Monday, June 27, 2016
For the past several years the China Peak Ski Resort has been the location for technical riding, good times, and one of the most anticipated races of the California Enduro Series. This year the loose and chunky terrain of China Peak was the perfect way to start off the CES Gold Tour, three races that offer demanding riding and increased payouts to professional riders and greater media coverage. Combined with swimming holes, beautiful high sierra scenery, and a unique remote atmosphere the China Peak VP Enduro Fest again proved itself as a very special event and one of the best enduro races in the state.
The trails of China Peak are some of the most exciting and challenging of the California Enduro Series and are a crowd favorite every year, offering a rugged backcountry singletrack experience coupled with the convenience of a chair lift and the excitement of competitive racing. Riders competed on three different stages with pro, open, and expert riders racing an additional fourth stage. All of the stages featured seriously loose dirt, blown out corners, and challenging rock gardens that embody the unforgiving terrain of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After a day of pre-riding with the use of chairlifts on Friday racers started race day with a solid climb to the top of the mountain for stage one. Stage one began with a series of loose and challenging corners and then opened up into faster singletrack and a long fireroad section that brought riders flying into a rocky section of trail and a set of tricky sweeping corners at warp speed, the remainder of stage one featured tight blown out corners and just enough rocks to keep riders on their toes. After stage one it was just a short climb to stage two which brought racers back down to the main lodge area. Stage two started with several fast and loose corners and then got rockier with a handful of tight technical corners that challenged riders to maintain speed. To finish stage two racers had to negotiate one of the most challenging sections of the course, a long set of extremely tight switchbacks that left all but the most skilled riders questioning their cornering prowess.
At the bottom of stage two competitors were gladly transported back to the top of China Peak by chairlift where they started the longest and arguably the most demanding stage of the day. Stage three brought riders from the top of the mountain to the bottom going through burly rock infested terrain, pulverized corners, a handful of painful full gas pedal sections, and the TRP brake zone which was located in the infamous “Gnarly Rock Garden” which is always one of the most exciting aspects of racing at China Peak. After finishing the physically and technically challenging stage three, some riders successfully completed their day of racing but pro, open, and expert riders continued on to stage four. After climbing one last time to the top of China Peak at 8700 feet in elevation above sea level and battling a brutal 90 degrees in temperature, riders were ready to finish their day of racing with one last rough and rowdy stage. Stage four challenged racers with a flat sprint out of the gate and then nothing but solid technical riding to the bottom with steep granite faces, rock gardens, as well as loose and blown switchback corners. After the long day of racing riders enjoyed post race recovery at the swimming hole and more good times including the award ceremony. I finished 6th place in the Open Men or Semi-Pro category a result I am proud of but hope to improve in the future.
Friday, January 22, 2016
|Getting through a mud section of the course.|
|The start of the Pro and Expert racers.|
|Hammering up one of the many short but punchy climbs.|
I am super excited to take on what the 2016 race season has to throw at me and what will be almost a full year of cross-country and enduro mountain biking.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
|Blasting through the rock gardens of stage 1 in my favorite flannel!|
|Starting the day on the Bullet DH course.|
|Happy to have finished and all be in the top five of Junior Expert.|
|Finishing stage 4 on Bullet.|
|The overall Junior Expert podium for the California Enduro Series.|
Friday, September 4, 2015
|Took my first ever enduro win!|
The fifth race of the California Enduro Series converged with the North American Enduro Tour at Northstar Ski Resort in Truckee, California for two days of action packed racing. This year most of the race trails were the real deal downhill runs of Northstar and put every competitor’s bike skills and willingness to find the limit of their riding to the test. For Pro and Expert racers the course consisted of six challenging stages over two days with race times over 36 minutes. Sport and Beginner riders competed on all the same stages except the final stage on day two.
|Boondocks was stage 3 on day 1.|
On day one of the Northstar Enduro, riders competed on three stages that featured everything from fun flow trails to burly double black diamond terrain. The race started close to the village and racers had a quick transfer stage to start the day. The first stage consisted of the fast and slightly rocky Manure Pile trail which connected to Woods trail a fun singletrack that proved to be technical in certain sections. Stage 1 finished on Mineshaft a ripping bike park trail with table top jumps and berms. After another climb up to mid mountain and a chair lift ride it was time for stage 2, a long and physical top to bottom run on the Flameout trail. Even with many crucial pedaling sections on Flameout it was still a blast to race on with a handful of technical sections and the occasional ladder drop or tabletop. After recovering from stage 2, racers had one long pedal that brought them close to the top of Mt. Pluto at around 8,500 feet in elevation for the longest and easily the most challenging stage of the day. Stage 3 was made up of a long fast fire road sprint that connected to Boondocks, a double black diamond trail with stout rock gardens, large drops, and numerous jumps. The top of Boondocks has a handful of tricky rock sections and after a big rock drop and two large table tops the trail became extremely loose with a mix of High Sierra sand like conditions and threatening rocks everywhere. At the bottom of this rough and rowdy rollercoaster, Boondocks resembles more of the classic bike park trail with several consecutive man made drops and jumps made out of dirt, wood, and pavers. After finishing the first day of racing competitors enjoyed food and beverages at mid mountain and later had the option of watching the ground breaking new mountain bike movie from Teton Gravity “Unreal”.
|Manure Pile was the first stage on day 1.|
Day two also had three very fun yet challenging stages on the menu for competitors with everything from purpose built bike park runs to pristine alpine singletrack. After starting the day with a solid pedal from the village to the top of the Vista lift racers prepared themselves for the first stage of the day, a relatively short stage that combined the trails of Gypsy and Livewire into an awesome race stage that was a blast to ride. Gypsy consists of nonstop action packed terrain with countless wooden wall rides, large jumps, and other man made features including the infamous GoPro feature. Here racers were routed to the left option for a huge wall ride with a drop into a fun rock armored section, after a quick sprint along a fire road stage 4 followed Livewire, a trail famous for gigantic tabletops and huge sweeping berms into the finish at mid mountain. To get to the next stage racers took the Vista Lift and then rode the Booster trail to the beginning of Sticks and Stones. Sticks and Stones is a very challenging double black diamond trail that starts with two large table tops and a ladder bridge, but soon gets steeper and rougher with extremely difficult rock gardens, plentiful drops, and never ending blown out corners. After reaching a fire road stage 5 finished on Pho Dog a great section of trail with numerous tabletops and berms. For the last stage of the event Pro and Expert racers took one more ride up the Vista Lift and then climbed the Mountain View fire road to the top of the Tahoe Trail for an unforgettable final stage down the Tahoe Trail, Sinuous, Karpiel, and Speed Control. The Tahoe Trail offered momentary refuge from the constant technical beat down that the other trails of Northstar put on racers, with a fast and smooth trail tread and a quick view of Lake Tahoe. Sinuous featured a handful of loose turns and table tops and soon meet Karpiel for a steep and extremely loose dissent with technical rock gardens and pulverized corners. Stage 6 next headed down the fast and smooth Speed Control trail and continued down lower Sticks and Stones into the finish of a great weekend of enduro racing.
|Gypsy to Livewire was the first stage on day 2.|
At the end of two hard days of racing I finished first ever in my category of Junior Expert racers for my first ever endure win. I can not wait for the final event later in September at the Kamikaze Bike Games in Mammoth Lakes, California.
Photos by Steven Kohl.
Photos by Steven Kohl.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
After crashing hard in last years downhill race on the First Divide trail and coming in last place I was hungry for redemption and was excited for another opportunity to race on my favorite trails in the world. The Downieville Downhill is a 15 mile long technically and physically demanding course that can easily destroy even the most modern and sophisticated bikes and can be unforgiving to those who choose to race down the steep, rocky, and fast trails of Downieville.
This year my race went very well and despite getting a tad bit sketchy in the difficult rock garden known as the "waterfall" and getting tangled up with another racer at one point I had my fastest times ever on the Downhill course and ended up finishing 3rd place in Expert Junior Men with a 49:35.
I was able to pass five other racers in my category who started ahead of me and had no mechanicals or major crashes which can easily put a damper on anyone's race run. With my 5th place in the cross-country the day before and a 3rd place finish in downhill I ended up taking 3rd in the Junior All-Mountain World Championships a result I am very happy with.
As always the Downieville Classic proved to be an awesome weekend of tough mountain bike racing and good times for four days in the Sierra! I can't wait to test my self against the burly trails and stout competition of Downieville next year.
|Sprinting out of the start gate at Packer Saddle.|
|Expert Junior Men Downhill podium.|
|Expert Junior Men All-Mountain podium.|
|Happy to finish 3rd in Downhill.|
For the past four years the Downieville Classic has been the race I looked forward to the most and this year was even more special as it marked the twentieth anniversary of this rugged and gnarly mountain bike race. The Downieville Classic All-Mountain World Championships is comprised of two days of racing, the absolutely brutal 29 mile point to point cross-country race on Saturday and the long very demanding downhill race on Sunday.
At the bottom of Third Divide it is time to spend time in the pain cave all the way to the finish in Downieville. First there is a flat to downhill fireroad and then First Divide Trail a mostly flat and slightly rocky trail that follows a gold rush era ditch grade to main street in Downieville where racers have one more hard sprint on pavement into the finish. I felt good on First Divide and tried my best to put power into the pedals even though I was totally exhausted.
|My new Specialized Camber Expert Evo did great on the courses at Downieville.|
This year I was able to get a position in the front of the huge field of Expert racers, a group of around 100 racers that all start at the same time. I had a good start and tried to hang with the top 5 racers in my category but was soon dropped only 1.5 miles into the 8 mile 3000 foot climb to Packer Saddle. However, I did not loose hope and kept up a consistent pace making it to the top in roughly one hour my fastest time ever. I was able to pass several racers on Sunrise Trail and was not over taken on the long fireroad traverse to the section known as "Baby Heads". This fast and loose jeep trail is where the course begins to cater to my strengths and I was able to rip down Baby Heads and over take a few other racers. After I crossed Pauley Creek I began to catch up with a few racers in my category and was even able to pass a few of my competitors. The end of Butcher Ranch Trail went well and I caught another person in my category on the climb to Third Divide Trail. With only a few other racers on Third Divide who let me pass I was able to really let loose and make up some time on this surreally fast plunge of singletrack.
|Powering along First Divide. Photo by Rhianna Roush.|
|Looking how I felt after the hard Downieville Classic XC.|
On the final sprint along Main Street I caught one of my racers in my category right as we crossed the finish line but was not able to cross the line ahead of him missing 4th place and a podium spot by only one second. Even though being so close to podium was slightly disappointing I had my best time ever of 2:12:40 on the XC course and was happy to do well against such stiff competition.
|I came in 5th out of 35 super fast racers and was only one second off of 4th.|
Friday, July 17, 2015
|I took 3rd in Junior Expert.|
|Home for the weekend.|
|Almost done with the climb.|
|Demoing a Marin Attack Trail!|
|Chilling after a day of racing.|
Stage two followed Hitt Rd. which began as a fast fire road and then turned into doubletrack after a massive waterbar, at this point the trail really got going and sent riders flailing through rollers, rock gardens, and of course the Kali Protective’s Speed Trap into the finish of an awesome day of racing.
The Ashland Mountain Challenge offered some of the most fun trails in the California Enduro Series and proved to be a great time on and off the bike. I felt great all day and finished 3rd in Junior Expert! The Ashland Mountain Challenge was such an amazing event and offered awesome trails making it a must for anyone who loves mountain biking to attend.
|Stoked on 5th place!|
|After some trouble on stage 3 I got caught.|
Stage two began with several fast sweeping turns, sending riders through a few sharp corners and rock sections, after a bit of pedaling the course dropped down some extremely tight switchbacks full of rocks and ruts that could make or break a race run. Stage two ended with a fast fire road sprint to the finish at the bottom of the mountains, where racers had the luxury of restoring their bikes and bodies before returning to the top for stage three.
After a stout
transfer stage that climbed to the top of China Peak riders prepared themselves
for stage three the longest and most demanding race trail of the day. This stage began with some fast corners into
a rocky chute, stage three kept riders on their toes from the very start. The entire course was littered with technical
rock sections and corners reduced to powder by the end of practice, it also
included a bit of climbing. The infamous
rock garden on Stage three is always a challenge for racers to navigate at
speed and this year there was a speed trap sponsored by TRP rewarding the man
and woman with the fastest speed entering the rock garden. After smashing down the gnarly rock infested
section of the stage racers had a bit of singletrack and a long sprint into the
finish at the bottom of the mountain.
|Powering through the rocks and dust.|
At this point some riders had finished for the day but for Pro and Expert racers it was time to climb up the mountain for the third and final time for the rowdy and rocky stage four. Stage four was considered by many to be the most technically challenging of the day and with the inclusion of a flat traversing piece of trail for the start it tested racers physical stamina as well, especially at the end of a hard day of racing. Even though the final line could eat bikes and racers alive, stage four was by far the favorite stage of many racers and was a perfect way to end a stellar day of enduro racing.
|Pre race meeting with Coach Newman.|
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Hundreds of mountain bikers migrated into the redwoods of Mendocino County for the second stop of the California Enduro Series and two ripping days of enduro racing that was the inaugural Wildwood Adventure Enduro. Riders could find camping at the Jughandle Farm or at a private meadow down the road with post race festivities being held at the Caspar Community Center. Racers were treated to sweet singletrack all weekend thanks to the Mendocino Bike Sprites and an all around good time.
|Done with day one!|
With eight stages over two days of racing it was challenging to preride all of the race trails and left a lot of racers with no choice but to race blind, this kept race day interesting and competitors on their toes all weekend. Most of the trails were very tight and tricky to race on with some exposure to cliffs and the ever present challenge of threading through redwoods. A few stages however were the exact opposite with wide open sections and steep grades that kept racers at mock stupid and grinning all the way down. The first day of racing riders had four timed stages over thirty miles with five-thousand feet of climbing. The second day there was three stages with Expert and Open riders racing an additional stage. Ride profiles were similar both days making it one long, tough, but very fun race.
|The wait at Manly.|
Expert and Open racers started earlier and rode stages in a different order than Sport and Beginner racers to avoid congestion at timed stages. On day one race stages consisted of Manly Gulch, Motorcycle, Linquist, and Caspar Crossing trails. Manly and Caspar were tight but flowy pieces of singletrack with the occasional log bridge or switchback that required consistency and conservancy to get a clean run in. Motorcycle followed an old road grade and saw the fastest speeds of the weekend making it a favorite for downhill oriented riders. Linquist Trail was a completely different animal with sandy dirt and loose blown out switchbacks that made it a challenge to stay on the bike and keep it fast.
|The enduro crew.|
For the second day of racing Sport/Beginner riders raced on Hi Chutes, Forrest History, and Big Trees, Expert/Open racers had an additional stage the Big Dipper trail. Hi Chutes was a true test of physical fitness and technical skill, starting with a short climb it made racers sprint for a decent time and soon after dropped down into a fast and rutted old road bed that saw scary fast speeds with a high penalty for failure. After climbing up Manly Gulch racers had Forest History trail a long and fun stage with everything from fast sections to pedaling, and sharp switchbacks. Big Trees started with the beginning of Motorcycle trail a fast plunge along a ridge top and then turned to tight cliff side singletrack that kept racers ducking around and under trees and even over a set of stairs. The Expert/Open stage Big Dipper was a fun mix of physical singletrack and wide open doubletrack with a few lips that could send racers hucking to flat if they were not careful.
|Getting ready for Forest History.|
The Wildwood Adventure Enduro was an awesome test of rider’s physical strength and technical ability on the bike as well as a fun weekend in the redwoods with great people. With the success of its first year this event should become a staple mountain bike race in the future. I kept it consistent and stayed on my bike finishing third in the competitive Expert Junior U18 category.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
The final race in the Nevada City Dirt Classic race series took place on the Hallelujah and Upper Pioneer trails and proved to be a fun and challenging venue. Racers experienced flowing fast singletrack, fun descents, and one very steep loose uphill that left everyone in the pain cave.
I did not feel my best on the first lap but after my first time around I was able to put the hammer down and make up some time and catch a few competitors.
I was able to hold my position and kept up a good pace especially on the physical descent from Skillman to Hallelujah.
At the end of four grueling laps and over 25 miles of hard racing I came in fourth place in the Expert 15-18 category which had some of the fastest riders in the state competing in it.
Make sure to check out next years Nevada City Dirt Classic race series! These events are always a blast whether it is your first time racing or an experienced racer. For more information go here.