2016 California Enduro Series Round 4 / Golden Tour Round 1: VP EnduroFest at China Peak, Recap

High Sierra race venue continues to shine as crowd favorite
Words by Liam Ruff • Photos by Called To Creation • Video by Mitchell Nuyens and Sebastian Bauer

For the past several years the China Peak Mountain Resort has been the location for technical riding, good times, and one of the most anticipated races of the California Enduro Series.

This year the loose and chunky terrain of China Peak was the perfect way to start off the CES Golden Tour, three races that offer demanding riding and increased payouts to professional riders and greater media coverage. Boasting swimming holes, beautiful high Sierra scenery, and a unique remote atmosphere, the China Peak VP EnduroFest again proved itself as a very special event and one of the best enduro races in the state.

The trails of China Peak are some of the most exciting and challenging of the CES lineup and are a crowd favorite every year, offering a rugged backcountry singletrack experience coupled with the convenience of a chair lift and the excitement of competitive racing. Riders competed on three different stages with pro, open, and expert riders racing an additional fourth stage. All of the stages featured seriously loose dirt, blown out corners, and challenging rock gardens that embody the unforgiving terrain of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

After a day of pre-riding with the use of chairlifts on Friday, racers started race day with a solid climb to the top of the mountain for stage one. Stage one began with a series of loose and challenging corners that opened up into faster singletrack and a long fireroad section bringing riders flying into a rocky section of trail and a set of tricky sweeping corners at warp speed. The remainder of stage one featured tight blown out corners and just enough rocks to keep riders on their toes.

After stage one it was just a short climb to stage two which brought racers back down to the main lodge area. Stage two started with several fast and loose corners, then got rockier with a handful of tight technical corners that challenged riders to maintain speed. To finish stage two racers had to negotiate one of the most challenging sections of the course, a long set of extremely tight switchbacks that left all but the most skilled riders questioning their cornering prowess. At the bottom of stage two competitors were gladly transported back to the top of China Peak by chairlift where they started the longest and arguably the most demanding stage of the day.

Stage three brought riders from the top of the mountain to the bottom going through burly rock infested terrain, pulverized corners, a handful of painful full gas pedal sections, and the TRP Brake Zone which was located in the infamous “Gnarly Rock Garden” – always one of the most exciting aspects of racing at China Peak.

After finishing the physically and technically challenging stage three, some riders successfully completed their day of racing but pro, open, and expert riders continued on to stage four. After climbing one last time to the top of China Peak at 8,700 feet in elevation above sea level and battling a brutal 90 degrees in temperature, riders were ready to finish their day of racing with one last rough and rowdy stage. Stage four challenged racers with a flat sprint out of the gate and then nothing but solid technical riding to the bottom with steep granite faces, rock gardens, as well as loose and blown switchback corners.

Post race, riders enjoyed a recovery session at the swimming hole and more good times including a pasta dinner and the award ceremony. In the Pro Women’s category Rachel Throop finished fifth, Janea Perry finished fourth, Jackie Swider finished third, Amy Morrison finished second, and Kathy Pruitt finished first. In the Pro Men’s field Derek Teel came in fifth, Evan Turpen came in fourth, Ryan Gardener came in third, Evan Geankopolis came in second, and Brian Lopes took the win.

Learn more about the CES Golden Tour in our article by Lauren Gregg: Triple Crown Summer.

The rider meeting on Saturday morning.

The rider meeting on Saturday morning.

Riders make their way up the transfer in style.

Riders make their way up the transfer in style.

Kathy Pruitt was pinned all day and took the win in pro women’s.

Kathy Pruitt looking focused on her way to take the win in pro women’s.

Brian Lopes was pinned on the unforgiving terrain of China Peak.

Brian Lopes was pinned on the unforgiving terrain of China Peak.

Dillon Santos looking fast on his way to an impressive 7th in pro men’s.

Dillon Santos looking fast on his way to an impressive 7th in pro men’s.

This sign could apply to almost every trail raced at China Peak.

This sign could apply to almost every trail raced at China Peak.

Amy Morrison laying down power to take second in Pro Women’s.

Amy Morrison laying down power to take second in Pro Women’s.

A rider bombs through the rock garden and the TRP Brake Zone.

A rider bombs through the rock garden and the TRP Brake Zone.

Rider 100 makes his way to the top of another stage.

Rider 100 makes his way to the top of another stage.

Marshal Eames aka Enduro Jesus blasts through a blown out corner.

Marshal Eames aka Enduro Jesus blasts through a blown out corner.

Brian Lopes looking happy and confident before taking the win in Pro Men’s.

Brian Lopes looking happy and confident before taking the win in Pro Men’s.

Scott Chapin slayed the high Sierra terrain finishing 8th in pro men’s.

Scott Chapin slayed the high Sierra terrain finishing 8th in pro men’s.

The Kali Protectives helmet exchange program was in full force getting riders of all ages out of their broken helmets and into safe new Kali lids.

The Kali Protectives helmet exchange program was in full force getting riders of all ages out of their broken helmets and into safe new Kali lids.

Paul Serra looks stoked next to CES Director Steven Gemelos after winning a new FOX 36 fork.

Paul Serra looks stoked next to CES director/co-founder Steven Gemelos after winning a new FOX 36 fork.

Jeff Kendall Weed with the TRP Brake Zone officers (CES co-founders Megan Gemelos and Michele Lamelin) after tying with Brian Lopes for the fastest speed through the stage 3 rock garden at 17.9 mph.

The Rabobank KOM/QOM winners.

Jeff Kendall Weed with the TRP Brake Zone officers (CES co-founders Megan Gemelos and Michele Lamelin) after tying with Brian Lopes for the fastest speed through the stage 3 rock garden at 17.9 mph.

Jeff Kendall Weed with the TRP Brake Zone officers (CES co-founders Megan Gemelos and Michele Lamelin) after tying with Brian Lopes for the fastest speed through the stage 3 rock garden at 17.9 mph.

Ali Osgood won the women's TRP Brake Zone with a speed of 15.9 mph.

Ali Osgood won the women’s TRP Brake Zone with a speed of 15.9 mph.

Pro men’s podium.

Pro men’s podium.

Pro women's podium.

Pro women’s podium.


liam

Liam Ruff is a semi-pro enduro and cross-country mountain bike racer in Northern California who has a deep passion for bikes and the outdoors.

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  1. ROUND 4 RESULTS: VP EnduroFest at China Peak - […] ASJ recap […]

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