The California Enduro Series went north this weekend to the rugged coasts of Mendocino County. After two short races on the dusty fast single tracks of Auburn and Monterey, a visit to the redwoods of Northern California was a welcome reprieve. The Wildwood Enduro is also a substantially longer race than most of the California Enduro stops. With over 45 miles and 7k feet of climbing over six physical stages Wildwood promised to test the fitness and concentration of even the most seasoned racers. The race itself was held in the Jackson Demonstration Forest, a green swath of redwood trees and deep drainages less than a mile from the coast. The trails here are a pattern of high speed bench cuts across steep faces followed by shut down corners which all seem to contain overhanging redwood trunks. The result are physical stages requiring dozens of short sprints throughout each race run to get back up to cruising speed as quickly as possible before the next shut down.
My weapon of choice for this event was my perennial favorite, the Process 111. After a few years of building up this frame I think I have come across the perfect part spec and just look at it! This bike is just a ray of sunshine.Up front I have increased the travel to 140mm with a Fox 34 Factory stuffed with the maximum allowable air tokens which gives me a super progressive feel and keeps the front end from diving too much in the rough stuff. A Fox Float run on the plush side does the work out back.
With all this aggressive geometry and suspension this 111 can get up to speed quickly. Slowing down again with a 200lb rider on it however, takes some doing. This year I upgraded to the TRP Quadium four piston brakes with a 203mm rotor up front and a 185 out back. Being able to slow down quickly means I can break later and is well worth any weight penalty.
For this race I went with my go to tire combo from WTB. A tough casing fast rolling Vigilante up front provides tons of bite for my over the front end cornering style, while a tough casing fast rolling trail boss keeps everything rolling fast. It’s the mullet of tire combos, business up front, party in the back!
Ethirteen provides the only plastic components on this bike with their carbon TRSr cranks and wheels. I have had incredibly good luck with these parts and they have really changed my mind about how durable carbon parts can be. Plus, having some light stuff is ok sometimes too I guess… I have also come to rely on their TRSr cassette to get me through big days. With over 500% range I can always find the gear I need. At the end of a 7k foot day of climbing, it can really make a difference on those last few stages.
VP’s VX Adventure pedals have been my go to for the past few seasons and like most of the other parts of this bike I have sacrificed a bit of weight for a nice big platform that provides comfort and stability worth much more than a few grams.
Being comfortable on my bike, and knowing that it can handle a tough situations (like rider errors) gives me the confidence to get way more loose than I have any business being on a 4” 29er. Throughout the day I had more than a few close calls weaving through the redwoods. Riding out of the forest towards the finish area with a group of great friends, rehashing the days moments of glory and mishaps, I was suddenly hooked on racing all over again. This event was exactly what I had needed. When we all dipped our chips and the times started rolling in it was an added bonus to see that I had laid down a good one and took the win by just five seconds after 28+ minutes of racing. Now it’s time to break out the big bike again as the CES heads back to the Sierra for the DH oriented China Peak in two weeks!