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Nearly 400 racers took on the dry, rocky, loose terrain at Snow Summit Bike Park in the San Bernadino mountains this past weekend (July 21-23) for the 5th round of the California Enduro Series. The Crafts and Cranks Enduro presented by Team Big Bear in Big Bear Lake was part of the 3rd annual Crafts and Cranks bike racing and beer festival.

The two-day race started on Friday afternoon with stages 1 and 2, and continued bright and early on Saturday morning with three more stages. The Southern California venue offered up a sweet course that included plenty of big fabulous berms, tight turns, grippy pavers, drops, jumps, rock gardens and even a nice helping of loam.

By race finish, Brian Lopes (Ellsworth/X-Fusion/Pearl) had ripped his way to the top step on the Pro Men podium, while Essence Barton's (VP Components) flawless day on “home” turf put her in first for Pro Women.

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Brian Lopes (Ellsworth/X-Fusion/Pearl) pinned on one of stage two's many dusty, loose turns. Lopes lost the stage to McKay Vezina by 0.03 of a second. He ultimately took the top step for Pro Men, despite a crash on the event’s final stage."It was a hot one, and challenging both technically and physically. With the heat, you really feel that." With Laguna Beach being home base, Lopes is no stranger to dry and dusty trails but he points out, "Here is a whole different level of dry and dusty. The soil is more powdery. Add a few hundred racers, and trail conditions change dramatically – your race run won’t be the same as practice."

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Essence Barton (VP Components) taking that ferocity all the way to first place in Pro Women. Barton grew up racing XC at Snow Summit. She says, "I know the mountain – so despite being ten days off training, I felt good. But mentally and emotionally, it was challenging. I wanted to do my best; the pressure was on. My goal was to win this race and I’m so stoked I did. Hometown victory!"

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McKay Vezina (Giant) from Newbury Park took Pro Men's second place.

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Temecula rider Evander Hughes (Trek Test Team) finished the event at Pro Men third place.

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Cole Picchiottino (Trek Test Team), another Southern California resident, rails a long paver berm on stage three. He took the stage win and finished the race in Pro Men fourth place.

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Ryan Gardner (Kona) was the only Northern Californian on the Pro Men podium. He came in fifth place for the event and currently stands in first place for the series overall ... proving that his DHaRCO kit really does make him faster.

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Christine Eikmeier (Michael David Winery) powering through stage 3. She took Pro Women's second place and is eighth in the series overall.

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Anneke Beerten (GT) finished third in Pro Women.

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Janea Perry (Marin) high above Big Bear Lake. Perry is the series' Pro Women leader and took fourth place.

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Zephyr Sylvester (Mike's Bikes/Yeti) sending it on stage three, ultimately landing on the podium in fifth place. She currently stands at second for the series overall.

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Tyler Weyman (Giant) at the top of stage one. Weyman took first for Open Men and stands in second for the series overall.

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Travis Claypool, a Southern California Junior Expert rider racing the EWS, took first for the event.

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Sean Bell and his father Mike share a passion for riding. Son finished just off the podium in sixth place, while dad took third for Expert Men 50+.

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There were plenty of wipe outs in this powdery spot on stage 1.

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Expert men lined up at the stage 4 start.

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James Eves (Bicycle Blue Book) carving one of the course's many sweet turns above the lake. Eves currently came in seventh place Pro Men and currently stands in fourth for the series overall.

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Liia Sarjakoski (Trail Head Racing), currently the series' Expert Women leader, took to the event's podium in third place.

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Gardner, stoked on racing.

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Marshall Eames (Santa Cruz Bicycles) – aka Enduro Jesus – flying down stage 3 chunder.

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Carolina Gomez-Villafane (Scotts Valley Cycle Sport) and Barton catch a lift. Gomez-Villafane came in sixth Pro Women and stands at fourth place overall, while her team boasts a the top spot top on the leaderboard.

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Junior expert rider Travis Stake getting shreddy.

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Enduro brah.

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Cold beer and bike racing go together like rama lama lama ka dinga ... well, you know the rest.

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And mechanical bulls and bike racing go together like ... 

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Crafts and Cranks race director, Tom Spiegel addressed the racers at the rider meeting as CES director Steve Gemelos and Southridge Racing director Donny Jackson look on. Spiegel says, "Team Big Bear was excited for the Crafts and Cranks Enduro to be part of the 2017 series. We appreciate all the Northern California riders who came down for the race and hope they enjoyed themselves here at the resort." Gemelos adds, "Team Big Bear has a lot of experience running cycling events, making it an easy partnership. We love having events that are more than just a race. Having a festival with craft beer and live music adds to the fun of an enduro weekend."

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CES is excited to showcase the Canyon Spectral, a replica of the bike Canyon rider, Joe Barnes is racing in the EWS. This fine steed will be on display at the remaining 2017 CES races.

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An event is always better with Kenda in the house.

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It was great to see KMC Bicycle Chain out at the event as well. Sales and Distribution Manager Justin Pitchford says, "We at KMC love the fact that CES is really involved with the riders and has such a passion for riding like KMC does."

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Gemelos gets ready to announce the winner of the FOX fork raffle. Big thanks to Fox for donating 2018 forks to be raffled at each CES event of the year.

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Pro Women's Podium: 1st. Essence Barton / 2nd. Christine Eikmeier / 3rd. Anneke Beerten / 4th. Janea Perry / 5th. Zephyr Sylvester.

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Pro Men's Podium: 1st. Brian Lopes / 2nd. McKay Vezina / 3rd. Evander Hughes / 4th. Cole Picchiottino / 5th. Ryan Gardner.

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And ... that's all folks! See you at Northstar for round 6 – the Northstar Enduro at Northstar California Resort August 26–27. The Northstar Enduro is the second round of the CES Golden Tour. It's also an EWS qualifier and a stop on the NAET. (Photo: Evan Turpen roosts for fun in practice.)

About California Enduro Series

CES is a for riders, by riders non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting world-class enduro events that everyone from amateur to pro can enjoy, at a geographically diverse range of venues. The series is renowned for fostering an exceptional sense of community and encourages its participants to be involved in its planning.The series is grateful for the support of VP ComponentsFOXClif BarWTBCanyonKali ProtectivesMichael David WineryCranked NaturalsKenda TiresDHaRCOKMCAdventure Sports JournalGamutVolerESI GripsMike's Bikes and TrailWorks.

Contact CES for information on sponsoring the 2017 series. Check out the 2017 schedule and learn more about the series at californiaenduroseries.com.

Words by Michele Charboneau
Photos by Scott McClain
Video by Mitch Nuyens and Sebastian Bauer

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