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Tails from the Trails

Paul's Dirty Enduro

Paul's Dirty Enduro
September 22, 2002 Ganaraska Forest

by Mark Ciana

Picture courtesy of

Who is Paul?
This event is a tribute to a young man who sadly took his own life. Paul Rush was a mountain biker who knew the Ganaraska (located approximately 90 minutes East of Toronto) like no one else. Paul was a family member to some, and a good friend to many of the event's organizers and volunteers. Proceeds from Paul's Dirty Enduro are donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association with the goal to increase prevention and awareness about the tragedy of suicide. The money is used for CMHA programs including the suicide prevention programs in Ontario High schools. In 2001 over $10,000 was collected through donations and pledges collected by riders. This year, although the totals aren't final, the proceeds will be even higher.

The Vibe
The 2002 Pauls's Dirty Enduro attracted approximately 300 riders and featured a kid's race and four different distance loops of 15, 30, 60 & 100 Km! The atmosphere here is definitely different than most MTB races. Although it's does attract elite-level riders, the emphasis is tipped more towards camaraderie and personal challenge. Many people, who don't frequently ride, participate in this event along with family members.

Who is Mark?
I took up mountain biking last year, and this race was one of the first few I tried. Since I had done the 30-km then, I felt that this year it was time to try the 60-km. The plan was to set a comfortable pace and ride with a friend. . It's a beautiful morning with partly cloudy skies and a moderately warm temperature. As we prepare, the music is playing and the excitement is building.

Play by Play
It's 11:00 a.m. and time to go! We get the pre-race instructions and the start signal. Our 60-Km group is the largest at 107 riders (7 of them were women) and we file out onto the prologue loop, which, at 15 km, is common to all distances. The prologue consists primarily of forest access roads and double-track with some short single-track sections. If you are familiar with the Ganaraska Forest you are soon dealing with what are two common elements, sand and Poison Ivy. At about 3 or 4 km in to the race we're enjoying a long, flowing, double-track descent, reaching speeds of 30-40 km/hr and life is good. I remember this section from last year and am aware that in the MTB world, what goes down, must come up.

I'm 10-km in now and climbing a moderate, but never-ending uphill section. My riding buddy has shed the plan by dropping me awhile ago and I'm consoling myself with a chunk of Powerbar™. Meanwhile, I listen to the woeful sound of my breathing, combined with the periodic clinking of my derallieurs working the chain to its inevitable reunion with "granny". Life is still good, but it could be better.

The end of the 15-km prologue is in sight, but I've broken a spoke along the way and the rear wheel is starting to rub against the rear brakes. If it doesn't get too bad, I'll be okay.

Now I'm 20-km in and the rear wheel is not okay. I disconnect my rear brake and wish I'd spent more time adjusting the front one. I reach the point where we 60-Km riders are supposed to peel -off to the East forest areas for the next 2-3 hours. I stop and re-assess the damage and, being that at this point I only have about 5-km to ride out, I decide to call it a day.

I arrive back at the Start/finish in time to see my teenage son, who started the 30-km at 1:00 p.m., speed by with a wave and a big smile. I also get see my daughter finish her 15 km race. These are things that I usually miss because I'm on the course myself, so I'm starting to feel better about the DNF (my first ever).

2:00 p.m. time to eat! Paul's Dirty Enduro offers a great meal that this year consisted of garden salad, potato salad, an awesome Tai chicken salad, meat or vegetarian chili, fresh buns and fruit juice. Being one of the first to the food table has its advantages too.

We stick around and cheer on the finishing riders and watch the prize awards. Stig Somme wins the 100-Km (actually, 106k) in a blazing 5hrs 37 min (a new course record) and Barb Brzezicki is the women's 100-km winner in 7 hrs 34 min. Some of the brave 100-km riders will be out on the course for 9-10 hours! Interestingly, former Olympic gold medal winning speed skater Gaetan Boucher, competed in the 100 km race, which was pretty cool.

Now I'm thinking of next year when I'll finish.... and do really well...and maybe I'll win!...did I say thinking?...more like dreaming...but it's fun...

-- Mark Ciana


For more information/pictures about Paul's Dirty Enduro, visit the following websites: