Stage 3 kept riders on their toes with a high-speed rock garden following a long, pedally fireroad descent
Unpredictable downpours, insanely highspeed singletrack, and smiles for miles- the 2015 Ashland Mountain Challenge. Racers arrived in southern Oregon midweek to practice the 4 stages on Mount Ashland.The speed of the trails was truly legendary, with racers trading tales of blown corners, maxed out equipment, and close brushes with disaster.
Early morning riders saw great conditions on the smooth, flowy tracks, but by the afternoon each day thunderclouds descended on the mountaintop and heavy rain pounded the trails. Riders reached town drenched and muddy, not having been able to see much of the course at all. Ashland Mountain Adventures shuttled riders and provided a basecamp for racers. Although people were soaked with rain, big smiles showed through their muddy faces as they enjoyed the company of other riders and the relaxing Ashland atmosphere. Danny Mollineda pedalled hard and came back strong after a DNF at China Peak, taking 4th place in Jr. Expert in Ashland.
Everyone held their breaths to see if the weather would hold out on race day, with a 50% predicted chance of another epic downpour. The race-day morning saw clear skies as the Beginner/Sport riders began their pedal to the top and Expert/Pros were shuttled to the other side of the mountain. After an almost 15 minute first stage filled with tight singletrack, highspeed straightaways and an epic fire road section, Pro/Experts raced down their second stage- BTI, a loose gravelly trail that saw many crashes on race day.Riders reached warp speeds on the straightaways, and the rain provided perfect tacky dirt
After completing BTI, they started the long arduous climb to the top of Mt. Ashland for the final stages. Rain started to fall as riders dropped into their third and fourth stages, but for the most part the weather held and trail conditions were all-time. The day was challenging, but the party at the finish line resonated with laughter as riders celebrated having raced some of the fastest trails on the West Coast. Kyle Warner smoothly navigated the rock garden and rode his way to a 3rd place finish. Nathan Riddle was the fastest man on the mountain, ending up on top of the Pro podium.
.Kyle Warner looking stoked having ridden his Marin to a top 3 finish.Mark Weir in full focus pedalling through Stage 3.Travis Finn and Rob Bates sessioning lines to prepare for hitting the trail at race pace
.Carolynn Romaine shredding trail. Romaine finished 2nd place behind local Adele Mery in the Pro women’s podium
. Women’s Pro Podium:
1. Adele Mery
2. Carolynn Romaine
3. Amy Morrison
4. Andrea Napoli
5. Kim RussellMen’s Pro Podium:
1. Nathan Riddle
2. Mark Weir
3. Kyle Warner
4. Cory Sullivan
5. Ryan Gardner
California Enduro Series 2015 – Round #4
– Ashland Mountain Challenge
Words by Lauren Gregg, Photos by Scott McClain, Called To Creation