DH Legends Take to the Course on Day 1 of the 2017 Kamikaze Bike Games

Sep 16, 2017
by Philip Beckman  
This must be the place.
  This must be the place.

This year's Kamikaze Bike Games, on the high grounds of Mammoth Mountain, kicked off on Friday under clear, pleasant, and very dry conditions. Despite several days of sometimes heavy rain leading up to the event, the infamous volcanic pumice surface of this elevated terrain (8,000 feet, give or take) in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California soaked up the precipitation like a sponge. Mammoth received record-setting snowfall this past winter, allowing for epic skiing and boarding on these slopes well into summer, but you'd never know it in mid-September. Loose and dusty is the name of the game at Kamikaze, just as it has been since this legendary event—inaugurated in 1985—was resurrected five years ago.

It was a busy day in and around Canyon Lodge, the epicenter of the Kamikaze Bike Games. Racing events included the Cat 2/3 Downhill, the Cross Country, qualifying for the Pro and Junior Expert Downhill taking place on Saturday, as well as the event's namesake, the famed Legends of the Kamikaze Downhill (this year by invitation only).


An expansive expo area has been bustling.
  An expansive expo area has been bustling.

Best time of the day in the Cat 2 3 Downhill event was turned in by Upland California s Keanu Smith with a 4 57.110 in the Cat 2 15-18 class.
  Best time of the day in the Cat 2/3 Downhill event was turned in by Upland, California's, Keanu Smith, with a 4:57.110 in the Cat 2 15-18 class.

Jesse Polay skips through the dusty holes.
  Jesse Polay skips through the dusty holes.

The World Cup champ may make an appearance but we re told he s a bit under the weather.
  The World Cup champ may make an appearance, but we're told he's a bit under the weather.

Sliding around during enduro practice.
  Sliding around during enduro practice.

Plenty of airtime to be had on the Smooth Operator trail part of the upcoming weekend s enduro events.
  Plenty of airtime to be had on the Smooth Operator trail, part of the upcoming weekend's enduro events.

Not an uncommon sight at Mammoth.
  Not an uncommon sight at Mammoth.

The super spectator. Cool beverage. Check. Bullhorn. Check. Sombrero. Check. Boombox loaded with Mexican death metal. Check.
  The super spectator. Cool beverage? Check. Bullhorn? Check. Sombrero? Check. Boombox loaded with Mexican death metal? Check.

There s a reason why he long ago earned the nickname Insane Wayne Croasdale. Ninth place in the Legends of the Kamikaze.
  There's a reason why he long ago earned the nickname "Insane" Wayne Croasdale. Ninth place in the Legends of the Kamikaze.

Leigh Donovan loves the Kamikaze as evidenced by her five wins in this event. She did it again in 2017.
  Leigh Donovan loves the Kamikaze, as evidenced by her five wins in this event. She did it again in 2017.

The Kamikaze Downhill brings out the party people.
  The Kamikaze Downhill brings out the party people.

Bakersfield California s Todd Snider 41 railed to his second Legends of the Kamikaze win turning a time of 4 45.530.
  Bakersfield, California's, Todd Snider, 41, railed to his second Legends of the Kamikaze win, turning a time of 4:45.530.

Former World Champion Giovanna Bonazzi of Italy was runner-up lady in the Legends of the Kamikaze.
  Former World Champion Giovanna Bonazzi of Italy was runner-up lady in the Legends of the Kamikaze.

Rich Houseman placed second in the Legends of the Kamikaze by six seconds.
  Rich Houseman placed second in the Legends of the Kamikaze by six seconds.

Ken Foraker shoots all excuses out of the water.
  Ken Foraker shoots all excuses out of the water.

Double trouble. The Jon Martin crew placed 17th out of 24 entrants in the men s side of the Legends event.
  Double your fun. The Jon Martin crew placed 17th out of 24 entrants in the men's side of the Legends event.

Steven Walton Commencal was first down the hill in qualifying seeding for the Junior Experts setting a time no one else would touch by a comfortable margin.
  Steven Walton (Commencal) was first down the hill in qualifying for the Junior Experts, setting a time no one else would touch by a comfortable margin.

KHS Factory Racing s Bruce Klein laid down a scorching time to top Pro Men s Downhill seeding.
  KHS Factory Racing's Bruce Klein laid down a scorching time to top Pro Men's Downhill qualifying.

Legends of the Kamikaze winner Todd Snider and his loyal support crew.
  Legends of the Kamikaze winner Todd Snider and his loyal support crew.

The Pro Women s Cross Country podium with Nikki Peterson standing tallest.
  The Pro Women's Cross Country podium, with Nikki Peterson standing tallest. She's joined by McKenzie Long (2nd) and Melanie Myden (3rd).

Ryan Steers captured the Pro Men s Cross country and a generous check to go with it.
  Ryan Steers captured the Pro Men's Cross Country, and a generous check to go with it. Turner Conway (Tasco) and Tate Meintjes (Bear Development) went 2-3.

Your Women s Legends of the Kamikaze podium with Leigh Donovan flanked by Giovanna Bonazzi Mercedes Natvig Penny Lundgren and Paula Santerior.
  Your Women's Legends of the Kamikaze podium, with Leigh Donovan flanked by Giovanna Bonazzi, Mercedes Natvig, Penny Lundgren and Paula Santerior.

The Men s Legends of the Kamikaze podium l-r Colin Bailey 5th Rich Houseman 2nd Todd Snider 1st Greg Ghrist 3rd Eric Rasmussen 4th.
  The Men's Legends of the Kamikaze podium (l-r): Colin Bailey, 5th; Rich Houseman, 2nd; Todd Snider, 1st; Greg Ghrist, 3rd; Eric Rasmussen, 4th.

Kamikaze Bike Games founder Bill Cockroft gets some love.
  Kamikaze Bike Games founder Bill Cockroft gets some love.

Full results here.


67 Comments

  • 43 3
 Flat tires at Mammoth not an uncommon sight, flat Schwalbe Nobby Nics pretty common sight though - no matter where.
  • 15 8
 people not checking or using adequate tire pressure - no matter where.
  • 6 7
 @makripper: that helps with cuts how?
  • 9 5
 Assuming everyone gets flats and most of the flats you see are Nobby Nics could it not just be that most people are running Nobby Nics? Could instead that indicate that they are in fact awesome?
  • 7 4
 @fullfacemike: well done, well done... But no.
  • 12 1
 It's probably because they didn't spend enough on their foam rim strips
  • 2 0
 Truth! Especially when you let it hang out like Abler.
  • 5 3
 looks like a hans dampf.... evo snakeskin, gotta get the supergravity at least brah.
  • 3 1
 I didn't see many at all - cool thing about riding there is that the elevation (11,053 feet at the top) really pumps up your tires automatically. Its a fast rebound, high tire pressure, firm suspension kinda experience. Today's enduro really kicked my ass and I haven't felt better all year. Hopefully some photogs got up top - stage 4 was epic
  • 3 18
flag mollow (Sep 16, 2017 at 19:55) (Below Threshold)
 @endlessblockades: cool story bro
  • 3 2
 Way to stick it to N.N. tires! A valuable commentary on this event indeed!
  • 1 3
 @makripper:
And we saw how many World Cup DH racers flat this year? Are they not checking their tire pressure?
  • 8 0
 He's not using Moar Air technology.
  • 1 0
 @westeast: we also saw that foam insert companies were paying racers to use and advert their product. coincidence? maybe.
  • 2 1
 maxxis or walk
  • 10 0
 Where was John Tomac and the Tioga carbon disc wheel?

That thing needs to make a comeback in this age of ridiculous carbon-everything.
  • 1 0
 He's most likely taking some much need R&R after this summers Nationals. Monster Energy Cup is right around the corner for Eli.
  • 8 0
 Mammoth really is a special place. There's just something about where it's located (Eastern Sierra), it's views and how the area is mostly isolated.
  • 4 0
 For legends, I'd love to see John Tomac jump back into it. I met him in Vermont years back when it was NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association).
Really cool and down to earth guy.
  • 5 0
 More important are those JLB stickers. Check!
  • 1 0
 When they rebooted the Kamikaze wasn't there an event where they raced bikes from the old days as well? Not seeing any of the old ones here - was it deemed just too suicidally dangerous to race fully rigid bikes with 20" wide bars in the modern age? Or did that event end up breaking all the vintage bikes to bits?
  • 1 1
 With the small 1x front chain ring I'm seeing on the bikes in these photos, I doubt these new bikes could come close to the speeds that Tomac and the others used to reach back in the day. Tomac and lots of others ran a 62-66 tooth sprockets and were pedaling! Better suspension and tires now but gearing unworthy of the heritage of the event. I'm assuming today's course is more technical but much lower speeds than in the past.
  • 4 0
 pretty awesome to see Leigh Donovan still shredding!!
  • 4 0
 Yes. But the TANDEM Bike Crew wins for sheer fun-factor!
  • 2 1
 No Bernard Unhassobiscay among the legends? The name alone is worthy of being named up there - forget him coming out of nowhere to take 2nd to Cully in a Kamikaze DH back in the 90s. Unhassiboscay.
  • 2 0
 Never heard of any of these legends except Donovan.
  • 2 0
 I think many of them are married now. I believe Mercedes Gonzales and Penny Davidson would be the names most people would know.
  • 1 0
 @fracasnoxteam:

CONFIRMED RIDERS
Giovanna Bonazzi
Penny Davidson
Leigh Donovan
Mercedes Natvig
Paula Santerior


Colin Bailey
Josh Bender
Wayne Croasdale
Rob Fig Naughton
Ken Foraker
Don Fritts
Mike Galeoto
Greg Ghrist
Rich Houseman
Boone Jones
Johnny Kimball
Casey Kunselman
Joshua Linn
Mike Mautner
Thomas McCoy
Alex Mcelyea
Gabe Miller
Tyson Mrosek
Steve Padilla
Eric Palmquist
Eric Rasmussen
Chad Reiker
Tom Rogers
Nat Ross
Richie Shearer
Todd Snider
Joe Stanish
Jerry Vanderpool
Ryan White
Russ Worley
  • 2 0
 @endlessblockades: thx. (Is Eric Palmquist a fusion of Carter Palmer and Nyquist?)
  • 4 0
 Peaty and Warner should come out and crash this party!
  • 5 0
 The Brit that did well at the Kamikaze was Jason Mcroy and that was before Peaty and Warners time.
  • 5 0
 @djm35: Wast it JMC that got those two into racing in the first place anyway?
  • 2 0
 @McArdle: Sort of, yes. He definitely gave them some inspiration/mentoring.
  • 2 0
 @djm35: Your right with the ispiration. He opened alot of doors for british racers to make it big. Going over to America winning races, getting the big Specialized deal.Showed them all it was possible.

He was such a rad dude, Absolute legend of the sport.
  • 3 0
 Bad ass, Leigh Donovan, taking the win with no goggles!
  • 3 0
 Woah... Does that dude really have no legs? Bad ass!
  • 3 0
 He has one leg.
  • 1 0
 Awesome to see
  • 1 0
 @HCorey: sponsored by yeti back in the Missy/Rockwell days I remember
  • 2 0
 It's good to see some of my local friends getting coverage even if they got a flat. Ha ha ha!!!!
  • 3 0
 No Tomac or Herbold...pfft
  • 2 0
 Wayne insane croasdale. With his long curly hair and khs those were my days
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know why it's call the Kamikaze Bike Games?
  • 4 0
 There's a fast, wide open, super loose descent aptly named Kamikaze. Years ago, this was the featured trail at its namesake event.
  • 2 0
 @jason745: the craziest part of that race is the size of the chainrings they ran.
  • 3 0
 Because it was a suicide mission on early 90's bike technology.
  • 1 0
 Ryan Steers sure is a Giant rider.
  • 1 0
 Ken Foraker, you my sir are bad a$$.
  • 1 0
 that poor, poor unfortunate man really needs an e-bike. yeah right. i got feeling that dude would eat an ebike for breakfast and shit out a chain and sprocket hes so tough.
  • 1 0
 @stacykohut: Ken doesn't need any crappy E-Bike!!!! Your are right that he eats them for breakfast! Road with him all weekend long and he was CRUSHING everything!!!
  • 1 0
 ONE LEG!!!!!!!!.... that guy is so rad! Get on it!
  • 2 0
 Where is PALMER???
  • 2 0
 rehab?
  • 1 0
 @stacykohut: true story
  • 1 0
 @Golden-G: sadly, yes.
  • 1 0
 Now seriously.. where is Brian Lopes?!
  • 1 0
 TAYLOR!!
  • 1 1
 Fuhcaneh KEN!!!Very inspiring!!Keep ripping!
  • 1 0
 Leg ends with my big toe
  • 1 1
 that double bike is sick
  • 4 0
 It's called a tandem..
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