Stoke levels were high this past weekend at China Peak for the first stop of the VP Components sponsored California Enduro Series “Golden Tour” and the Kali Road Warrior program was in effect keeping people safe throughout the race weekend. The Golden Tour is a triple crown series within a series intended to spotlight top talent and events with the added bonus of being Enduro World Series Qualifier Events. That means more prize money on the line and valuable EWS points up for grab. It also means real rowdy trails and fierce competition.
The drive up to China Peak is as impressive as the venue itself. Passing through agricultural zones of the Central Valley and rolling through the foothills en route to the heart of the High Sierras is a reminder of the beauty and diversity found within the Golden State. China Peak is located near the end of a road that was originally conceived as a trans-Sierra highway connecting Fresno and Bishop. Due to the rugged Sierra Crest and Wilderness Areas blocking the way, the two segments were never connected which has left this area more isolated and undeveloped.
With the small mountain ski area vibe also comes the small mountain chairlifts. The lift line was stacked up all day as the trusty old two-seater worked overtime to get hundreds of racers and bikes up the hill for practice. Nothing but smiles and high fives though as people were undoubtedly glad to have a lift-assist. Passing over some sections of trail (including the super rowdy and freshly cut Stage 5), the chairlift also makes for great spectating, heckling, and line spotting.
Part of the charm of China Peak is the laid back atmosphere. All weekend long, people were posted up in the shade at the balcony bar, soaking in the sights, staying cool, and enjoying the vibe of the California Enduro Series scene. With the CES race weekend officially kicking off the Bike Park opening, it’s a great way to get things fired up for the season. The mountain is now open for business so get yourself up here!
Due to the higher elevations and clear blue skies, the sun was blazing hot all weekend. Thankfully, the hydration station was complete with a “mist’er” hose which provided racers with some much needed relief from the heat. Staying cool and hydrated was definitely part of the winning strategy for the weekend.
In addition to the shade and mist provided in the base area, there is a river running right through the middle of the venue which provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, and beverage chilling. The unofficial “Final Stage” of the race weekend is held at the swimming hole just upriver from the parking lot. This is always a crowd favorite for racers and spectators alike and usually generates some solid highlight clips as people jump, dive, flip, and spin off the rocks.
The Kali Road Warrior program is designed to help keep people safe at the races and sometimes that extends to spectators too. This little rider was ripping around all weekend and she chose to protect herself with this full-face helmet. In fact, she was dedicated to it. She was so stoked on the helmet that we agreed she should take it home. The force is strong with this youngster and now it is even stronger…and safer.
With this race requiring the use of full-face helmets, it is not uncommon to see some racers choose to bring both helmets (a half-shell to climb in and a full-face for timed stages). Another strategy that seems to work well is to remove the cheek pads during the climbs. This increases your airflow and breathability for those long transfers. Either way you decide to go, it’s definitely a wise choice to ride and race with a legitimate full-face helmet when you’re pushing the limits on such gnarly, loose, and technical terrain.
The parking lot at China Peak is just as exciting as the trails are rowdy. Making rounds through the caravan of adventure mobiles, it is clear that Vanlife (and hatchback/pickup/camper life) are alive and well in the mountain bike community.
Circle the Wagons! Some of the vans spotted in the parking lot were clearly more experienced than others. These dream machines got in early and scored the shady spots. It’s official, van-life is the new Enduro and these guys are winning.
Meanwhile, at the riders meeting, it was a perfectly crisp and clear morning. Racers rolled out as they were called and the battle would begin. With live timing, there was a lot of excitement and speculation about who might be on the podium after the last stage.
After a long and challenging day of racing, the awards ceremony was a change of pace. The fastest guys and girls took their rightful places on the podium. Some of them walked away with big checks and some with big bruises but all of them walked away with a sense of accomplishment for surviving the weekend and taming these super gnarly trails. This is definitely one of the most rugged and raw stops on the Golden Tour and sets the tone for the rest of the series to come. For complete race results click the link China Peak Results.
California Enduro Series
What is the Kali Race Support Program and who is the Road Warrior?
In an effort to support events and racers of all levels, Kali Protectives has launched a new Race Support helmet demo program in conjunction with the Kali Road Warrior.
We all ride and unfortunately, crashes do happen. Sometimes that happens at an event or race weekend, resulting in your helmet being damaged and unsafe to continue to use. But you have more racing to do. What now? When the Road Warrior attends a scheduled event, registered racers/attendees have the opportunity to demo a new Kali helmet at no charge. Kali is on hand to ensure riders can continue to compete without worrying about their helmet.
Currently, the program is limited to the West Coast, however, we are preparing to launch another Road Warrior and Race Support Program in Canada. Providing this initiative continues to be successful, we may establish Road Warriors in other territories.
If you would like to learn more about the Kali Road Warrior or possibly schedule him to attend your next event, shoot an email to [email protected].
Kali Road Warrior – Saving Your Race! / @KaliProtectives