View of Demo forest -- courtesy Bruce Dorman
View of Demo forest — courtesy Bruce Dorman

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.

The 8 am riders meeting brought out the parkas and puffy jackets as riders shivered in the gullies atop the Santa Cruz Mountains. Photo: Called to Creation.
The 8 am riders meeting brought out the parkas and puffy jackets as riders shivered in the gullies atop the Santa Cruz Mountains. Photo: Called to Creation.

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.

Kathy Pruitt all smiles before the riding even started. Her grin would grow as she went on to finish 2nd in Pro Women. Photo Katie Jo McNair.
Kathy Pruitt all smiles before the riding even started. Her grin would grow as she went on to finish 2nd in Pro Women. Photo Katie Jo McNair.

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.

Craig Harvey builds custom homes for a living and races bikes out of pure joy. Harvey showing off his game face beneath the redwoods of Soquel Demonstration Forest. Photo: Called to Creation.
Craig Harvey builds custom homes for a living and races bikes out of pure joy. Harvey showing off his game face beneath the redwoods of Soquel Demonstration Forest. Photo: Called to Creation.

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.

Jon Buckell drove from Southern California then combined his superpowers of porn ‘stache and manual to earn a 7th place finish in Pro Men. Photo: Called to Creation.
Jon Buckell drove from Southern California then combined his superpowers of porn ‘stache and manual to earn a 7th place finish in Pro Men. Photo: Called to Creation.

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.

Tiffany Allmendinger, of the new Santa Cruz Bikes Juliana team, grippin’ and rippin’ to third place in Pro Women. Photo: Called to Creation.
Tiffany Allmandinger, of the new Santa Cruz Bikes Juliana team, grippin’ and rippin’ to third place in Pro Women. Photo: Called to Creation.
John Hauer took the skin suit approach to his race runs, and it paid off—the Santa Cruz local took the Pro Men’s win by 6.8 seconds after 20 minutes of racing. Photo: Called to Creation.
John Hauer took the skin suit approach to his race runs, and it paid off—the Santa Cruz local took the Pro Men’s win by 6.8 seconds after 20 minutes of racing. Photo: Called to Creation.
After spending the summer chasing the Enduro circuit around the US in his sprinter van, Aaron Bradford came home to the Santa Cruz Super Enduro. After a fourth place finish, Bradford hopped on a plane to compete in EWS Finale in Finale Ligure, Italy. GO RADFORD! Photo: Called to Creation.
After spending the summer chasing the Enduro circuit around the US in his sprinter van, Aaron Bradford came home to the Santa Cruz Super Enduro. After a fourth place finish, Bradford hopped on a plane to compete in EWS Finale in Finale Ligure, Italy. GO RADFORD! Photo: Called to Creation.
Demo local, Jamie Busch finding lines beneath the coniferous canopies, on her way the 4th in Pro Women. Photo: Called to Creation.
Demo local, Jamie Busch finding lines beneath the coniferous canopies, on her way the 4th in Pro Women. Photo: Called to Creation.
Local Santa Cruz junior Ryan Simonovich won both stages in the abridged U18 race to snag the overall victory by 50 seconds. Photo: Called to Creation.
Local Santa Cruz junior Ryan Simonovich won both stages in the abridged U18 race to snag the overall victory by 50 seconds. Photo: Called to Creation.
Brandon Sloan, head of Specialized’s mountainbike R&D team, finished in 7th place.
Brandon Sloan, head of Specialized’s mountainbike R&D team, finished in 7th place.

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.

Post race nutrition basics—double the fisting = twice the recovery. Photo: Called to Creation.
Post race nutrition basics—double the fisting = twice the recovery. Photo: Called to Creation.

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.

Focus hard enough on a couple of these and everything else gets a little fuzzy. Photo: Called to Creation.
Focus hard enough on a couple of these and everything else gets a little fuzzy. Photo: Called to Creation.
The Bell tent drew post race crowds thanks to a fridge brimming with  Budweiser, Tecate, Hams and Pabst. Photo: Called to Creation.
The Bell tent drew post race crowds thanks to a fridge brimming with Budweiser, Tecate, Hams and Pabst. Photo: Called to Creation.

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.

Those with slightly more refined pallets found solace at the Ninkasi Tent, as Bobby the bartender kept the Domination IPA flowing. Photo: Called to Creation.
Those with slightly more refined pallets found solace at the Ninkasi Tent, as Bobby the bartender kept the Domination IPA flowing. Photo: Called to Creation.

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.

Margaret Gregory and Jeff Kendall-Weed wore brighter smiles than a Colgate toothpaste ad. Gregory won the Pro Women category while Kendall Weed nabbed second for the Pro Men. Photo Called to Creation.
Margaret Gregory and Jeff Kendall-Weed wore brighter smiles than a Colgate toothpaste ad. Gregory won the Pro Women category while Kendall Weed nabbed second for the Pro Men. Photo Called to Creation.
Plump with pasta and adult beverages, racers settled in for the Coffee Zombie Collective performance. Photo: Bruce Dorman.
Plump with pasta and adult beverages, racers settled in for the Coffee Zombie Collective performance. Photo: Bruce Dorman.

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.

Sunday morning brought light filtering through the redwoods as groggy campers emerged from their tents. Campfire smoke caught the early morning rays shinning through the towering canopies at Camp Loma. Photo Called to Creation.
Sunday morning brought light filtering through the redwoods as groggy campers emerged from their tents. Campfire smoke caught the early morning rays shinning through the towering canopies at Camp Loma. Photo Called to Creation.

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!

Photo: Called to Creation Photography / Facebook & Katie Jo McNair Photography – SCSE Photo Set