Ironton, MO is a small, unassuming town. Not somewhere you’d first think of for a proper bike park. But however small, the town is bursting at the seams with quintessential southern hospitality and big, fast riding for the perfect start to the Big Mountain Enduro race season. Rude — again — owned the top of the box winning every stage over the weekend. Neer claimed spot number two. National Devo team rider, Warren Kniss, rounded out the top three spots for another Yeti 1-2-3 finish. Quinn Reece finished in sixth place and 18-yr old Lauren Bingham took the fourth spot in the Women’s Pro category.
Rude continued his winning streak taking first place over teammate Neer by 22 seconds. He set the pace right out the gate, winning stage one and each stage thereafter. Every. Single. One. While winning isn’t new to Rude, his pre-race barefoot track walk was new to us. He says it’s to become one with the track and feel the terrain — whatever it is, it’s a winning formula and we’re all for it. The newly crafted bike park wasn’t an issue for Rude, “they did a really good job mixing in some janky rock sections with tight corners. It is still super techy and raw, and a good place to race to prepare for Europe.”
Shawn Neer trailed Rude by only four seconds early on, but a severely dented rim hindered a closer end to the weekend. “I put a pretty big ding in my rim on stage 4 and it dropped to like 10 PSI. I knew I had about a 15 second gap ahead of third place. I was able to quickly throw a CO2 in there and bring er’ up to about 40 and just got her home.” Neer’s mental game this weekend was particularly strong, and he was able to quickly get into the zone and put down solid runs. A perfect lead up to what will hopefully be Neer’s first EWS podium.
Warren Kniss proved his second place Windrock finish was no fluke and earned a third-place podium spot behind Rude and Neer. He was on the entire weekend. Kniss’s practice runs were fast and confident, setting him up for an impressive weekend. We know now that his agile, dirt jumping riding style produces proven Enduro race results.
The Yeti / FOX National Devo teams were a force this weekend. Quinn Reece finished a respectable 6th on the day, missing fifth place by just a few seconds. Despite being unable to race his final U21 season, Reece continues put down solid performances, and learns each time he gets between the tape. We’re confident a podium finish is in his near future.
Lauren Bingham’s strong and nimble riding style was on point this weekend. The 18-yr old finished fourth in the Pro Women’s category and is starting to put the rest of the field on notice as she asserts herself as a top of the box contender. Bingham is looking forward to the remaining three BME contests so she can continue to challenge herself to be the best.
The first Big Mountain Enduro of the season confirmed that the Yeti / FOX Race Teams are ready to race. Rude and Neer are primed for the season and in peak fitness shape. With Europe just around the corner, the next few weeks of training should help add additional hardware on the 2021 race shelf. If that’s not enough, the National and Devo teams have also shown they are well within striking distance of their own top of the box finishes. And with Rude and Neer heading off to Europe, that reality is starting to grow ever closer.