Race Report: CES Round 5 - US Open Enduro

Sep 18, 2019
by Michele Charboneau / Cali Enduro  
Cody Kelley with his eyes on the prize on Stage 3. He won four out of the day's five stages, landing the Pro Men top step with a total time of 19:05.694.

Bike party in SoCal! The California Enduro Series headed south for its fifth round of the 2019 season, returning to Snow Summit Bike Park in Big Bear Lake — but this year for the Fox US Open Enduro. The September 14th race was part of the Fox US Open of Mountain Biking, a four-day family-friendly event chock full of cycling races and contests (Dual Slalom! Best Whip! Downhill! Enduro!), vendors, music, adventure activities, food and libations, and more.

The Fox US Open Enduro was also the EWS North American Enduro Series finale, and its physical course challenged racers with the diverse range of terrain found in the San Bernardino mountains about two hours east of Los Angeles.

For most enduro racers, the weekend started Friday with lift-served practice available all day long. The next morning hinted at another hot, sunny day as riders set off to their scheduled stage starts. Pro and Expert racers caught a lift to their first stage and raced five stages in order Stages 1 through 5. Sport and Beginner riders also started off their day with a lift but raced in this order: Stage 4, 5, 1, 2, 3.

Anneke Beerten looking calm and confident on her way to taking Stage 1. She ended the day on the Pro Women's top step with a total time of 21:47.836.


Stage 1, which ran on Pirates trail, put the “endure” in enduro. Sprint after sprint to the finish, it left riders wondering if they’d ever be able to catch their breath again. Needless to say, this stage favored riders who took their training very seriously, especially at elevation.

McKay Vezina charging a loose, dusty corner on Stage 1. Vezina took Pro Men 2nd place, 12 seconds behind Kelley.

Both Stages 2 and 3 required a pedal transfer from the bottom of Stage 1 Pirates for all categories. Stage 2 ran on Lower Plumbers, an all-natural, flowy but somewhat pedally course that weaves through the forest with no pavers holding the loose and slippery corners together. With short sprint sections — including an all-out sprint finish — the stage demanded fitness and focus throughout.

From the bottom of Stage 2, all riders pedaled to the start of Stage 3 — by far, the longest stage of the race. Running on Fall Line, Stage 3 put riders to the ultimate test of lungs, legs, and skill with its uphill sprints, short rock gardens, and narrow, loose turns. Those who made smart tire choices were favored on this stage due to its sharp rocks and powdery corners. A high-speed section finished off this stage.

Essence Florie smoothly navigating a tricky tight bit on Stage 3. Florie's skillful riding saw her to Pro Women 2nd place, 14 seconds behind Beerken; she remains the CES overall Pro Women leader.

Stage 4 — which as mentioned earlier was the Sport/Beginner riders’ first stage of the day, (lift accessed; Pro/Expert riders accessed this stage via a pedal/lift combo) — ran on Dickies, a short but sweet run that started off with a quick warm-up and ladder feature then sent riders down a big chute into a flying stage finish before their pedal back to the bike park for their lift to Stage 5. Brief but mighty, this was a stage you didn't want to make a mistake on.

Running on Miracle Mile, Stage 5 finished off the day for Pro/Expert riders while Sport/Beginner riders tackled it earlier as their second stage. Miracle Mile is a classic bike park run starting with a sprint into the first of many paver corners. The track also boasts a rock garden, jumps, wooden bridges, dirt berms, and a tricky corner here and there. Fun fact: Stage 5 was the chosen stage for the "Hot Seat" where the fastest rider reigns supreme until a faster one yet comes to dethrone him or her. It's always a fun spot to hang out at during the races that include it.

Dropping into Miracle Mile. The views!


After a hot, challenging and fun day of racing, riders had the chance to enjoy the US Open of Mountain Biking’s festivities while waiting for the awards ceremony. At day’s end, Cody Kelley took the top step of the Pro Men podium, while last year’s Pro Women champion Anneke Beerten defended her title.

CES director Steve Gemelos says, “It was great to get back down to Big Bear. We were excited to have Fox US Open of Mountain Biking come to California — they put on a solid event that attracted a lot of talented racers.”

Fox US Open of Mountain Biking director Clay Harper adds, "It was a great weekend of racing in Big Bear Lake with a strong turnout of racers and industry. The atmosphere was incredible and we're already looking forward to working with CES again next year!"

Spencer Rathkamp, Essence Florie and Anneke Beerten enjoying each other's company post-race. Florie's favorite thing about racing enduro is the camaraderie inherent in the sport. She says, "I truly think that if you aren’t getting to know and connect with the people around you while you are racing, you are really missing out on the full experience." She especially appreciated connecting with competitor Anneke Beerten on their climb to Stage 3. "We talked about life and how short it is. And how we as racers should be helping the next generation of women who will race after us to know what to expect and how they should be treated by the biking industry. Those are the beautiful talks that make racing so great."

Pro Men Podium: 1st Cody Kelley / 2nd McKay Vezina / 3rd Evan Geankoplis / 4th Todd Renwick (absent from podium) / 5th Spencer Rathkamp

Pro Women Podium: 1st Anneke Beerten / 2nd Essence Florie / 3rd Jennifer McHugh / 4th Alexandra Pavon / 5th Syra Fillat


View results and podium shots for all categories here. Get current individual standings here and team standings here.

Snow Summit made history with its selection as the very first west coast venue for the renowned Fox US Open of Mountain Biking.

Riders got a feel for the area's powder-like terrain in practice on Friday.

CES director Steve Gemelos demonstrates how to use the timing chip.

Saturday morning's rider meeting.

Evan Geankoplis in the zone on Stage 3. He came 3rd in Pro Men.

Jennifer McHugh gave Florie a good chase, coming in just seven seconds behind her in Pro Women 3rd place.

Todd Renwick, fast and fierce on Stage 3. Renwick finished in Pro Men 4th place.

Alexandra Pavon takes on a Stage 3 corner with a determined hint of a smile. She came 4th in Pro Women.

Spencer Rathkamp charging hard on Stage 3. He took Pro Men 5th place.

Syra Fillat keeping her cool on the longest stage of the race. Fillat finished in Pro Women 5th place.

Mike Lee (Pro Men) on point as always. Lee holds the top spot on the CES leaderboard.

Rachel Strait (Pro Women) stylin' despite an injured wrist.

Tyler Weyman tackling a rooty rocky bit on Stage 3. He took Pro Men U21 1st place with a total time of 19:54.804.

Eric Palmquist attacking Stage 1; he came in Master Pro Men 40+ 1st place at day's end with a total time of 21:21.938. Palmquist is also currently in 1st place CES overall for Master Pro Men 40+.

Carter Kawell on a Stage 1 corner; he finished in Expert Boys U18 1st place with a total time of 20:39.423.

Cameron Small, Expert Men 18-29 on Stage 1.

Auric Kantz, looking pretty determined here on Stage 1, took Expert Men 40-49 1st place with a total time of 21:43.860. He is currently the series lead in his category.

Brad Hazen took Expert Men 50+ 1st place with a total time of 22:24.280.

Currently in Expert Women 1st for CES overall, Erin McCaleb took 2nd at Big Bear. McCaleb's team, Scotts Valley Cycle Sport, remains at the top of the CES leaderboard for the team competition.

Grant Kawell sailing over a slightly techy section of Stage 3. He went on to take Sport Boys 16-17 2nd place.

Sport Men 18-29 rider Edward Molnar looking smooth and confident on Stage 3. He took 3rd place at the day's end.

Christian Alarcon slays a drifty Stage 3 turn. Alarcon finished in Sport Men 30-39 1st place with a total time of 22:05.490.

Sport Men 30-39 rider Brandon Parrish charging out of a Stage 3 corner.

Sport Men 40-49 rider Barry Hirst Jr. makes short work of an S turn on Stage 3.

Julie Daoust flashes a smile as she rallies Stage 3. She came in Sport Women 3rd place.

Andrew Bartz rocking a technical bit on Stage 3. Bartz finished in Beginner Men 2nd place.

MTB Experience rider Myrriah Covarrubias gives Stage 3 all she's got. She took Beginner Women 2nd place.

The crowd is primed for the much-anticipated CES swag toss.

Picking the winner of this round's FOX 36 fork.

Cheers from Mr. CES! Fun fact: Steve Gemelos and his wife Megan work tirelessly on the series — their "Labor of Love" — while juggling full-time day jobs and parenting their toddler Michael, AKA Enduro Baby.

Hanging loose with the Fox US Open Enduro champ Cody Kelley.

Ursus concurs: it was a challenging, fun weekend down at Big Bear!

Ashland Mountain Adventures is once again presenting the CES season finale — the Ashland Mountain Challenge. Although this popular race is sold out, it’s a fun venue to come cheer on the racers at. Learn more here.

Support CES and get the chance to WIN a Specialized Stumpjumper EVO to be raffled off at the Ashland Mountain Challenge October 5 (need not be present to win). Learn more and buy raffle tickets here. Proceeds benefit CES, a non-profit organization, as well as Truckee Bike Park and Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association (RVMBA).


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 to its 2019 sponsors Specialized, FOX, Race Face, Maxxis, Voler, WTB, Peaty’s, Cranked Naturals, Michael David Winery, Kenda, Adventure Sports Journal, CushCore, Intense, and Zodiac Lights.

Learn more at californiaenduroseries.com.

Words by Michele Charboneau / Photos by Kasey Carames


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