The Tennessee Knockout is billed as the toughest extreme enduro race in America. For good reason. Riders manhandle their bikes up impossibly steep hills, through creeks and over logs and mossy boulders. All at breathtaking speeds. I was exhausted just watching.
Over the course of the day, the number of riders is whittled down in two knockout races: 13 and 14-mile loops through unforgiving Appalachian terrain. That all sets up final round on a mile-long short course.
Spectators crowd into the most treacherous segments, cheering on riders, shouting advice on the best lines and ducking from rocks and dirt kicked up by spinning tires. And drinking beer, of course. Best of all, tickets are just $10.
Even with an influx of international talent, American Cody Webb was unstoppable on his KTM. The Californian won the event for the fifth straight time, followed by Husqvarna rider Graham Jarvis of Britain and Spain’s Mario Roman on a Sherco. Other cool bikes in the top 15 included Betas and GasGas.
This was the seventh year for the Tennessee Knockout. It is put on with the help of endurocross promoter and friend-of-Jalopnik Eric Peronnard (who last time I saw him was prodding me to take an electric Alta motocross bike over ever more daunting obstacles with earnest promises to catch me if I fell—I didn’t, thankfully.)
I arrived at the Tennessee Knockout too late to snap up a press pass, but it ended up not mattering. There is virtually total access to the whole course for everybody, and not a bad seat in the forest. Start planning your trip for next year. In the meantime, enjoy this photo gallery of fearless riders (and fans).