Hailed as one of the 'best mountain bike events ever', we were excited to not only get involved in TDS Enduro this year, but we also wanted to experience the event for ourselves. After meeting the Sanchez family at the Hangtown Motocross National in Sacramento last year, we kept in touch and dialed in a plan to support the 2018 event. After the deal was done and we put together a small crew from the office and called up local athletes, Ryan Howard and Tyler McCaul to see if there was room in their busy schedule to race Enduro. R-Dog and T-MAC both jumped at the chance for a fun weekend of camping and racing. The van and trucks were loaded up and we headed north to Grass Valley meeting up with the photo and video crew of Max Mandell and Austin White, our longtime friends from the moto scene.
We pulled into 'The Ranch' on Thursday afternoon and were greeted by Casey and Ron Sanchez, parked and the Bell Camp was set up for the weekend. A quick spin around the main camp area and it was evident that this was going to be a fun one. And when I say fun, I mean RC car track, mini moto track, and a proper trail system – existing and freshly built stages were prepped and ready for the weekend.
Friday was a scheduled practice day, so the boys cranked down some breakfast and headed out to put in some laps and see what TDS was all about. Every time the guys came back to camp they were all smiles and amping on the trail system. By the end of the day, the stage was set for the first day of racing. After a massive Bonfire session and dinner, the guys were off to bed while the non-racers hung out to sample some RC Car mayhem and beer from the local Ol’ Republic Brewery.
Saturday AM the air horn went off and everyone gathered for the riders meeting followed shortly after by the start of the day's racing. Racers headed up to the start house and spectators headed out to the courses to heckle racers throughout the day. We followed this traveling mob of hecklers throughout the day and let me tell you it was absolutely amazing. People were dressed in costumes, carrying noise making devices and tossing you beers as soon as you finished the one you were drinking. After race runs were done we set up for the evening’s festivities, the Bell Supercross viewing in the Sky Bar overlooking the RC car racing and whip contest. Eli Tomac took home the race win at SX and T-MAC took home the win in TDS whip contest, so it was a great night for the boys!
Sunday AM, the air horn went off again and after the riders meeting the racers headed back to the start house and the spectators took their places on the course to continue the heckle fest. Stage 3 on the day saw the Bell crew set up above the hecklers for the Bell Speed trap. Radar gun in hand we clocked every racer through the section and ended up with a tie for the fastest speed of 42 MPH between Trail Peek’s Dane Petersen and So Cal ripper Spencer Rathkamp.
The highlight of TDS event as a spectator was still yet to come on this final day of racing in the form of the Vigilante waterfall section. Vigilante is a PROPER rock waterfall section, very tech and lined with people making tons of noise and occasionally spraying beer when someone they knew raced through the section. You are guaranteed to see pinner lines and spectacular crashes on Vigilante and it didn’t disappoint. We even saw the Camelbak crew handing out pre-made margaritas out of a 3-gallon military hydration bag to any spectator who was in need of a drink and a handful of racers stopped during their race run to chug a beer and carry on. It was THE most fun I have ever had watching a bike race, period. After the final stage, everyone gathered around the podium for results and awards. We had something special in store for the winners of the event… Following suit to what we do for the Moto guys that win a Supercross or Motocross Championship, we had custom Full 9 helmet graphics done up as trophies. These CHAMPION helmets are one of a kind and went home with race winners Duncan Nason & Martha Gill.
As the awards ceremony wrapped up a light rain began to fall, so it couldn’t have been timed better. We made the rounds through all of the racers and friends, high fived, said our goodbye’s and headed back down the 80 towards Santa Cruz. Thanks to the Sanchez family for having us out to the ranch and hosting such an amazing event and are looking forward to seeing everyone next year!