Round one of the U.S. Hard Enduro series took place March 26 in Page, Arizona. The stunning desert terrain was easy on the eyes but treacherous for competitors. The grueling course and warm temperatures could not stop Cooper Abbott and Louise Forsley from taking home P3 and P1 honors respectively in the second edition of the Grinding Stone Hard Enduro.
“Man that was brutal,” exclaimed an exhausted Cooper Abbott. “I am from Arizona, but these conditions are so different. Deep sand, icy sandstone climbs and descents — it was gnarly,” continued Abbott. “Early in the race, I was battling with Ryder [Leblond] and Will [Riordan] for second through fourth spots. I think Will had an issue that put him back a bit. Ryder and I continued to swap spots until ultimately we all settled in for what would be the final order. The race was brutal, but I knew my training and fitness would help. I am so stoked with my podium finish in my first race with FactoryONE Sherco”
As the debutant Sherco rider mentioned, there were some great battles for the first two laps of the five lap race, but the podium would ultimately be settled on the third full lap when no more overtaking would occur. Trystan Hart would finish ahead of Ryder LeBlond and Abbott. The trio were the only riders to complete five full laps in the allotted time. This would be Abbott’s first podium in the top flight hard enduro series in the U.S. His previous best was P5 at this same race last year. Other Sherco top 20 finishes include Brandon Petrie, who had his best pro finish ever with a P5. This was also his debut with Sherco Enduro Racing of Arizona. Matt Spears of Inside Enduro P19 and Mitch Carvolth of Sherco Enduro Racing finished P20.
Louise Forsley put on a clinic in the women’s pro class. Not only did she finish P1 women pro, but she finished 33rd overall. She was the only female to complete two full laps. She finished ahead of Morgan Tanke and Kalyn Benaroya. Seventeen-year-old Hallie Marks finished P5 onboard an Inside Enduro Sherco SE 250 Factory. This was her first race in the pro class.
“I was really happy with my riding today. It was one of those days where I just felt so comfortable out there,” said Forsley. “Johnny from the Ride Shop had my suspension absolutely dialed. It gave me so much more confidence in sections where I might have normally questioned. I just wanted to ride my own race and focus on riding smart. I think I executed that, and it turned out good. My goal going in was to complete two full laps, and I did that as well. The course this year was awesome with multiple line choices.”