From intimate and humble beginnings to one of the best enduro races on the west coast
Words and photos by Mike Oitzman
The 2019 Buddy Newman Memorial TDS Enduro is in the books, and it was an epic event all around. This is the ninth year running and the Sanchez family went bigger and better in every way possible, including a huge expansion of the onsite camping, spectator parking and festival pavilion area. The late, wet winter delayed final course preparation and it took an army of local volunteers working long weekends over the past month to get everything ready to go. The Sanchez’s also added a new shuttle road from the bottom to the top, which made it easier for spectators to get around, and for the shuttles to move the racers back up to the top.
While there were a record number of participants, sponsors and hecklers on the hill this year, the event has lost a little bit of the intimacy of its humble beginnings in 2011 about which Ron Sanchez likes to reminisce: “17 guys getting drunk in the forest and enjoying mountain biking for a weekend.”
This years race included international enduro racers: Francois Bailly Maitre from France; Martha Gill from the UK; and Rae Morrison from New Zealand. The race also featured Team Semper Fi racers: Arthur Sykes and Ryan Beamish.
Ol’ Republic Brewery, in Nevada City, had plenty of great beer on tap all weekend, including the annual brewing of the legendary Hey Buddy session IPA, in memory of Buddy Newman, creator of Goggle Man (the iconic TDS race logo).
Ol’ Republic served BBQ’d meats on Friday that they smoked onsitefor 24 hours in a custom built BBQ pit. Saturday night, the racers enjoyed woodfired pizza from The Pizza Company, and Sunday night Chef Eric Newman (Buddy’s dad) grilled his famous tri-tip for the crowd. Eric and crew also cooked breakfast for the racers each morning. All of this is part of the tradition that has become one of the best enduro race events on the west coast.
Friday: Practice Day
Friday was the official practice day, although some riders showed up earlier in the week to camp and get started on the party. Even with the hill open for practice, there were several runs which which were officially closed to racers, including the much anticipated road gap on the new “Casey’s Doodle” course. Riders had the opportunity to see the road gap ramp taunting them on the shuttle rides from the bottom, but nobody was allowed to pre-ride it. There would be only one opportunity to hit this gap across the road on Saturday. The Sanchez ranch is closed to the public, but it features creative course names (all with a backstory) such as: BrokeBack, Godfather, Tandieland, Axe Grinder and of course the infamous Vigilante. The opportunity to race in the TDS is one of the few ways that mountain bikers can experience the ranch, short of a personal invitation from the Sanchez’s.
Unfortunately, Vigilante took its toll during practice on Friday as one racer broke his hand and had to pull out of the race. Fortunately, this offering was enough to satisfy the race gods and everyone survived race day without a single injury or broken bike on Vigilante.
The official race event started Friday night on the newly constructed dual slalom course located next to the festival pavilion. To make the dual slalom competitive, the racers were competing for their seeds in the enduro start (with the exception of the top ten, which were reserved for last years top 10 finishers).
Friday night is historically the “TDS Throwdown” party, a chance for all of the racers, spectators and volunteers to mix and get to know each other before the race. In past years, the Throwdown was hosted at the Ol’Republic Brewery, but this was the first year that the event was held at the ranch. It featured live music by the band “The Happys”.
Saturday: Race Day 1
Saturday greeted the racers with a crisp morning that quickly warmed as the sun filtered through the oak and pine trees on the hill. The racing got off to a late start as racers picked up their race plates and installed the timing chips on their bikes. After a briefing by Ron and Casey Sanchez about the course conditions and the event logistics, the racers made their way to the top of the hill for the start. The iconic start house at the top of the hill used to be embedded in an old oak tree. Unfortunately, the old tree didn’t survive the recent NorCal winter, and the prep crew had to cutdown the remaining tree and build a new start house earlier this spring.
Soon enough the first women racers were out of the start house, heading down Tandeland, and the game was on. Highlights from the day included the new road gap on Caseys Doodle and the excitement and chaos of Vigilante. While most of Vigilante was dry this year, the spring at the bottom of Vigilante was flowing and this made for a wet exit from from the canyon, through the crowd, and a final love tap to let the riders know that they were through the worst of it.
Saturday evening featured a bonfire with s’mores, RC car racing and the bike whip-off competition (bike jumping) in the pavilion area. It was a late, late night some of the racers and spectators.
Sunday: Race Day 2
Sunday got off to an earlier start, although it might have been a little too early for some of the racers who got to bed well after midnight.
A radar speed trap was on Free Willy this year, and prizes were awarded to the fastest male and female riders. Austin Warren took the men’s record with a speed of 45 mph. The fastest female was Martha Gill with a speed of 39 mph.
In the tradition of TDS Enduro, the final ride of the day was on Brokeback, with the epic wallride and beer can whip which caps the TDS Enduro. This year didn’t disappoint the spectators, as the riders came through the walled section to hit the the exit jump and whip their bikes to launch a beer can out of the hands of a spectator.
The weekend ended with the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon. This year, in addition to the racer awards, the Sanchez’s awarded the inaugural “TDS Spirit Award” to Mark Weir, who was instrumental in launching the TDS Enduro with Ron Sanchez back in 2011. Mark, in turn brought up all of the guys who’ve contributed so much to the event over the years.
Another new feature this year was the inclusion of adaptive handcycles in the event. The participants are all veterans who came out for the Team Semper Fi mountain bike camp. Here are the results for the handcycle racers: 1 Jeremy Mcghee, 2 Chistopher Fezmire, 3 Peter Way.
Complete race results here: timeyourrace.com/TDS/2019/BSeries.htm.
See more images from the event here: mikeoitzmanphotography.com/Mountain-Biking/The-Dirty-Sanchez-Enduro-2019.
Learn more at tdsenduro.com.