So what do you get when you take 260 acres of owned land (with liberties on an additional few hundred), stir in some world-class mountain bikers, shake well with amazing trails, good times, a beer sponsor, and add a dash of damn good times? You get the TDS Enduro, an invitational Enduro format that Marco Osborne calls the "best mountain bike event ever".
Shuttle anyone? There's plenty of pedaling during the race, but during the one day of practice, riders are shuttled up in side by sides. There are twelve stages and a myriad of trails to ride. Memorizing them all is simply not possible. Sure, there's local knowledge, but in order to ride here, you need to put in digging time.
Pick a trail... any trail.
The only bad thing about TDS is that this innocent looking plant is EVERYWHERE on the sides of the track. For those not in the know, this is a variety of Poison oak: crashing comes with an itchy, burning penalty as well as the aches and bruises one normally gets when they go OTB.
Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far, away (an amazing place that is known as Grass Valley, California), the Sanchez family purchased a 260-acre parcel of land right when their son was getting deeply involved in XC racing at the local high school. Being supportive parents, the Sanchez clan made this land grab in order to give their son a place to ride and train for his new found passion. Soon the entire family was sucked in. The 260-acre parcel became their outlet for all things fun: RC cars, motorcycles, and mountain biking. Lots and lots of mountain biking. Trails were built. Local kids, like Mason Bond, could earn time on the trails by digging. Word got out, and soon the Sanchez compound developed a name for having some damn fine trails. Short, because there's not much vertical drop, but damn fine. Mason's father, Mike and Ron got together and decided to put on the first ever TDS Enduro and it's always remained an invitational. At the day's end, with all riders covered in mud, and a healthy amount of beer down the hatch so was born TDS.
Rueful memories: The retired Jason Moeschler recalling his time racing at TDS and elsewhere.
Ron Sanchez holding aloft a can of the specialty ale brewed up by Ol' Republic Brewing specifically for this event. Note the goggle man logo on the can.
Enduro Jesus Marshall Eames drifting, drifting, drifting on "Oak Shaft".
Iago Garay drifting aloft on "Oak Shaft" trail.
The Buddy Newman memorial train at the end of practice rallying down the "Hey Buddy" Trail. WTB graphic designer Buddy Newman was the designer who created the Goggle Man logo for TDS and was a much loved local rider. In fact, the trails exist in part because both Buddy and Casey Sanchez were racing XC in high school. Ron Sanchez purchased the land in part to create trails for Casey and his teammates, including Buddy, to train on. It was a fitting tribute to the rider, racer, and designer who meant so much to this event.
Buddy designed the graphics on this WTB saddle that all athletes at TDS received this year.
Following Friday's practice, the beer sponsor Ol' Republic brewing threw open their doors for the masses, serving up glass after glass of the good stuff while racers and fans mingled in the parking lot while enjoying some local food.
I have no idea what the fascination with bacon is at US cycling events, but I'm not complaining.
The man to beat: Jerome Clementz.
Jon Buckell with his eyes on the prize.
Amy Morrison edging past manzanitas and rocks on day one.
Marco Osborne puts in his time digging here at the Sanchez Compound and knows every rock and root on this 260-acre parcel of land.
Margarita anyone? No thanks; we'll just go straight to the tequila.
Vigilante is a nasty bit of work. Mason Bond pinning it through the bottom chute.
Number 2 was number 1 after the first full day of racing at TDS.
The TDS Mine/Trailer (Mark Weir's lair) was painted by Alex Dunn. His creation is completely done in spray paint.
Year 1 of the TDS was better known as "18 guys getting drunk in the woods". Thankfully one of those guys was Mark Weir and from that point forward he's helped to get the industry involved and really build the TDS into what we see today - a bigger party in the woods!
TDS isn't just about racing. The whole scene defines what riding and racing bikes is all about: good times with good people.The campfire is one thing, but the RC race track and the mini moto track, as well as, the ample supplies of Ol' Republic, make this a night to remember.
Scott Chapin taking time in honor of Paris-Roubaix to make some Belgian waffles, but then indulged his sweet tooth with a maple syrup shot.
The tale of this place was cut spikes for a reason: the soil here is laced with clay. With rain falling all Friday night and off and on throughout Saturday and Saturday night, there was nothing else that would allow traction on some of the treacherous sections of the track.
Mark Weir and Casey Sanchez, co-conspirators in all things festive. Mark is an ideas man, and Casey gets stuff done, from building up the expo area, RC track, and mini moto track for this year's version of the mini moto championships.
Pre race meeting. As you can see, this is most definitely the definition of "grass roots." There is no PA. No UCI. No pomp and circumstance; just people gathering in to get rowdy.
Marco Osborne surfing the slick corners on day one well enough to hold off all comers. It would come down to the final stage between himself and Clementz, with Clementz taking the win for two hard days of racing.
Peter Ostroski pinning it.
Ass Slap Alley spares no one: Marco Osborne getting a cheek full of appreciation from the fans.
This corner on stage 8 was nothing short of pure treachery: racers threw shapes in an effort to stay upright, or more often, simply wadded it up on this off camber bit of nastiness.
Steve Lewis somehow managed to combine yoga, karate, and baseball to come out on top in this corner.
On day two of racing riders took a few moments at the top of every stage for mandatory maintenance: scraping mud off bikes and drive trains, warming themselves up, and lubing creaky chains for another run.
Jon Buckell getting rowdy on stage 9. This is a tight line and the image doesn't really show how nasty this bit of trail is.
Mark Scott rallying the "Godfather" line of stage 9.
Ariel Lindsley taking on the Godfather on his way to "winning" the Spirit Leader category of TDS by not only placing well on all stages but further distinguishing himself by staying up until 2 around the campfire.
Joanna Petterson throwing a shape on stage 10 of TDS.
Mason Bond dropping in on stage 10.
From out of nowhere: Dan Chiang of Taiwan was the dark horse favorite. Relatively unknown, this kid took Jason Moeschler a year ago at the Merida Cup XC race in Taiwan, and in doing so, impressed Moeschler enough that WTB sponsored him and then brought him here for TDS and Sea Otter. He may not speak much English but his racing does the talking.
Parting the waters on stage 11.
Lauren Gregg heading into the final stage.
A moving moment was held during the awards with Buddy Newman's family receiving one of the trophies with the goggle man logo of the TDS. Buddy touched a number of lives, and it was fitting to see this final tribute to him and his family at the awards presentation.
The women's podium Amy Morrison (2), Joanna Petterson (1), and Essence Barton (3)
Men's winning podium: Mark Scott (3), Jerome Clementz (1), and Marco Osborne (2). It's crazy to think that after 30 minutes of racing, that less than a second separated Clementz and Osborne.
Evan Turpan walking back to his rig after the awards with a six pack of the commemorative TDS beer from the Ol Republic Brewery in hand. Each racer received a sixer of the golden nectar.
The powers behind the TDS, Mark Weir and Ron's wife, Debbie.
2016 saw a return of the 2015 winner-Jerome Clementz, as well as multiple time women's winner, Joanne Petterson, and many other TDS vets; but it also marks a moment when TDS went legit. Well, semi-legit. It's still an invitational, it's not sanctioned by the UCI, and it's got the soul of Enduro in it, but as Ron Sanchez put it, "My wife told me we needed to not lose our ass financially putting this thing on." And so 2016 saw sponsorship take a front seat to making this event happen. But even with that infusion of cash, the sponsors all recognize that there's something of genuine value to the local community and to bicycle racing, and have pretty much left the Sanchez family to run this event the way it's alway been run--after all, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" fits this event like a glove.
Big thanks to WTB, Cannondale, Camelbak, Ol' Republic Brewing, Smith Optics, Modus Group, Rabobank, Sockguy, Redbull, Clifbar, Tour of Nevada City, Bell Helmets, Real Wheels Bicycle Studio, Violoch Farms, Fox Racing Shox, Auburn Bike Company and Soul ID.
If you ever find yourself in the woods staring up at a flagpole that's holding an American flag, a TDS flag and an old Karpiel, well then you're one of the lucky ones that's experienced what a TDS Enduro is truly about.