The stars were out and shining bright at the 2018 Northstar Enduro. A dazzling roster of enduro's top talent took to Northstar California Resort's infamously rowdy and physical course. The two-day race was the fifth round of the California Enduro Series, as well as the second round of EWS' inaugural North American Enduro Series and the second round of the CES Golden Tour.
Affectionately referred to as #gnarstar, Northstar is renowned for its burly, technical trails. Racers tackled long transfer climbs at altitude and steep, loose, and rocky timed stages consisting of blue, black and double-black terrain. All categories raced six stages; while pros took on a seventh.
Richie Rude and Andréane Lanthier Nadeau took their rock solid riding all the way to the top pro podium spots. This event was the first time either athlete has ridden Northstar, let alone raced it. This made their wins all that more impressive as they went up against serious competition from riders well versed in Northstar terrain. (Fun fact: Rude and Lanthier Nadeau both hail from the east coast; the former resides in Redding, Connecticut and the latter's hometown is Québec City in Canada.)
Rude currently stands in first place for the EWS North American Enduro Series. He says, "It was a tough weekend. We’re up at elevation with some pedally courses ... it was tough to get through seven stages. I definitely had fun out there ... there’s a lot of sand, a lot of big rock gardens. Having Evan [Geankoplis] behind me in second most of the weekend was stressful. It was a tight race ... I tried to hold it in front of him and I made it out with the win, so I'm pretty happy there." Rude adds, "This is my first year here at Northstar. It was a shock compared to everything else. This kind of dirt is really different but it was really fun to ride."
Lanthier Nadeau — a consistent top ten EWS finisher currently in third place for the EWS North American Enduro Series — experienced a tight race as well. She says, "It was super tight with Amy [Morrison]. I actually never had a race where it was this tight with someone for the whole race. It all came down to Stage 7 ... it was wild, but I kept it upright. I’m happy I discovered this new place."Stage Schedule and Descriptions
After a chilly early morning rider meeting under a clear blue sky, all categories warmed up with a transfer climb to their first stages. Day 1 featured three stages that tested racers' endurance. Pro/Expert riders raced in order — Stages 1, 2, 3 — while the Sport/Beginner order was 3, 1, 2. Between stages, riders of all categories stopped by the CES Live!
timing tent to check in so racers, spectators, and fans at home could keep track of the action.
Stage 1 (Woods to Lower Mineshaft): Riders pedaled to the top of this extremely physical stage that included long uphill sprints, short sprints out of corners, sharp switchbacks, and rooty, rocky sections. The stage finished with a set of sublimely crafted berms.
Stage 2 (Coaster): The transfer to this stage involved a lift as well as some pedaling. The fastest riders stayed off the brakes from the start to the first corner, about 30 seconds at race pace. This pumptrack-like run featured fast, exhilarating berms, some tight sections through the trees, tons of rocky bits, and loose, dusty, chunky corners. The stage culminated with a series of switchbacks down the ski run. Savvy riders would set up wide to hook around these turns, ensuring a fast stage finish.
Stage 3 (Vista Mix 1): After another combined pedal/lift transfer, a series of jumps greeted racers right out of the gate. Running on popular techy trails Sticks and Stones, Karpiel, and Dog Bone, the rest of this run featured chunder garden after chunder garden with some loose, flowy sections mixed in.
Day 2 dawned chilly and slightly cloudy but by start time, temps had warmed up and the sky was clear. Day 1's intense action was wearing enough; athletes had to dig deep to take on Day 2's tracks which were even more physically demanding and technical. Expert, Sport, and Beginner riders raced three stages; Pros raced four. Expert/Pro categories again raced in order, while the Sport/Beginner order was 6, 4, 5.
Stage 4 (Boondocks): This short but oh-so-sweet trail is a racer favorite and was accessed by a combined climb/lift. Knowing your line was crucial on this rocky and ridiculously loose run that boasts the challenging but fun V-Rock feature. The stage ends with a series of high-speed corners; an all-out rip to the finish.
Stage 5 (Gypsy): From the bottom of Stage 4, riders climbed to the top of this classic bike park run. This stage featured plenty of wooden ramps, paver corners, a man-made rock garden, and high speed, loose corners coming into the finish.
Stage 6 (Tahoe Trail to Vista Mix 2): This was the final stage of the weekend for all categories except Pro. Riders accessed the stage via lift and a pedal to nearly the top of the mountain. This power-driven stage tested riders’ endurance with a number of uphill sprints. The diverse mix of trails offered a little of everything including loose berms, massive rock drops, and loose corners. It even threw in a bit of raw, primitive track to keep things even more interesting.
Stage 7 Pro Only (Karpiel/Dog Bone/Vietnam): Pro riders made a final pedal transfer to the top of this intense stage. This run was hands-down the steepest, gnarliest, most technical stage of the race. Long — and we mean lonnnngg — rock gardens required racers to know their lines. A layer of powder upon chunder made the run that much more challenging all the way to the finish.
After a warm, dusty day on the mountain, riders enjoyed food and drink while hanging out trading race stories 'til podium. The stoke was high for this world-class event that pitted local talent against some of the world's fastest riders. The stoke is equally amped for the star-studded action yet to come when EWS welcomes Northstar to next year's line-up. Be sure to follow both CES and EWS on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!
Check out race results and podium shots here
. Scroll down for Pro stage summaries, and current EWS North American Enduro Series, CES overall, and CES Golden Tour rankings.
2018 Northstar Enduro champion Richie Rude looking smooth on Gypsy's rock garden (Stage 3). Rude currently stands in first place in the EWS North American Enduro Series and in third place in the CES Golden Tour. Photo: Kasey Carames.
2018 Northstar Enduro champion Andréane Lanthier Nadeau charges a Stage 1 techy section. Lanthier Nadeau is racing the Enduro World Series (EWS) and is a consistent top ten finisher. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Welcome to Northstar Village. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Calvin Giannini (Junior Pro Men) hitting the paver rock drop on Boondocks (Stage 6) in practice. Photo: Kasey Carames.
The Daytona Berms got some good love before the race, making them extra sweet. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Unique features abound at Northstar. Here a rider drops in through the tunnel on Gypsy in practice. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Northstar is home turf for Marco Osborne, and he took third place on this first stage of the race. Unfortunately, a nasty crash on Day 2's Stage 5 took him out of the game. Osborne currently stands in fifth place for the EWS North American Enduro Series. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Brian Lopes in full attack mode on Stage 1. Lopes took first place Master Pro Men 40+. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Junior Pro Men first place finisher Kaspar Woolley. Woolley stands in third place in the EWS North American Enduro Series Men U18 category. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Meanwhile, back at the CES Live! timing tent ... Photo: Kasey Carames.
Branson Morain gives Bryn Bingham (both Junior Pro Men) a good chase on Stage 1. Bingham is currently in fourth place in the EWS North American Enduro Series U18 category. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Enduro gnomes cheer for Aiden Chapin on Stage 3. Chapin went on to win the Expert Boys U18 category, and currently stands in first place CES overall as well. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Mike Turner (Sport-30-39) proving that even the transfers can be fun. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Ryan Westermann (Expert Men 18-29) opts for the middle line on a techy section of Stage 1. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Between stages, riders refueled on Clif products. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Pro Men Iago Garay making it look easy on Stage 7. The EWS racer finished in eighth place and currently stands in ninth place in the EWS North American Enduro Series. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Jeni Boltshauser took first place for Expert Women, and is first place CES overall. Her team, MTB Experience, is in third place for CES team competition. Photo: Owen Ransom.
Erin McCaleb rode strong to a first place Beginner Women finish, and is currently in second place CES overall. Her team, Scotts Valley Cycle Sport, is now in the lead for CES team competition. Photo: Owen Ransom.
CES appreciates the Specialized's support of the series. Specialized donated a Turbo Levo Comp Carbon e-bike to be raffled off to a lucky winner. Raffle tickets are available on the CES website and at the Kamikaze Bike Games. Photo: Kasey Carames.
The Kali Road Warrior was on hand to support racers. Thanks Cedar! Photo: Kasey Carames.
CES director Steve Gemelos announces Round 5's FOX fork winner. Photo: Kasey Carames.
Essence Barton took back the CES overall lead from Heidi Kanayan this weekend. She came in third this weekend, and is currently in ninth place for the Golden Tour.
Evan Geankoplis also took back his lead for CES overall. He took third at Northstar, and is currently in eighth for the Golden Tour.
Zephyr Sylvester moved into the Golden Tour lead after this race, taking 5th on the weekend. She is currently in second place for the EWS North American Enduro Series, and fourth CES overall. Photo: Owen Ransom.
Todd Renwick also shook up the Golden Tour rankings with this race, and is now in the lead. He narrowly missed the Pro Men podium, taking sixth place in a stacked field. Renwick is standing at third place CES overall. Photo: Owen Ransom.
* * *Pro Men Podium and Stage Summaries
The top five Pro Men shared a $4,000 prize purse. The day's top five winners were: 1st - Richie Rude / 2nd - Curtis Keene / 3rd - Evan Geankoplis / 4th - Shawn Neer / 5th - Carson Eiswald.
Pro riders kicked off Day 1 with a significant climb to the top of Stage 1 (Woods to Lower Mineshaft), the first of the day’s three challenging stages that would test athletes’ endurance. Richie Rude (EWS) — who is currently leading the EWS North American Enduro Series — took his first of all three Day 1 stage wins on this long, physical stage. He came in at 9:30.2 with a solid 10.6 second lead on the next fastest rider Evan Geankoplis who came into the race in second place for CES overall. Marco Osborne came in third on his home turf at 9:41.4, while Curtis Keene took fourth at 9:44.3. Shawn Neer rounded out the top five fastest pro men 13.5 seconds behind Keene.
Stage 2 (Coaster) was accessed via a combined lift/climb. Rude again led the pack on this flowy run, coming in at 7:00.7. Keene, Geankoplis, and Geoff Kabush came in within a fraction of a section of one another, clocking 7:03.43, 7:03.664, and 7:03.735 respectively. Osborne took fifth at 7:07.8.
After two stages, Rude had a 13.2-second lead over Geankoplis, followed by Keene 3.2 seconds behind Geankoplis, Osborne another 1.5 seconds back, and Kabush 14.7 seconds back from Osborne.
Day 1 of the Northstar Enduro wrapped with chunky, loose, high-speed Stage 3 (Vista Mix 1). Rude swept the day’s stages with his third win, clocking 4:56. Geankoplis followed at 5:00.1, with Keene, Osborne and McKay Vezina coming in tight to round out the top five at 5:02.7, 5:03 and 5:03.8 respectively.
By the end of Day 1, Rude stood in first place with a total time of 21:26.961 and a 17.6 second lead over Geankoplis. Geankoplis was followed by Keene 5.8 seconds back, and Osborne 1.8 seconds behind Keene. Vezina moved into 5th place after three stages, 25.5 seconds behind Osborne. But with the physical stages of Day 1 done, and the more technical stages of Day 2 coming, anything would be possible.
On Day 2, Pro riders made their way to the top of their first stage of the day — Stage 4 (Boondocks) — via a climb and lift. It was a tight race down this short but sweet, rocky and ridiculously loose run. Brian Cahal broke Rude’s stage winning streak by a mere .173 seconds; they clocked 3:32.100 and 3:32.273 respectively. Keene was close behind at 3:33.101 with Geankoplis hot on his wheel at 3:33.461. Neer rounded out the top five fastest down this track at 3:34.
Even with this stage loss, Rude opened up his lead to 18.8 seconds over Geankoplis. Keene closed the gap on Geankoplis to 5.4 seconds — but Osborne lost 3.5 seconds on Keene, falling to 5.4 seconds behind Keene. Neer moved into fifth, 27 seconds behind Keene. A battle for the final podium spot ensued, with Vezina and Carson Eiswald both within one second of Neer’s time.
From the bottom of Stage 4, riders chipped in at the CES Live! tent before pedaling up to Stage 5 (Gypsy). Keene snagged the stage win on this classic bike park run, clocking 3:50.6. Rude came in second at 3:51; Geankoplis in third at 3:53.7, Neer in fourth at 3:54.6, and Duncan Nason (EWS NA) in fifth at 3:55.4.
Again, even with a stage loss, Rude opened his lead on Geankoplis even further to 21.5 seconds. Keene’s stage win helped him close the gap on Geankoplis, who now was just 2.3 seconds ahead of Keene for second place. Unfortunately, Osborne was taken out on Stage 5, dropping him out of the race. Neer moved into fourth place, just 1.7 seconds ahead of Vezina and 3.4 seconds ahead of Eiswald.
Riders then made their way all the way up the mountain via a lift and pedal transfer to take on Stage 6 (Vista Mix 2). Rude took the stage win on this diverse run, with nearly twelve seconds on the next fastest rider Keene who clocked 8:22.7. Keene himself had nearly eight seconds on the next fastest rider after him: Neer, who came in at 8:30.5. Geankoplis came in fourth at 8:32.1, while Todd Renwick (EWS NA/CES) made his first top five stage finish at 8:44.8.
Rude opened his lead even further to 23.6 seconds. With a total time 37:01.3, he was running away with the win. With his strong performance on this stage, Keene moved into second place with a 12 second lead over Geankoplis. Neer maintained fourth and opened his gap on Vezina, and 37 seconds over Eiswald.
Rude slayed steep, highly technical stage Stage 7 (Karpiel/Dog Bone/Karpiel) with a solid gap between himself and the rest of the top five stage finishers. Rude’s time of 2:09.5 was a solid five seconds faster than Eiswald’s. Iago Garay took his first top five stage here, clocking 2:12.8. Neer finished just over half a second faster than Trevor Boldi, who came in fifth at 2:13.8.
At the end of the two days of racing, Rude finished with a total time of 39:10.7 and the win. Keene edged out Geankoplis with a strong performance on Stage 6, taking second place. Neer held on to fourth, and Eiswald overtook Vezina on Stage 7 to snag the final spot on the podium.
Richie Rude / Stage 1. Northstar 1st, EWS North American Enduro Series 1st, EWS 16th, Golden Tour 3rd, CES 18th.
Curtis Keene / Stage 7. Northstar 2nd, EWS North American Enduro Series 4th, EWS 35th, Golden Tour 6th, CES 7th.
Evan Geankoplis / Stage 4. Northstar 3rd, Golden Tour 8th, CES 1st.
Shawn Neer / Stage 1. Northstar 4th, EWS North American Enduro Series 2nd, EWS 22nd, Golden Tour 12th, CES 23rd.
Carson Eiswald / Stage 5. Northstar 5th, Golden Tour 13th, CES 26th. Pro Women Podium and Stage Summaries
The top five Pro Women also shared a $4,000 prize purse. The day's top five winners were: 1st - Andréane Lanthier Nadeau / 2nd - Amy Morrison / 3rd - Essence Barton / 4th - Anna Sullivan / 5th - Zephyr Sylvester.
The Pro Women were stoked to race after their morning climb to the top of Stage 1 (Woods to Lower Mineshaft). Andréane Lanthier Nadeau came in first at 11:06, with a six second lead over the next fastest pro female rider Amy Morrison. A hefty 11 second gap separated second and third place, with Essence Barton — who came into the race in second place for CES overall — clocking 11:24. Barton had over nine seconds on the next fastest rider, Zephyr Sylvester, who took fourth at 11:33. Janea Perry took fifth at 11:35.
A lift and short pedal later, the pro women were ready to tackle Stage 2 (Coaster). Morrison took the stage win at 7:45.2, over five seconds faster than Lanthier Nadeau who came in second. Lanthier Nadeau’s time of 7:50.5 was nearly 14 seconds fast than the third fastest woman down the stage, Barton, who clocked 8:05. Another gap, this one just over seven seconds, separated Barton and Sylvester, who came in at 8:12.2. Anna Sullivan rounded out the top five stage finishers at 8:15.
After the second stage, Lanthier Nadeau led Morrison by 0.8 seconds, followed by Barton 32 seconds back, Sylvester was another 16.5 seconds back, and Emma Dunn another 20.3 seconds back.
Day 1 of the Northstar Enduro wrapped with Stage 3 (Vista Mix 1). Lanthier Nadeau took another stage win, clocking 6:03.2, with Morrison just behind her at 6:05.7. Again, a 14-second gap separated second and third, with Barton clocking 6:19.7. Sylvester took fourth, a little over eight seconds behind Barton, and Tasha Thomas took fifth, nearly 12 seconds behind Barton.
At the end of the first day, Morrison was just three seconds behind Lanthier Nadeau. Barton was 46 seconds back from Morrison, followed by Sylvester and Sullivan.
Lanthier Nadeau and Morrison continued trading stage wins throughout Day 2. Lanthier Nadeau took the first stage win on Stage 4 (Boondocks), clocking 4:13.1. Morrison was three seconds behind her at 4:16.1, with nearly 11 seconds on Barton who came in third at 4:26.8. Thomas came in fourth at 4:29.9 while Perry took fifth at 4:38.5.
After the first stage of Day 2, Lanthier Nadeau lead Morrison by 6.4 seconds, with total times of 29:12.7 and 29:19.0. Barton was in third place with a total time of 30:15.6, 56.5 seconds behind Morrison. Sylvester was in fourth with a total time of 31:30.5, followed by Sullivan at 31:31.4.
After checking in at CES Live! the pro women climbed to Stage 5 (Gypsy) for some classic bike park action. It was Morrison’s turn to snag a stage win, clocking 4:24.9 — nearly four seconds faster than Nadeau. Nadeau had nearly 11 seconds on the next fastest woman, however; Sullivan came in third at 4:39.7. Sarah Schneider took a top 5 stage win coming in fourth at 4:41.6 while Perry again took fifth at 4:43.6.
Morrison closed the gap on Lanthier Nadeau to just 2.5 seconds; Lanthier Nadeau coming in with a total time of 33:41.4 and Morrison with 33:43.9. Barton was still holding on strong to third with a total time of 35.06.9 — 64 seconds ahead of Sullivan at 36:11.0. Sylvester sat in fifth just 5.1 seconds behind Sullivan.
Stage 6 (Vista Mix 2) was accessed by a lift and climb to nearly the top of the mountain. Morrison took another stage win at 9:48.2, with Lanthier Nadeau close behind her at 9:52. Lanthier Nadeau boasted an 18 second lead over the next fastest woman, Barton, who clocked 10:10.4. Barton herself held a solid lead over Sullivan who came in fourth at 10:22. Thomas rounded out the top five fastest women on the stage at 10:41.
Morrison took the stage win and a 1.1 seconds lead over Lanthier Nadeau. Barton still held on strong to third place with a total time of 45:17.3 — 75.9 seconds ahead of Sullivan. Sullivan opened a 25 second gap on Sylvester, securing her fourth place position.
The pro women then made their final climb of the weekend to the top of Stage 7 (Karpiel/Dog Bone/Karpiel). They had to dig deep to take on the most challenging stage of the race. Lanthier Nadeau pulled out all the stops, running away with the stage win at 2:30.1. Morrison was somewhat reserved on this extremely rocky stage, coming in a little over eight seconds after Lanthier Nadeau at 2:38.4. Morrison had a hefty 25.5-second lead on Thomas. Thomas, Barton and Sylvester were extremely close, coming in at 3:02.984, 3:03.0, and 3:03.969 respectively.
Lanthier Nadeau’s Stage 7 performance took her back into the lead and gave her the win with a total time of 46:03.5 — 7.1 seconds ahead of Morrison, who finished at 46:10.6. Barton took third overall with a total time of 48:20.3, while Sullivan held on to fourth with a time of 49:46.0, and Sylvester wrapped up the race with a total of 50:02.2.
Andréane Lanthier Nadeau / Stage 4. Northstar 1st, EWS North American Enduro Series 3rd, EWS 12th, Golden Tour 6th, CES 12th.
Amy Morrison / Stage 5. Northstar 2nd, EWS North American Enduro Series 1st, EWS 28th, Golden Tour 8th, CES 13th.
Essence Barton / Stage 7. Northstar 3rd, Golden Tour 9th, CES 1st.
Anna Sullivan / Stage 1. Northstar 4th, EWS North American Enduro Series 5th, Golden Tour 11th, CES 17th.
Zephyr Sylvester / Stage 3. Northstar 5th, EWS North American Enduro Series 2nd, Golden Tour 1st, CES 4th.Current Pro Standings
EWS North American Enduro Series: Richie Rude and Amy Morrison are currently standing at the top of this continental series within the Enduro World Series (EWS). Check out full EWS North American Enduro Series rankings here
CES Overall: Evan Geankoplis took back his lead from Matt Guntert, while Essence Barton took back hers from Heidi Kanayan. Full CES standings can be viewed here
CES Golden Tour: Todd Renwick and Zephyr Sylvester both stepped into the lead after this second round of CES' triple crown. The Golden Tour will culminate at the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro. Learn more about the Golden Tour here
, and view current standings here
* * *
Next up: Round 6, the Kamikaze Bike Games Enduro at Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes September 23. This year's Kamikaze Enduro features an all-new course with plenty of Mammoth's renowned kitty litter and chunky tracks. The Kamikaze Enduro is one of the three prestigious events showcased on the CES Golden Tour. Register at californiaenduroseries.com
.About California Enduro Series
CES is a for riders, by riders non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting world-class enduro events that everyone from amateur to pro can enjoy, at a geographically diverse range of venues.
The series is grateful for the support of the following sponsors: FOX, CLIF Bar, Specialized Bicycles, Dynaplug, WTB, Kenda Tires, Kali Protectives, Cranked Naturals, Michael David Winery, Voler Apparel, Park Tool, Mynesweepers, Adventure Sports Journal, ESI Grips, Gamut USA, Zodiac Lights.
Words by Michele Charboneau with Matt Guntert
Photos by Kasey Carames and Owen Ransom