creator Max Fierek. "I decided to put on the race because it's a route I ride quite often for training and I love it. I think it's the best way to ride all of Duluth's best descents in one day."
The Duluth Hard Enduro is an all-day race that combines a traditional downhill race with an endurance element. If weather permits, there will be 12 stages in the race, on trails around Hawk Ridge, Lester Park, Enger Tower, Piedmont and eventually ending at Spirit Mountain. The exact trails will be revealed to racers Friday night, Oct. 27; the racing is scheduled to start at Lester Park at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Fierek has been mountain biking for eight years, and has previously organized a race called the Hidden Gem of the North, on trails he created on his family's property in Bayfield. He has high hopes for the new event.
"I want the Enduro to continue into the future because there's no other events in Duluth or the Midwest that has the distance and difficulty," he said. "I want it to grow and be a citywide event like Grandma's Marathon."
Jake Jordan is one of the riders coming up from the Twin Cities to take part in the event. He has ridden in Fierek's past events, and has high expectations for the Enduro.
"Max is very driven towards the sport, so it makes sense why he's had success with his past events," Jordan said. "I'm expecting to go out and have a good time with my friends, while learning a little more about Duluth trails."
Fierek, who won't be riding Saturday as he oversees the race, said he expects 50 to 60 bikers to gather for the event — which he said is a good turnout, given only a month's notice. There are locals participating as well as people from the Twin Cities, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.
Fierek said he believes Duluth is the perfect city for an event like the Enduro.
"Duluth is really special because of the extensive amount of trails in town," he said. "It allows you to run all day and ride a ton of cool trails because you don't have to hike out into the middle of nowhere to find a trail."
A few years ago, Fierek said, he had difficulties being taken seriously when he was planning his events. He now says he has more credibility, which led to more sponsors — making it possible to cut the event's entry fee to $20.
"My goal is for this to someday be an Enduro World Series qualifier event," Fierek said. "Then it would bring people in from all over the country."
With wet weather a possibility for the weekend, Fierek and the race field are hoping Duluth stays somewhat dry. If there is rain and snow, the plan is to modify the course and avoid areas that could potentially be damaged if used in wet conditions.
If the weather becomes too much of a factor, Fierek said he'll be forced to call off the race — and with it being so late in the season, there will not be enough time to reschedule this year. However, Fierek said he'd still plan on holding the event in the years to come.
For more information
Visit the Hard Enduro Facebook page at facebook.com/events/442691596127040.