Just in time for my next blog post, VP Components took over China Peak Mountain Resort to host round number 2 of the California Enduro Series. China Peak is like any other bike park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, rocky and dusty. I have been looking forward to the bike park races for quite sometime, to test my skills on the gnarly, technical terrain.
|Beautiful scenery from the top of the mountain. No photos of me racing this time, so you will have to bear with my iPhone and Instagram shots.|
China Peak has not yet been opened for mountain bike riding this year, so the race weekend was the first time to the trails have seen bikes since the snow melted in Spring. These are not your typical machine built bike park trails filled with huge jumps. The trails are all hand built. No crazy features and berms here, just loose, rocky goodness snaking down the relatively small mountain.
Like last time, practice was on Friday while the race was on Saturday. The chairlift was open for practice for a reasonable price of $15. However, on race day riders would have to pedal to the top. The climb to the top of the mountain was 45+ minutes, and featured spots so steep and loose that they were best to walk up.
|I purchased a new bike the week before this race! Here is my new Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon 29 leaning against the infamous water tanks here in Santa Cruz.|
The Junior and Beginner categories only completed the first two stages, while everybody else climbed the mountain again to stage three. This was quite a change from last time, with only an 8 mile course compared to a 25 mile course! Needless to say, there is talk of adding a Junior Expert or Under 23 category next year.
The first stage started with some corners through the trees up top, and then dropped onto a fireroad in the middle. After a short pedal down the fireroad, the stage continued with some tight corners to the finish. This stage, as well as stage 2, would each be about 4-5 minutes in race time.
The second stage was the more technically challenging of the two. It started with some more sweeping corners, but by no means were they easy. At one point there was a flat, 90 degree turn with at least 6 inches of dust and ruts. The best option for anyone would be to unclip one foot and move through at a snails pace. the stage then moved into more rocky territory. After the rock gardens there was a shorter fire road in comparison to stage one, into some switchbacks that went down to the finish. These switchbacks were blown out and loose, many featuring tricky rocks as well. Then it was a sprint on a fire road to the finish line.
|Here is a shot that I took standing on a boulder while spectating stage three.|
I feel like my race runs went better than the last race, and the results reflect this. I think that my biggest mistake was not being able to clip into my pedal about halfway down stage 2. This definitely slowed me down in a couple of corners. Another big point would be the rocky sections. I could have spent more time finding and practicing lines. Obviously, spending time in looser conditions will also help to improve times in dirt like this.
I ended up in fourth place, a spot up from where I was at the BattleBorn Enduro. Thanks to a number of awesome sponsors, the podium was 5 places deep and prizes were 10 places deep. I scored some gloves from Kali Protectives and grips from Ergon.
Another great race, but I will be looking to break into the top 3 later in the season. The next California Enduro Series race with be the NorthStar Livewire Classic Enduro at the end of August. Before then will be more adventures to write about, however. Stay tuned!