A look at mountain bike race offerings from the California Enduro Series and Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship

By Lauren Gregg

Kathy Pruitt (Juliana Bicycles) goes over the top in last year’s Northstar Enduro (Called To Creation).

Kathy Pruitt (Juliana Bicycles) goes over the top in last year’s Northstar Enduro (Called To Creation).

CES Golden Tour
Watching the progression of the sport of enduro, and specifically the development of the California Enduro Series (CES), has been incredibly exciting. Each year it becomes more fun to race while the impressive organization and professionalism continue to grow. Now, the new addition of the Golden Tour cements CES as one of the most progressive enduro series in the US.

The 2016 CES Golden Tour is a pro triple crown “series within a series” consisting of the three most challenging venues on the CES schedule: the VP Endurofest at China Peak, the Northstar Enduro, and the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro at Mammoth Mountain. The Golden Tour will showcase top talent, attract increased media attention, and allow up-and-coming racers to compete on international level courses as a stepping stone to the Enduro World Series (EWS). Kamikaze Bike Games Director Bill Cockroft is excited about the new development. “In the whole evolution of enduro racing, we are very excited to be a part of the Golden Tour to help bring races like this to riders,” says Cockroft. He adds, “While enduro racing is not new by any means, it is still evolving, both riders and events, and we are excited to participate in that evolution.”

And how did the Golden Tour come about? The task of increasing the level of competition and media exposure while also maintaining the welcoming environment to newer racers was no easy task. After thoughtful consideration by race organizers and input from racers and the media about the development of the series, the Golden Tour was created as the best solution. The three stops of the Golden Tour boast extremely challenging tracks, while the other three venues (Fontana, Peavine, and Ashland) offer more wide-appeal courses appropriate for newer racers while still challenging pros.

Having a progression of venues – some that offer courses for everyone and others with extremely difficult mountains to conquer – seems like the perfect way to cater to the wide range of riders participating in the series. Athletes from amateur to seasoned pro can enjoy this well-rounded series. The Golden Tour also allows pros to fully focus on the three most challenging venues, the favorite stops for top level riders. This Triple Crown Series allows pros with full schedules competing in other series, such as the EWS or North American Enduro Tour (NAET), to still gun for a spot on the overall podium of the tour without having to fit to all six CES races in their calendar.

The Golden Tour boasts an impressive $24,000 overall prize purse for the three events, attracting some of the top talent in the country to commit to the races. Racers from the EWS will be participating, and as many of the top CES racers plan on taking the next step up to international competition, it’s a great opportunity to test themselves against some of the top riders in the world. In the Pro Women’s field, Kathy Pruitt and Kelli Emmmet of Juliana Bicycles have committed to the tour, and four-time mountain bike world champion Brian Lopes will be gunning for the top spot on the podium against two-time NAET champion Kyle Warner in the Pro Men’s field.

The high level of competition at these three events will certainly make for some extremely exciting racing. Racers and fans alike can look forward to the Golden Tour as three of the premier enduro events in the US this season.

Learn more about the California Enduro Series here.

PHOTOS Opposite page, top to bottom: Brian Lopes (Intense Cycles) pinned on the 2014 Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro course (Called To Creation).

Opposite page, top to bottom: Brian Lopes (Intense Cycles) pinned on the 2014 Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro course (Called To Creation).

Lost Sierra Triple Crown
The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) also has an exciting and very unique series new to 2016. The Lost Sierra Triple Crown will challenge riders with three very different types of races, for the ultimate test of both fitness and bike handling skills. The Triple Crown includes the Lost and Found 100-mile Gravel Grinder, the Downieville Classic Cross Country (one of my personal favorite venues), and the Grinduro, a much loved event with a cult-like following that mixes gravel road-racing with a mountain bike-style Enduro.

With these three events, each testing riders in very different capacities, the overall Triple Crown will reward racers that have a wide range of skills and fitness on the bike. Race organizers thought outside of the box when creating this series which is sure to excite racers and draw a diverse group to the events. “After a few friends took on the challenge of doing all three events last year, we thought it would be really fun to make the Lost Sierra Triple Crown an official event for 2016,” says Greg Williams, Executive Director of SBTS. “We believe the Triple Crown will be the ultimate test of a true backcountry rider, because if you’ve ever ridden in the Lost Sierra or done one of our events, you know that there’s no hiding; you have to be super fit and extremely skilled to prevail.”

Riders are allowed to use any bike they choose for the three events, the same bike is not required. Bike choice is an extremely important strategy decision in these events and racers must choose their weapon wisely. Cyclocross bikes with disc brakes are the favorite at the Lost and Found and Grinduro. Choosing a bike for the Downieville Cross Country can be more difficult – a superlight hardtail mountain bike can carry you quickly up the soul-crushing “Trail of Tears” climb, but the second half of the course takes riders down a long and technical descent more suited for a dual-suspension rig. I always love checking out everyone’s setup at the startline at Downieville – it’s interesting to see the diversity in bikes about to compete on the same course. Durable tires are the one non-negotiable – I once had SIX flats on a practice run at Downieville. It was not the greatest ride, with a five-mile hike-out finale …

The new Lost Sierra Triple Crown is a great way for riders to experience the stellar riding the region has to offer, while benefitting the SBTS which creates some of the best trails anywhere. These events are about more than just the riding, as well. Spending time in the Lost Sierra is always an incredible experience with fun for riders, friends and family with camping, fishing, and unique atmosphere of camaraderie.

Learn more about the Lost Sierra Triple Crown here.

Views of the Lost Sierra go on forever along the Grinduro course (Jordan Clark Haggard).

Views of the Lost Sierra go on forever along the Grinduro course (Jordan Clark Haggard).