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Storms prep race day with hero dirt and cool temps for the series’ fourth stop
Words by Liam Ruff; Photos by Called To Creation
The fourth stop of the California Enduro Series took place just over the California border in the beautiful town of Ashland, Oregon. With thunder storms saturating the ground during the previous week and all the way up to race day some 300 competitors were treated to cool temperatures, absolute hero dirt, and some of the best trails you can race on.
The trails off of Mt. Ashland are simply amazing. Starting at the Ski Lodge at 6,600 feet in elevation, a mouth watering 5,000 foot descent into town awaits. Starting in an alpine dream world, riders sail through moss covered pine trees and over perfect black dirt with the occasional rock or two to keep it interesting. As the trails get lower in elevation, the ground gets drier and pine trees turn to oak and madrone, but the trails are just as fun offering some of the fastest flow you can find. All of the trails in Ashland make for huge smiles at the bottom.
Pro and Expert racers started with a shuttle ride to the Ski Lodge for stages 3 and 4 while Sport and Beginners took on the other side of the mountain with stages 1 and 2. From the top, riders had a slightly rough double track descent and a bit of climbing to get to the start of stage three. This stage started with the Lower Bull Gap Trail a surreal singletrack descent that was a total blast to ride and race on. After Bull Gap racers were sent on a super fast fire road that took racers to the top of Catwalk. Catwalk began with a mild rock garden and then dropped down into a large double, for riders who could clear it this was a much faster option than others who rode around the right side. After Catwalk the trail consisted of ripping singletrack with bermed switchbacks, high speeds, and tacky dirt all the way to the finish.
Stage 4 was the second stage of the day for Pros and Experts; it started with a bit of pedaling and quickly plunged down the side of the mountain accelerating riders straight into BTI a fast and fun bike specific trail with berms and lots of places where riders could choose to double up smaller roller jumps. At the end of BTI racers had a bit of sprinting and then returned to the venue for the finish of stage 4.
After refilling water bottles and hydration packs as well as picking up some snacks competitors started the long 8 mile 3,000 foot climb to Horn Gap for stages 1 and 2. Stage 1 took place on the Horn Gap Trail a fast singletrack twisting trough majestic trees, fog, and perfect dirt. After a fireroad descent and a bit of climbing it was time for stage 2.
Stage 2 followed Hitt R oad which began as a fast fire road and then turned into doubletrack after a massive waterbar, at this point the trail really got going and sent riders flailing through rollers, rock gardens, and of course the Kali Protective’s Speed Trap into the finish of an awesome day of racing.
The Ashland Mountain Challenge offered some of the most fun trails in the California Enduro Series and proved to be a great time on and off the bike. Back at the race venue burritos, beverages, and raffle tickets were available with a number plate. Results were provided promptly and good times were had. In the Kali Protective’s speed trap Cicily Kessman was the fastest woman going 36 mph and Cory Sullivan was the fastest man at 43 mph. For the Pro Women’s Category Kim Russel in 5th, Andrea Napoli in 4th, Amy Morrison in 3rd, Carolynn Romaine in 2nd, and Adele Mery with the win. In Pro Men Ryan Gardener took 5th, Cory Sullivan in 4th, Kyle Warner in 3rd, Mark Weir in 2nd, and Nate Riddle on the top box. View full results here.
The Ashland Mountain Challenge was such an amazing event and offered awesome trails making it a must for anyone who loves mountain biking to attend.
Adventure Sports Journal is a proud sponsor of the California Enduro Series (CES). For more information about the series, visit californiaenduroseries.com.