California Enduro Series 2014 Season Recap

The building of a community of riders

Words by Lauren Gregg and Michele Lamelin
Photos by Scott McClain/Called to Creation, Bogdan Marian, and Mary DiNapoli
Videos by Mitch Nuyens and Sebastian Bauer

Ryan Gardner (Kona) getting some practice time in on a blistering hot day. PHOTO: Called to Creation.
Ryan Gardner (Kona) getting some practice time in on a blistering hot day. PHOTO: Called to Creation.

The 2014 California Enduro Series challenged racers at five venues and on some of the best singletrack the Golden State has to offer. In just its second year, the series proved to be huge success with over 800 athletes participating and three out of the five races selling out. The organization of the series was incredibly successful with well-planned events, awesome courses, and consistent and accurate timing. Many racers were originally drawn to the series because of the world-class organization of the events, however as the season unfolded participants recognized something even more significant.

Series director Steve Gemelos notes, “As the year progressed we noticed we were doing more than organizing a series of races, we were building a community of riders.” This sentiment was echoed by many. No matter what category, age, or gender, all racers felt included in the Enduro community. Familiar faces were seen at each stop on the series and friendships and camaraderie were strengthened at every event.

“We’re looking forward to the 2015 season, adding more events to the series, keeping the fun atmosphere of Enduro, and continuing to grow the sport, the community of riders, and the series,” added Gemelos.

ROUND 1: BATTLE BORN ENDURO

275 racers took on a classic high desert course featuring exposed, scrubby terrain and loose drifty dirt.
275 racers took on a classic high desert course featuring exposed, scrubby terrain and loose drifty dirt.

The first event of the series took place just across the state line outside of Reno, NV. The Battle Born Enduro challenged racers on the desert trails of Peavine Mountain. With loose, sandy single track, rocky technical descents, and punchy climbs, there was something for everyone at the this event. Participants were excited for the season kickoff, meeting their competitors and feeling out Enduro racing and the series. The five stages were accurately timed and racers were stoked about the professionalism of the race—an omen of success for the rest of the series.

ROUND 2: VP ENDUROFEST AT CHINA PEAK

Tom Doran charging the stage 3 rock garden. PHOTO: Called to Creation.
Tom Doran charging the stage 3 rock garden. PHOTO: Called to Creation.

The VP EnduroFest at China Peak was an awesome weekend of racing and camping. Lift access was available for practice, however on race day it was up to the riders to pedal to the top of the mountain. The technical and rocky course kept everyone on their toes. After the race, the venue turned into a party full of food, beer, and laughter. Everyone camped out on site at China Peak Mountain Resort, and racers cooled off at the swimming hole and hung out together around the campfire that evening, sharing stories from the day’s race.

ROUND 3: LIVEWIRE CLASSIC ENDURO AT NORTHSTAR

230 riders ready to tackle Northstar terrain. PHOTO: Called to Creation.
230 riders ready to tackle Northstar terrain. PHOTO: Called to Creation.

Northstar California Resort at Lake Tahoe was the third stop of the California Enduro Series. The bike park offered racers a weekend full of lift runs and rad riding, while the race itself was an awesome chance to shred Northstar’s legendary trails. Racers got airborne on Stage 1, the Livewire jump trail, and Stage 3 was the most physically challenging and pedally stage of the series. The fact that this race fell on a three day weekend was icing on the cake, and racers had time to relax in Lake Tahoe.

ROUND 4: KAMIKAZE BIKE GAMES ENDURO AT MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN

Ripping through Mammoth’s renown kitty litter terrain. PHOTO: Called to Creation.
Ripping through Mammoth’s renown kitty litter terrain. PHOTO: Called to Creation.

The Kamikaze Bike Games highlighted the diverse riding available at Mammoth Mountain, with options to participate in Downhill, Speed and Style, Dual Slalom, cross country, and of course the Enduro event. The Kamikaze Enduro was the most technically challenging course of the series, and Mammoth’s high elevation added another level of difficulty. An unexpected downpour the morning of the race caused some course changes, however the rain left the trails in absolutely epic conditions.

SEASON FINALE: BELL SANTA CRUZ SUPER ENDURO
The grand finale of the California Enduro Series was the Bell Santa Cruz Super Enduro. Held on the world-renowned trails of Soquel Demonstration State Forest, this event was a perfect way to wrap up the series. Santa Cruz’s fast and technical trails made for four great stages, and the spots on the podium were separated by mere seconds. Crossing the finish line was a great relief as racers finished both a difficult race as well as a long, tough series. The festival following the race was a celebration of an awesome season, and riders left looking forward to racing each other again in the 2015 California Enduro Series.

Monika Renk bumped things up a notch and raced pro for the series finale. PHOTO: Called to Creation.
Monika Renk bumped things up a notch and raced pro for the series finale. PHOTO: Called to Creation.

For complete results information go to californiaenduroseries.com.

A significant contributing factor to the success of the series was the support of its generous sponsors. Founding sponsor VP Components went above and beyond to support the series, and VP’s Brand Director Erik Saunders organized the series’ second stop, the VP Endurofest at China Peak Mountain Resort. Marin Bikes donated a Mount Vision C-XM8 to be raffled off at the end of the season; April Spooner of San Rafael was the lucky winner of this super light carbon full suspension trail bike. Pinkbike and Kenda also supported the series at the top level, and a deep list of industry businesses showed their commitment to Enduro by contributing a wide array of prizes and more. Contributing to the series’ community environment, FOX raffled off their game-changing new FOX 36 fork at each race, with proceeds benefiting the Stafford Lake Bike Park in Novato and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz’s flow trail project at Soquel Demonstration State Forest.