2019 Fears Tears and Beers Enduro Photos

Posted by on June 20, 2019

Ely, Nevada Mountain Biking

Fears Tears and Beers enduro racers with 10,942-foot Ward Mountain, near Ely, Nevada.

If you raced the 2019 Fears Tears and Beers enduro this month, your race photos are ready! Go to the bottom of this page and click on the 2019 Fears Tears & Beers Photo Gallery and Print Store link to go straight to the photos. Once you’re on the race gallery page, you can browse the photos, download web-sized images and order prints. If you’re researching mountain biking in Ely, Nevada or curious about the Fears Tears and Beers mountain bike enduro, keep reading.

Ely, Nevada, the Schell Creek Range & Steptoe Valley

Looking down on Ely, Nevada from the mountains to the south. The Schell Creek Range is in the background.

A week ago, I photographed my sixth Fears Tears and Beers mountain bike enduro. Fears Tears and Beers may be the most important mountain bike race you’ve never heard of. It happens in Ely, a mining town on US Highway 50 in the mountains of eastern Nevada – the middle of nowhere to most people. FTB has been happening for 14 years, making it, to my knowledge, the first mountain bike enduro, ever. That’s pretty significant since enduro has become one of the most popular and influential mountain bike racing formats. Being first isn’t the only thing that sets Fears Tears and Beers apart. The terrain is rugged, competitors cover a lot miles at altitude and the beginning of the race goes through two casinos. By all rights, Fears Tears and Beers should be getting a whole lot more attention.

For those who don’t know, the enduro race format was created for off-road motorcycle racing. It has timed stages with untimed “transfer” stages between the timed sections. At the end of the race, competitors’ times are added up and the racer with the shortest combined time is the winner. The guys who started Fears Tears and Beers rode dirt bikes as well as mountain bikes, so when they decided to create a mountain bike race, the enduro format was an obvious choice. A few years later, enduro racing took off with mountain bikers across the world. But Fears Tears and Beers was the first mountain bike enduro race.

Jailhouse Casino - Fears Tears & Beers Mountain Bike Race

Ely, Nevada’s Fears Tears & Beers mountain bike enduro race starts with a neutral rollout that goes through two casinos. Here’s a young rider in the Jailhouse Casino.

I changed up my photo routine a bit for this year’s FTB. For the past few years the goal has been to get photos of as many racers as possible. This year we decided to focus on variety, instead. Specifically, we wanted some big landscape scenes from up on Ward Mountain. However, the race starts with a neutral rollout through a couple of casinos and there’s no way I’m missing that. So, I started my day with the camera pointed down a row of slot machines in the Jailhouse Casino.

Ward Mountain Singletrack - Fears Tears and Beers Enduro

Jared Williams, winner of the men’s expert class, on Stage 1 of the 2019 Fears Tears and Beers enduro in Ely, Nevada.

From the casino, I drove up to Ward Mountain where I took pictures of the Sportsman, Expert and Pros on Stage 1. This is the first timed section for most racers and they’ve already pedaled about 18 miles and climbed over 2000 feet. The start of the stage is at an altitude of about 7500 feet. It’s high desert with sage brush, scrubby little evergreen trees and mountains in every direction.

Ward Mountain G-Loop Mountain Biking

A mountain biker near the top of Ward Mountain’s G-Loop during the Fears Tears and Beers mountain bike race. The Schell Creek Range is in the background.

After shooting Stage 1, I put on my bike clothes and pedaled up the transfer stage to the top of “G Loop” for some big, wide mountain landscapes. It was definitely worth the effort. The scenery is spectacular. It’s classic Basin & Range country with big, snow-covered mountains and broad, sage-carpeted valleys. This is the Nevada most people haven’t seen. This is the Nevada I love.

Bart Gillespie - 2019 Fears Tears & Beers Enduro Mens' Winner

Bart Gillespie, men’s winner of the 2019 Fears Tears & Beers enduro race, blasting his way down the Whorehouse Hill descent.

I finished up my Fears Tears and Beers mountain bike race photos on Whorehouse Hill, a steep, loose descent that drops racers right into town. Why is it called Whorehouse Hill? Because this is Nevada and there are a couple of legal brothels right at the bottom of the hill. It’s also the final stage for most racers and where I get my best FTB action photos.

Mountain Biker on Whorehouse Hill

A Fears Tears & Beers racer, descending Whorehouse Hill, named for the active brothels at the base of the hill.

Thanks to Great Basin Trails Alliance, White Pine County Tourism & Recreation, the city of Ely, Nevada and the organizers, volunteers and sponsors who make Fears Tears and Beers possible. I love shooting the event and I love having a reason to visit Ely and White Pine County. If you’re a fan of mountain bike enduro racing, you should really put Fears Tears and Beers on your list of events for 2020. There’s really nothing else like it. And even if you aren’t interested in mountain bike racing, Ely is a fantastic outdoor and mountain bike destination with activities for people with all kinds of interests.

Mountain Bikers at Cave Lake, Nevada

Mountain biking at Cave Lake State Park, near Ely, Nevada. Cave Lake isn’t park of the Fears Tears and Beers enduro. But riding Cave Lake the day after the race is part of most racers’ itinerary.

To see all the 2019 Fears Tears and Beers enduro race photos and order prints, click the link below. The photos are organized into three galleries – one for casino race photos, one for Stage 1 and one for Whorehouse Hill downhill photos. Click on any photo in the galleries to enlarge it and order prints.

2019 Fears Tears & Beers Photo Gallery and Print Store >>

If you’ve got an outdoor event and need a photographer, please contact me. I’ve got extensive experience covering all kinds of events from mountain bike races to tradeshows. I can work alone or assemble a full media team. Whatever you need, I can provide it.

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