LeBlond Wins His First USHE Race at Fallen Timber Hard Enduro
Photos By: Adam Sheehan
The Fallen Timbers Hard Enduro had record rider attendance and a well-timed storm over the weekend in Little Hocking, Ohio. The Wildwood Lake Raceway has been hosting this race for several years, and features a beautiful course that winds through caves, creeks, waterfalls, steep hills, and more.The promoter, Jeff Husted, designed this 10.5 mile course to hit all of those features, in a reverse direction from last year’s loop.This race was the second round of the AMA East Hard Enduro Series, Presented by IRC Tire.
On Saturday, there were two 6.5 mile qualifying races that set the rows for Sunday’s main event. The first qualifier was for the majority of the amateur classes, and the second qualifier was for the Pro and expert classes. The dirt and weather conditions were nearly perfect for both races, and attracted crowds of spectators to cheer on the riders in popular sections. In the amateur qualifier, Braden Hashman won in the B Class. In the pro/expert qualifier, Beta USA’s Danny Lewis was in the lead the majority of the race, but a charging Will Riordan of RPM KTM Offroad and Rockstar Husqvarna’s Ryder LeBlond passed him on the second lap, with Riordan finishing 13 seconds ahead of LeBlond.
Sunday’s main race consisted of a four lap race around a 10.5 mile loop, with multiple checkpoints and tougher sections throughout the course. The tough became tougher Sunday morning, when the skies opened up and started raining pretty hard. The Wildwood Lake Raceway is infamous for its muddy conditions, as the dirt here becomes one of the most slick venues in the country. Danny Lewis made the holeshot in the first row and led the pack until the first checkpoint at Brent’s Diner, a gnarly boulder stretch that held up racers throughout the entire race. Riordan and LeBlond passed up Lewis and pulled away from the pack. LeBlond and Riordan went back and forth for about a lap, but LeBlond extended his lead and remained up there for the rest of the race. Rockstar Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker was riding strong and at one point pushed himself into the second place spot, but Riordan passed him back and pulled away, chasing LeBlond and getting within five minutes behind.
The rain continued for about half of the race, but it eventually cleared up and the conditions got even worse than they were, because there was no rain washing mud off of the rocks. The ruts got deeper and the sidehills got tougher every lap, as racers would churn up the
mud, making it near impossible to get reliable traction. There was a battle in the top five between Lewis, Quinn Wentzel, and James Flynn. Lewis was sitting comfortably in the fourth spot, when he fell and got stuck underneath his bike. After recollecting himself, he lost some time and Wentzel and Flynn eventually caught up to him and passed him. The lappers were a tough obstacle through the mud, as there were nearly 150 racers scattered throughout the course. LeBlond rode a smooth race and maintained his gap over Riordan. He came through the finish in 4 hours and 52 minutes, winning the USHE Pro Class for the first time ever. Riordan came in five minutes afterwards, winning his sixth top-5 of the season. LeBlond and Riordan were the only two racers to finish the four laps within the time limit, where everyone else was scored based on their lap and checkpoint finishes. Colton Haaker finished in third place, where Wentzel and Flynn had season-best finishes in fourth and fifth, respectively.
The AMA USHE Series continues on May 27-29 at the Keystone Challenge in Pennsylvania. This double-header weekend will consist of Tough Like RORR on the 27-28 in Tamaqua, and the Shotgun Hard Scramble will take place on Monday the 29th. These will both be IRC US Hard Enduro Series, Presented by Klim Premier Championship rounds, as well as the final two rounds of the AMA East Hard Enduro Series, Presented by IRC Tire.