Rattles off three podiums to start season
by Than Acuff
Well, she’s at it again. Local Trek/Bontrager/Shimano rider and CB Devo coach Cooper Ott is three races into the 2018 enduro mountain bike-racing season and has rattled off two wins and a third-place finish in the women’s pro category.
Enduro racing is a mix of cross-country and downhill riding, forcing athletes to have a fitness level high enough for uphill travel while having the skills to ride long, technical downhills at high rates of speed. Typically, enduro racers are timed on their descents, with non-timed climbs in between.
Ott has been making a name for herself on the enduro-racing scene the past several seasons, as week in and week out she finishes on or near the top of the podium.
Last summer she put the pedal to the metal, competing as much as possible, including a trip to Whistler, British Columbia, finishing second in the overall Big Mountain Enduro race series and third in the Scott Enduro Cup.
“I thought it went really well,” says Ott. “I had some mechanicals, some illness, but I was still really pumped with how it went.”
Ott did learn a thing or two, as she realized that a frantic race season can wear an athlete down and it’s best to listen to one’s body to ensure one’s health.
“I learned to trust my gut instinct,” says Ott. “I traveled to Whistler to race and there were forest fires and I ended up getting super sick even though my body was telling me don’t do it. Gotta learn the hard way sometimes, I guess.”
This year Ott is keeping that in mind while benefiting from a low snow year. Low snow meant that weeks training on a road bike were replaced by weeks training on her mountain bike.
“This year started out differently, with the trails opening up so early,” explains Ott. “It was awesome to not have to ride my road bike so much and shred on my mountain bike in April.”
She kicked off her racing season the first weekend in May at the Scott Enduro Cup in Moab, Utah. After a great first stage, she suffered a mechanical at the top of the second stage, forcing her to ride a majority of the course on a flat tire. The mishap left her wondering as she dropped into the third stage but as she cruised down the course, she gained confidence and momentum to finish strong.
“Halfway down stage three I realized things were good, so I let off the brakes and just went for it,” says Ott.
She closed the weekend charging it on the fourth and final stage and finished the weekend in third place overall.
“The weekend on the whole was really fun,” says Ott.
She opened the Big Mountain Enduro race circuit in Santa Fe, N.M. Memorial Day weekend and with her bike in prime shape and two months of riding under her belt, Ott swept all four stages to take the overall win in the women’s pro class.
“I raced hard and felt awesome,” says Ott. “It was pretty steep and loose and easy for your front wheel to wash out and go tumbling but I kept it upright.”
Ott carried her momentum from the Santa Fe win into another weekend of racing in Angel Fire, N.M., June 8-10. Facing seven stages of technical riding over two days, Ott remained upright throughout it all to take the overall win.
“It was exhausting but it went well and I ended up with the win,” says Ott.
Next on her radar is the Big Mountain Enduro stop here in Crested Butte on Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24.
“With the trails opening up, we’re going to be able to run some awesome races,” says Ott. “Crested Butte just has a great variety of trails and having the race here is a great way to showcase that. It’s a different kind of gnarly. Teocalli is 11 minutes of high speed gnar—it’s just fun.”
Ott has a busy schedule until then but will keep things in check and feels good about the race season so far.
“I’ll work, ride, coach and probably just eat some ice cream,” says Ott. “I think my skills are better than where they were this time last year but I still feel like I’m lacking in fitness.”
Following the Crested Butte event, Ott will continue competing at races within driving distance, since about the only thing keeping her from success on the international World Cup circuit is finances.
“I’m focused more on national races and doing well there and seeing what happens the rest of the season,” says Ott. “Being able to afford to go to the World Cup races is difficult but there are great races in the U.S. and it’s fun to be able to drive around and see other places.”