• Photos by Eric Narvaez/ Falconer Photo •
Hard enduro racing continues to receive worldwide attention, but the sport is still gaining ground in the United States as more and more riders continue to embrace the extra challenge of racing over ridiculously difficult terrain. Fortunately, a number of new events are popping up in the U.S. and are helping to bring extreme enduro to the American stage. 2011 saw the introduction of two new tough events: the Kenda Tennessee Knockout Hard Enduro, and the inaugural Last Dog Standing race. For 2012, the famed Prairie Dogs MC once again put on Last Dog Standing at Southern California’s Glen Helen Raceway, and the event proved to be an even bigger kick in the junk than it was in ’11.
Monster Energy Kawasaki off-road star Taylor Robert ran away with the win, but there’s more to the story than that. The format of the race was improved for 2012, with a 25-minute morning GP qualifier providing the start order for over 150 eager racers. The GP loop was a fun mix of MX, sand washes and endurocross, with some additional elements like a balance beam over a water section thrown in for good measure. Everyone from the morning GP qualified for the second loop, but it was Robert, Kyle Redmond and Jacob Argubright who dominated the podium and set the stage for the three (yes, three!) additional rounds to come throughout the day.
Coming into LDS 1, the first of the hard enduro loops, Redmond opted not to race due to a still-healing broken ankle. That left the pro podium slightly more open but hardly lighter on talent; Robert and Argubright would have to deal with Beta’s Max Gerston, Glen Helen endurance-racing phenom Brad Goolsby and Michael Allen, a sleeper racer who was actually competing aboard a borrowed Dirt Rider YZ250F test bike.
Racers left the line in groups of two, and were greeted by an eight-mile loop that featured some pretty nasty hills, tight single track, a few big rock sections, endurocross elements and a photo finish for the spectators: A long water section filled with logs, followed by three large (we’re talking over six feet!) cement pipes set perpendicular across the course. The heat was becoming fairly brutal, but Robert managed to come in a full 53 seconds ahead of Argubright. The remainder of the pack appeared more and more tired in proportion to how long they were out on the course, with some racers looking flat-out exhausted as they negotiated the unpredictable course. All together, the loop took roughly an hour for the bulk of the racers to complete.
After a brief break, LDS 2 took off with roughly one third of the original field, although nobody outside of the top ten was looking exceptionally fresh. The mischievous Prairie Dogs had added even more mayhem to this loop, incorporating elements of the pro hillclimb line, some tough river rock sections, two vertical downhill rock waterfalls, another massive hillclimb and some monster truck takeoff tires that were pretty much swallowing bikes whole. This loop sucked the life out of many riders, with only 11 making the 25-minute cutoff and moving into the fourth and final segment of the day. Robert again took top honors, with Argubright settling in to the number two spot followed by Gerston, Allen and trials-bike-mounted Kevin Norton. The stage was set for an epic battle in LDS 3, which was a double-loop of difficulties with even more surprises thrown in.
All of the riders in the final round rode their hearts out, but in his first-ever extreme race Taylor Robert proved that he has what it takes to be a threat on the hard enduro scene. Only five racers finished the event, with Michael Allen being credited as the only Expert class racer to finish every lap (all of the other finishers were pros). Jacob Argubright put his EnduroCross skills to use and threw down a killer ride for second place, while young gun Max Gerston showed excellent speed and stamina while flying the flag for Beta.
We have to give props to the Prairie Dogs MC for putting on such a fun race while also keeping things safe and well organized for the racers. Sure, the event was a little tough, but that shouldn’t scare anyone off from coming out next year and giving the arduous course a run of their own. After all, they call it hard endure for a reason, right?!
Visit www.prairiedogsmc.com for more info.
Last Dog Standing 2012 Overall Results:
1. Taylor Robert
2. Jacob Argubright
3. Max Gerston
4. Michael Allen
5. Kevin Norton