2016 California Enduro Series Finals / Golden Tour Finals: Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro
Words by Patrick D. Rosso
Photos by Called To Creation
Video by Mitch Nuyens and Sebastian Bauer
With smoke choking air, loose trail, and massive rocks, the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro, held September 18-19, was grueling for the 370 racers who competed Saturday and Sunday. As the final round of the California Enduro Series and the big money Golden Tour, the four stage race took place at close to 10,000 feet of elevation, pushing riders to get off their brakes and on their game as they vied for the top spot on the podium.
In the end it was big mountain veterans Kathy Pruitt and Brian Lopes who took the win. Pruitt, who seems to always find her flow on the most rugged of terrain, put the pedal to the metal and showed just what experience is all about. Lopes, a legend in the mountain bike scene from the days of New World Disorder to the fairly new enduro format, pushed his bike and body to the limits as he mashed his way to the podium.
“I skipped this event last year, so it feels good to come back,” said Lopes. “There are lots of fast kids out there, but I think my strengths lay in my power, my fitness, and my years racing here and at altitude.”
Taking on almost 12 miles of trail and more than 7,000 feet of descent, lungs were weak and legs were hurting, but Pruitt showed that she’s always a racer to watch.
“Mammoth was super challenging. I almost went home yesterday. I just didn’t feel safe,” explained Pruitt. “It was sketchy out there. Rocks were moving and there was plenty of kitty litter. Every stage had really technical parts and you had to commit. There’s no half riding down the hill.”
Featuring lots of dust and plenty of gnar, organizers of the race made sure nothing would be easy.
“The course gives a good range of challenge to all the riders. The more cross country riders will do better at the more physical stuff, while the downhill oriented riders will excel on the more technical stuff,” commented Caroline Casey event production manager for Mammoth.
The Rabobank KOM/QOM challenge also put $100 up for grabs for the fastest times on stage three, the longest stage of the day. Brian Lopes and Katty Pruitt took the KOM/QOM for the Pros. Lopes had a time of 12:36.70 and Pruitt had a time of 14:40.324. Evander Hughes and Amanda Propst took it for the Expert category, with a time of 13:28.18 and 16:25.06, respectively. In the Sport category, Dylan Price with a time of 14:02.01 and Jessica Cox with a time of 17:39.57 walked away with the cash. Tyler Roberts and Amy Lamonska were the fastest in the Beginner category. Roberts had a time of 15:15.87 and Lamonska finished with a time of 20:07.54.
The TRP “Brake Zone” was also set up for Sunday’s race, with Tasha Thomas and Stephen Pipoly sporting the fastest speeds on stage two. Thomas clocked in at 30.4 mph and Pipoly had a speed of 38.9 mph, allowing them to walk away with a little extra green.
Brian Lopes took first in Pro Men Sunday, followed by Evan Geankoplis, Kyle Warner, Cole Picchiottino, and Tom Doran. Photo: Called to Creation.
Kathy Pruitt found herself on the top step Sunday, followed by Lauren Gregg, Amy Morrison, Porsha Murdock, and Rachel Throop. Photo: Called to Creation.
Brian Lopes was pinned on Stage 3, which he also took the KOM on. Photo: Called to Creation.
Evan Turpen is no stranger to rugged terrain or enduro, and took sixth in Pro Men. Photo: Patrick D. Rosso.
Brianne Spiersch let go and found her flow to seventh place Sunday. Photo: Called to Creation.
Evan Geankoplois stayed off the brakes and in the zone. He finished second in Pro Men. Photo: Called to Creation.
Kathy Pruitt kept it smooth as she attacked the infamous “Elevator Shaft.” Photo: Called to Creation.