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The California Enduro Series (CES) wrapped up its 2017 season in style with the Ashland Mountain Challenge, presented by Ashland Mountain Adventures, on October 7, 2017 in Ashland, Oregon.

Just over the California border, Ashland is a quaint town well known for its Shakespeare Festival, a vast array of eating and drinking establishments, and access to a myriad of outdoor adventures, including, of course, the famed mountain bike trails in the Ashland watershed. The sold-out season CES finale offered a challenging course that gave its 271 racers quite the test of legs, lungs, and skill, as well as a veritable tour of the outstanding trails on the east and west sides of Mount Ashland. Dry, fast, loose were the words of the day … a day that Cory Sullivan and Janea Perry—both on the Marin Enduro Team—crushed all the way to the top of the pro podium. Their solid efforts on the AMC course capped off a stellar season that landed both of them championship titles for the 2017 series.

Race morning was sunny but downright chilly. Sport/Beginner racers quickly warmed up on a whopping nine mile transfer from the Lithia Park venue that included 3,200 feet of climbing. Stage 1, Horn Gap, is true Ashland single track—fast and flowy with a few sections of tight trees. Riders then pedaled over to Stage 2, Hitt Road, a fast double track with a few water bars and rocks to keep folks on their toes.

Meanwhile, Pro/Open/Expert riders were shuttled to the top of Mount Ashland where they made the transfer to their first stage of the day, Stage 3. This stage started at top of the downhill section of Lower Bull Gap and continued on Upper and Lower Missing Links, across the Four Corners parking lot and finished just past the bottom of Catwalk on Toothpick. This lengthy run was a real burner, with plenty of tight corners to sprint out of and a few punchy little climbs tossed in to keep things extra special. From a short transfer across Toothpick and up Caterpillar, racers got a real treat for Stage 4: two new trails that have not yet been raced at the AMC—Lizard and Jabberwocky. New additions to the watershed trail system, both are flow trails with deep, fabulous berms, big flowy corners, and plenty of tables and doubles. The final stage for Pro/Open/Expert riders was BTI, a short but super sweet Ashland classic.

After completing their respective sides of the mountain, each group swung through the venue to snag a tasty treat at the PBJ sandwich bar and to check their standings at the CES timing tent. Pro/Open/Experts then made the long pedal up to Stages 1 and 2, while Sport/Beginner riders caught shuttles to the top of the mountain for their final two stages, 3 and 4. In all, Pro/Open/Expert riders took on a total of 33 miles that included 8,000 feet of descending and 5,200 feet of climbing. Sport/Beginner riders put in a solid day just shy of those numbers. As riders finished up with this long day of racing, they re-converged at the Lithia Park venue to grab a beverage and swap race stories with friends while waiting for results to come in. They were treated to an incredible dinner spread and an array of libations before awards for the Ashland Mountain Challenge and the Series Overall were announced.

Get full Ashland Mountain Challenge race results here. View final series individual standings here and team standings here.

Cory Sullivan (Marin) called the 2017 AMC course "unpredictable, skaty, rolling fast." Sullivan's solid effort on the day ousted his hometown idol Riddle from his spot as AMC champ. Sullivan says, "It's been a long-time goal of mine to beat Nathan, who I have looked up to my whole life. That said, I went into this race with no pressure on myself … I just wanted to ride my best and I'm stoked that today's best won me the top spot." Sullivan’s talent and skill saw him not only to the top step on the day, but to first place in the series overall as well.

Local legend Nathan Riddle (for whom the WTB Riddler tire is named) lost his AMC crown to Sullivan by a mere four seconds, taking second place on the day. He says, "I’m truly stoked for Cory. Not only for his win today, but because today's win made his series overall win. Nobody wants to get second, but hey, I'm willing to share. It eases the pain that it was Cory." He adds with a grin, "But … next year: it's ON!"

Kyle Warner (Marin) took Pro Men third place on the day.

2017 Golden Tour winner Evan Geankoplis (Marin) came in fourth on the day. His skill and effort throughout the season saw him in second place for the series overall.

Ryan Gardner (Kona) finished up the day in fifth place, and took third for the series overall.

Local rider Janea Perry (Marin) has been racing her heart out all season long. She finished the day on the top steps of both the AMC and series overall Pro Women podiums. She says, "Hometown races always have added pressure—winning the Ashland Mountain Challenge felt great. I'm happy to have ended the season on a good note on my local trails. And I'm stoked to win the overall! I owe a lot to my family, friends, and sponsors (Marin, WTB, e thirteen, Honey Stinger, KMC, Sweet Protection, 180 Decals, 100 Percent, Deity Components). The 2017 season has been good to me."

Essence Barton (Santa Cruz Bicycles / VP Components) took second place on the day and her solid riding and dedication put her in second for the series overall as well.

Ashland shredder Andrea Napoli (Battle Kittens) took third Pro Women.

Porsha Murdock (Juliana) finished the day in fourth place on the Pro Women's podium.

Lili Heim came in fifth place on the day and landed in the top ten for the series overall in ninth place.

Hope is the title sponsor of the Ashland Mountain Challenge and provides a great deal of support to the event.

Loading up for practice shuttles at the Ashland Mountain Adventures shop. AMA takes riders up to the top of Mount Ashland where they are dropped off for an incredibly fun shred down some of the best singletrack they'll ever put tread to.

Race organizer and Ashland Mountain Adventures co-owner William "Wild Bill" Roussel setting folks up with the lowdown at packet pickup.

It was good to see Dillon Santos (Ibis) back in action after his injury a few months ago at Whistler. Taking it easy on the day, he finished in eighth place. Impressively, he took fourth in the series overall despite missing half the races,

Series overall fifth place winner Carolina Gomez-Villafane (Scotts Valley Cycle Sport) took seventh on the day.

Janea Perry and Porsha Murdock hanging out in between stages.

Kyle Bowman (Santa Cruz Bicycles) is as dedicated to taking care of the trails as he is racing. He came up to Ashland earlier in the year for an Ashland Mountain Adventures / California Enduro Series trail work day sponsored by Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Nick DiNapoli (Scotts Valley Cycle Sport) in the start chute as volunteers from the Highway 68 Hillbillies check him in.

Foot out, flat out with Ian Massey.

Hope provided some killer awards to this year's AMC winners.

Standing Stone's head chef Stefano Cipollone conceived a hearty and delicious post-race menu that included homemade three bean chilli served with a choice of shredded pork or roasted sweet potatoes (or both!), plus freshly baked sourdough bread and a winter kale salad. Gil's of Ashland—a favorite post-ride tap house—provided three different microbrews, two flavors of Oregon cider, and local wines.

CES co-founder and sponsorship director Megan Gemelos hands out prizes during a fun pre-awards game, while hashtagendurobaby hangs out, taking it all in.

Race organizer and Ashland Mountain Adventures co-owner Sue O'Daly flings swag to the eager masses. This lovely dynamo is well known throughout the greater mountain biking community for being remarkably helpful, accommodating, enthusiastic, and downright AWESOME.

Massive thanks to FOX for donating 2018 forks to be raffled at each CES event of the year. Winner Sterling Morvay poses with CES Director Steve Gemelos.

Ashland Mountain Challenge Pro Men podium: 1 - Cory Sullivan / 2 - Nathan Riddle / 3 - Kyle Warner / 4 - Evan Geankoplis / 5 - Ryan Gardner

Ashland Mountain Challenge Pro Women podium: 1 - Janea Perry / 2 - Essence Barton / 3 - Andrea Napoli / 4 - Porsha Murdock / 5 - Lili Heim

(Photo regrettably unavailable)Ashland Mountain Challenge Open Men podium: 1 - Jed Pope / 2 - Sam Markling / 3 - Jacob Black / 4 - Jesse Buerster / 5 - Ashton Smith

Ashland Mountain Challenge Junior Expert podium: 1 - Myles Morgan / 2 - Max Sedlak / 3 - Alex Walker / 4 - Blaise Janssen / 5 - Shane Swigard

CES Overall Pro Men podium: 1 - Cory Sullivan / 2 - Evan Geankoplis / 3 - Ryan Gardner / 4 - Dillon Santos (absent) / 5 - Matt Guntert (absent)

CES Overall Pro Women podium: 1 - Janea Perry / 2- Essence Barton / 3 - Zephyr Sylvester (absent) / 4 - Amy Morrison (absent) / 5 - Carolina Gomez-Villafane

CES Overall Open Men podium: 1 - Tyler Weyman / 2 - Ashton Smith / 3 - Nick Gallizioli (absent) / 4 - Jacob Black / 5 - Jesse Buerster

CES Overall Junior Expert podium: 1 - Max Sedlak / 2 - Blaise Janssen / 3 - Lee Faraola / 4 - Hayden Wenger / 5 - Myles Morgan (absent)

CES Overall Team podium: 1 - Sierra Overhead Analytics / 2 - Scotts Valley Cycle Sport / 3 - VP Enduro Stars / 4 - The Hub Roseville / 5 - Marin Enduro Team

Here’s to yet another extraordinary event—and an absolutely amazing fifth season. Huge thanks to the riders, sponsors, race organizers and volunteers who make the magic happen. Follow CES on Facebook and sign up for the CES e-newsletter to be the first to know when the 2018 schedule is released!

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.

Words by Michele Charboneau and Lars Filson
Photos by Scott and Melody McClain, Called To Creation
Video by Mitch Nuyens and Sebastian Bauer

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