Words by Heidi Volpe
This past weekend, Mammoth Mountain celebrated its second year of the Kamikaze Bike Games since the original race series ended in 2001.
The event, based out of spectator-friendly Canyon Lodge, was studded with industry vendors and a grand stage complete with a Sony jumbotron. Sony also loaned out its updated wearable Action Cam with new mounts and smaller bodies, which no doubt yielded miles of footage.
If you needed to get your mojo on, the smokin' hot Monster Energy girls were giving away drinks. Want to relax instead? Sierra Nevada was on tap. Needed to really take care of business? Coldcock herbal-infused whiskey shots did the trick.
The famous Kamikaze race was 97 strong with Brian Lopes defending his title, taking the men’s overall win and Leigh Donovan getting it done for the ladies.
For the Kamikaze Legends race, Brian Lopes also remained champion with Myles Rockwell nipping at his wheels only 1.28 seconds back.
Donovan convincingly defended her title from last year, dominating the field by more than 2 minutes. Josh Hult had the best combo of Speed and Style, walking away with the big $2,500 check.
Greg Watts, Dual Slalom course designer and rider, and part owner of Coldcock Whiskey, made the course longer this year and worked hard to keep the berms intact–Mammoth being notorious for kitty-litter decomposed granite. Unfortunately, he was eliminated early on after he blew up one of those very berms.
"Something we tried this year was to mix the dirt with a little cement in order to keep the lips of the big dirt jumps intact worked pretty well," Watts said.
Kevin Aiello duked it out with Luca Cometti for the win in dual slalom on a deteriorating course.
Saturday was the day of opposites in terms of discipline on the mountain with the cross-country and the downhill races both going off. The real surprise was in the Men's Pro downhill with Marco Osborne taking the win on his Cannodale all-mountain bike equipped with a Lefty fork and all. Rumor has it, despite the gnarly rock gardens, the race was won in the corners.
The contrast of kits and rides on Saturday was amusing and couldn't have been more polar opposite. The cross-country racers in their unforgiving spandex, skinny tires and hardtails contrasted the downhilling speed ninjas wearing full-face helmets and battle-gear on their war pigs.
Sunday brought glorious rain that translated into brown pow. Best trick was canceled, the dirt jumpers rallied, cleared out the mud, put in some dry dirt, threw down some plywood sheets and it was back on. Josh Hult and Andy Buckworth tied for Best Trick and split the $1,500 cash prize.
The enduro racers got the best conditions by far and their field must have outnumbered all other events combined.
Brain Lopes repeated his superiority in the enduro for the second time at the Kamikaze Bike Games. Marco Osborne, the DH winner, was only 49 seconds behind.
The Kamikaze Bike Games has just the right mix for a winning festival: a blast of nostalgia with the Legends Race, fearless acrobatics from the younger riders and overall stellar mountain biking.
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