The Dirty Sanchez is an enduro race, sure, in the sense that number plates, pinner lines, stage wins and champagne showers could be considered the main events. However, you’d be making a tremendous mistake to consider it simply another stop on the seasonal race calendar. Coming at it with such an approach would result in your eco-friendly car stuck in the mud, your liver rightfully pissed off and a guaranteed shaming from Mark Weir’s ever-present whistle. It’s a one-of-a-kind gathering of athletes, families and spectators who have come together over the years/decades to form a grassroots mountain bike community that recognizes ripping trails as only a single piece of the lifestyle it has created. It’s fueled by a community that believes every section of pedaling requires an earful of heckling, that Vigilante can’t be ridden until the rain sets in, that good rides must come with good conversation and that such an experience is always better when everybody involved gives it their all.
When Mark "The Mustache" Weir gives the thumbs up on race day, you better have left all excuses at home. Sh*t's about to get Weird. Photo: Abner Kingman
How do you practice with an EWS World Champion hot on your back? You can take notes on Marco Osborne's line, but you have to be an animal to actually commit to it. Photo: Abner Kingman
Amy Morrison, WTB rider and supreme trail slayer, shows us how it's done through the first line of doubles on day one. Directions are as follows: First stage...send it. Then...return to sender for the next eleven stages.
Enduro Banana, nuff said! Photo: Abner Kingman
WTB rider, Nick van Egmond, straight off the plane from five months of Quebec winter. No time to shake out the cobwebs. Photo: Robert Lowe
There’s no doubt that being able to ride at the Sanchez ranch ensures one is a skilled rider who can dice their way through a plethora of rock gardens and technical corners. On the other hand, racing at the ranch solidifies an understanding that one is a top-shelf rider capable of handling edacious streams of jagged rock, while also having the legs to climb back up to the start of each stage. Racers begin prepping the night before, with mouthfuls of whiskey, a borderline excessive bonfire and midnight whips on the minibike track. Turns out…even after such nights, they still send it.
The many muddy, stoked faces of the TDS. Clockwise from top-left: Ben Cruz had to pull out of the race after stage 5 due to a wreck that would leave the rest of us much worse off. On the bright side, it enabled him to focus on his commitment to campfire banter. Iago Garay, claiming Spain as his homeland, came to the TDS direct from the Argentina EWS round where he claimed 13th place! Landing the 6th place spot at the TDS, we're certain he's smiling within the confines of his helmet. Ty Hathaway is a man of many skills, who is alleged to use special beard oils to repel the muck of the TDS. It seems to work. Joanna Petterson was seen rocking the opus of all mustaches. She's proof that harnessing the power of the stache is the only way to claim the top spot at the TDS multiple years in a row.
Nathan Riddle's method for success: Keep the WTB Warden mounted up all weekend, regardless of the weather. Keeping it consistent. Photo: Abner Kingman
Ty Hathaway may or may not have used his shoulder in this one. When at the TDS, use whatever method works! Photo: Abner Kingman
Ol' Republic Brewery, another generous sponsor of the TDS, created a limited-run can for the event, which features both of Buddy Newman's Galaxy and Goggle Man designs. Who better to wrap the edges of the can than some of WTB's finest, Mark Weir and Jerome Clementz.
What would a pre-race party at the Ol' Republic Brewery, attended by hundreds of mountain bikers, be without a pixie bike race!? Photo: Abner Kingman
Aaron Bradford cranks out of a corner. Photo: Abner Kingman
The speed of Jerome Clementz needs no explanation, but it's the calculated style of his riding that make it incredible and awing to watch. Photo: Abner Kingman
The TDS and mud have become synonymous with one another. You simply can't have one without the other. When the rain sets in, it's time for the WTB Warden.
For his first year as a professional XC racer, Spencer "Wheelie King" Rathkamp decided to...race The Dirty Sanchez? Dayyyuuum! He may be found wearing Lycra most days of the week, but his stylish whips silence any possibility of trash talk. 14th overall...we're impressed. Photo: Brandon Biro
It wouldn't be a TDS recap without highlighting some of the finest messes the racers could find themselves in. Let's get them all out of the way, in a single, off-camber, sloppy funnel of a corner. This guy seemed to know exactly what was about to happen...
Clockwise from top-left, some of our favorites are the: "Sweet embrace", "Vans slip-ons were a bad idea", "Head down, shoes up...I display the inverted moonwalk" and "Helmets streamers: do you even enduro?"
Through proper teamwork, where no rider is left out of the fun, they were quickly joined by "I'm crawling home", "Push through those boundaries", "You get a tire! You get a tire!" and "Superman that corner!"
Coming in as hot as the rest, we have "I will never let go" and "Lead us not into the dirt."
The man with the whistle, Mark Weir, is portrayed in his proper element, double-fisting with an RC remote and a bottle of brew. Photo: Abner Kingman
The presence of Axial R/C kept the tires spinning late into the night. Built by Casey Sanchez, the short-course track involved railing through puddles, roosts of red mud and unofficial shortcuts for those looking to prove their huck-to-flat skills. Photo: Abner Kingman
Recently embracing van life, Lauren Gregg has been traveling around the West, waking up at a different trailhead multiple times a week. She has recently started a project, Turn Loose, to support up-and-coming athletes to attain their goals when funds are otherwise limited. The mission: To spread passion and enthusiasm by sharing stories and supporting inspiring athletes and adventurers. Photo: Abner Kingman
Make way for Kendall-Weed! Stage after stage, Jeff Kendall-Weed was among the fastest riders through the most technical sections. We even heard a puzzled spectator question, "He's not in first!?" during stage 4. His pile-driving crash on the Godfather section of stage 11 left him with a few bones on the mend, but he's certain he'll be back on the bike within a couple weeks. Heal quickly, Jeff! Congrats, you made this section of Vigilante look too damn easy. Photo: Abner Kingman
Those who win the nightly showdown of last-one-standing may be at a slight disadvantage the next morning, but if they're able to make it to the early morning coffee at the WTB tent, there’s still a chance they’ll have time to get their head on straight before the first stage. Ariel Lindsley proved himself as the rider with clout everybody yap about, earning him the inaugural Spirit Award. Antics, hardy laughs and dedication to good times are all crucial ingredients that make The Dirty Sanchez so unique and, you guessed it, Mark Weir holds the final determination as to who done did it right. With Scott Chapin coming in 2nd and Aaron Bradford in 3rd, it seems apparent that Mark would like to see a little more from them next year. Nothing good ever happens past 2am, except at the TDS, where the memorable moments have just begun.
Photo: Abner Kingman
And then, without warning, Godfather happened:
You know what they say...there's more than one way to race a trail. Mike Lee instills some fear in the crowd as he takes the high line, while Marshall "Enduro Jesus" Eames goes low and keeps the plants at bay.
Chris Morrison, brother of Amy Morrison, started mountain biking less than a year ago and his only previous race experience was on a borrowed bike, yet he still won the sport category. Every second of his line down Godfather had us thinking he was going down, but grip-it and rip-it, he held on through it all!
Dan Chiang, known by the WTB family as "Taiwan's Most Famous...Dan", may have been calm and collected in conversation, but he rode without reservation and charged some of the rowdiest lines we've ever seen out at the ranch. The Godfather of American Enduro front-and-center, on Godfather trail, as Dan receives his first silent cheer. It doesn't get better than that. Photo: Abner Kingman
As the title of this post implies, the 2016 TDS was more than a race and carried a greater meaning for many who were present. Each moment of it was enjoyed in joyful remembrance of a beautiful individual who left us far too soon. Last December, WTB, and the mountain bike community as a whole, lost an incredibly loving, welcoming and genuine member of the family. From the Nevada City office, often in the wee hours of the night, Buddy Newman created all the custom graphic designs Jason Moeschler and his OEM clients could come up with. The TDS is a culmination of everything that has brought numerous local families together over the years and has become as much a family reunion as it is anything else. Buddy loved the TDS, from the riding, to people, to the surroundings in which it is held. We wish he had been able to witness the 50-rider train on the new Hey Buddy trail during practice. We’ll think of him each and every time we ride its massive, grippy berms.
Countless years of races, celebrations and losses have all strengthened the bonds between the Sanchez, Moeschler, Weir and Newman families. With the TDS being an event that meant so much to Buddy, and each of the families, it was only appropriate for Jason Moeschler to present the limited edition Galaxy TDS saddle to the Newman family as an intro into the awards ceremony.
Buddy was a welcoming, caring individual who loved the unique and different. When he suggested the Galaxy design for an aftermarket saddle, we originally thought it might be a bit much, even for WTB. This one's for you, Buddy. Your design has landed exactly where it should be, on a production saddle. You'll be in the thoughts of many on their daily rides. Photo: Abner Kingman
Photo: Abner Kingman
1st: Joanna Petterson
2nd: Amy Morrison
3rd: Essence Barton
Photo: Abner Kingman
1st: Jerome Clementz.
2nd: Marco Osborne (by only, wait for it...a single second gap).
3rd: Mark Scott.
Ron Sanchez, the man behind it all, is nonstop the entire weekend. If you're able to track him down, talk quick, because he's likely about to peel off in order to orchestrate the next solution to the endless needs of such an incredible event. Photo: Abner Kingman
The Dirty Sanchez is a weekend where the experience is created and fueled by those who realize that participation and engagement is what creates the ultimate event. It's a weekend of the year where mud is a promise rather than a possibility, side-by-sides outperform their capabilities, local rippers keep the seasoned pros on their game and spectators have the opportunity to crush an EWS World Champion the one place they can…on the RC short-course track.
An endless thank you to the Sanchez family for hosting such a unique experience that we look forward to for the remainder of the year. To all those who donate their time, simply out of the desire to experience the nonstop smiles it produces, thank you. We're so grateful to be part of such a one-of-a-kind event and look forward to whatever is in store for the future.
Nobody knew about the possibility of a Spirit Award until the winners were being announced. We can only imagine what folks will get themselves into next year when they know there's a second podium to gun for.
Until next year...