2023 ISDE Day 6
The USA proved to have the best overall team—as well as a little luck—as the curtain came down on the 97th NOCO FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in San Juan, Argentina. Its FIM World Trophy (WT) team wrapped up that title for the third time in history, with Dante Oliveira putting an exclamation point on the week by winning the final moto for WT riders, coming from behind and running down Spanish star Josep Garcia who still ended up the top individual rider overall. Oliveira earned third-fastest with Taylor Robert fourth after a crash dropped him to 15th in the moto, his final race as a full-time professional. Americans Cole Martinez and Johnny Girroir went 3-4 in the moto; overall for the week, Girroir was fifth behind Robert while Martinez finished ninth after coping with mechanical issues late in the week. That put all four Americans in the top 10, consistency that was unmatchable this year.
“We came here with a goal in mind—to get that third win—and we did exactly that, Robert stated. “I think we dominated every day [as a team]. The team was incredible. Honestly, it’s the most dedicated, [cohesive] team [I’ve been around]. Everybody was super-selfless this year, like not trying to be secretive or anything. “It was an amazing experience all the way around.”
Similarly, in Junior World Trophy (JWT), Mateo Oliveira bounced back from two crashes and won that heat over teammate Kai Aiello.
“My brother [Dante] had, like, three years in a row of winning the final moto then last year it got a little crazy [so he lost],” the younger Oliveira explained. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to get this going again. Then I had a little deal with one of our mechanics, Chuck [Marchant], and he was like, ‘You’ve got to cut [your] hair if you don’t get it done! I go, I’m getting it done!”
But that didn’t come close to matching the drama involving Sweden, which had dominated all week, its three riders consistently going 1-2-3 in every test. In their final moto, Albin Norrbin got out to an early lead—no surprise.
After a couple laps, though, his bike quit and wouldn’t restart so he started pushing it in order to complete his lap and be counted as a finisher. Seeing their teammate doing so, both Max Ahlin and Axel Semb forfeited their races and to aid Norrbin since rules allow only another rider to provide assistance and Norrbin would need help getting up several of the larger hills. While all three eventually reached the finish line, Sweden’s nearly 22-minute lead going into the day vanished. With the added time the three Swedes accumulated, France’s trio of Antoine Alix, Thibaut Giraudon and Leo Joyon ended up with the second-fastest time of the day, which was good enough to give them the win for the first time since 2017.
The U.S. also benefitted and found themselves on the top step of the podium thanks to Sweden’s woes, Oliveira and Kai Aiello going 1-2 and Grant Davis sixth for the fastest combined time of the group and second on the final podium of the week with Sweden still able to podium with its third.
As Oliveira put it, “This is exactly what ISDE is all about: six days and it’s not over ’til it’s over. You’ve just got to keep on trucking.”
But after the utter domination displayed in each of the five previous days, the Swedes were too distraught to attend the awards ceremony.
In Women’s World Trophy (WWT), Australia’s Danielle McDonald led the early going, but category leader Brandy Richards hunted her down, made the pass and held on for the win—broken collarbone and all. (Interestingly, Richards’ final moto time would’ve put her fourth in the E1 class, ahead of all JWT riders and behind only three WT riders!)
Korie Steede and Rachel Gutish finished fourth and sixth, respectively. As the only country with all three riders making it to the finish, the U.S. stamped its undeniable status as fastest, grittiest team of women in the world followed by Australia (over six hours in arrears) and FIM Latin America. (Due to heavy attrition, there were only three motos of Trophy teams and four of Club teams.
Not to be outdone, U.S. Club teams finished the week and final motos strongly with XC Gear taking the win, GTBN second and the Argentina Club team third with Steve Hatch Racing POTM fourth.
In the fourth and fastest Club final moto, Ryan Surratt took the win, 3.25 seconds ahead of Josh Toth (the week’s fastest individual Club rider overall) and Italian Riccardo Fabris. Team XC Gear with Surratt, Toth and Austin Serpa (who was fourth in the fast moto) earned the top step of the podium, 20 minutes and 51.71 seconds ahead of GTBN’s trio of Thorn Devlin (fifth in that moto as well as the fifth-fastest C2 rider of the week), Jaden Dahners (10th in the moto and the week’s C1 winner as well as third-fastest Club rider of the week) and Nate Ferderer (12th).
Steve Hatch Racing POTM kept its fourth place, Jackson Davis its fastest rider of the day followed by Hunter Smith and Chase Bright.
Elizabeth Scott Community ended the week 27th with veteran Six Days rider John Beal its best rider followed by Rick Emerson, Jeremy Shoning taking a DNF on day five.
Braaptastic.com was one spot down at 28th thanks with Preston Campbell recovering from a poor start to clamber back to seventh in the moto and finishing fourth-best Club rider of the day, second-fastest of the week both overall and in C2 behind Toth). Axel Pearson started the moto last yet sliced through the pack to finish fifth. Zach Toth DNFed on day three.
Missing Nolan Cate also since day three, Eric Cleveland Memorial remained 29th with Ava Silvestri being put into the WWT moto and acquitting herself well, unofficially placing fifth there. Kyle Tichenor ended the week 20th in C2.
The final U.S. Club team was the Missouri Mudders at 31st. Losing Cade Henderson on day two definitely hurt them, but Trevor Maley performed well in the fast heat, finishing fifth, as well as claiming seventh in C1 for the week. Jhak Walker was a solid third C1 for the week.
The 2024 ISDE will be in Spain at a date in September to be determined.
2023 ISDE Day 5
After five days of the 97th NOCO FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), the three U.S. Trophy teams have practically locked in two victories and three podium places. In Women’s World Trophy (WWT), the U.S. has led from day two and in addition to solid, speedy rides from all three American women, it is the only country to have all three riders still going. In FIM World Trophy (WT) competition, it has led from the start and carries a comfortable 14-minute lead over France with defending champ Great Britain sitting third. The U.S. also appears to be headed for a third-place finish behind Sweden and France in Junior World Trophy (JWT). Barring catastrophic injury or mechanical failure preventing any of them from making it the short 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the Circuito San Juan Villacum to the Aser Motocross Track, positions should hold by the time the final motos take place tomorrow on day six.
That’s not to say, however, that it’s been an easy week for anyone. Nearly every one of the riders still going has accumulated some bumps, bruises and blood leaks at some point, not to mention dealing with temperatures that are on the high side. (Today, however, did see riders face fairly significant water crossings for the first time and at least one—Italian WT rider Kevin Cristino—ended up drowning his bike and taking a DNF for the traditionally powerful squad.)
While Spain’s Josep Garcia set the day’s fastest time again (nearly 16 seconds ahead of arch rival Andrea Verona of Italy), Americans Taylor Robert and Dante Oliveira filled the third and fourth spots for the day with Johnny Girroir in sixth and recovering nicely from his head cold earlier in the week.
Cole Martinez, the fourth member of the team, found his rear axle was stuck due to a mushroomed spacer which prevented him from changing the rear tire and having to deal with riding on a baldie yesterday. This, of course, set him back in the standings and even after getting the rear tire changed for today, the damage was done.
“After yesterday I knew my overall was kind of torched. Today, I started pretty decent the first three tests, then we went for the final lap with the tests and I had a big get-off. After that, I clicked the mental button like, ‘Just get it home and finish this thing!’ The main thing [then] was to not blow it for the team and keep the bike running. I even stopped before the river crossing to make sure I picked a good line and I wasn’t going to drown the bike!” he reported after finishing the day 25th individual overall, placing him 13th after five days.
That had no effect on the team’s position, though. In fact, the margin over second-place France grew from 11 minutes, 3.69 seconds to 14:00.98, Great Britain in third 16:00.55 behind the Americans.
The Swedes once again dominated JWT by sweeping the top three spots once again and growing its lead over France to 21:52.43, the U.S. trio about seven minutes behind the French. This time, however, Mateo Oliveira reached a personal goal, saying in a KTM press release, “I finally cracked a top 10 in a special test with a fifth overall, so I’m pretty stoked about that! Outside of that, it’s been a long week, a long Six Days, but I feel ready to attack tomorrow and can’t wait to hit the moto section to close this thing out.”
Teammate Grant Davis said, “I made some progress this week, for sure. I went pretty fast today and definitely caught up on some time. Today was the last hard day of the week so it’ll be easy and it’ll be fun.”
Having to deal with a fever which further strained a body pushing to the limit, Kai Aiello was the 16th-fastest Junior on day five, putting him 14th JWT rider after five days.
If you’re looking for the definition of grit, look no further to the U.S. WWT team. Though extremely banged up, it’s the only one with all three riders intact. That and their speed combined to stretch the lead over Australia to an astounding 4:07:30.27, Team FIM Latin America 4:51:50.75 back.
Unreported yesterday and brought to light today, women’s leader Brandy Richards broke her collarbone in the final transfer section. This was after she’d crashed and damaged a radiator enough that it warranted replacement. “After that, it was pretty much survival—I just wanted to finish the day,” she confessed. And despite being less than 100 percent, she still set top-three times in all six tests, winning two of them, and finished the day second-fastest behind Australian Danielle McDonald. When adding all five days worth of times, though, Richards is still on top, 10:03.62 ahead of McDonald.
Then there was the more widely known case with Rachel Gutish who went super-human today. Having broken her collarbone and a rib or two towards the end of day three, she was advised to take it easy and ride very safe so as not to aggravate or worsen both injuries. But Club rider Trevor Maley loaned her his shoulder brace while Doc McGee prescribed even better medication. “I really wasn’t feeling a whole lot of anything out there,” she claimed. “I mean, if I had to pick up my bike, like if I crashed and I had to pick it up, I’d still scream. And if the bike came through a whoop section and got away from me, that still really hurt. “But for the most part I felt fine.”
So, between that and worried that her scores might actually be needed and seeing the opportunity to enjoy herself riding the test featuring numerous water crossings, she decided to step the pace up. How far? When she got to that wet enduro test on the second time around the loop, she smashed it and set the fastest time by any woman by over 17 seconds. That helped propel her to a fifth-place finish for the day, which puts her sixth overall after five days. “One thing I should mention: The tests were a lot smoother today as was the transfer,” Gutish added. That’s because day five put the riders on mostly new trail and tests.
Finally, Korie Steede had to deal with a clutch issue for the first half of the day, but it made it both loops and she’s fourth woman overall for the week so far.
Among the seven American Club teams, the story at the top continued to be Josh Toth who topped all six tests again which helped keep team XC Gear on top with teammates Austin Serpa and Ryan Surratt. Thorn Devlin, Jaden Dahners and Preston Campbell filled spots 2-4 for the day.
GTBN’s Devlin, Dahners and Nate Ferderer remain second, now 18:34.75 behind with the Argentina Club team third but more than 36 minutes behind XC Gear.
Steve Hatch Racing POTM moved up one to fourth place. Hunter Smith was again the team’s fastest rider followed by Jackson Davis and Chase Bright.
Elizabeth Scott Community slipped to 25th today after losing Jeremy Shoning on the second loop, reportedly due to exhaustion. John Beal and Rick Emerson are all still going, though.
Braaptastic.com held fast at 26th thanks to Campbell finishing fourth-best Club rider of the day with Axel Pearson ninth. Zach Toth has been out since day three.
Similarly, Eric Cleveland Memorial is missing one in the injured Nolan Cate, so Kyle Tichenor and Ava Silvestri are holding it down with the team 29th after today.
Finally, the Missouri Mudders continue to hold 31st after losing Cade Henderson on day two. That left Jhak Walker and Trevor Maley still going.
One more day and a bunch of motos to go.
2023 ISDE Day 4
Fatigued faces all around marked day four of the 97th NOCO FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), the physical beatdown of the previous days now evidenced in the eyes of most who are still in it here in San Juan, Argentina.
Despite the exhaustion on clear display, the U.S. Trophy teams, by and large, emerged in comparatively good shape, stretching the leads in both FIM World Trophy (WT) and Women’s World Trophy (WWT) standings over France (which displaced Great Britain to third) and Australia, respectively. The American Junior World Trophy (JWT) lost a little time but remains a solid third behind seemingly unbeatable Sweden and France.
Cloudy skies brought a welcome relief from the previous three days of crushing heat, but the accumulated weariness may have played a factor in several incidents, which will be discussed later.
U.S. WT leader Taylor Robert proved to be the closest to the day winner Josep Garcia of Spain and Italian rival Andrea Verona, setting the third-fastest time of the day, though he was still just over a minute behind Garcia with Verona 18.43 seconds back. Johnny Girroir was fifth-fastest, followed by Dante Oliveira, while Cole Martinez had to deal with an issue of some sort that dropped him to 25th on the day, the first time Americans hadn’t all finished in the top 10.
“Honestly, I feel pretty damn good, just struggling a little bit here and there in a couple tests, but all in all, pretty decent days,” Oliveira insisted.
“The team as a whole—our lead is pretty big right now so we’ve just got to stay smooth and finish. We don’t have to do anything crazy, just keep the bikes and bodies crossing the finish line, and we should be on top. It’s super-sweet that the team’s been able to put a lot of hard work in early in the week and get a nice gap so we don’t have to stress that final two days.”
The American quartet has a cushion of 11 minutes, 3.69 seconds over France and 11:14.02 over Great Britain.
Fatigue and crashes hurt the U.S. JWT team, with Mateo Oliveira once again managing to come closest to the pace-setting Swedes, who are 1-2-3 in the individual JWT standings after four days, Oliveira fourth about 59 seconds shy of the third-place Swede after four days.
Grant Davis and Kai Aiello occupy ninth and 12th overall individually, Davis barely saving a wheelie gone bad, leaving one checkpoint. France now trails Sweden by a substantial 16:05.52, the U.S. a solid third 21:29.88 behind Sweden, and just over 30 minutes ahead of fourth-place Argentina.
In WWT, the U.S. can almost taste the champagne as it is one of only two teams with all three riders going—but just barely—and has a 2:15:19.46 lead over Australia, which lost Tayla Jones to a reported sternum injury suffered in a crash yesterday. She gamely suited up and tried to ride, but the pain and weakness were too much.
Coincidentally, Jones crashed in the same spot yesterday as Rachel Gutish, the American suffering a shoulder injury and possible broken rib. Though unable to change a tire yesterday, she managed to at least change the rear today (after practicing how to do it one-handed on chase rider Meg Argubright’s rear wheel last night) and started with a new handlebar as well as several meds provided by Doc McGee to get her through.
“My team was relying on me—that’s really all there is to it,” Gutish declared. “I knew that if we wanted to win, I needed to finish, and Doc helped me quite a bit. He gave me painkillers if needed and said I could still feel it, and every time I could feel that muscle in there or whatever…I wanted to throw up [because of the pain], but it turns out he had anti-nausea medication with him, too!
“Yesterday, I kind of rode the last transfer [after crashing in the last test of the day] on pure adrenaline from it. Today, it was just pure willpower and medication.”
Teammate Korie Steede—who’d started the week recovering from injury herself—kept an eye on Gutish all day, to the point of helping pick up her bike if she fell, and commented on the tired faces all over the pits: “Honestly, I’ve never seen something like this in the pits. You look to your left, and you look to your right, and you see someone limping; they’ve got tape all over their body, and you could just tell they’re fatigued and they’re not feeling good. It sucks; we’re all in the same position but all in a little different way. After this week, I can conquer anything in this world!”
Brandy Richards once again dominated the women’s standings, winning each test with Australians Danielle McDonald and Jessica Gardiner second- and third-fastest on the day.
Overall individual standings see Richards lead with a 9:53.71 margin over Gardiner and 10:44.68 over the 16-year-old McDonald.
Team FIM Latin America is the only squad besides the U.S. with three riders still going and holds third, 2:25:15.56 back of the American women.
In the Club team ranks, Josh Toth continued to steamroll the field, winning all six tests ahead of fellow Americans Thorn Devlin, Jaden Dahners, Preston Campbell and Jhak Walker.
Toth, Ryan Surratt and Austin Serpa continued to lead the Club rankings for XC Gear, their lead over GTBN’s Devlin, Dahners and Nate Ferderer 15:19.38. The Argentina Club team is a further 10 minutes back and holds third.
Steve Hatch Racing POTM (Hunter Smith, the team’s fastest rider once again, followed by Jackson Davis and Chase Bright) held firm in fifth. Elizabeth Scott Community’s three Senior-class riders (John Beal, Jeremy Shoning, and Rick Emerson) are all still in it, which resulted in moving up again, this tie to 19th.
Missing the injured Zach Toth for a second day meant braaptastic.com dropped further down the order to 26th despite Preston Campbell finishing fourth-fastest Club rider of the day and Axel Pearson eighth.
That put them one spot ahead of Eric Cleveland Memorial’s duo of Kyle Tichenor and Ava Silvestri, Nolan Cate the victim of a shoulder injury in a crash yesterday.
The last American team is the Missouri Mudders in 31st; Jhak Walker and Trevor Maley still going, Cade Henderson, a DNF on the second day due to heat issues.
Day five will be another long one, with the heat expected to return through the weekend and a long day—seven and a half hours—on the bike.
Despite a separated shoulder and possible rib injury from her crash in the final test yesterday, Rachel Gutish refuses to quit. She practiced changing the rear tire last night on a chase rider’s wheel until she could do it using only her non-dominant hand. Her sole focus now is to simply finish the week out and keep the U.S. Women’s World Trophy team on top, where it’s been since day two.
2023 ISDE Day 3
Hump day for the 97th NOCO FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) saw the field tackle new tests and trails around San Juan, Argentina, with the U.S. padding its lead in both FIM World Trophy (WT) and Women’s World Trophy (WWT) standings over Great Britain and Australia, respectively. The American Junior World Trophy (JWT) slipped a notch to third behind Sweden and France.
Photos By Mark Kariya
Days three and four were longer than the first two days with riders spending seven and a half hours on the pegs for a total of more than 140 hours. However, cooler temperatures and more road sections combined to slightly reduce the severity of the day, though several riders suffered from either crashes or heat-related issues.
Among those who crashed was Taylor Robert, though he avoided injury and actually ended up better than the first two days, finishing fourth overall individually behind Josep Garcia of Spain and Italians Andrea Verona and Samuele Bernardini. Robert’s teammates Cole Martinez was right behind in fifth while Dante Oliveira (seventh) and Johnny Girroir (ninth) powerfully demonstrated American consistency, with the team now eight minutes, 15.17 seconds ahead of the British while France closed in, 8:55.02 behind the U.S. squad.
“This is the most [cohesive] team we’ve ever had,” Roberts observed. “Everybody’s really helping out and putting the effort in. It’s been awesome to watch the progress come from that.
“We all, obviously, want to be faster because none of us is winning the overall, but as a team collectively, it’s insane how much better we are over any other year. Even years that we’ve won, we’ve never been this together so that’s really awesome to see.
“Every part of the team is really dialed in.”
He continued, “My riding, personally, has been pretty good. I’ve been super-consistent, I guess—pretty fast, not the fastest guy on the track but pretty fast. I got fifth the first two days and I got fourth today.
“The first two days weren’t my favorite tests. Going into it after walking, I knew those ones were’t going to be my favorites, so I definitely had more fun today and I’ll probably have more fun tomorrow!”
Girroir echoed that, saying, “I liked the tests more today. They fit my style a little bit more, being from the east coast with the rocks and stuff. The first couple days I was way out of my element.
“I think I’m figuring it out and holding my own, for sure.”
Despite a head cold, the GNCC star played a vital part in keeping the U.S. on top and added, “We added to our lead as a group and we’re heading in the right direction so all’s well.”
With one ISDE under his helmet, U.S. JWT team leader Mateo Oliveira quipped, “I’ll tell you what, it’s a lot easier than my first Six Days, that’s for sure!
“New trail today, new tests, new transfers was much needed and the cooler weather was huge.
“I was a little off pace the first lap, which was disappointing because I really wanted to make up time on these new tests. My second lap was where I should be. I’m not quite up to speed with the three Swedes, but at least I’m back to where I was at prior to today. The first time around [today] was pretty disastrous—just a fall in the first tests and not riding up to my potential, but it was good [because] I regrouped for the second time [around] and I’m looking forward to tomorrow; I know what I can do on those tests and where I can gain so just keep plugging away.”
Teammate Kai Aiello was just over two minutes behind in the E2 class while Grant Davis dropped to 15th in E1 for the day, suffering an arm injury that prompted him to get it X-rayed to determine if it was broken or if he’d be able to continue.
The three Swedish riders occupy the top three spots in individual JWT rider standings with their team now 11:53.79 ahead of France and 14:42.13 ahead of the U.S.
Despite a huge crash in the day’s final test that left her with a possible collarbone injury, Rachel Gutish managed to finish then work on her bike using only one hand to help the U.S. WWT team maintain its spot at the top of the division. This came after she’d notched a career-first test win, too, though she remains second overall woman.
Despite this, the U.S. women added substantially to their lead over Australia, the gap now 10:31.89 with Brandy Richards the winner of all but that fifth test that Gutish overalled. Korie Steede was third-fastest woman on the day, and the lead over Australia’s women is now 10:31.89. Team FIM Latin America is third and the only other team with all three of its riders still going.
The midway point of the race saw Josh Toth prove to be the class of the Club field for the third day in a row, owning the best times in every test of the day. He and the rest of the XC Gear trio—Austin Serpa and Ryan Surratt—have a 12:14.54 lead over GTBN’s Jaden Dahners (second-fastest Club rider of the day), Thorn Devlin and Nate Ferderer, the team moving up after sitting in third the first two days.
After holding second the first two days, braaptastic.com’s Preston Campbell (second-fastest Club rider of the day and 2:26.85 behind Toth), Axel Pearson and Zach Toth plummeted to 19th after the younger Toth crashed out.
Club team Argentina is now third while Steve Hatch Racing POTM (Hunter Smith again their fastest followed by Chase Bright and Jackson Davis) moved up another spot to fifth.
With Nolan Cate officially out with a shoulder injury, Eric Cleveland Memorial holds 20th, Kyle Tichenor and Ava Silvestri still riding strongly.
Elizabeth Scott Community’s threesome of Senior-class riders (John Beal, Rick Emerson and Jeremy Shoning) advanced again and are now 24th.
Missouri Mudders is now 30th with Jhak Walker and Trevor Maley still in the running, Cade Henderson too sick from the heat on day two.
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2023 ISDE Day 2
Due to the oppressive heat and non-stop pounding of the transfer sections, organizers of the 97th NOCO FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) shortened the course for day two, eliminating almost 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) of transfers in the interest of rider safety. Sadly, even this was not enough to prevent Albert Pos—a Club team rider from the Netherlands—from passing away despite receiving timely medical attention. A minute of silence will be observed before the start of day three at the Circuito San Juan Villacum in San Juan, Argentina.
Taylor Robert kept it close to the ground to keep driving, which helped him move up a spot to fourth overall behind new individual leader Andrea Verona, yesterday’s leader Josep Garcia and fellow American Dante Oliveira. More importantly, the U.S. World Trophy team padded its lead to over five minutes ahead of Great Britain and France. Photos: Mark Kariya
In happier news, the U.S. ISDE team fared very well, leading in nearly every category. The American team in the FIM World Trophy (WT) team competition added nearly three minutes to its lead over defending champ Great Britain; the U.S. Junior World Trophy (JWT) team leapt up two spots and now sits second behind Sweden; America’s Women’s World Trophy team displaced Australia to lead that division; and U.S. teams hold the three top spots in the Club team race.
Andrea Verona of Italy was the fastest individual rider of the day, besting Spain’s Josep Garcia, who’d topped the first day. After two days, Verona holds a 3.66-second lead over Garcia in overall individual standings with four Americans filling the top 10: Dante Oliveira in third (one minute and 39.77 seconds behind Verona), Taylor Robert fourth and thus trading spots with Cole Martinez, who now occupies fifth individually, and Johnny Girroir in eighth.
The U.S. WT team now leads Great Britain by 5:21.06, with France remaining third, 7:14.81 behind.
U.S. Trophy Teams Manager Antti Kallonen analyzed the situation thusly: “Coming in [to the race after walking the tests the week before], the riders said the first two days would be really suiting us, so we expected to be on top. I don’t think that’s really surprising, but the gap to the second and third [is very unexpected]. Italy had an issue, and Spain had an issue, so those were the top two countries that we expected to have the biggest competition for us here this year.
“We’re only one-third in, but it’s looking good!”
Of the three U.S. JWT team riders, Mateo Oliveira once again posted the best score and sits 19th overall individual and 11th in E2 after two days with all three Swedes ahead of him. While Oliveira stayed on two wheels in the tests, one transfer got him, and the result was a handful of cactus.
Six Days newbie Grant Davis moved up and is now 10th in E1, while Kai Aiello remains 15th in E2. This being his first time on the Junior team and his second Six Days, Aiello admitted he was slightly disappointed in one test where he wasn’t aggressive enough, but, “I think as a whole it was a good day because the team moved up. That’s obviously the main priority. I’m happy with that, but you always expect more out of yourself. For me, that’s the case right now—I feel like I’m riding good, but I just want a little bit more and I think I can close the gap to the guys in front of me.”
He added, “We studied these next tests [for days three and four] really well—we walked them a bunch—so I think we’ve got some good lines out there and I’m looking forward to racing them!”
After trailing Australia, all three American women stepped it up, with Brandy Richards again the pacesetter for the entire WWT field, topping all six tests.
Rachel Gutish surprised herself today, earning top three times in three tests and finishing no lower than sixth to put herself second overall woman.
“I look at this [terrain] and this is like riding on the moon! This is not something I should be good at, but for some reason I was good at it today so I’m stoked,” she exclaimed.
Gutish acknowledged hers was only one part of the team being able to leap past Australia and into the lead: “That definitely wasn’t just due to me. Like, everybody [on the team] had killer days, especially Korie (Steede)—she struggled a lot in the heat yesterday but figured it out for today.”
Indeed, the rejuvenated Steede was the fourth-fastest woman of the day, while her score after two days puts her sixth.
And speaking of rejuvenated, Josh Toth rebounded from a serious heat issue that saw him collapse twice yesterday yet climb aboard his bike this morning and win five of the six tests in the Club team category to remain the fastest Club team rider. (Fellow Americans Preston Campbell, Axel Pearson, Austin Serpa and Jaden Dahners are second through fifth, while Hunter Smith is 10th.)
“Honestly, after test one [yesterday] I started feeling pretty nauseous and started throwing up—something was wrong with my stomach,” Toth explained while picking up his post-race meal in the U.S. team garage. “I threw up all day! Anything I put in me came up. It was amazing I got back here. The last transfer was hell. Going into that last special test, I just trailrode and was seeing double. Coming back [to parc ferme], I got super-confused and lost and pretty much blacked out.”
Even after getting up to six IV bags of saline in the hospital, Toth said, “When I was there for a few hours, I was like, ‘I am NOT riding tomorrow! I don’t want to see my bike!’
“But fluid made all the difference.”
And getting a good night’s rest, he once again topped the individual Club rider standings today, insisting, “I’m back and ready for the rest of the week!”
Along with teammates Austin Serpa and Ryan Surratt, the XC Gear squad remained atop the Club team standings after two days, followed by braaptastic.comm (Campbell, Axel Pearson and Zach Toth) at 2:24.43 back and GTBN (Jaden Dahners, the fastest of the team for the day along with Thorn Devlin and Nate Ferderer), 8:10.94 behind XC Gear.
Steve Hatch Racing POTM (Hunter Smith, the fastest, followed by Chase Bright and Jackson Davis) moved up to sixth with Eric Cleveland Memorial (Nolan Cate their fastest, followed by Kyle Tichenor and Ava Silvestri) 11th.
Missouri Mudders slipped to 26th after two days when Cade Henderson had to call it a day prematurely with heat-stress issues, though Jhak Walker and Trevor Maley finished.
Elizabeth Scott Community moved up to 29th, John Beal fastest for the team once again and avoiding most of the heat cramps of yesterday. Jeremy Shoning was able to restart after his bike quit yesterday and was traced to a locked KTM ECU. Rick Emerson rounded out the team of Senior-class racers.
Everyone looks forward to tackling new trail and tests tomorrow; the tests are said to be somewhat more technical and slow compared to the first two days. Temperatures will still be close to 100.
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2023 ISDE Day 1
High temperatures and brutal desert terrain combined to make the first day of the 97th NOCO FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) the most physically challenging first day in many years, with a number of competitors abandoning the race due to heat injuries.
Story and Photos by By Mark Kariya
The U.S. ISDE team as a whole, however, coped with it well. In the most prestigious FIM World Trophy (WT) team category, the American foursome of Dante Oliveira (third), Cole Martinez (fourth), Taylor Robert (fifth) and Johnny Girroir (eighth) all finished within the top 10 of the overall individual classification, their consistency propelling them to the top of the standings after the first day in San Juan, Argentina. The team is a combined one minute and 55.20 seconds ahead of defending champion Great Britain with France 2:42 behind the Americans.
After nearly seven demanding hours of riding with temperatures reported to be in the 100s, Oliveira reported, “It’s nasty. It’s a long day out there [with] brutal transfers—the tests were good—but the transfers were just demanding. It’s so rocky out there you can’t sit down or anything, but it was a good day. I only went down once and that was in a transfer so that’s good—it wasn’t in a test.
“As a team we’re doing pretty good, but I’d like to climb up a little higher [individually] just time-wise from each test so I’ll just keep charging and try to improve a bit. Everybody’s been doing good today. We’ve all kept it on two [wheels] and kept our bodies good for the most part and the bikes are solid, too, so we’ve just got to keep on top of our bodies and on our bikes and keep hammering away.”
Part of that bike maintenance included changing air filters at each of the six checks throughout the day, though he conceded that was probably overkill and might not be absolutely necessary.
For Martinez, the first day of his second ISDE and his WT team debut was relearning the race’s format and rules. “But it went really well,” he said. “I’m sitting fourth behind Dante. Actually, me and Taylor are [less than a second apart], which is pretty cool. I’m happy with it; we’ve got five more to go so just got to stay focused and keep the ball rolling.”
He echoed Oliveira’s observations about the transfer sections, saying, “There’s some nasty stuff in the transfers that I think can definitely take the bikes out so I think it’s definitely key to be patient. For me, my [rear] tire is pretty smoked at the end [of the day with all the rocks] so we need to try to save the tire as much as we can, for sure.”
The U.S. Junior World Trophy (JWT) team ended the day fourth, 3:05.86 behind leader Sweden, Italy and France. Mateo Oliveira led the way for the American trio, sitting 12th in E2 at day’s end, which he credited to more walking of tests in the eight days allowed before the start.
“The [FMF AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series actually helped us out a lot by moving a race up so we could get here on time,” he noted. “In the past I think I’ve showed up on Tuesday. Like France [last year] had 13 tests so I walked everything once and maybe missed one so showing up here on Sunday and walking everything three times led by [Taylor Robert]—he knows what he’s doing and he set us up right so I went into the first couple tests confident, knowing where I was going.”
Teammate Kai Aiello finished 15th in E2 while Six Days rookie Grant Davis was 12th in E1.
With defending Women’s World Trophy (WWT) champion Great Britain losing one rider, Australia finished the day on top but just barely. Less than three seconds separate the six-time champ from America’s Rachel Gutish, Brandy Richards and Korie Steede.
As she’s done several times in the past, Richards led the way by a notable margin. In fact, when figured into the entire E1 class with the men, she claimed 20th overall individually. But having crashed out of the 2022 ISDE while leading substantially then breaking her femur badly earlier this year somewhat tempered her goal and approach to six days in San Juan.
“Honestly, from just the whole year I’ve had, I kind of just wanted to finish—that’s my main goal,” she declared. “Coming into it, I honestly didn’t know where I was at physically and just how my legs are trailriding for that long so my main goal is just to finish and be consistent and just stay off the ground.”
Despite two minor spills in one test on consecutive laps, Richards pronounced herself happy with how she was riding and her physical level: “I’m really surprised with my legs. My legs were my biggest worry coming into this just because I haven’t quite done the trailriding. The amount of riding you have to do to prepare for this is quite a bit, especially with these transfers that are so technical and rocky—you have no break at all! You’re standing the whole [day] because if you’re sitting, you’re all over the place.”
Steede was 28th in E1 while Gutish was 30th in E2 on her MC 350F.
Americans figured very highly in the Club team division, sweeping the top three team spots thanks to XC Gear (Josh Toth the fastest individual Club overall though he suffered from heat exhaustion and had to be taken to the medical center for fluid replacement via IV bags, Austin Serpa and Ryan Surratt), braaptastic.comm (Preston Campbell the second-fastest individual Club rider overall, Axel Pearson and Zach Toth) and GTBN (Thorn Devlin, Jaden Dahners and Nate Ferderer).
Missouri Mudders (Cade Henderson, Trevor Maley, Jhak Walker) wasn’t far behind in fifth while Steve Hatch Racing POTM (Chase Bright, Jackson Davis, Hunter Smith) ended the day eighth.
Eric Cleveland Memorial (Nolan Cate, Ava Silvestri, Kyle Tichenor) was 13th followed by Elizabeth Scott Community (John Beal, Rick Emerson, Jeremy Shoning who DNFed) in 34th.
Temperatures are forecast to be a little higher for day two and with a more beat up loop, simply finishing will again be the new goal for a number of competitors.
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