Graeme Pitts getting out of control on Max's Broke Back Trail. Photo Credit: Bob Lowe www.robertnlowe.com
It happened. Yet again. The Dirty Sanchez enduro graced (should I really say graced when referring to an event called The Dirty Sanchez?) the slopes of an undisclosed location in the rugged foothill country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the self-proclaimed 51st state of Northern California. I kid, I kid.
What I'm not kidding about is Marco Osborne's domination of the event, which only seems fitting as WTB was the presenting sponsor for the event. Marco ran WTB Breakout 2.5 27.5" TCS Tough: High Grip Compound tires, Frequency i23 27.5" Team TCS rims, a prototype carbon-railed saddle, and Moto-X Clamp-on grips to a 16 second lead after 7 stages Saturday, which he then lengthened to over 30 seconds by the time the dirt settled Sunday.
Marco Osborne, focused and hustling down Vigilante Trail. Photo Credit: Bob Lowe www.robertnlowe.com
The Dirty Sanchez is an invite-only, private event limited to 50 people. With just over 700 feet of elevation on land sitting adjacent to a massive mine, the courses are quick, no-nonsense, and punctuated by large rubble strewn throughout red mine tailings. There's everything: seemingly smooth naturally bermed high speed terrain, true built features, sections that belch riders out on open, meadow-like free for alls of any line goes haphazard rock scrambling, and then steep drainages halted by overly abrupt sharp granite rock features. The TDS has it all.
Felt Enduro Team and WTB's own Jeremiah Newman, enjoying some of the TDS natural terrain. Photo Credit: Bob Lowe
Saturday's seven stages were practiced, Sunday's five were not. Nathan Riddle arrived Friday night, presumably slept, then stormed the tracks sight unseen. "The speed that Riddle was going having never seen the trails was unreal," marveled Nate Byrom, race director for this year's TDS. Riddle seared his way to seventh by Sunday, threading the needle aboard his Santa Cruz Bronson clad in Vigilantes 2.3 27.5" Team Issue tires, Tech Trail Clamp-On grips, and a Volt Team saddle.
9 rippers ready to own it. Photo Credit: Bob Lowe www.robertnlowe.com
Nine women showed the boys how to ride and in the end, it was South African Joanna Petterson riding for BMC that took the top spot, showing the Americans how it's done. Teal Stetson-Lee riding for LUNA Chix wasn't far off of Joanna, and Amy Morrison, unsponsored privateer - way to go Amy, took third. Fast times by shred ready women further proving that enduro isn't just for boys.
Pedaled transit stages and... wait for it... nonpedaled. Yep, side by side shuttling is rad. Photo Credit: Bob Lowe
Heavy rains Monday leading up to the event kept the dust relatively at bay but led to some seriously dicey conditions on Vigilante Trail, barely more than a steep drainage, that run off had further chiseled. Organizers were head-scratching the safety of its inclusion until Mark Weir, up for the excitement of the event, set up race tape at the top of the chute to make it appear as though it would slow racers down as they were to come hurling toward the plunge. Of course he left room for those with bravado to hold their speed. It's Weir, right? Those seeking bodily damage didn't have to slow down, there was a line right through it - sure enough, organizers kept Vigilante Trail in the race.
Fortunately, no stitches nor broken bones, purely dislocated joints once the weekend was through. Ben Cruz had finished third overall after day one then went down hard during Sunday's first stage. Dr. P handed him a beer, then forced his shoulder back into place. Success.
Ben Cruz being mended by Dr. P. from WTB on Vimeo. Keep in mind, Ben's already had his prescribed beer at this point.
At the end of it, 5 of the top 10 finishers were on WTB product and a lovely pool party and barbecue were had at the Bond family (Bond as in defending champ, Mason Bond of Devinci Alltricks Enduro Team) residence. Good times, beer, bbq, no broken bones - what more could one ask for?
Mason Bond and Ron Sanchez enjoying the festivities poolside at the Bond family residence post race. Photo Credit: Bob Lowe
A big thank you to all who made this event happen - the Bonds, Moeschlers, and Sanchez family for hosting and accommodating so many racers, the organizers, the expert and very professional generously volunteered medical staff, the sponsors, everybody. This race grosses zero. All money goes right back into renting the side by side, the barbecue, the primes for stages, the winning purses. Of course I said purses. It's a labor of love and it shows... here's to next year.
Enjoy the following video, it's rad and made by a local 15 year old shredder. It gives a good idea of the feel of the event: