WEBB ON TOP AT GRINDING STONE HARD ENDURO

The hard enduro scene has been rapidly growing here in the States over the last few years and this past weekend’s opening round of the AMA Extreme Championship was further proof of the insurgence of riders becoming interested in the discipline of racing. With a field of over 180 riders to kick off the season, there was sure to be some great action throughout the 16-mile, four hour long hare-scramble-styled event.

Daniel Lewis (99; not picured), Cooper Abbott (12) and Taylor Robert (33) lead the pro field off the start. (photo by Brandon Krause)

During the four hours of racing, the riders were to complete as many laps as possible. For the top five pros, that ended up being four complete laps, taking just under an hour per lap (with pit stops and lappers, the lap times came out to be closer to an hour). A few others actually finished their fourth lap as well, but not before the cutoff time of thirty minutes after the leader came in. Instead of going back to how the riders came through after their third lap, the course had a couple of checks scattered around it, not only to keep track of racers throughout the race, but also to compensate for the racers who didn’t make it to the finish line on time.

Taylor Robert led the pack through the first of the eventual four laps they would do during the race. (Photo by Brandon Krause)

After getting a good start and running up front early on in the race, Taylor Robert came around the first lap with the lead just ahead of Cody Webb, Trystan Hart and Colton Haaker. Out on the second loop, though, Webb and Hart made the move on Robert, which would set the top four for the rest of the race.

Cody Webb making his way up the final obstacle on his way to the finish. (Photo by Brandon Krause)

Other than the course itself, riders faced further challenges from the beatings their bikes were taking during the race. It wasn’t strange at all to see someone come by missing one or both handguards, shifters, brake levers or even their seat! Due to the rocky nature of the terrain in Page, tires were getting chewed up fast, as was evident by Webb having to swap wheels part way through the race. On a side note: riders were not allowed outside assistance at the Grinding Stone race, except for their pit crew being allowed to pour their fuel for them. So, if they needed to swap out a busted part or change a wheel or anything, they couldn’t just sit back and take a breather while it was taken care of for them. They had to come in and do whatever maintenance they needed themselves (again, other than fueling their bikes).

Will Riordan taking a tumble down one of the many slippery rock faces the racers came up against at the Grinding Stone Hard Enduro. (Photo by Brandon Krause)
One of the amateur riders taking a crack at the line many of the pros had found in order to get around the bottleneck of other racers stuck off to the right. As you can see, the climb was no easy task. (Photo by Brandon Krause)
Daniel Lewis’ bike chasing him down the rock slab, but Daniel sprinted so fast down the hill I couldn’t even get him in the frame! Needless to say, it was one of the most impressive things witnessed that day. (Photo by Brandon Krause)

After getting around Robert on lap two, Hart still lost quite a bit of time to Webb at the same time. For the next two laps though, he made up incredible time lap after lap, coming from five and a half minutes back to within forty seconds of the leader by the end of the race. In the last year especially, we have seen some spectacular progression out of the Canadian and he has become more than a formidable player at the front of the field at these hard enduros.

Taylor Robert (33) trailing behind Trystan Hart (84) as they head down part of the “Pipeline” section of the course, which leads racers into a valley just before the finish. (Photo by Brandon Krause)

Except for at the start, Cooper Abbott was just kind of by himself for the rest of the day back in an impressive fifth overall. Although he did still have some crashes of his own (on the same rock face as his teammate Will Riordan experienced), he managed to stay just out of reach of catching up to the lead pack, but also safely in front of sixth and seventh behind him. Coop also was the final rider to complete the full four laps as the leader did, and with only 25 seconds to spare!

Cooper Abbott leaping to the top of the Pipeline section, trying to maneuver around some lap riders. (Photo by Brandon Krause)
It may not look pretty, but the “yeet your bike to the top” method worked out pretty well for a lot of guys. Exhibit A: Ryder Leblond. (Photo by Brandon Krause)

When all was said and done, Cody Webb had sealed the deal on taking the opening round win of the AMA Extreme Championship, but had plenty of pressure in doing so after coming through the pack early on and having Hart only 39 seconds back at the checkered flag. The two of them ended up gapping Robert a good bit by the end of the race, and even more so over Haaker who experienced some problems of his own. Full Results are below:

Pro

  1. Cody Webb
  2. Trystan Hart
  3. Taylor Robert
  4. Colton Haaker
  5. Cooper Abbott
  6. Ryder Leblond
  7. Will Riordan
  8. Max Gerston
  9. David Garza
  10. Noah Kepple
  11. Nick Fahringer
  12. Brandon Petrie
  13. Mitch Carvolth
  14. James Flynn
  15. Keith Sweeten
  16. Rich Larsen
  17. Quinn Wentzel
  18. Josh Staley
  19. Anthony Johnson
  20. dustin McCarthy
  21. Rodrigo Lopes
  22. Nick McGowen
  23. Agustin Pascal
  24. Daniel Lewis
  25. Wayne Dickert
Pro Podium: 1) Cody Webb (center), 2) Trystan Hart (left), 3) Taylor Robert (right). (Photo by Brandon Krause)

Women Pro

  1. Louise Forsley
  2. Kylee Sweeten
  3. Dayne Toney
  4. Kalyn Benaroya
  5. Hallie Marks
Women Pro Podium: 1) Louise Forsley (center), 2) Kylee Sweeten (left), 3) Dayne Toney (right). (Photo by Brandon Krause)
2021 AMA Extreme Championship2021 Race ResultsArizonacody webbDayne ToneyGrinding Stone Hard EnduroKylee SweetenLouise ForsleyPageTaylor RobertTrystan Hart