The People of the Invite-Only TDS Enduro

May 6, 2019
by Alicia Leggett  

Words & Photos by Alicia Leggett


TDS Enduro is no ordinary race. Receiving an invitation to the pro-only event is an honor. The venue, known as 'The Ranch,' is 240 acres of hero dirt, perfect berms and jagged rocks, plus Polaris rally shuttles and a scary amount of poison oak. The course has it all: jumps, steeps, punchy climbs and a notorious rock chute called Vigilante. As a racer said to me last year, “If you get invited, you go.”

The event started in 2011 when Ron Sanchez teamed up with Mark Weir and some of their friends to put on a party of a race, described as “18 guys getting drunk in the woods.” Since then, TDS has become the ultimate mountain bike weekend. The riding is at least as technical as at any big enduro, but TDS ups the ante with an evening whip-off, RC car mayhem and a bonfire until late-o-clock. Brick oven pizza and camp stove breakfast make a good thing even better. The chance to compete in a world-class bike race on private trails is what first attracts riders, but the atmosphere brings us back each year. After racing TDS for the first time a year ago, I couldn't wait to return. The TDS community takes enduro racing to its renegade roots without sacrificing any intensity or challenge.

Throughout the weekend, I asked people what brought them to TDS and why the event is so special. Here's what they said, in their own words.

TDS OG Ron Sanchez: "What makes TDS so special? The people that show up. It's about having a good time with the people we love. And sometimes we race bikes."

Racing TDS on a standard mountain bike: pretty hard. Riding the trails on a handcycle: next-level.

The TDS folks teamed up with the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides resources and support for injured and recovering service members. Semper Fi team members helped out with shuttles, hung out with the racers for the weekend and rode in a biking clinic Monday. And, for the first time, TDS included a four-stage handcycle enduro for three of the Team Semper Fi folks.

“Everybody here is really badass," said Tyler Burdick, a member of Team Semper Fi. And he knows what it means to be badass -- he is missing both legs below his knees and is one of the best para-snowboarders in the world. "This is one of the most un-pretentious, accepting and energetic event crowds I’ve ever been around. TDS is epic. You see the riders come down and there’s competitiveness, but in the end, everybody’s having a really good time.”

Arthur Sykes, TDS racer and member of Team Semper Fi: “This is the mecca of mountain bike culture because everybody’s in full support of one another and they’re racing and they’re riding and you can talk to anybody on any level. You meet so many different, interesting people every time. This is my third year. When I leave here, I have so many new friends... Somehow, what this place brings out of people is just amazing.”

TDS brings out a wild side in racers and fans alike.

First-time TDS racer Logan Wetzel was struck by the intensity of the entire weekend: “It’s very challenging. We’re just going hard for three days, basically. Everything comes quickly. It’s just a lot of short, fast, hard, and then the whole night it’s the same thing. There’s Supercross and RC racing and RC rock crawling and dirt jumping all happening at the same time, which is the most overwhelming and amazing experience.”

"It's somewhat a free-for-all. Invite-only, and the trails are just above the level of so many other enduros," said Dan Goldsmith, a local ER doctor (left). And then the people. You get the party atmosphere, and it's unsanctioned so you don't have all the goofy rules -- y'know, like all the turns have to be just right. People can be wild and have fun. And for us, we get to ride it all without racing it. For the medical staff, it's a blast."

Matt LaPrade, mechanic: “I’ve worked at a lot of criteriums and grand fondos, driving chase cars and things like that. And there’s a certain fun element to it, but everybody here looks like they’re having a lot more fun. At the end of the day, when most athletes aren’t getting paid to do this, you gotta be having fun. It’s awesome to be around people who are having a great time.”

Daniel Orellana, racer: “It’s a gathering of a lot of people that otherwise wouldn’t happen. It’s a mix of industry folk, it’s riders, it’s friends and family of the industry, it’s the Semper Fi Fund. Everybody’s just here to have a good time and entertain themselves and each other.”

Max Fierek, racer: “Well, the trails are sick, and the event is sick, but the best part by far has to be the super-rad people who come out here.”

Teddy Hayden (left) has been coming to TDS for the last five years. That's a.) the majority of TDS races, ever, and b.) a quarter of Teddy's lifetime. "It's on private property, so the Sanchez family can kind of do whatever they want," Teddy said. "They can build new tracks, they can run side-by-sides and shuttle 10 tracks on Friday and then race six tracks a day. And just the atmosphere -- everyone's pretty laid-back. It doesn't have a serious vibe like some of the other races do. At the end of the day, biking's supposed to be for fun." His dad, Ted, said the atmosphere has brought him back each year that Teddy has raced. "Through Teddy, I've gotten to know the other racers and their families, and I feel like I'm part of it," he said.


We ride bikes because it's fun, of course, but I think there's a little more to it. The bike community is something special, and events like TDS are important because they make us recognize that. Times like this remind us why we ride.

Race winner Marco "Randy" Osborne said it well: "TDS is basically a celebration of bicycles. It brings everyone out, and it's a big party in the woods, having a good time, riding bikes, partying hard and celebrating life, really." Send it Randy, indeed.






30 Comments

  • + 88
 ...so happy they had a private party.
  • + 30
 ... on their 240 acre estate.
  • + 18
 They can private party all the day long as far as I’m concerned if they’re working with Semper Fi Fund. Just makes it all the more special for those guys.
  • + 33
 Super inspirational message: "mountain bike culture is so rad ... and you're not part of it!"
  • + 3
 Not Bourgeois at all
  • + 1
 you sound a little upset, everything ok?
  • + 12
 Except it isn’t. Show up for a work day and you will be invited to watch the race and stay. Nothing could be more egalitarian. Extremely nice people that are very welcoming, even after they see I am a mid 40s, uncool dad.
  • + 9
 The race viewing/party is open to all, the race is invite only
  • + 1
 @Veloscente: "private land owners that I don't know didn't invite me to their private property, how unfair is that!" you people don't make any sense...
  • + 51
 and on the 7th day God said "send it Randy" and it was sent.
  • + 23
 Hate all you want..... getting the invite to ride and pound beers all weekend sounds like heaven to this Cat 2 mid 30s married father of 3 with male pattern baldness.
  • + 6
 "Matt LaPrade, mechanic: “I’ve worked at a lot of criteriums and grand fondos, driving chase cars and things like that. And there’s a certain fun element to it, but everybody here looks like they’re having a lot more fun."

Hanging out with a bunch of roadies has a "certain fun element." Faint praise, right there.
  • + 6
 Seems like a fun weekend, although it does give off an elitist vibe Being invite only. I could understand if it was invite only for the best racers in the states, but that's obviously not the case.
  • - 1
 It's definitely become an elitist thing and it sucks. Why not put on a real race and let die hard riders come pay their entry and race?
  • + 4
 Shame on every one of you PB commentators that are butt hurt you were not invited to a private race and private party on private property that was for a good cause. Get over yourselves.
  • + 0
 truth!
  • + 5
 I went to high school in GV/NC, there was nothing as rad as TDS going on there then. Looks like a great time, every year.
  • + 2
 Oh it went down. All day every day, but a couple million phones & cameras went documenting it cause they were to busy riding & raging. It was known as the Fontana Village summer DH/DS/XC NORBA race. It was nuts & a near week longer rager
  • + 2
 Wish there was a little more footage. This event would lose a lot of it's spirit if it had too much coverage but I still wanna see Marco send it balls deep on his sentinel.
  • + 5
 Glad Randy sent it.
  • + 4
 Great write-up Alicia!
  • + 3
 Matt LaPrade is the best mechanic I've ever known and I'm old.
  • + 3
 Looks deadly!!!
  • + 2
 Great recap and wonderful photos!
  • + 3
 Sounds like a good time!
  • + 1
 who said cycling was the new golf
  • + 2
 What does TDS stand for?
  • + 3
 the dirty sanchez.. I believe
  • - 2
 HINT: TRT- The Rusty Trombone
TDS- ?

(keep in mind it's hosted by Ron SANCHEZ and it might leave you exhausted and possibly dirty, also there's a mustache involved in the logo)

I trust you can figure it out from there
  • + 1
 Team Bixler!

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