Gardners Take on Baja!

The 2019 California Enduro Series kicked off this past weekend in Baja, Mexico. Ambassadors Ryan and Becky Gardner have both have raced in Mexico multiple times and couldn’t pass up another opportunity to get south of the border and check out a new zone. With a van packed up with bikes, surfboards, and camping supplies the sibling team ventured south into the fabled Baja peninsula. As they followed the coastal road south they peered over the beach dunes to see glassy, perfect waves peeling down the coast. It took the promise of raw Mexican single track to fight the urge to go surf as the two kept the van pointed south knowing there would be more time for surfing later.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Kasey Caranes

The inaugural (Baja) California Enduro Series race was held in the mountains just above Ensenada at the Horsepower Ranch. The ranch typically caters to Baja 500 racers and was its own little oasis with flowers, horses, a pool, and any amenities that racers could need. Ryan and Becky rolled into the ranch a little late but were able to wrangle up a shuttle vehicle and set out into downtown Ensenada with a few pins on their phones dropped by race promoter Big Lou. Racing in Mexico is always full of surprises and the two have learned over the years that going with the flow is the only way. After a little trial and error, the crew found all the stages and Becky and Ryan were once again unsurprised to find heaps of steep, rocky, and raw Mexican terrain.  

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Entroke Photography

After some tacos and a good night’s sleep race day was here. The day started out with 2 stages high up on a mountain facing the beautiful coast. The first stage was about 8 minutes and was one of the more difficult stages with hidden rocks, high grass, and awkward technical sections making it really easy to clip a pedal or break a derailleur off. Ryan had a great stage 1, while Becky accidentally clipped a pedal on a rock that sent her bike down the hill costing her some time. Stage 2 was even higher up on the mountain and was one of the best tracks of the day if not the year. To get to the stage you rode through fields of flowers and grazing cows to overlook some of Ensenada’s most beautiful views. However, once dropping in there were eight minutes of primo hand built Mexican single track. With rocks and ruts up top opening up into high-speed berms and jumps below, everyone’s hands were smoked by the bottom.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Kasey Caranes

The last two stages of the day were located back near the ranch which made the climbs and tracks significantly shorter. Stage 3 had a lot in common with the trails of southern California with sandy pits and rock rollers, while track 4 was steeper and loose. Both courses went smoothly for both Ryan and Becky. However, track 3 did not go as planned for some racers, with the tape being blown and some fires from excited locals being started too close to the track. Stage 3 ended up being canceled from the race, in the end, pushing Ryan’s overall result down a spot. With mostly clean runs and fast times, Ryan ended up in 5th place and Becky in 4th. Although the race was over, the good times didn’t stop here. The racers headed back to the ranch to enjoy tacos, Mexican beers, and some hard-earned pool time.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Kasey Caranes

Lucky for Ryan and Becky, the race was just the first stage of a proper trip to Baja. Now with business out of the way, the Gardners headed to the beaches with a few friends to spend the next few days camping and catching some waves. They first hit a spot right outside Ensenada for the day. This was probably Ryan’s favorite surf spot of the trip with a solid point break giving them good waves all day. The crew then moved up the coast checking out a surf and camp spot near La Fonda. This was one of the coolest camping spots the Gardner’s have ever seen. Surrounded by other surfers they van camped on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The town was small with a friendly vibe that lent itself well to long surf sessions and cervezas. The next few days were well spent exploring new surf breaks, eating tacos, and enjoying sunset campfires. As the trip came to an end the Gardner’s reluctantly headed back to the border sun-dazed and salty with another great Mexico trip in the books and the anticipation to come back soon.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Kasey Caranes