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