Thursday, October 1, 2015

CES Finale Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro

Blasting through the rock gardens of stage 1 in my favorite flannel!
     The long awaited finale of the California Enduro Series brought racers to the staggering terrain of the Eastern Sierras on Mammoth Mountain for the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro.  The riding at Mammoth was a great way to bring the long season of enduro racing to an end with breath taking mountain views as well as courses that pushed the technical capability and fitness of every rider to its limit complete with the infamous “kitty litter” dirt Mammoth Mountain is known for.

Enduro squad!
     Stage 1 of the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro was the Bullet Downhill course, a rough and wild trail that is one of the mountain’s “Pro Lines” sending riders down large drop-offs, burly rock gardens, and a handful of manmade features.  From the start gate to the finish line racers had to battle to keep from hitting the ground through the deep pumice soil and maintain the strength to keep their bikes moving through challenging rock infested sections of trail and over terrifying drops that landed in another rock garden.  Starting the day with a real deal DH stage left competitors eager to tackle the other trails the mountain had to offer and challenge themselves mentally and physically for the rest of the day.

Starting the day on the Bullet DH course.
     After a short but steep climb racers rode chair 2 to the second stage of the day, a long and extremely physical course that ended with an almost vertical chute known as the “Elevator Shaft”.  The beginning of stage two consisted of a long undulating traverse that left riders to find how much pain they could tolerate in order to put down a good race time.  At the end of a few paver switchbacks the stage started to pick up speed, with a fast and loose portion of ski run into a split where competitors had a choice of going down a technical but faster line or wrapping around the section on a sweeping turn.  After a bit of rowdiness through the trees, racers were faced with the intimidating ladder drop on Flow trail which is much faster than the alternate route but comes with a high penalty for failure.  Once down the “Flow Drop” a thrust of acceleration propelled racers down the rest of the trail, onto a wall ride, over a little bit of flat ground, and finally down the “Elevator Shaft”.  Racers flailed down the slope slicing through a foot of dust and spraying lava rock everywhere as they crossed the finish line of stage 2.

Happy to have finished and all be in the top five of Junior Expert.
     If there was one stage out of all the races in the season that could be described as jaw-dropping it would be stage 3 of the Kamikaze Enduro.  Beginning close to the summit at 11,050ft in elevation the start of stage 3 resembled the terrain of the moon and was an amazing way to kick off the longest stage of the day.  At the top, Upper Skid Marks was fast and smooth but soon became incrusted with square edged rocks that made keeping tires inflated a problem for a lot of riders, tight switchbacks also provided a challenge to many racers.  After a few miles of physical high alpine singletrack stage 3 merged with the CAT 2/3 downhill race course making for a fun final section of trail to the end of stage 3 which finished on the dual slalom course.

Finishing stage 4 on Bullet.
     Stage 4 was another downhill orientated stage that started with a series of technical root drops and loose turns that kept riders on their toes.  After sprinting along a flat portion of singletrack the course descended a high speed section of fire-road that connected to the bottom of the Bullet DH course bringing competitors down part of the same action packed piece of trail as stage 1 for a satisfying finish to a great day of racing.

The overall Junior Expert podium for the California Enduro Series.
     I stayed smooth and consistent the entire day and finished 5th in the Junior Expert Category.  I also took 2nd in the Junior Expert Series Overall.  This season has been such a blast and I am so thankful for being able to make it to each of the California Enduro Series races.  I will be taking a little bit of time to rest off the bike but will soon begin training for the 2016 mountain bike season!

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