by Casey Coffman. Photos by Casey Coffman and Max Houtzager/VP EnduroFest

The Format

April 27, 2013 marked the second stop of the new California Enduro Series, held in the Santa Ynez Valley at the Dirt Club. The VP EnduroFest, presented by VP Components and Kali Protectives, had Pro categories racing eight timed stages on four unique courses. The timed stages were gravity based and each about two minutes long. Racers hit each of the four unique courses two times but had to pedal their way back up to the start area between each timed stage. That's what enduro racing is all about...earning your runs.

Racing began at 10am on Saturday, so there was enough time for racers to hit up a run or two in the morning before racing got fired up. Many participants opted to camp Friday night (for free!) and get some Friday evening runs down in hot, dry conditions.

Saturday morning brought a lot more racers than the organizers expected. 170 racers showed up, proving that there is a lot of interest in the enduro race format for both professionals and amateurs alike. Racers were sent to the top of the race area in groups of 10 starting with the pros at 10am. Climbing pace was casual with people catching up with friends, and meeting new ones.

The press release provided by the California Enduro series reports the following, "In the Pro Men field, young Marco Osborne (WTB/Cannondale) came out on top over the winner of last year's Santa Cruz Super Enduro, Aaron Bradford (BMC Trailcrew) and local crusher Tom Doran. After Session 1 (Stages 1-4), Marco-with a total time of 6:47.4-led over CES Board Member Evan Turpen by 9 seconds and Kona's Ryan Gardener by 13 seconds.

The second session added a bit more pedaling to the equation and the top three came under serious assault from the riders who could push big watts. Aaron Bradford and Daniel Orellana (Itsa Bike Shop) powered through Session 2 (stages 6-8) to tie for the best time in 9:03.7, but were only able to best Osborne by 3 seconds. Bradford's quad searing effort did not knock Osborne off the top step of the overall podium, but it did vault him from 8th place after Session 1 into 2nd in the overall. Tom Doran's off season power training paid off lifting him from 6th to 3rd.

In the Pro Women's field, Margaret Gregory (Don's Bikes) dominated in the first four stages by 22 seconds over Holly Breck and a further 3 seconds over Jenna Kowalski. Like the Pro Men's race, Gregory encountered a challenge over the remaining courses, but she still posted the best time in Session 2 at 9:36.2, only 3 seconds better than Breck with a further 4 seconds to Kowalski."

Marco Osborne, Pro Men's winner, hauling some serious freight!

Casey Discusses Bike Choice at the VP EnduroFest

One of the most interesting things about the race weekend was bike choice. With fast, loose, yet somewhat pedally courses, bike setups were all over the place in the pros. Wheel size and suspension travel varied from one rider to the next.

29-inch wheels - My whip and I. This is my first race back after an incident with a car in January. I chose to run my Felt Edict Nine LTD, setup with SR Suntour suspension, Kenda Slant Six tires, and a full Shimano build kit. It rolls fast and carries momentum while handling the small handful of technical features on the VP EnduroFest courses.

27.5-inch wheels - Evan Turpen loved the Santa Cruz Bronson C so much in his Vital First Ride that he hasn't let it go. He had the size Large bike set up with a 50mm stem, Maxxis High Roller II up front and an Ardent in the back for maximum rolling speed.

26-inch wheels -Thomas Ravina rode his Marin Mount Vision XM8 26- with 140mm rear suspension and a 170mm fork, featuring a SRAM XO build. The fork travel was definitely on the long side compared to most racers this weekend.

Back to 29-inch wheels - Aaron Bradford, the nicest guy in Enduro, went with his new BMC 4 Stroke 29 and Fox ICD suspension. The bike features 100mm rear travel and 120mm up front. Aaron is running a Shimano XTR build with Easton cockpit and wheels.

Finally, Hank Matheson with his own creation. Guaranteed he was the only competitor who made his own bike, the Bicycle Fabrications Pocket Rocket, and raced it this weekend.

Wrap Up

The Dirt Club courses were quick and loose, as there has been very little moisture in the region lately. Each course averaged times of around 1:45 to 2:20 each for Pro men and at the end of the day, it was WTB/Cannondale rider, Marco Osborne, taking the win for the pro men, and Margaret Gregory of Don’s Bikes holding it down for the women.

In addition to the competition, the crowd favorite was the epic taco and beer feed after the race. Riders were treated to some great food and drink, which made for a great end to a great day of racing and encouraged all riders to come back in 2014! After all, after a big day of riding is best topped off with a great meal.

Big thanks to the crew at the Dirt Club, who came together to put on a really great event, and thanks to all the event sponsors that really threw down for great prizes for all classes at the end of a great day! Prizes and support were furnished by Kenda, TRP Brakes, Element Cases, Demos Watches, Ergon, DZR Shoes, SR Suntour, Shredly, Loeka, KMC Chain, Cane Creek, Rikers, Hitcase, 100%, MRP, and Alex Rims.

Results

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