Welcome Back Seamus Powell

We are excited to announce the return of 2x U.S. National Enduro Champion Seamus Powell! Seamus is returning the KHS Pro Mountain Bike Team for the 2020 race season. His focus will be racing Enduro event around the country and to get back his National Title. He won that title in 2017 and 2018 when he was with KHS. Welcome back Seamus, we look forward to a great year of racing from you!

Seamus Powell on the Clif Enduro East Finals

Sept 13-16th marked the final race of the Clif Enduro East/ EWS North American Enduro continental championships in East Burke, VT. Rolling into the weekend backed by a personally unparalleled mid season of racing I was confident but also cautious with my weeks approach. Having some of my best late season form along with some of my worst late season allergies I approached the two days of practice with ease. Having raced many of the tracks over the years I knew how the terrain worked and all the areas that cause problems in the race. With my race bike tuned up, a belly full of local made sausage and few drinks later at the tiki bar and I was race ready.
Race mornings come around  faster than id like after 2 days of practice and often require even more effort in the later part of the season after 7 months of non stop racing. Maybe I’m getting old.. but probably just tired of sleeping in a dingy van every weekend. Day 1 required a massive effort. 5 race stages, 5,600 feet of climbing and 25 miles of trail spanning Burke mountain and the adjacent trail network at Victory hill. Unfortunately after a strong start to the day it all came unglued on stage 2 where I had a massive high speed crash resulting in a broken pedal and dropper post lever leaving me no choice to either quit or finish the remaining stages on a compromised bike. Having the series on the line and no bodily harm after sliding down the race track like an otter I carried on to finish the day. The remaining stages went well enough. 4hrs later I arrived to the finish of the final stage slipping into 6th place out of 50 starters and only 9 seconds from a podium position. A result  I was surprised to accomplish after a hellish day on the bike. Game on…
Sundays race stages were nearly as brutal as Saturdays. 3 more stages, 2 race runs from the top of Burke Mountain, 13 miles of riding and  5000 more feet of elevation gain and descending. “Please  make it stop…” But carrying on with the previous days momentum or lack there of I clawed my way to the top for the first stage of the day. After 10 minutes of slick roots, rock rolls into wheel eating holes and no crashes I finally felt awake and ready to take on the last two stages. A relatively short transfer up to mid mountain put us down some fresh cut loam and into a bike park trail called “Enchanted Forest” where apparently the infamously majestic “trail gnome” lives (I’m kidding here) and ruins racers bikes. Half way down I could feel my rear wheel rubbing on my frame and quickly realized that my rear axle had broken. Recovery mode once again as a nursed my bike to the finish. Luckily with in distance of the racer pits I quickly changed out the axle for another one I had that was a similar degree of dependability as my broken one. Great… With the final stage on deck, a series championship , a full season of hard work and money on the table I buckled down for the last climb up the mountain for stage 8.
The final stage. 10 more minutes of racing left, compromised rear axle, a body that felt like it went through a boxing match with Mike Tyson… Fatigue will make your brain do weird things  “…quit… no…maybe…Tiki bar sounds nice…no…focus…finish yes…c’mon”  pin balling down the upper part of the mountain. riding at a pace unordinary slow even my grandmother would laugh at. 3 near crashes, missed lines, botched corners and an embarrassingly slow stage time I got to the bottom. bike functioning, body in tact and a 6th place overall finish. The time gap to a top 5 podium place grew larger by the race stage but the days efforts were good enough to secure my overall for the Cliff Enduro East Race series. The first race series I’ve won in over 2 seasons.

Seamus Powell on the XCE Short Track

There has been an itch developing over the past few year. The kind of itch that you get on your back and have your significant other or best friend scratch the hell out of it  only to find its moved places… “a little to the left…!!! Yeah yeah yeah… that’s the spot!!”
Well that has been XC racing for me. Not only local or national level XC but World Cup Level XC!! This year marks 6 years since I last lined up at a World Cup XC race. I was nothing to write home about when I left the XC circuit but I could hold my own at times.
Enduro and Downhill have scratched the competitive itch for many years but I had it in the back of my head I would race at the highest level XC again. Over the winter my coach recommended that I try out a XC Eliminator race. Eliminators are high intensity technical sprint races, based in city centers and raced in heats of 4 riders over a 2 minute track with the top 2 riders of each heat advancing to the next round…. SOLD ! Better yet the UCI World Cup XCE series opener was ONLY a short 18 hour drive in Columbus, Georgia.
After the Sea Otter Classic in April I went into a 5 week training block before the race on June 3. Two workouts a day and riding my KHS Team 29er Hard Tail, my weapon of choice for the race while also reacquainting myself with a bike that has no suspension per say of other than a mere 3 inches in the front. I didn’t take long…
The race day rolled around fast. All tuned up physically and mentally I loaded up and made the trip to my first UCI World Cup in 6 years. Slightly nervous but incredibly determined I went to the race venue Saturday to walk the track and start to plan my strategy for Sundays race. Wood features, berms, dirt jumps and tight corners on pavement, were all elements that made up the track. I left the venue Saturday seeing the technicality of the event with a renewed feeling of security knowing that I have all the elements to do just fine as long as I can execute my race strategy correctly…Which pretty much consisted of getting the “hole shot” and blocking the rest of the riders from passing and advance to the next round. Easier said than done…
Sundays racing started off with an individual time trial to place the brackets for the eliminator race. one lap as hard as you can go to determine your placements. Sprinting my way around the course I seated myself in 7th place and was in the 3rd bracket in the first heat. Unfortunately  for me I had a poor start and was battling over the two lap heat to solidify myself into that 1st or 2nd place position to advance but was just edged out by half a bike length in the final sprint and did not make it to the next round.
Luckily for me I had a second chance to race on the same day for the UCI Short track. 20 min of pain on the same track we raced for the XCE. I had a great start and was with the lead group for much of the first half of the race but a crash in front of me required a ton of effort to make contact again with the shattered lead pack. A dropped chain 1 lap later didn’t help the matters and left me in no mans land and suffering all by myself all the way to the finish.
I finished 9th in the XCE and 8th in the Short Track respectably as the top American at the event. Initially I was really disappointed but realize that everyone I’m racing against does this style of racing all the time. I trained  hard to be in the mix, I didn’t get shelled off the back and I had some fun with it.   Showing up is half the battle and being competitive is the second half. I checked both those boxes and that itch I referred to earlier just moved…
“Keep evolving” is my saying for this race season. i’ll be back for more of this style of racing but for now back to work on the enduro bike as I head toward my biggest goal of the year defending my National Championship title.

Powell on the Podium at Plattekill

Seamus Powell found himself on the podium in second place at that second stop of the Eastern State Cup Enduro series at Plattekill Mountain Bike Park.

“Plattekill Mountain offered up the raw and untamed trails,” Seamus recalls, “Its infamously noted to have for the second stop of the Eastern States Cup Enduro series. This was my first east coast enduro of the year. After a full day of practice Saturday in bone dry loose conditions, multiple broken bike parts and one gashed shin, I called it a day knowing Sunday would provide a completely different riding experience with rain in the forecast.”
Seamus continues, “I welcomed Sundays rain with open arm. The skies opened up and the Mountains ski lift broke down leaving the racers no choice but to climb the ski hill 4 times to complete the race. I had consistent, smooth and fast stages but was just nipped for the win after 13 minutes of racing. My Kenda Hellkat tires were incredible in the wet and sloppy conditions and I managed to keep my bike together for the race! That’s a feat in itself racing on that mountain.”
Great job Seamus, onward to ESC Enduro round 3 next week in Binghamton, NY