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!

 

 

Ryan Gardner takes the win at Round 2 of the California Enduro Series in Reno, Nevada

CTC50208Kona racers had an awesome weekend at the California Enduro Series Round 2 in Reno, Nevada. Ryan Gardner rode his Process 111 to the top step in a stacked men’s field just .39 ahead of second place. Derek Teel, riding his Process 134 DL, put together a solid set of runs to take his first Pro Enduro podium landing in 5th place. On the women’s side, Ali Osgood also rocking the 134 took 5th in her first ever Enduro Race.

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Reno is one of the more physical of the California Enduro Series stops, opting for one big day and six stages. Riders spent at least 5 hours in the unusually green and wildflower dotted hills they call Peavine. The trails here are fast and flowy in general, but the high speeds, slippery corners, and intermittent headwinds meant it took some serious power to stay up to speed. Stage 5 (the first stage run by the Pro men and women) was the gnarliest of the day with square edge rocks, high speed off camber and a challenging rock filled gully deemed the “snake pit” that claimed multiple tires and wheels throughout the race. It was a big day on the bikes for the whole Kona crew here in California, but all the pedaling was rewarded with three podium spots, a few beers, and an awesome atmosphere that has become the hallmark of California Enduro racing.

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KONA SUPER GRASSROOTS RIDERS REPORT FROM ROUND 2 OF THE 2016 EWS IN ARGENTINA

Just one week after Kona Super Grassroots riders Ryan Gardner and James Rennie rode over 120 miles and climbed over 20,000 feet they found themselves in knee deep dust in Argentina’s Cerro Catedral, Bariloche region. The weekend started out alright for the two of them, with both having moved up the start list (Ryan to 51st and James to 71). But like the bad luck that befell James on the 6th stage last week in Chile, both riders had things come apart on them in this weekend final stage. Ryan’s rear brake pads went flew past him and got lost in the dust which ruined his chances of completing the stage and the event. James again had bad luck with his chain resulting in a less than ideal finish, although in the highly competitive field we think 67th is still pretty darn respectable.

Read on to hear about round two of the Enduro World Series went from James and Ryan’s perspectives.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina.

James Rennie trying to get to grips with the wheel eating knee deep dust, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina. Photo Sven Martin

It was a tough weekend here in Bariloche. The tracks were absolutely destroyed with most stages being completely rutted out and hidden under at least a foot of fine sandy dust.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina.

At least the final three stages offered a little shade, no escape from the dust though. James Rennie, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina. Photo Sven Martin

The stages went ok for me, I was certainly feeling the effects of last weeks effort in Chile and I laid down a couple good runs and was really happy with stage four on day two where I finished 51st. Things fell apart a bit on stage six though as something hooked my chain in one of the many deep hidden ruts and I once again finished the day chainless!

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina.

James Rennie settling in to 8 minutes of dust filled descending, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina. Photo Sven Martin

South America has been an absolutely awesome experience and I feel like I’ve put together some solid results to build on for the rest of the season. From here though it’s back to Vancouver, where I will be racing the Pemby Enduro at the end of the month. I want to give a huge thanks to Kona the Process 153 is  such a rad Bike! – James Rennie

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina.

Ryan Gardner putting the hammer down, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina. Photo Sven Martin

There are really no words to describe the riding in Bariloche, Argentina. Take the deepest, dustiest, place you have ever ridden and multiply it by at least a factor of 10. I’m talking full on man eating hub deep ruts filled with the finest powder you can imagine. I’m talking full on moto, hang off the back, face shots while cornering, hold on for dear life, 8 minute downhill stages. Round 2 of the Enduro World Series was no joke! Even the best riders in the world were having trouble in the completely different conditions, and it showed as even the fastest runs of the weekend contained crashes or at least major mistakes. Perfection was not in the cards for most this weekend, and for many, myself included, it came down to survival.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina.

Lost his brakes and DNF’d but Ryan Gardner is still all smiles during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina. Photo Sven Martin

It was incredible to see how fast the tracks could change from run to run. Your first practice run might go smoothly as the track was fairly fresh, but by the second run enormous holes would emerge in all the worst places. The sneaky outside line was now a foot deep rut, and that berm that saved you last time has now been vaporized. I spent the first two runs of day one just hanging on and taking it easy as the tracks had changed dramatically from practice. I ended up right around 50th for both. The third stage was a completely different story as I had maybe one of my worst runs ever with at least 3 major crashes as I tried to make up time, only to crash again. The chaos on track was highlighted by the fact that after I was passed by the rider behind me, I passed him in a similar fashion a few seconds later after the first of his two crashes.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round two Cerro Cathedral, Bariloche, Argentina.

The course was ever evolving as Ryan found that after the practice days sections of trail were hard to recognise on race day. Photo Sven Martin

Day two ended up being a similar affair with my first two runs being clean, and one of them being fairly fast placing in the 40’s. However, stage six was a little bit of a disappointment. I had some rear brake issues on stage 5 and got some work done at the Shimano tent. Unfortunately, we put the pin that holds the pads back in, but didn’t bend it enough. This resulted in me losing both pads and breaking the pistons in my rear brake just before the stage. In the spirit of enduro, at least six of us tried to switch my front rotor and caliper to replace the contaminated rear set. The plan was to run just a rear brake, but I had lost too much fluid. It was probably for the best, as the tracks were terrifying enough with two brakes. I was forced to take the chairlift down in defeat. Even with the DNF I’m really happy with a top 50 finish last weekend and a few more top 50 stages this weekend. Even better, I’m off for a week of hanging out and riding in beautiful Patagonia. – Ryan Gardner

Kona Super Grassroots riders report from Round 1 of the 2016 EWS in Chile

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan Gardner during practice on Day 1 of 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

Kona Super Grassroots enduro riders Ryan Gardner and James Rennie made the decision this year to take their Process 153’s and tackle a bunch of EWS rounds, both riders figured that kicking things off with Round 1 in Chilé, South America was as good a place to start as anywhere. Over the four epic days, between practice and racing, Ryan and James rode over 120 miles and climbed over 20,000 feet. Both coming from full time work at their respective homes, the two posted some solid results over the weekend. James’ first stage result of 32nd being one of them and Ryan’s consistency, which placed him in the top 50 (surround by full-time sponsored professionals) being his. Unfortunately for James, a very similar top 50 result was thwarted as he snapped his chain powering out of the very flat stage six start. Both Ryan and James have fired through their race reports, read on to hear about round one of the Enduro World Series went from their perspectives.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie embracing the Spirit of Enduro on the first day of practice, because of the physical nature of the courses only one practice run was possible, creating any incredibly level field of riders where everyone was essentially racing blind. Photo Sven Martin

Round 1 of the Enduro World Series in Corral, Chile is in the books and it was everything that makes Enduro great. Huge days on the bike, far off places, friendly people, and rugged downhills all combined to make an awesome kickoff to the season. With Corral being well off the beaten path for most EWS racers, everyone came into the race with zero knowledge of the courses. Almost everyone’s first glimpse of the stages was during practice on Thursday and Friday and with the distance between each stage, only one practice run was possible. This made for nearly blind racing on tracks that never looked overly difficult, but made for some very tricky racing. Most of the courses started with tough corners and lots of pedaling before dropping into more technical descents. The super steep and physically demanding switchbacks on stages two and five claimed handfuls of riders both during practice and the race as fatigue began to set in. World class riders, even those known for their fitness, began to show visible signs of wear as the week wore on. However, the absolutely stunning backdrop of coastal Chile, and a backpack full of empinadas made the grinding climbs a little easier to power through.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie en route to a 32nd place finish in Stage 1 , during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

After a winter of racing cyclocross and doing big rides around California, I was hoping to meet the first round with a full head of steam and all the fitness I could ask for. Instead I was forced to meet the 120 miles and 20k feet of climbing over four days with a pretty solid cold that never quite let me feel like myself. With that in mind I told myself that I needed to just get through the weekend and not worry too much about placing. However, as any racer knows, it’s easy to get a little over excited and I pushed myself way too hard on stage one. I finally blew my hands off the bars in a hard g-out and took a digger. I got up as fast as I could and sprinted hard to make up time, only to blow out the very next corner in the loose dirt and dust. I finished off the stage and decided that it was probably better to dial it back a bit and be consistent and I managed to stay off the ground for the rest of the weekend. There were a few injuries including a compound fractured ankle that really highlighted the risks involved with riding as close to the line as you can on demanding trails with minimal practice. Enduro is continuing to come into its own and the consistent speed and concentration required to be a top international rider is truly impressive.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan Gardner trying not to get distracted by the insane views of coastal Chilé, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

The whole race experience was a blast as it was visibly clear how excited the people of Corral were to be hosting an international group of racers. Each transfer stage was made a little easier by the throngs of locals smiling and waving as we passed and the Spanish cheers echoing from along the steepest parts of the descent. It was also nice to share the climbs and recap the previous stages with new super grassroots racer James Rennie who was having a killer weekend (placing near the top 30 on stage one!) before getting unlucky on the last stage with a broken chain. I am personally super happy to have made the top 50 riders and place 5th fastest American. Not too bad for an office jockey with a cold! Next up is a day or two of rest and then on to Argentina this weekend for Round 2. – Ryan Gardner

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Vancouver based Kiwi, James Rennie, recovering after the first days racing at the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie, Foot Out, Flat Out. Photo Sven Martin

After two long days of practice I was already feeling weary coming in to the first day of racing. The trails in Corral proved to have a good mix of everything, great dirt and high speeds seemed to be the main theme though. Day one went well for me, finishing the day in 60th after losing a whole of time on stage two. I was stoked with my first stage time though, where I finished in 32nd.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie Scandi flick though a Chilean switchback, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

Day two the weather was cooler making the climbs a bit more manageable. My legs felt great and stages four and five went well with both finishes around the top 50. After a longer wait at the top of the final stage my legs felt fresh, so fresh that I snapped my chain out of the gate and couldn’t get along the first flat section of the stage losing a whole lot of time. All in all it was a great weekend and the first EWS I have successfully finished! I ended up 73rd.

The Process 153 smashed it all weekend and it was great to hang out with fellow Kona Super Grassroots rider, Ryan Gardner. – James Rennie

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan Gardner, keeps calm and consistent en route to his solid top 50 finish. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Look mom, no chain. James Rennie rode all of stage six from the start gate to the finish line chain-less. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie getting all colour coordinated in some fresh 2016 TLD kit , during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan roosts some of the hero dirt in Corral, Chilé during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one. Photo Sven Martin

Full Results can be found here.

Super Grassroots rider Ryan Gardner Wins a Fast Paced Group Ride

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Beacon Hill defending fast group ride winner Jay Memmelaar Photo: Jamie Lee

There are not many places that I would rather be than the Northeast in fall. Ripping dusty, dry, laps in California had me feeling pretty homesick for good friends, brightly colored leaves, and trails filled with big ass rocks and roots. These ideas were playing through my head for a few weeks before I was reminded that it was also Beacon Mega Avalanche season. If you have not heard of the Beacon Mega, I’m not surprised. It’s a small community rac…. Errr “fast paced group ride” devised by Anthony Coneski, an absolute shredder (on his Process 153) and one of my oldest friends. The ride starts at the top of Mt Beacon, the mountain that taught me to ride, with about 50 friends. Well technically, the ride starts the night before with a raging costume dance party complete with a solid DJ set from Jon Miles of Peoples Bicycle, the local Kona shop.

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Photo: Rosie Edreira

Anyway, for those who survive the night (which is not everyone, Coneski himself was taken out in an unfortunate dancing accident) the format is mass start with all riders’ hands touching the fire tower, and bikes located about 50 yards away. At the signal the mad dash is on. People sprint to their bikes over slickrock and boulders. The lucky few get out in front early, the rest get caught in the jumble of riders all jockeying for position, and anything goes. The route sends riders down boulder fields covered with orange and yellow leaves, tires go flat, blocks are made, carnage happens. After making it through the gamut of Mt. Beacon, riders are dumped onto a road and given free reign over the route to the finish. The result is a mass of riders sprinting through parks, backyards, and down main streets as they find their way to Bank Square Coffee House where they need to finish a beer before their time stops. Riders employ a variety of strategery, some sprinting hard to the finish, others drafting and keeping their heart rates low for the beer chug. Getting passed on the beer chug is the ultimate demoralizer.

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Photo: Rosie Edreira

The whole event is exactly what mountain biking should be. It’s a bunch of good friends, riding at least a little over their heads, and heckling the shit out of each other, all for bragging rights for the year and nothing more. If you ever get a chance to attend an event like this, you need to. Or better yet, get one started yourself! As for me I am beyond stoked to know this killer group of people. I had a rad run trading the lead with my racing mentor Jason Memmelaar (stealing all his lines) before putting in just enough space on the road to take the King of Beacon title (thank you CX). As an added bonus I got to share the victory with repeat Queen of Beacon and amazing friend, Kendra Wheeler!

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Photo: Rosie Edreira

Opening Photo of King and Queen of Beacon. Photo: Brittany Mustakas