The California Enduro Series wrapped up this last weekend, October 10-12, with the Bell Santa Cruz Super Enduro taking place in Soquel Demonstration State Forest in the Santa Cruz mountains. For many, this was the finale of the race season, and no doubt the most physically challenging of the series.
The race sold out in a record 12 minutes and over 200 lucky participants got to endure the 4800’ feet of climbing over 22 miles and four diverse stages.
Soquel Demonstration State Forest (SDSF), or “Demo Forest” as the locals call it, is home to some of the best singletrack in the Santa Cruz area. It is off the beaten path, located deep in the woods behind Nisene Marks State Park. To get there, you travel for many miles on a single lane road that winds its way around steep drop offs and you question if you’re going the right way.
Most racers and spectators stayed at Camp Loma, a rustic summer camp property at the base of SDSF. Having all volunteers, sponsors, racers, and friends in one place really helped cultivate the spirit of Enduro and confirm the reason why so many of us love this sport. The racing brings us together, but the community makes us return.
The morning started off a bit chilly but racers warmed up quickly on the 4.4 mile/1,200ft climb to the top of Stage 1. To kick off the timed stages, Stage 1 took riders down Ridge Trail to Corral Trail which was a mixture of pedally singletrack and fast, flowy singletrack. What made this stage unique was the last part of the course that took the riders down a fire road that had been taped off to force each rider onto features and small ups and downs off the fire road. It was here where you had to check your speed and have a bunch of fun!
Stage 2 arguably was a racer favorite. In true Enduro style it tackled a little of everything. The 2 mile downhill stage was technical, pedally, rooted, rutted, and had some fun features to jump off. Of course, the faster line was often avoiding those jumps, but nonetheless- everyone came down with big smile on their face!
For the third stage, all riders got to descend Ridge Trail to Sawpit for the longest of all the stages. This stage featured a precarious rock garden that all Pro/Expert racers had to enter, as well as a 100 foot climb, just to make sure your tank was completely emptied. The 1,400 foot vertical drop over the stage was fast and had some great corners to really find your groove.
The final stage of the day unfortunately was not mandated for Beginner and Junior riders, but most of them got the pleasure of checking it out during pre-ride. Stage 4 went down the new “Flow Trail”, which is a project of MBoSC, the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, an IMBA chapter. Only two sections of the trail are finished and the racers connected them by charging a fire road at full speed, hoping to not completely wipe out as they entered the 2nd part via a swooping sharp corner into some trees. The Flow Trail is what it says it is… flowy! You can pump, scrub, get air, and rip berms at top speed and feel super fast. It was a fantastic way to end the downhill portion of the race.
Finally- all riders, if not already completely drained- had a 5-mile steady uphill climb on a fire road to get back to Camp Loma, where the free beer would flow freely thanks to Lagunitas Brewing Company and the awards would commence.
Competition was close in all categories! In addition to the awards for the Bell Santa Cruz Super Enduro, the California Enduro Series podiums were also recognized for their hard work and dedication throughout all five Races in the Series.
Special thanks to all the race organizers, volunteers, sponsors, racers, and organizations that made this weekend possible and a ridiculous amount of fun!
Results to follow, stay tuned.
Words: Liz Cunningham, Yeti Cycles Ambassador, 4th Place Finisher Expert Women 19+