Ryan Gardner

Kona at EWS Ainsa Spain

Last weekend members of Kona’s enduro team hit the Spanish countryside for a weekend of heated (literally) enduro racing. With temperatures topping out near 9oF/32C, racers were battling the intense sun, extreme heat, and a whole lot of challenging terrain.

Swede Alexander Kangas finished up the two days of racing with a 46th place.

American Ryan Gardner raced in his first EWS of the season and was amazed by the speed of the pack. Gardner finished in 87th place on the weekend and is looking forward to testing his mettle in the final round in Finale, Italy this weekend.

Becky Gardner, also racing in her first EWS of the season pushed through the heat to end up 28th.

 

Under 21 racer Leah Maunsell of Ireland is fresh out of high school and ready to put the pedals down hard. She finished the weekend with a 2nd place in the U21 class.

 

Next up: Finale Ligure- perhaps the most beloved course on the EWS circuit. Riders are looking forward to the tracks and race. Practice starts tomorrow!

 

 

 

Ryan Gardner Reports from Mammoth

Words by Kona enduro racer, Ryan Gardner.

 

2018 marks my 10th year of racing mountain bikes. During this time I have had seasons where everything seems to go as planned and the flow just came naturally. Others though required a bit more work. This season started off as the latter. With each race came a new hurdle. Mechanicals took me out of contention in Mexico and the TDS and a tough race in New Mexico had roused those little voices in the back of my mind that suggested that I might not have what it takes this year. As I continue to grow at my 9 to 5, the responsibilities there have become more demanding, personal relationships all require time and energy, and the number of hours in the day seem to disappear quicker each year. But despite all the fits and starts of this season, the effort it takes to rally after a 10-hour work day and get out for a training ride, and all the other little sacrifices it takes to be competitive at racing bikes, I keep coming back. It’s the little tastes of success, of progress, that makes all the work worthwhile. So after three lackluster races, it was time to pack up the van and head to my first California Enduro of the year, Mammoth Bar.

Mammoth Bar is not my favorite race of the year. It’s really pedally, really dry, and often really hot. But the racing is tight and it’s a good chance to get into the swing of things. After working three-quarters of a day I ducked out early and got a practice lap in on each stage Friday night for Saturday’s race. With only four stages of racing, each stage required 100% effort. I did my best to remember the stages, stay off the chicken levers, and put power down wherever I could. When it was all said and done I was able to round out the podium in 5th place. Though not the result I was aiming for, it was a step in the right direction; no mechanicals, improved riding, and a podium spot. I even got a feel for my new Satori which has been surprising me with its quick handling and snappy feel. It’s a much different bike from the Process, but its well suited to the fast and flowy singletrack found at many of the CA Enduro Races.

With the season moving into full swing, I’m going to keep focusing on finding the flow, enjoying the ride, and savoring those small victories week after week. Sometimes things don’t come easy. But that’s exactly when the most progress can be made.

THE DIRTY SANCHEZ (TDS) RACE REPORT

Ali stopping for a mid-run beer with encouragement from Mark and Heather.

The Dirty Sanchez: the gnarliest enduro out there. Broken & bruised limbs, mid-run whiskey shots, hundreds of hecklers, the rowdiest bike trails… sums up to my idea of an epic weekend. The Kona crew made an appearance in full force with Ali Osgood, Becky Gardner, Hannah Bergemann, Ryan Gardner, and Scott Countryman, and put together a race report from the weekend.

Becky, Ali, and Hannah on day 1

Hannah B. – Through an Instagram contest submission I was granted a “golden ticket” to race in the 2018 TDS enduro. A month later I was flying with my bike down from Bellingham to Northern California, not quite sure what I was getting myself into.

 

Perry, Chelsea, & Hannah; the 3 Golden Ticket contest winners

Friday was practice day which involved riding as many of the trails as possible, with shuttles to the top after every lap. This meant riding until my arms felt like they might not work anymore.

Dropping into the steep rock garden section of stage 3

Saturday was race day 1, and started off with 3 of the gnarliest trails. My goal for the weekend was to keep it upright and I was (barely) able to make that goal! Stage 6 brought us through the infamous and gnarliest stage, Vigilante, which runs through a steep, dried up creek bed of loose rocks. Hundreds of Hecklers lined the gully, hollering as all the racers wobbled and tumbled their way down the trail.

Trying to stay high on the wall rides among the hecklers

Sunday was day 2, and we endured another 6 stages of gap jumps, loose rocks, and off camber steeps. I finished each stage completely gassed but with a huge, cheesy grin on my face.

The whole weekend was amazing. I landed in 7th in a large field of ladies and was happy to have relatively clean race runs. The Sanchez family and friends are one incredible crew of people, and I’m so grateful they let me come experience all the glory of the TDS.

Until next time!

Hannah B.

 

Ali Osgood:

When I rolled up to the Sanchez Compound for my second TDS I had 2 goals. The first was to not repeat my first year at the event by getting injured in practice, and my second goal was to be the first woman to win the Spirit Leader Award.

Ali getting steezy on a step-up

(side note: The Spirit Award goes to the racer who meets the spirit criteria of TDS legends like Mark Weir and Ariel Lindsley. That racer must improve the experience of all TDS goers, be it on the race course, during pastimes, or, especially, round the campfire into the late hours of the night. Every year in contention for the coveted award voices are lost, beers are chugged, trails are slayed, and many laughs are shared.)

I picked up Hannah Bergemann from the airport thursday night, we settled into our camp, and woke up to a chilly Friday morning of practice. As always, the trails didn’t disappoint. Imagine a trail system that somehow manages to feature unparalleled flow with gap jumps, massive wall rides, and deep berms, steep rocky gnar, spongy fragrant loam, rooty chutes, and high speed tech. That’s what makes up the 13 stages of TDS. But the mtb wonderland got the better of me and by my fifth run in practice I managed to scorpion over my bars and punch a rock, rendering my pinky both broken and dislocated (I would discover days later after finally getting an x-ray).

The result of Ali’s crash during practice.

So I managed to fail my first goal, but the trail side doctors seemed confident I could still ride with the proper ratio of booze to ibuprofen and a firm buddy tape system. With my grip and general bike control being more compromised than I anticipated, I found myself crashing in the first few stages on Saturday. So I reorganized my goals and decided I didn’t care how slow I had to go, that I would still finish the race smiling.

Yep.. a pantsless run was in the cards on day 2. There’s a reason Ali earned the spirit award

After that, my weekend took a hard left turn from a bike race to a beer chugging, bar humping, break dance fighting shit show that I somehow survived with minimal bodily harm (besides an array of bruises and a pissed of left pinky). I made a lot of new friends, improved my beer bong skills, rode with some of the raddest pro women on the West Coast, and learned how to stay positive when things don’t go my way.

Getting the spirit award takes commitment…

While I failed to walk away from TDS uninjured, I somehow found myself accepting an impressive spread of prizes after winning the spirit award. I’v had some good wins in my race career, but this one takes the cake. After navigating the wild waters of TDS weekend, I finally understand what it’s all about and I am grateful to be apart of it.

So what’s it all about anyway? Come out next year, and you’ll find out…

Ryan Gardner:

Becky and I have attended the TDS enduro for several years now and have had the pleasure of watching it evolve from a couple guys in the woods to an elite enduro with hundreds of racers. Every year we head to Grass Valley eager to race on some of Northern California’s best terrain. I made the trip over the mountain from Oakland and was stoked to see what my new Kona Process 153 could do.

 

Ryan keeping it pinned through the hecklers

After ripping practice laps and remembering just how awesome the tracks are, I was ready to send it into day one of racing. Unfortunately, the first day of racing was not in my favor. After a crash in the rock garden, a flat tire, and a few more less-than-ideal runs, I didn’t find myself where I’d have liked after day 1.

Vigilante took more than a few people down, unknown rider.

Thankfully, the best part of racing TDS is not just the riding, but the festivities and like-minded people that make the Dirty Sanchez. After some bike repairs, having a few Hey Buddy beers, I was ready for more races, and day two brought a way better day. With clean runs and no mechanicals, I was able to put some top ten runs together against a stacked class of riders.

Becky Gardner:

After finishing up another winter in Telluride, Co, I made the trek over to TDS. After a winter of skiing, and recently recovering from a broken rib, my game plan was to ride consistent, smooth, and in control, especially after a history of injuries at the race. The first day of practice at TDS is always interesting coming from southern Colorado where the only trails available to ride all winter are more fitness-oriented and the rocky, gnarly trails lay beneath the snow.

 

Becky looking stoked after a day of practice.

By the end of the practice day and practicing all the features, I was feeling good going into race day. The weekends sunshine brought perfect dirt and tacky berms. Feeling super confident on more pedally stages, it took a bit to warm up to the more technical stages, but by the end of day 1, I was feeling strong on my Process 134.

Becky tackling the nasty rocks of Vigilante

All 12 stages went well, except for a few mishaps on some of the earlier stages, but the whole race was mechanical free and I was stoked to sit inside the top 10 against some very strong riders.

-Becky

Ryan Gardner reports from Mexico’s Trans Puerto Vallarta

With the major portion of the enduro race season still a few months away but a month or two of training already on the books, Becky and I decided to head south for a few days and check out the Trans Puerto Vallarta. The Trans PV was new this year and included some awesome trails we had already ridden in the little mountain town of Mascota Mexico. We were also treated to some new trails in San Sabastian and mountains surrounding Puerta Vallarta. The whole race took four days with travel to Mascota and included 15 special stages. It was the perfect opportunity to test new bikes, dial in suspension, and shake off the cobwebs from a few months away from racing. Plus, it’s hard to say no to warm temps, tacos, and those chill Mexican vibes.

After flying into PV we built up bikes including my brand new Process 153 29”. I only had one day on this monster before I crammed its big wheels into my Evoc bag, but I had already set a few PR’s on my home trails. This bike breathes fire.

 

After a bike building session, 5-6 tacos, and a margarita (It’s ok to go full gringo) we were off to bed and excited to travel to San Sabastian the next day.

 

The trails of San Sabastian (and neighboring Mascota) are old. Really old. Most of the trails we raced are leftover mining trails and roads from the 1700’s. Even the estate where we camped for the first two nights was built sometime around 1750 and was the center of gold and other mineral mining for the surrounding areas. From here, mules carried the valuable metals down to the Puerto Vallarta so they could be exported. From these ancient paths, the riders of Mexico have reclaimed (sometimes very) narrow single tracks. This, coupled with the dry season, made for some exiting blind racing as riders struggled to find speed, traction, and flow throughout the day. Ryan had a solid day placing second behind good friend and training partner Cory Sullivan by just one second, and ahead of the rest of the field by over 30 seconds. Becky crushed the first four stages before taking a big crash, splitting her knee open, and taking a stem to the sternum. Even with the crash, she finished the day in first place.

Once back to camp, riders were treated to cervecas and a mountain of carnitas. This particular combination results in near instantaneous sleep. Not even the snoring of racers and barking of extremely photogenic Mexican dogs could keep us awake.

Day two of racing saw us move to the steep and fast trails of Mascota. The tracks here are varied and include some wide open sections, some incredibly tight switchbacks, and some pretty gnarly rock gardens. It was in the latter that I made a critical error. My Process 153 had been egging me on all day, seemingly frustrated by my pace. The whole bike comes alive at speed and it’s a constant battle to keep things under control on a trail you have never ridden. I got just a little too excited in one gnarly rock garden and instead of rolling a 4ft boulder, I pulled up and hucked out towards a side hill hoping to keep some speed. Unfortunately, I landed juuuuust a bit to the right and clipped a knife-edged rock which put a 2.5-inch slice in my tough casing WTB vigilante. It was an immediate flat for me and a 30-minute time loss as I finagled a fix to get me back to town. After some Mexican ingenuity and the incredible durability of my Vigilante, I was able to get it patched up and win 3 of the 4 remaining stages including a super tight trail on which my “dinosaur bike” was supposed to be slow.

 

Becky, denouncing stitches which would have taken her out of the race, soldiered on to the amazement of everyone in the field. Rocking last season’s Process 134 and fueled by ice cream stops and adorable Mexican puppies, she rallied through the day only losing one spot on the timesheet by day’s end.


That night we set up camp at a beautiful ranch outside Mascota. There was only one cold shower, but the home-cooked food and late night pizza delivery made up for it. Talking that evening with friend and event promoter Alvaro Gutierrez Leal, he confided that the next morning’s transfer to the stages was what he was most worried about. It was a three-hour drive through 4×4 roads, in two-wheel drive Toyota vans. Turns out he was right. After a few sketchy river crossings and putting some serious wear on the clutch plate, we arrived in the coastal mountains above Puerto Vallarta.
Where the first two days were loose, these trails were on another level of negative traction. No front breaking here. Every stage of the day was wide open with almost no traction, some sand, and scary off-camber corners. We were also given some “Mexican surprises,” like a trail that enters a backyard, loops around a house, and then exits through the front gate. A flock of chickens presented a few opportunities for nose-bawks.

After finishing on a steep and sandy track known as El Scorpion we gathered together for a chill ride back to the ocean, buckets of beers, more tacos, and a bit of Raicilla (the traditional liquor Mascota made from wild agave and brewed in backyard stills). Due to the tire fiasco, Ryan finished off the podium. Becky finished the race in second place, injury and all!

 

 

Photos by Nico Switalski

Words by Ryan Gardner

 

 

DHARCO/WTB Rider Ryan Gardner Receives a Novelty Check at CES China Peak

The Golden Tour is a “series within a series” representing the most technical and difficult races of the California Enduro Series. The first stop of this year’s Golden Tour brought me to China Peak resort, deep within the Sierra Mountains east of Fresno, California. The terrain at China Peak has become well known over the past few years as both the California Enduro Series and the Pro GRT DH series has made stops here. The entire hill is made of granite in various stages of decay testing racers with steep, rough tracks and minimal traction in the dusty corners. This year the late winter added a new feature, mud bogs which seemed to grow exponentially from practice to race runs, dotted a few of the stages. I for one was called out on Stage 1 and found myself running with bike in hand after trying to take a sneaky line around said bog.

For some reason, China Peak is always a tough race for me mentally. It falls in one of the busiest times of year for me work wise and I can never seem to get to the race with a clear head. This year was no different. I got up early on Thursday, flew to Los Angeles for work for the day, landed at the Oakland Airport at 9pm, hopped in the van, and made the 4-hour drive directly to China Peak. I did what I could to get my head back in the game during practice on Friday, but the pop just didn’t seem to be there. My suspicions were confirmed during the first few stages of race day. I was riding well and my Process 153 was feeling perfect, but I just couldn’t summon the power to make up time on the long pedally sections. Lucky for me China Peak kept my favorite stage from last year, a long, rocky and mostly downhill track that includes some long open sections of exposed rock slab that are just too much fun on board an XL 153 with a 170 Fox 36 up front. The thing just eats it up! After making up some serious time on stage 4 and crawling back into the top 5 it was time to take on the much talked about stage 5.

This stage was new for 2017, lovingly cut by hand by fellow racer Evan Turpin earlier that week. Everyone agreed this track was the hardest yet raced at any CES event. It was steep, rocky, and completely blown out by race day. I knew there was only so much you could push in the upper section which had steep chutes into tight corners filled with light fluffy decomposed granite. There was no traction to be had. I took it clean and consistent and then opened it up a bit towards the bottom and was stoked to take the second fastest time of the day and moving myself up to 4th overall.

I was more than happy to take home some points and some confidence at a traditionally tough race for me. Plus, I got my first novelty check which will be proudly hung in the garage. Now it’s time to take a few weeks to tune the motor and get ready for the next race of the series as I make the move south to Big Bear Lakes in a few weeks.

 

 

Ryan Gardner and Alexander Kangas take on Round Three of the EWS in Madeira

Kona had two of its enduro riders attend Round Three of the Enduro World Series on the small Atlantic Island of Madeira this past weekend including Alexander Kangas (SWE) and Ryan Gardner (USA). This was the first EWS stop held on the remote island and riders could only speculate on the conditions that would await them. After two days of practicing the nine stages that would span two race days, riders were forced to come to grips with a veritable cornucopia of trail conditions. The island, it turns out, is a gem of many facets. Stages started at over 6,000ft on the ancient volcanic island (one of the oldest in the world) and dropped from wide open alpine feeling meadows into deciduous forests which could have been somewhere in the Northeast of the United States. Other trails fingered down ridgelines with sheer drops to the ocean on one side and 30 million-year-old forests filled with prehistoric cycads on the other. Still, other trails dropped riders down treacherous rock strewn paths and ended in wide open eucalyptus groves. All of this was mixed with around 4k feet of climbing per day and stages which stretched to 9+ minutes. To say this EWS was a test is an understatement. The worlds best battled through the four days of riding and broken bikes and bodies were not uncommon.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

All Photos: Sven Martin

Alex had a bit of a tough start to the weekend taking a header into a very stout pine whilst hucking a big line on a slick and root strewn section of stage seven. A stage which would go on to take more than a few riders down. When Alex “woke up on Saturday for the first day of racing, I honestly felt like shit, I had a headache and felt dizzy, I hate making excuses but honestly, I wasn’t feeling that good! But I felt like I was gonna be able to ride my bike.” And so he soldiered on through the most pedally and possibly most technical stages of the weekend and wound up 61st on the first day.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Ryan Gardner made the trip from California to Madiera for his first EWS of the season. Coming off a podium in CA the previous weekend, Ryan was looking forward to seeing where he fit in amongst the world class crowd. He was quickly introduced to some of the slickest and rowdiest trails he has had the good fortune to ride. “Some of the tracks were honestly a little intimidating to race” he said. Day one started off with an incredibly physical track which seemed more uphill than down and lasted a solid 10 minutes. After this, the tracks stayed slippery and wet, but went increasingly downhill. “I had a tough time getting used to the icy red clay after a winter of riding hero dirt in CA, but managed one of my best stages of the day on stage three which had been giving me anxiety all week”. Two crashes (one each on stage tour and nine) put Ryan back in 82st after day one, a position more than a few places lower than he had hoped.

On Sunday Alex continued to improve through the day and started to attack the track on his Process 153 in a style more fitting to his abilities. He ended the day with a solid 44th on stage nine. His day two stylings bumped him up in the overall to a very respectable 56th in the stacked 200 rider deep open field. Alex heads on to Ireland in two weeks looking to continue building momentum.
Day two also saw Ryan improve on his performance clawing back nine places to finish 73rd overall and the fourth fastest American at the race. “I was really happy to have a clean race today. Stages five and six were really wet and I was having a hard time finding the pace. These were some of the most slippery trails I have ever ridden!”. As the day went on the tracks dried considerably and Ryan started gaining back some confidence on the bike and avoided any major mistakes, helping him in the overall. “This was the hardest race I have done so far and I learned quite a bit about what you need to be successful at this level. It seems like every year the pace is increasing and the tracks are getting harder! I’m really happy to put together a big two-day race without any major crashes or mechanicals!”.
Both riders finished within the top 80 and will, therefore, receive those coveted EWS points.

Got Mud? Ryan Gardner and Alexander Kangas Embrace Yet Another Wet EWS Round in Madeira

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Alexander Kangas chases Ryan Gardner down one of Day 1’s slippery stages during the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal. Photo Sven Martin

California-based Kona enduro pro Ryan Gardner and Swedish Grassroots rider Alexandre Kangas have made the trip to Madeira, Portugal for round 3 of the Enduro World Series. The pair headed out today to practice on stages 1 through 4. “It’s crazy how different each trail is as you work your way down the mountain.” Ryan is not alone with his statement here, as both riders note that every stage is like an entirely different ecosystem, each containing differing terrain as the race drops from the alpine to sea level.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Alexander uses his tires to soak up that pesky mud during the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal. Photo Sven Martin

It seems like every Enduro World Series event of late has been battling the elements. Riders who were early to arrive to stop three in Madeira have been enjoying dry weather and riding this past week. But it seems as though the EWS might just be cursed, the moment the official practice kicked off earlier today, the rain arrived.

Looking at the forecasted weather though, it does look like we will see a reversal of the first two rounds, with overcast and sunny days on the horizon. Always looking on the bright side, Ryan was quick to point out that it wasn’t wet all day. “First day of practice was full on! We had a good bit of rain on the higher elevation stages (1+2), but the sun was shining on and off once we made it down to the lower ones.”  Alexander echoed his sentiment “I’m very happy with how the day went, I felt fast and strong all day, the rain made it tricky here and there, but I think it will make for some good racing come the weekend!”

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Ryan Gardner finds off camber gold/loam. Photo Sven Martin

After today’s practice, both riders are pumped for the weekend’s race days, stages three and four in particular. As Ryan puts it “Stage 3 is super gnarly with slippery rocks up top and high speed rough sections down below. The final stage of day one (stage 4) is completely different with deep ruts and good dirt. My process 153 is doing a phenomenal job eating up the chunk add I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s practice brings! So far this island is incredible!” Alexander agrees “The first day of practice was great but challenging, we had rain showers on most of the stages today which made things super tricky! Stages 3 and 4 are in my opinion the best, but they are also the most challenging ones!”

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Photo Sven Martin

With tomorrow’s practice looking it might be free of rain, things should go a little smoother for the two Process 153 riders.

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Alexander

During the third stop of the 2017 Enduro World series in Madeira, Portugal.

Ryan.

WTB Profiles Ryan Gardner in this cool little video

Ryan Gardner, WTB athlete and EWS shredder, was looking for a way to keep the bills down while racing the EWS last year. The solution: van life. That alone shows considerable commitment, but he also did so while tying a tie as he jumped out of the side doors each morning to get to his desk as a sustainability consultant full-time. Not many can stay true to van life while still keeping it clean cut and driven. It’s one of Ryan Gardner’s many skills. Only rivaled by his shredability on two wheels.

 

Kona Super Grassroots riders finish the California Enduro Series on the Podium

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The Kamikaze bike games were the final, and largest, stop of the California Enduro Series. Over 450 participants made the trip to the volcanic soils of the eastern sierra. For those of you who have not been to Mammoth Mountain, perhaps you have heard legends of the “dirt” that one finds here amongst the barren mountains and hot springs. Dust doesn’t quite capture the essence of Mammoth, pumice gets you closer, but really kitty litter is the closest physical form that explains the physics of the dirt here. Now picture that kitty litter strewn over tons of square edged rocks, obscuring their presence to varying degrees, and you have an idea of the conditions that tested the Norcal Cooperative this past weekend. cx0r4119To add to these tricky conditions, the last race of the year brought with it a season’s worth of wear and tear on equipment and bodies alike. The morning of the event, racers were met with another foe, a forest fire had started the evening before and was now draping the mountain in thick smoke. As some questioned whether the show would go on, others prepared for the day with some early morning practice runs. By 9am the smoke began to clear out and the race was officially underway.

cx0r2637Ryan Gardner had high hopes coming into mammoth after a big win here last year. Eager to work his way up the overall rankings, he gave it his all, and managed a 9th place in a strong pro field despite a few mechanicals. The challenging courses were anything but forgiving. Nineth place was not exactly what he was hoping for, but it was enough to secure a 4th in the Golden Tour overall and a 2nd in the California Enduro Series, a huge accomplishment for the full-time office jockey.

cx0r3489Derek Teel finished off a killer season fighting off some late season injuries. His day at Mammoth was more of a victory lap as he cruised to a fifth-place finish overall for the season. Derek made huge gains this year aboard his Process 134 landing his best enduro finishes to date! First year on Kona’s and best results. Coincidence? I think not.

cx0r3586Arianna had a bit of a rough go when some errant course tape led her off track and resulting in a DNF. Her season went well though, and she made the switch from DH to Enduro look easy landing a 6th overall.cx0r3171

And with that, the 2016 Enduro season has come to an end. In our inaugural year, the Norcal Cooperative put a Kona on seven of eight podiums. Overall, the team didn’t disappoint landing in the second and fifth spots in California’s Premier race series. Now it’s time for a little recovery, some long, sweet, soul rides, and maybe even some skinny wheeled suffering.

The Kona Nor Cal Cooperative team locks down Men’s and Women’s 4th places at Northstar

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Ryan Gardner has been on fire this season, he still retains his second overall placing in the series, even finishing off the podium in 9th place this weekend. Photo Scott McClain / Called To Creation

Tahoe is an iconic location for the entire outdoors industry. People come far and wide to experience the crystal blue water, vast Sierras, and world class trails. Northstar Ski Resort has led the charge for summer lift access, offering the gnarliest terrain most will race on, let alone ride all year. It was here that the California Enduro Series held it’s 6th round, which was also Stop #2 for the high paying Golden Tour.

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Over the course of two days, riders were faced with 6 stages resulting in over 40 minutes of race time. The relentless rocks, deep dust, and technical features were balanced by a daunting top to bottom run starting at the 8,600ft peak and finishing just above the 6,300ft village. Although this was deemed to be the deciding stage of the race, consistency of the top guys narrowed down the battle which maintained until the final stage.CTC57763

Derek Teel chose the capable Process 134 (spec’d with a 150mm fork) to stay light over rocks while pumping features and attacking the pedals. Nailing his lines with only a few mistakes saw him finishing 5th or 6th on every stage and securing 4th for the overall! With the podium housing the likes of Curtis Keene, Marco Osbourne, and current series leader Evan Geankoplis, things are looking bright for the Nor Cal shredder.

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Derek Teel, put together a solid weekends racing and found himself standing on the pro men’s podium with EWS racers Curtis Keene and Marco Osbourne. Photo Scott McClain / Called To Creation

Ariana Altier, aboard her Process 153, proved that she could not only compete with the top women but come back from a crash in practice that left her scrambling for a new wheel. Enduro racing is about persistence and not letting the small (or big things) affect your riding. She kept it fast and steady throughout the weekend, finishing fourth overall!

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Ariana Altier kept her consistent CES season rolling finishing in fourth as well as maintaining her fourth place in the overall series standings. Photo Scott McClain / Called To Creation

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Ryan Gardner rode to a solid ninth place this weekend, keeping not only the entire team inside the top ten but his series overall standing in a secured second.CTC58200
Team NorCal Cooperative has continued their podium streak and proving that the Process can compete on any terrain the West Coast has to offer.CTC57696

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Ryan Garnder nabs second at the Ashland Enduro

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Ryan Gardner is on fire this season in the California Enduro Series and the overall is now well within reach. 

The latest round of the California Enduro Series brought the Norcal Cooperative just north of the California border to Ashland Oregon. Though not within California, the incredible quality of the trails and race organizers are enough to draw the CES over the border year after year. The trails in Ashland are narrow, fast, and this year in particular, dry and rough. It takes an iron will to keep your fingers off the brakes here as you try to remember if the upcoming turn is the one that you can fly through with no brakes, or the one with the increasing radius and falling away off-camber exit. To really spice things up this year race promoters Ashland Mountain Adventures were able to include longtime favorite, and newly legal, trail “lynx” to the mix. This resulted in a 16 minute stage that tested every racer’s fitness and ability to corner with crossed eyes and burning lungs. This stage was complemented by three other shorter ripping fast stages to round out the day.CTC58922

Ryan Gardner had a bit of an upset in the morning when his beloved van blew a high pressure oil line the morning of the race, but was still able to put together a solid day, winning the longest stage and taking second overall in pro men to local ripper Nathan Riddle. Ryan chose his Process 111 for the day, relying on its quick handling, sweet geo, and monster truck wheels to keep him carrying speed in and out of the mega braking bumps which formed on the dusty fast courses.

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Derek Teel on route to yet another top ten finish.

Derek Teel and Ariana Altier both came away with solid top 10 finishes choosing the balanced Process 134 and 153 respectively. Becky Gardner even made a surprise appearance choosing to forgo the Mammoth DH nationals in order to give this enduro thing a try. She ended up with a top 10 in Pro Women on flat pedals and only one practice run on each trail. The next stop on the CES tour promises to be a ripper when the show arrives at Northstar at Tahoe for the second stop of the Golden Tour! Stay tuned for more riding, racing, and good times with the Norcal Cooperative.

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Ariana Altier, text book cornering for a top ten place.

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Becky Gardner came up to Ashland to “try” this Enduro thing and rolled away with a top ten result.

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The California Enduro Series arrives at stop number four, Ryan and Derek podium.

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Ryan Gardner laying it over in on stage 4. Photo: Scott McClain/CalledtoCreation.com

Kona racers had a strong showing this weekend at the 4th stop of the California Enduro Series at China Peak. China Peak is not only the most recent stop of the overall series, but the first race of the much anticipated “Golden Tour” which consists of three of the gnarlier venues in California: China Peak, Mammoth, and North Star. All three venues boast fast, loose, and rocky conditions, but China Peak certainly takes the crown for unpredictable conditions that challenge riders throughout the day. Elevation, square edged granite, and soil that just never seems to give much support, all conspire to foul race day plans. Kona racers Ryan Gardner and Derek Teel of the Norcal Cooperative both braved the tough conditions aboard their Process of choice, Ryan opted for the heavy hitting Process 153 while Derek made use of the nimble Process 134. Both riders had solid runs throughout the day with Derek putting in solid top five results on the first three stages. Ryan was a bit late to the party, but made up some serious time on the downhill oriented 4th stage, taking second on the stage, and securing third overall on the day. Derek was able to snag his second podium spot of the year and took 5th.

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Recent enduro convert Ali Osgood powering her way to 7th place. Photo: Scott McClain/CalledtoCreation.com

The Kona women were also out in full force with both Ali Osgood and Arianna Altier ripping their Process 153s through four demanding stages. Both Ali and Arianna are making the tough move from DH to Enduro and are already podium threats after just a few races. Both ladies had solid runs but found themselves just off the podium with Arianna in 6th and Ali in 7th. Expect to see them both gaining positions as they get this whole enduroing thing figured out.

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No strangers to the podium, Ryan Gardner 3rd and Derek Teel 5th are getting used to this. Photo: Scott McClain/CalledtoCreation.com

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Derek and Ryan. Male Models? Photo: Scott McClain/CalledtoCreation.com

In addition to the Pro men and Women, perennial Kona shredder Dave “the doctor” Phreaner dominated the 50+ expert category by over half a minute aboard his trusty Process 153. Dave leveraged his experience smashing rocks in Santa Barbara to wrangle a commanding win that rivaled the times of riders half his age!

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Arianna Altier had a solid day out, just missing the podium and finishing in 6th place. Photo: Scott McClain/CalledtoCreation.com

The California Enduro Series leaves the dry and dusty Sierra’s for the fast, flowy, loamy, goodness of Ashland Oregon in two weeks so stay tuned for more great riding and results!