Photo Essay: Santa Cruz Super Enduro Festival 2013
SOQUEL DEMONSTRATION FOREST, CA — At the northern reaches of the Monterrey Bay, redwood covered hillsides stretch from the sandy shores of the Pacific to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Atop the coastal range sits Soquel Demonstration Forest, the largest network of legal mountain bike trails in Central California and the site of the 2013 Santa Cruz Super Enduro.
Positive feedback from racers and land mangers at the inaugural 2012 SCSE led to a larger race in 2013, with nearly four times the racers and an event epicenter at the top of the range at Camp Loma. The 4H retreat sits off Highland Way, a one-lane road that winds along the ridgelines of northern Santa Cruz County. Beneath the towering redwoods, a cloistered meadow filled with sprinter vans and pop up tents as racers arrived for the final stop of the California Series.
The Hunt for Rad October
The autumn air nipped as riders gathered at Camp Loma for the early Saturday start. Amidst the steaming cups of coffee, familiar faces emerged—Factory Harvey, Van Life Gardner, Buckethead Chapin, Team Furbee, Radford, and Weed the Bicycle Wizard offered up high fives as the riders from across California prepped to race the hallowed trails at Demo.
Racers climbed to the top of the Santa Rosalia ridge where early morning sunshine poured in from the eastern reaches of the Bay. The warming rays thawed the chill, as racers dropped into the first special stage—an undulating sprint through flowing sections of roots on Ridge Trail. The stage continued to Corral Trail where drifty gravel corners delivered puckered-up riders to the bottom of the Sulphur Springs Road, the second transfer of the day.
Special stage two on Sawpit Trail featured a mix of technical rock gardens, tight corners and the most physical stretch of the entire day—a minute long uphill halfway through the run. Totally sapped, racers then dove into swooping turns en route to the finish on Hihn’s Mill Road.
Another transfer up Sulphur Springs Road put racers atop Braille Trail, the steepest and most technical of the day’s tracks. While opportunities existed for short bouts of pedaling, special stage three rewarded an apathetic approach to personal safety as riders careened through chutes and drops down the ridge.
A Celebration of the Bicycle
Crowds gathered at the finish chute of special stage three—their heckling fueled by four hours in the saddle and cans of beer. PBR appeared from Camelbacks while riders high fived and cheered as comrades blew through the exit chute and launched into the crowded road.
As riders completed the “epilogue” transfer to the kegs of Ninakse waiting at Camp Loma, another cooler full of free brews appeared at the lower helicopter pad—the hoppy sirens beckoning racers to delay the return to camp.
Even at two in the afternoon, the towering redwoods blocked out the sun back at the venue as only slim rays filtered through the needled canopy. Thanks to the lack of light and constant stream of adult libations, Happy Hour prevailed long before five.
In the shady grove, 190 racers sapped the two kegs of Ninkasi even before the pasta dinner appeared. While participants chowed baked ziti, organizers scrambled off the mountain to keep the beer flowing.
Liquid reinforcements arrived just in time for the double feature of Arrival and Not Bad. Once the projector went out, the stage lit up and the Zombie Coffee Collective kept the party raging to the eclectic mix of trumpet, banjo and mandolin.
Santa Cruz local racer Scott Chapin set a new precedent for personal safety, keeping his helmet on for twelve consecutive hours while racing and partying. Such precaution was justified, however, as the PBR hand-ups started at noon.
It’s About Time…
As the carnivalesque atmosphere built beneath the redwoods, participants eagerly awaited results—after all, this was an Enduro race.
Tucked behind the dining area, organizers poured over the results. An error using the primary timing system caused a shift in run times, resulting in correctly collected times but incorrect corresponding bib numbers.
The primary timing system used the iPad program Webscorer. The secondary timing system synched GPS clocks then recorded times with a corresponding bib number.
After identifying mistakes with the preliminary results, race director Steven Gemelos and other volunteers went through the 1,200 times collected to identify the time collection glitch. Once adjustments were made for the timing mix up, organizers double checked runs against the back up timing system. The timing puzzle extended three days before the final results named John Hauer and Margaret Gregory the Pro Men and Pro Women winners of the Santa Cruz Super Enduro.
With the results rescued and raucous party success, the SCSE already eyes the loamy utopia atop the Santa Cruz Mountains for another celebration in 2014.
Men’s Final Results
1. John Hauer (X Fusion-Specialized)
2. Jeff Kendall-Weed (Ibis-Life Cycles)
3. Marco Osborne (WTB-Cannondale)
4. Aaron Bradford (BMC Trail Crew)
5. Ben Furbee (Team Furbee)
Women’s Final Results
1. Margaret Gregory (Don’s Bicycles)
2. Kathy Pruitt (Family Cycling Center)
3. Tiffany Allmendinger (Juliana)
4. Jamie Busch (Quadzilla)
5. Megan Melack (Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition)
Words: Andrew Juiliano
About the author: Andrew Juiliano currently resides in San Francisco, freelance writing for rent and Pho noodle soup. He’s not a poet, but he’s seen Robin Williams play one on TV.
The unsullied fur on his legs knows not the cruel scrape of the razor,
Whilst his tongue yearns for that fermented hand up mid-cross bout.
Carpe Diem…Carpe Mountain Bike!