California Enduro Series Finale Recap: Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro

2015 season wraps against dramatic backdrop of the Eastern Sierra

Words by Liam Ruff; Photos by Called To Creation

The long awaited finale of the California Enduro Series brought racers to the staggering terrain of the Eastern Sierra on Mammoth Mountain for the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro. The riding at Mammoth was a great way to bring the long season of enduro racing to an end with breath taking mountain views as well as courses that pushed the technical capability and fitness of every rider to its limit complete with the infamous “kitty litter” dirt Mammoth Mountain is known for.

Stage 1 of the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro was the Bullet Downhill course, a rough and wild trail that is one of the mountain’s “Pro Lines” sending riders down large drop-offs, burly rock gardens, and a handful of manmade features.  From the start gate to the finish line racers had to battle to keep from hitting the ground through the deep pumice soil and maintain the strength to keep their bikes moving through challenging rock infested sections of trail and over terrifying drops that landed in another rock garden. Starting the day with a real deal DH stage left competitors eager to tackle the other trails the mountain had to offer and challenge themselves mentally and physically for the rest of the day.

After a short but steep climb racers rode chair 2 to the second stage of the day, a long and extremely physical course that ended with an almost vertical chute known as the “Elevator Shaft.” The beginning of stage two consisted of a long undulating traverse that left riders to find how much pain they could tolerate in order to put down a good race time. At the end of a few paver switchbacks the stage started to pick up speed, with a fast and loose portion of ski run into a split where competitors had a choice of going down a technical but faster line or wrapping around the section on a sweeping turn. After a bit of rowdiness through the trees, racers were faced with the intimidating ladder drop on Flow trail which is much faster than the alternate route but comes with a high penalty for failure. Once down the “Flow Drop” a thrust of acceleration propelled racers down the rest of the trail, onto a wall ride, over a little bit of flat ground, and finally down the “Elevator Shaft.” Racers flailed down the slope slicing through a foot of dust and spraying lava rock everywhere as they crossed the finish line of Stage 2.

If there was one stage out of all the races in the season that could be described as jaw-dropping it would be Stage 3 of the Kamikaze Enduro. Beginning close to the summit at 11,050 ft in elevation, the start of Stage 3 resembled the terrain of the moon and was an amazing way to kick off the longest stage of the day. At the top, Upper Skid Marks was fast and smooth but soon became encrusted with square edged rocks that made keeping tires inflated a problem for a lot of riders; tight switchbacks also provided a challenge to many racers. After a few miles of physical high alpine singletrack, Stage 3 merged with the CAT 2/3 downhill race course making for a fun final section of trail to the end of Stage 3 which finished on the dual slalom course.

Stage 4 was another downhill orientated stage that started with a series of technical root drops and loose turns that kept riders on their toes. After sprinting along a flat portion of singletrack the course descended a high speed section of fire-road that connected to the bottom of the Bullet DH course bringing competitors down part of the same action packed piece of trail as stage 1 for a satisfying finish to a great day of racing.

The Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro was a great way to conclude the California Enduro Series and was a true test of the fastest all around mountain biker. Rounding out the Pro Women’s field it was Brianne Spiersch in 5th, Nina Porcelli Fenn 4th, Lauren Gregg 3rd, Amy Morrison 2nd, and Essence Barton taking the win.  In the Pro Men’s category Tim Langdon finished 5th, Evan Geankoplis 4th, Teddy Hayden 3rd, Tim Krentz 2nd, and Ryan Gardener taking the win.  On the overall series podium for Pro Women was Nina Porcelli Fenn in 5th, Jackie Swider 4th, Brianne Spiersch 3rd, Lauren Gregg 2nd, and Amy Morrison taking the overall win.  In the Pro Men category the overall podium was Doug Thayer in 5th, Cory Sulivan 4th, Ryan Gardener 3rd, Evan Geankoplis 2nd, and Marco Osborne finishing 1st for the entire season.

A view of the Minarets which could be seen from nearly anywhere on the course.

A view of the Minarets which could be seen from nearly anywhere on the course.

Ashton Smith during practice on Stage 1 entering the "Heart of Darkness" segment.

Ashton Smith during practice on Stage 1 entering the “Heart of Darkness” segment.

Carving a paver berm entering the woods on Stage 3.

Carving a paver berm entering the woods on Stage 3.

Sprinting through a meadow mid mountain on Stage 3.

Sprinting through a meadow mid mountain on Stage 3.

Practice train on Stage 3.

Getting their lines dialed at the top of Stage 3.

Practice train on Stage 3.

Practice train on Stage 3.

A racer gets a feel for the fast and furious terrain at the bottom of Stage 3 during practice.

A racer gets a feel for the fast and furious terrain at the bottom of Stage 3 during practice.

Sending the step down on Stage 4.

Sending the step down on Stage 4.

Ripping through a paver berm on Stage 2.

Ripping through a paver berm on Stage 2.

Pro Men’s Kamikaze Enduro podium.

Pro Men’s Kamikaze Enduro podium: 1st – Ryan Gardener, 2nd – Teddy Hayden, 4th – Evan Geankoplis, 5th – Tim Langdon.

Pro Women's Kamikaze Enduro podium.

Pro Women’s Kamikaze Enduro podium: 1st – Essence Barton, 2nd – Amy Morrison, 3rd – Lauren Gregg, 4th Nina Porcelli Fenn, 5th – Brianne Spiersch in 5th.


Adventure Sports Journal is a proud sponsor of the California Enduro Series (CES). For more information about the series, visit californiaenduroseries.com.

 

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