Race Report | California Enduro Series #1: Battle Born Enduro
The first round of the California Enduro Series was held on May 9 just a lick east of the California – Nevada state line. Much like when Le Tour de France ventures into neighboring European countries from time to time, this race was held in Nevada. Those who raced the Battle Born Enduro in 2014 remember the blistering heat of Peavine Mountain above Reno, Nevada. This year’s race was contested in May instead of June, so racers were graced will cool weather.
In the hour before the first wave of riders took off, the parking lot of Rancho San Rafael Park was filled with stoked racers scrambling to prepare their day’s equipment. Some had their bikes all dialed in, while others had suffered substantial damage during the previous day’s pre ride. At 8 AM Pro and Expert Category riders were sent off by event organizer Kevin Joell, with Sport and Beginner Category riders trailing about a half hour behind.
The course would dish out about 26 miles of riding with 3600 feet of climbing. A big portion of the climbing was taken care of on the first transfer stage, taking riders 1+ hours and climbing 1900 feet. The wind was blowing at the top, which made waiting in line at stage 1 slightly uncomfortable.
Stage one had the most flow, sending riders twisting through the high desert. A favorite section was the Bobsled Trail. Aptly named, Bobsled took riders up and down the walls of a gully. Fun to ride, but tricky to race down without making a mistake. Who ever could lay off the brakes and carry their speed through corners would be successful on this stage.
After the long transfer to stage one, the second transfer was only a few minutes long. However, it featured a steep, 20% kick up a rocky double track. After summiting the leg burning climb, riders were faced with an even trickier descent. Stage 2 started with tight turns, littered with loose rocks. After a short climb, the trail opened up into a high speed section through a meadow. Riders were often wishing for more gears depending on which size chainring they chose to run.
The third transfer was a real grind at over 20 minutes long. It was important to pace yourself as the stages would only get more physical. The third stage started with a series of flat, tight switchbacks. you could see them from the starting line of the stage, so there was some entertainment as you waited your turn. The trail was then punctuated with tricky switchbacks, corners, and off camber sections. It was a challenge to stay on the trail while riding at race pace speeds.
The fourth transfer was a nice break with mellow gradients for the majority of the climb. However, the following stage would be crucial to the race. The stage starts off with some flow trail style berms and then turns toward a no-brake straight away. Veering back into the hill side, the trail then pointed up a couple minute climb with a false summit smack dabin the middle of it. The segment then finished with a pedally bit of trail winding its way through a canyon.
At this point, everyone except for Pro and Expert riders would finish the race and head to the finish. Pro and Expert riders had one final challenge. They would climb part of transfer one, to a dirt road which would summit at stage five. Stage five required the least pedally of all, and was definitely the most technical. The trail started with some flowy corners, but quickly got down to business. In the middle of the stage, there are two rock sections. The rocks are placed perfectly, allowing bikes to roll right over them. The rock sections where not super challenging for an experienced rider, but in the cash of a crash, bikes and bodies would easily be broken. The trail then picked up speed, twisted through a gully, and finished near the end of the previous stage.
After a big day on the bike, racers were treated to delicious local food and beer in the shade of Rancho San Rafael Park. After hours of hanging around and chatting with fellow riders, results were finally calculated. Those who posted the fastest times basked in glory on the podium, and everyone went home feeling stoked.
“The California Enduro Series is a for-riders, by-riders operation. The ultimate goal is to create world-class enduro events that everyone from pros to amateurs can enjoy and showcase the amazing locations that make California one of the best places to mountain bike on earth.” Learn more at californiaenduroseries.com
Words: Ryan Simonovich Photos: Scott McClain, Called To Creation