“Living in Crested Butte really helps get a variety of terrain”
by Than Acuff
Cooper Ott, a rider for team Trek/Honeystinger/Bontrager and coach for the CB Devo team here in Crested Butte, is tearing up the women’s pro class in the mountain bike enduro race circuit this summer. Starting in the first week of May, Ott has won four of five races with the only thing holding her back a mechanical in the one race she didn’t win.
“So far, so good,” says Ott.
She got her start in racing mountain bikes on the cross-country scene testing the enduro waters when the schedule lined up.
“I would do an enduro race if it was nearby or part of a cross-country race that I was doing,” explains Ott. “I never dedicated to a full season of enduro until last year.”
Enduro mountain bike racing blurs the lines between cross-country racing and downhill racing. Riders still need the lungs and legs to get to the top of the downhill but need the technical ability to descend trails at high rates of speed. While the timing is done on the descents, they still need to ride to the top of the descent in a specific amount of time. Their bike of choice falls somewhere in between a pure cross-country bike, i.e., lightweight with less suspension, and a downhill bike, i.e., heavy.
Last summer she made the switch for good jumping into the Big Mountain Enduro (BME) series and immediately into the women’s pro category. While a jump like that might take some getting used to, Ott managed to make a smooth transition, winning the BME overall series title.
“I was really pumped,” says Ott. “It’s really fun to go race in all these different places and on all of the different race courses.”
Ott believes her success last year had a lot to do with her fitness level from her cross-country background and the local trail network where she can spend time on the technical descents in the Evolution Bike Park, as well as long rides on any number of the trails in the valley.
“Living in Crested Butte really helps get a variety of terrain,” says Ott.
In addition to the BME circuit, Ott got a taste of the bigger world of enduro racing when she competed at an Enduro World Series race in Aspen/Snowmass last summer as well.
“It’s awesome to race against that many fast women and just get your butt kicked,” says Ott.
Though, she hardly got her butt kicked, as she finished the race ninth out of nearly 50 pro women.
Following her first year of enduro racing, Ott set her goals to continue her progression as a rider.
“Last year I had great fitness,” says Ott. “This year my focus has been on bike handling skills and riding technical features on the bike.”
She picked up where she left off last year, opening the season with a win in Moab in the first week of May. Ott then suffered her only stumble in her next race in Santa Fe when a technical in the first stage left her far behind in the standings. She eventually climbed back to place seventh by the end of the race weekend.
Since then it’s been nothing but the top for Ott as she won a race in Grand Junction, won the Vail GoPro Games Enduro and won an enduro event in Sun Valley last weekend. While her bike handling skills continue to improve, she also feels experience has been a big part of her success this year.
“I know more of what to expect when I’m going to enduro races this year,” says Ott. “I’ve dialed in my preparation.”
Ott’s goals for the season are primarily on improving her riding. She has not set her sights on overall titles but more the races themselves.
“I’m mostly focused on the individual races, I want to do well at each race and take it day by day,” says Ott.
Due to her overall BME series win last year, Ott is able to enter the Enduro World Series (EWS) this year. While five of the seven races are overseas, she will return to the EWS stop in Aspen/Snowmass and will also head to Canada for an EWS series stop in Whistler.
“I want to race those to the best of my abilities and clean runs and have fun,” says Ott.
In the end, Ott says her main drive on the race circuit is inspiration.
“I’m a coach for CB Devo and my motivation is to just get kids on bikes and having fun,” says Ott.