A look back at the series’ 4th season
By Patrick D. Rosso
Amy Morrison pinned on the Ashland Mountain Challenge course. She took 3rd place in the race presented by Ashland Mountain Adventures, and went on to secure the top spot for Pro Women in the series overall, as well as 2nd in CES’ inaugural Golden Tour. Photo: Called to Creation.
Domination is the only word that can describe Amy Morrison’s and Evan Geankoplis’ 2016 California Enduro Series season, as they clinched the overall title in Pro Women and Pro Men. The Marin/Rabobank teammates crushed the courses. The seven race series wasn’t easy for the athletes, nor was the competition, but with style and consistency the two made quick work of the field and pedaled to victory.
“It was an amazing feeling and something I’ve worked hard on for a couple years,” commented Morrison. “My first enduro race was with the California Enduro Series just two years ago and I finished 14th. To see how my times improve and take the title this year is a huge accomplishment for me.”
Like Morrison, Geankoplis said his secret weapon was his knowledge of the courses from years of racing on the series and really focusing on good results and good times.
“Everything from being familiar with the terrain, venue, and stages were a big benefit,” said Geankoplis. “Being comfortable at the venues and knowing where to stay and camp, how to practice, and how to set up your bike, helps you focus on fewer, more important things like going fast on race day.”
Geankoplis’ strong legs and laser focus also helped him secure the overall title in the Golden Tour, the series within the series that featured big mountain venues and a lot of cash.
“I feel like I continued to learn consistently. Whether it meant to just back down the intensity in a race stage to be able to finish solid or just to prepare for the race the best I could,” added Geankoplis. “I’m always going for first place, but sometimes understanding that backing down the speed through a technical zone may mean less risk of falling, and not having to play a catch up game from a crash.”
Evan Geankoplis drops in on one of the many technical sections of the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro course. Evan took 2nd for the day and powered his way to the top step in CES’ inaugural Golden Tour as well as the series overall. Photo by Called to Creation.
Morrison and Geankoplis also helped boost their team’s overall score, pushing Marin/Rabobank to second in the overall standings, but in the end it was Scott’s Valley Cycle Sport that took the title.
“We didn’t think much about team points until after Ashland when we realized we were tied with Marin/Rabobank,” explained Brittany Cavaletto, official director of fun and co-owner of Scotts Valley Cycle Sport. “After Northstar, Marin/Rabobank took the lead, but we knew we still had a chance to take the overall and our riders did so well at Mammoth that it boosted us to first.”
Competition wasn’t the only thing that helped the team move to the top. It was enhanced by the Central Coast local’s concentration on fun and enjoying the moment.
“Our focus is just to have fun and go fasts and that paid off,” Cavaletto added. “We loved racing the series and making new friends and just hanging out with some rad people.”
This year marked the debut of the CES Golden Tour – a triple crown series within a series intended to spotlight top talent and events. The 2016 Golden Tour showcased the three most aggressive stops on this season’s schedule – the VP EnduroFest at China Peak, the Northstar Enduro, and the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro. Brian Lopes took the win for Pro Men, while for the Pro Women, it was Kathy Pruitt who found herself on the top step for the Golden Tour.
“Winning the Golden Tour is what I set out to do,” Pruitt said after the final race of the series, set at Mammoth Mountain. “I really enjoyed the races and they featured some really challenging courses. I don’t really race full time anymore, so it’s always interesting to see where I stand with the people who are doing the whole series.”
With another successful series in the history book, organizers hinted that next season will feature more venues and course changes.
“The fourth year of the California Enduro Series was amazing! Every year we challenge ourselves and each of the race directors to do more and raise the bar – and we all stepped up to create an incredible year,” exclaimed Steve Gemelos, director of the series. “The end of the season is always tough. We will miss seeing all our friends in the California Enduro community, but we will be busy prepping and looking forward to the next season. We are already working on new race venues for next year that will be fun and challenging places to race.”
Note from the CES team: Here’s to another amazing year of California Enduro Series racing – so many great memories from this past season! Many thanks to everyone who helps make CES a success: the CES team for working hard all year long and at every race, the race directors and their crews for creating top notch events, the sponsors for the support that makes this series possible … and of course, the riders and teams – you are all awesome! Re-live the 2016 action in the photo essay below. Enjoy the off season, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!
Round 1: Fontana Enduro in Fontana • Southridge Racing • Results & Full Recaps
Southridge Racing’s Fontana Enduro – the first race of the series – brought riders down to SoCal to test their skills on the dusty terrain. Photo: Called to Creation.
A few of the Pro Women at the top of Stage 3 at the Fontana Enduro. All smiles as the weather was decent and the terrain amazing. From left to right: Liz Miller, Megan Gemelos, Brianne Spiersch, Essence Barton. Photo: Called to Creation.
Battling a cold, Jon Buckell came out to the first round to “have fun” and he did just that. Photo: Called to Creation.
Round 2: Battle Born Enduro in Reno • Poedunks and Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) • Results & Full Recaps
High above Reno, NV where the blue sky seems to go on forever, riders fought for the top spot in the second round of the California Enduro Series. A long, brutal course forced competitors out of their comfort zone and tested their race rigs, with the desert mountain claiming plenty of derailleur hangers, tires, and skin. Photo: Called to Creation.
CES Director Steve Gemelos, front left, and Battle Born Enduro Race Director Kevin Joell, front right, pose with the Sport/Beginner group. Photo: Called to Creation.
The winner of the Pro Women category, Amy Morrison, riding for Marin Rabobank, navigating the waterfall on stage 5 with downtown Reno in the backdrop. She went on to take 1st place series overall. Photo: Called to Creation.
Cory Sullivan let off the brakes at the Toro Enduro, which featured plenty of Central Coast sand and an obscene amount of poison oak. He ended the day on the Pro Men podium in 4th place – and 4th for series overall as well. Photo: Called to Creation.
Ali Osgood pinned on the oak-studded course at Toro Park. Photo: Called to Creation.
Team competition started really heating up at the Toro Enduro. Clint Claassen (left) cheers on teammate Marshall “Enduro Jesus” Eames on Stage 3. Photo: Called to Creation.
Round 4 (Golden Tour Round 1): VP EnduroFest at China Peak • VP Components• Results & Full Recaps
Rachel Throop came screamin’ past on stage 3, and just made the Pro Women podium at 5th place. The loose and chunky terrain of China Peak was the perfect way to start off the CES Golden Tour, three races that offered particularly demanding riding and increased payouts. Photo: Called to Creation.
A rider bombs through the rock garden and the TRP Brake Zone. Photo: Called to Creation.
Brian Lopes was in the zone and off the brakes taking first in Pro Men. He ended the season taking 1st place in the Golden Tour. Photo: Called to Creation.
Round 5: Ashland Mountain Challenge • Ashland Mountain Adventures •Results & Full Recaps
Race organizer Ashland Mountain Adventures shuttled riders to the top of Mount Ashland for practice runs. Check out Mt. Shasta in the distance, towering 12,000 feet above the floor at its base. Photo: Called to Creation.
Adele Mery in fine form. She ended the day on the top step of the Pro Women’s podium. Photo: Called to Creation.
Ripping through the trees on AMC’s fast, loose course. Just over the California border in Oregon, Ashland provided pine trails for miles and solid elevation gain/descend for four stages of amazing enduro action. Photo: Called to Creation.
Round 6 (Golden Tour Round 2): Northstar Enduro in Truckee • Northstar California •Results & Full Recaps
Evan Turpen splits the trees on stage 1 on his way to 5th place Pro Men that day and in the top 10 overall. The Northstar Enduro challenged all competitors with loose moon dust and burly rocks over two days of action packed racing. Photo: Called to Creation.
Essence Barton is all focus and determination through the loose berms on stage 1. Essence ended the weekend in 3rd place Pro Women, and 2nd overall for the season. Photo: Called to Creation.
Blake Wray lines up in the gate on stage 4, day 2. Photo: Called to Creation.
Season Finale Round 7 (Golden Tour Round 3): Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro in Mammoth Lakes • Mammoth Mountain • Results & Full Recaps
Paul Serra crushed the Kamikaze Enduro course, taking 3rd in Expert Boys U18 with a 1st place finish overall. Photo: Called to Creation.
Kathy Pruitt kept it smooth as she attacked the infamous “Elevator Shaft.” She went on to take 1st place that day, as well as 1st place in the series’ inaugural Golden Tour AND 2rd place overall for the season. Photo: Called to Creation.
Dillon Santos on his way to a 3rd place finish. Dillon wrapped up the season with 3rd in the CES Overall Standings and 5th in the Golden Tour.
And … a big shout of thanks to the industry and community businesses supporting the series
VP Components Brand Manager and CES co-founder Erik Saunders shreds during practice for the Battle Born Enduro. VP is a founding sponsor of the series and we appreciate its unwavering support! Photo: Called to Creation.
FOX stepped up again this year as a sponsor of the 2016 California Enduro Series, providing a 2016 FOX 36 for CES to raffle off at every race. The winner received choice of travel, wheel size, and color. FOX pro rider – and ASJ contributing editor – Lauren Gregg strikes a pose at the Fontana Enduro early in the season. Photo: Called to Creation.
SRAM also pitched in once again, giving away a set of guide brakes to one lucky winner per event. Photo: Called to Creation.
2016 kicked the TRP Brake Zone into high gear. The fastest riders through “the zone” at each event received $100 from TRP. Photo: Called to Creation.
Rabobank once again sponsored the Rabobank KOM / QOM on Stage 2 this time. Their banners were flying high, reminding riders which stage paid the $100 for the top male and female rider in each category. Photo: Called to Creation.
Clif Bar delivered … and then some! Riders were stoked to be supplied with an array of nutrition for their races. Photo: Called to Creation.
WTB contributed these custom Volt saddles to be awarded to season winners. They are also available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the series. Photo: Called to Creation.
In addition to the sponsors above – VP Components, FOX, SRAM, Rabobank, WTB, TRP andClif Bar – the series is grateful for support from Marin Bikes, Kali Protectives, KMC,Adventure Sports Journal, Brennan Autosport, Gamut, Voler, and ESI Grips. Contact CES for information on sponsoring the 2017 series.