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Athletes take on two days of hardcore race conditions at this highly anticipated stop on the NAET
Words by Liam Ruff; Photos by Called To Creation
The fifth race of the California Enduro Series converged with the North American Enduro Tour at Northstar California Resort in Truckee for two days of action packed racing. This year most of the race trails were the real deal downhill runs of Northstar and put every competitor’s bike skills and willingness to find the limit of their riding to the test. For Pro and Expert racers the course consisted of six challenging stages over two days with race times over 36 minutes. Sport and Beginner riders competed on all the same stages except the final stage on Day 2.
On Day 1 of the Northstar Enduro, riders competed on three stages that featured everything from fun flow trails to burly double black diamond terrain. The race started close to the village and racers had a quick transfer stage to start the day. The first stage consisted of the fast and slightly rocky Manure Pile trail which connected to Woods trail – a fun singletrack that proved to be technical in certain sections. Stage 1 finished on Mineshaft, a ripping bike park trail with table top jumps and berms.
After another climb up to mid mountain and a chair lift ride it was time for Stage 2, a long and physical top to bottom run on the Flameout trail. Even with many crucial pedaling sections on Flameout, racers still had a blast on the handful of technical sections and the occasional ladder drop or tabletop.
Recovering from Stage 2, racers had one long pedal that brought them close to the top of Mt. Pluto at around 8,500 feet in elevation for the longest and easily the most challenging stage of the day. Stage 3 was made up of a long fast fire road sprint that connected to Boondocks, a double black diamond trail with stout rock gardens, large drops, and numerous jumps. The top of Boondocks has a handful of tricky rock sections and after a big rock drop and two large table tops the trail became extremely loose with a mix of High Sierra sand-like conditions and threatening rocks everywhere. At the bottom of this rough and rowdy rollercoaster, Boondocks resembles more of the classic bike park trail with several consecutive man made drops and jumps made out of dirt, wood, and pavers.
After finishing the first day of racing competitors enjoyed food and beverages at mid mountain and later had the option of watching the ground breaking new mountain bike movie from Teton Gravity “Unreal.”
Day 2 also featured three very fun yet challenging stages on the menu for competitors with everything from purpose built bike park runs to pristine alpine singletrack. After starting the day with a solid pedal from the village to the top of the Vista lift, racers prepared themselves for the first stage of the day, a relatively short stage that combined the trails of Gypsy and Livewire into an awesome race stage that was a blast to ride. Gypsy consists of nonstop action-packed terrain with countless wooden wall rides, large jumps, and other man made features including the infamous GoPro feature. Here racers were routed to the left option for a huge wall ride with a drop into a fun rock armored section. After a quick sprint along a fire road, the stage continued on Livewire – a trail famous for gigantic tabletops and huge sweeping berms – finishing at mid mountain.
To get to the next stage, racers took the Vista Lift and then rode the Booster trail to the beginning of Sticks and Stones. Sticks and Stones is a very challenging double black diamond trail that starts with two large table tops and a ladder bridge, but soon gets steeper and rougher with extremely difficult rock gardens, plentiful drops, and never ending blown out corners. After reaching a fire road, this stage finished on Pho Dog – a great section of trail with numerous tabletops and berms. For the last stage of the event, Pro and Expert racers took one more ride up the Vista Lift and then climbed the Mountain View fire road to the top of the Tahoe Trail for an unforgettable final stage down the Tahoe Trail, Sinuous, Karpiel, and Speed Control. The Tahoe Trail offered momentary refuge from the constant technical beat down that the other trails of Northstar put on racers, with a fast and smooth trail tread and a quick view of Lake Tahoe. Sinuous featured a handful of loose turns and table tops and soon meet Karpiel for a steep and extremely loose descent with technical rock gardens and pulverized corners. The final stage next headed down the fast and smooth Speed Control trail and continued down lower Sticks and Stones into the finish of a great weekend of enduro racing.
After two days, six stages, and over 36 minutes of race time, local shredder Tim Krentz took the top spot on the podium for the Pro/Open Men, followed by Marco Osborne, Evan Geankoplis, Kyle Warner, and Cody Kelley. On the women’s side, Kathy Pruitt took the podium for the Pro/Open Women winning every stage of the weekend, followed by Ariana Altier, Amy Morrison, Nina Porcelli Fenn, and Lauren Gregg. Rabobank again generously supported the King and Queen of the Mountain on the longest stages of each day; for Day 1 on the Boondocks stage, Kathy Pruitt and Tim Krentz took the Pro and Expert QOM/KOM, Cat Keenan and Ricky Castro took the QOM/KOM for the Sport and Beginner category. For Day 2 on the Karpiel stage, Kathy Pruitt and Tim Krentz took the Pro and Expert QOM/KOM, for the Sport and Beginner category Cat Keenan and Ricky Castro took QOM/KOM. For the Trail Head Cyclery King and Queen of Speed contest, Jeremy Schwartz and Amy Morrison achieved the greatest speeds for men and women at a specific point on the course. View full results here.
Looking back on the Northstar Enduro, it is clear that this race will be remembered as one of the most entertaining and demanding enduro races in the state and should become a classic mountain bike race in years to come.
Adventure Sports Journal is a proud sponsor of the California Enduro Series (CES). For more information about the series, visit californiaenduroseries.com.