The California Enduro Series hosted it’s third round this past weekend at Toro Park in Monterey County, California. This meant sandy, dusty single track with limited line options, reducing the competition to fitness and pedal power. Although those aren’t really my strengths, I was excited for this race because it’s in my hometown. These were the trails I grew up riding, and although that meant I knew I wasn’t in for big rock gardens or rowdy jump lines, it meant my mom would make me an epic meal and I would get to cuddle with my dogs.
The NorCal Cooperative team crashed at la Casa de Osgood, and sure enough, my mom made us a delicious meal of bbq ribs, veggies, and beer. While the garage was full of race ready Kona Processes of all wheel sizes and travel lengths (plus a Honzo and an Operator), the house was filled with eager mountain bikers ready to lay down their best efforts in the race day to come.
Saturday morning arrived like clockwork and we all got up and got moving. Grabbing coffee along the way and a bacon stuffed breakfast burrito, I began considering how the day might pan out. I was feeling well hydrated and confident in my bike. But my lack of fitness had me worried about how I would do on the climbs in all four stages.
Team Captain, Ryan Gardner, laying down the pedal strokes | photo by Called to Creation
When we arrived at the venue the place was buzzing with happy racers lubing their chains, airing their tires, and slapping on number plates. My mom, who was in her element, was running around catching up with her friends while she got ready to race her first ever enduro. That’s right, I got to race and enduro with my mom!
NorCal Cooperative team captain, Ryan Gardner, was ready to head up for a practice run before the race started so I followed his lead. He and a few of the guys we were cruising with climbed a lot faster than me, so I just meandered my way up focusing on not overspending my energy. I was able to sneak in a decent practice run on stage 3, the stage with a massive high speed fire road descent.
Derek Teel should have rung Ryan in the morning to let him know he was wearing the blue shirt. #ohsnap | photo by Called to Creation
Once the race began I just tried to stay on top of hydration without focussing too much on how slow I was feeling on the pedal sections of the first two stages. I would see teammates Jimmy Luchessi, Gardner, Derek Teel, and Ariana Altier on various starts and transfers, and everyone seemed in good spirit. It was on the transfer to stage 3 where I started to lose it.
The exposed climb meant a hot sun beating down on me while I hiked my bike up the steep, rutted transfer. Before I knew it I was swallowing vomit and overcome with chills. Heat stroke was hitting me hard and I contemplated calling it a day. For whatever reason (and maybe it was Beyonce’s new album repeating in my head) I kept hiking toward the start of stage 3. When I finally arrived I was greeted by friends and a long line to catch my breath at. I downed the contents of my camelbak and prepared for that massive fire road descent.
I made it to the bottom and was greeted by my father who had been cruising the course on his steel Honzo. His smile reminded me what all of this was all about. I still had plenty of time to finish the race, so I used that to my advantage by hanging out at the bottom of the course for half an hour before heading up to the final stage.
I was feeling totally exhausted, but I managed to get through stage 4. It was completely blown out with every corner turned to a sand box, so I took the steep bits slower than I ever have, but I made it down in one piece and hunted down my teammates.
Ryan Gardner had a crash that took him out of the running for first, though he still managed a spot on the podium at 5th place. Derek Teel suffered two major crashes but was still happy to stay inside top 10 at 9th place. Jimmy Luchessi found his best CES result to date by snagging 10th. And Ariana Altier managed a 6th place without getting any practice runs in.
Pro Womens podium | photo by Called to Creation
Pro Mens podium, Ryan Gardner 5th place | photo by Called to Creation
I was proud of our team for staying strong through adversity and even more excited that I managed a 3rd place. I even got 2nd on the stage that I had heat stroke on! Those high speed sections can gain you time if you really set your mind to it…
But the coolest thing, by far, was sharing the race with my mom, who earned herself 5th place in the open beginner women category on board her Process 134.
Me and my badass 60 year old mom! Who says enduro is for kids?
Looking forward, I have about a month to put the workouts in and get up to fitness with the other girls. I am hungry for the spot on the top step at China Peak, and can’t wait to meet up with the team the weekend of June 28th. Currently we are 6th place in the team standings with plenty of room to move up.