Big Sky, Montana has become home to a lot of things, but the most recent addition to this place of adventure is the annual Big Sky Enduro race. This gruelling motorcycle race up and down the slopes of Big Sky Resort started in 2009 as a finale to the Montana XC Series races but by Aug. 26 of 2012 the race had become the national center for professional off-road racing.
With 102 Pro Class and 142 Amateur Class racers in 2012, the amount of participants has nearly doubled since 2009. With a $10,000 Pro purse, the race has also become the sport’s East vs. West Shootout with competitors trying to secure series victories. The amateur class is no less exciting, with several American Motorcycling Association West Hare Scramble titles on the line.
This year, the race was extremely difficult due to a lack of rain prior to the competition. The entire amateur class started within minutes of each other, making it nearly impossible to see going into the hole shot and continuing through the next few miles of terrain on the first lap. Due to Big Sky’s generally rocky and treacherous terrain trying to discern whether the bike was on course with boulders or stumps throughout the track was a constant worry especially when riders tried to pass each other on the narrow and steep trail.
Crashes took 14 racers out of commission, adding injuries or severe damage to their motorcycles to their displeasure at not finishing. The Pro race runs three hours while the amateur race runs two hours; competitors push themselves to get as many laps on the 10-mile course as possible during this time. The track includes a man-made Endurocross arena where competitors must quickly maneuver over concrete barriers, large logs and monster truck tires. This technical area is a favorite for spectators because of the number of brutal crashes that always occur here.
Shane Davis, a veteran competitor in the race, summed up the event perfectly: “The course is technical and difficult to ride owing to the elevation change, the terrain and the duration. The race is difficult but very rewarding.”