Story by Logan Densmore • Photos by Mack Faint
For what is typically a hot and humid race by past history of the event was met this year with cooler temperatures and dry conditions. The 57th annual Cherokee National Enduro was dedicated to the longest serving member of the Cherokee Enduro Riders club, James Bransford, who passed away last fall. James put in a lot of hours in the woods of Greensboro, GA making many of the Cherokee Enduros possible. The Cherokee Enduro Riders put out a bounty to the 3 Pro Classes for anyone to win all sections raced that day.
Grant Baylor who is the defending National Enduro Champion and currently the 2023 points leader in the Magna 1 AMA National Enduro Series Presented by Moose Racing, started the day of strong and putting himself in the position to be the only rider to be able to claim the bounty.
AM PRO Yamaha rider Liam Draper got off to a mediocre start to the day before the rain came down. Draper said “Test 1 was kinda slow for me but when the rain came down, I don’t know what it is about this place but when it is super muddy I just love it. From then on it was a super fun day.” Second in NE PRO1 and third overall was Enduro Engineering GasGas rider Josh Toth. Josh is in the hunt with Grant for getting his first ever National Enduro Championship. Toth said “I was hoping for some rain, and I got it for sure. We got a bit more than I hoped, vision was a key factor and it was challenging, but I felt good and conditions were fun.”
Finding the podium for the first time this year is not usual for Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Tely Energy’s Steward Baylor Jr in the 5th round of the season. Steward said “National Enduros have been home for the last 10-12 years and this is the longest I’ve ever gone in my career without a podium. I just rode a consistent race and tried to ride the edges and find some smooth lines where I could. I didn’t feel like I was pushing but this is one of those tracks where you can over push for sure.”
Second in the NE PRO2 class and 6th Overall was Bonecutter Offroad GasGas rider Thorn Devlin. Liam Draper and Thorn seem to be swapping wins in the NE PRO2 all season long. Thorn started the day off hot with a third overall and first in NE PRO2 for the first test. Devlin said “my first test was good but that was about where I left it though”. Third in NE PRO2 was Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Tely Energy’s Nathaniel Tasha. Consistency was key for podium finishes in the NE PRO2 class. Tasha said “you can’t complain when you end up on the box, just went out there and tried to be consistent and it paid off in the end.
The top woman for the day in the Women’s Elite class was Enduro Engineering GasGas rider Mackenzie Tricker. She got off to a bit of a rough start when she said she ‘gooned it’ over a log and ended up in a ravine trapped under her bike, but luckily Mark Hyde happened to be there to help her and save her race. Tricker said “going into the last test I knew I was down and needed like 45 on Rachel and I ended up having a really good test and getting the win which was awesome.” Over and Out GasGas rider Rachel Gutish was able to land on the podium in Womens Elite in the second position. Gutish said “I had a blast all day, whether it was dry or wet, I thought we actually had pretty good traction. My bike seemed to hooking up good and I was just out there having fun.” After some food poisoning earlier in the week survival was the key for Trail Jester KTM rider Korie Steede. Korie survived the day by finishing on the box in the third position in Womens Elite.
The top Amateur rider at the Cherokee National Enduro was Gavin Sievenpiper in seventeenth OA and first AA.