Race Report | Round #3 California Enduro Series, China Peak Resort

The third round of the California Enduro Series was held June 27th at China Peak Mountain Resort. China Peak tops out at 8,700 feet in the Sierra National Forest high above California’s Central Valley. This high altitude proved to be a crucial variable in Saturday’s Race.

With the majority of every round of the California Enduro Series being sold out in under 30 hours, this round was set to be a big one. Mendocino Coast in Caspar hosted the previous round of the CES.

“An Ibis rider waits in line for Practice on Friday.”
“An Ibis rider waits in line for Practice on Friday.”
“Marco Osborne (WTB/Cannondale Overmountain) practicing one of the Rock Gardens on Stage 3.”
“Marco Osborne (WTB/Cannondale Overmountain) practicing one of the Rock Gardens on Stage 3.”

The VP EnduroFest had one day of racing, so Friday was dedicated to practice. Luckily, the lift was running so riders could rest their climbing legs for the next day. After previewing the loose, rocky courses riders could cool off in a swimming hole only a short bike ride or hike away.

“Margeret Gregory and her Husband pose at the top of Stage 4 with Huntington Lake in the background.”
“Margeret Gregory and her Husband pose at the top of Stage 4 with Huntington Lake in the background.”
“Brianne Spiersch (Marin/Rabobank) was all smiles the whole weekend “
“Brianne Spiersch (Marin/Rabobank) was all smiles the whole weekend “
“The riders were excited to get going on Saturday morning!”
“The riders were excited to get going on Saturday morning!”

Hopefully racers got a good night sleep, either in their tent or at China Peak’s Inn, because Saturday’s race would prove to be tough. After a rider’s meeting with Erik Saunders of VP Components, Pro riders were first to hit the mountain. The rest of the categories would leave shortly after each other. Pro/Expert riders tackled 4 stages, with Sport riding 3, and Beginners riding 2.

“Open / Expert riders start the climb to stage 1.”
“Open / Expert riders start the climb to stage 1.”
“Riders climbing up to the start.”
“Riders climbing up to the start.”

Stages 1 and 2 only covered half of the mountain each, while 3 and 4 were full runs. This meant that Pro and Expert riders would have to climb to the summit 3 times over the course of the day. The climb mostly featured mellow gradients, but the air lacked oxygen. Only the most physically and mentally strong riders would finish on the top after 30 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing.

“Marco Osborne (WTB/Cannondale Overmountain) during his race run on stage 3 in the rock garden. He finished first in Pro Men.”
“Marco Osborne (WTB/Cannondale Overmountain) during his race run on stage 3 in the rock garden. He finished first in Pro Men.”
“Marin Rabobank Rider Evan Geankoplis pinned on stage 2.”
“Marin Rabobank Rider Evan Geankoplis pinned on stage 2.”

The first ascent brought riders to stages 1 and 2. Stage 1 was the least steep downhill of the day. This was more flowy and less technical. Like the rest of the mountain, corners were extremely loose, forcing riders to pray that their tires would do their job. Stage 2 started with some more flowy corners, and also had some rocks thrown in the middle. The stage ended with countless switchbacks, and then a sprint to the finish line.

“Essence Barton (Triple Threat Cycling) finished 3rd overall.”
“Essence Barton (Triple Threat Cycling) finished 3rd overall.”
“Jeff Kendall- Weed sending it on the rock jump on stage 2.”
“Jeff Kendall- Weed sending it on the rock jump on stage 2.”

Stages 3 and 4 were no walk in the park. Stage 3 started with some technical bits then flattened out with some high speed corners. Eventually the trail dropped into the rock garden that characterizes China Peak. The section is scary and definitely will eat you up if you hesitate. After navigating the rock garden there was just a little bit of flat trail until the finish line. Stage 4 was the most direct route down the mountain and for Pros and Experts only. The trail featured switchbacks, high speed sections, and steep, rocky chutes.

“Well-earned burrito dinner.”
“Well-earned burrito dinner.”

Once again, VP Components hosted an excellent event at China Peak. The trails feel natural and not like a bike park, even though it is technically a bike park. The VP EnduroFest is always a fun addition to the California Enduro Series!

Results

Men
1. Marco Osborne
2. Brian Lopes
3. Jeff Kendall-Weed
4. Evan Geankoplis
5. Cory Sullivan

Women
1. Margaret Gregory
2. Ariana Altier
3. Essence Barton
4. Jackie Swider
5. Amy Morrison

Pro/Expert KOM/QOM: Brian Lopes/Margaret Gregory
Sport/Beginner KOM/QOM: Matthew Gaucher/Erika Boren.

“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.”

For more info, visit: californiaenduroseries.com

Words: Ryan Simonovich Photos: Scott McClain, Called To Creation

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