THE TDS ENDURO EXPERIENCE

Sometimes we race bikes

Written and Photographed by Traece Craig

Tucked away in my small hometown of Grass Valley, California, there is a unique event that is more of an experience than it is a race. To some, TDS Enduro is an invite-only event where top pros gather to compete on the Sanchez family’s private land (known as “The Ranch”) that spans almost 250 acres. While the challenging network of trails the Sanchez family has built for racing is mind-blowing, it is far from the overall reason why anyone should attend. Amidst the racing, spectators and riders tend to get wild during every hour of the weekend. All walks of life wander the property to each stage in order to witness fast-paced action, potential havoc and be immersed in having a good time. However, just like the racing, the reason this event is unlike a typical enduro race goes beyond the party.

This all came to life around 2011 with the help of the mountain bike legend Mark Weir. Before the idea was sparked, Ron Sanchez and his son Casey used their property as a playground for building trails after work. Over time, the trails have been adapted and refined. The surface/terrain is a mixture of perfect berms, high-speed corners, unforgiving jagged rocks, steep off-camber sections, notorious orange dust, singletrack with groves of poison oak on either side, and jump features that are not for the faint of heart.

When this event first came to fruition, it was just a simple day of industry friends getting together with the Sanchez family. Growing from its small grassroots, I feel that this has turned into the best mountain bike race event on the West Coast, and I’m not alone. Since its growth, there are now over 100 racers that attend. Filling the space beyond the trials are yacht-sized RV’s, built-up overlanders, tent campers, RC car races, slalom course, and some dirt jumps for the after-race sessions. The atmosphere is not your typical enduro race weekend. There’s just something unique about TDS that makes everyone stoked.

Marking my calendar for the 2021, TDS Enduro was not only a visit home, but through my experience, I was reminded what mountain biking is all about. The event truly brings together like-minded folks to celebrate bikes and the love we share for two wheels. In this article I’ll let the photos speak alongside the voices of the racers, spectators and friends, giving you their take on what makes this untamed weekend of mountain biking so special to be a part of.

THE RACERS

Race winner in Pro Women, Amy Morrison, charges the Vigilante stage that plunges the riders through an infamous rock garden. Catching up with Morrison after the event, she expressed, “TDS is special to me because it’s where I first started racing. The Sanchez family took me in and showed me how fun racing bikes are and the potential I had at the event. I live close by in Auburn and would come over to hang out and work on trails, although Ron always told me to just go ride on for days [chuckles].”
The first person that greeted me when I pulled up to the event was this stoked young racer, Forrest Templin. He explains, “I think the energy at the Sanchez Ranch makes TDS such a special event. It feels like a family gathering.”
Jubal Davis (53, left) and Blair Reed (59, right) keeping the stoke high after Stage 1 on their climb back to the top of The Ranch for the next stage.
Jon Buckell raced in the electric category coming in fifth place. He is no stranger to the ranch and its terrain, but this was the first year TDS offered an e-bike category. Buckell explains: “The three things that make TDS so special are: 1) The people, 2) the people, 3) the people. Of course, the tracks are incredibly fun and challenging to ride and race on.”
Spencer Rathkamp shows how it is done on the last stage of this year where riders have the fun side option of trying to whip and knock cans out of spectators’ hands. Rathkamp placed third and explained his time at TDS: “Much more than a race, and that’s hard to explain. You have to go there to understand why the people that go there love it so much. It’s a gathering of people that head out for one very basic reason—to have fun. Sure, we head out to race bikes on some of the best trails in the U.S., but the environment that everyone creates is so pure and joyful. Even if you are a first-timer, within hours of arriving on the ranch, you’ll understand why TDS is the TDS enduro.”
Throwing his normal style all weekend long, Ryan “R-Dog” Howard manages to be the fastest, taking the win in the e-bike category. Howard told me, “TDS is such a rad event, because it is by riders for riders. The Sanchez family is so welcoming and knows how to build gnarly trails. Will be going to the event as long as I can! Side note: Don’t make Ron mad.”
Myles Morgan pushed hard on the pedals through the famous section of the trail where spectators slap the riders as they come by at high speeds. Morgan feels, “The atmosphere at TDS is what makes it so special. You should and become a part of the TDS family for the whole weekend. No matter if you are racing, spectating or there to hang around the expo, it’s a darn good time no matter what.”
Doing something different than dual slalom or Rampage, Kyle Strait attended TDS for his first time riding in the electric category. He said later, “Although it was my first time going, I’ve been hearing about it for years. Amazing tracks built by rad people who love and care about having a good time.”
Described by some over the race weekend as “like watching a video game,” Duncan Nason was fast and smooth at every stage, which led to him winning TDS. Nason expressed, “One of the most unique races I’ve ever attended. No racing politics, no drama—truly a race about having fun, riding your bike with friends and going fast!”

HARD HITS

No stranger to injury or death-defying air, Cam Zink made a small mistake on the second day of racing that left him with a large gash right above his knee. Zink explains, “TDS is the event that can best symbolize mountain bike culture and freedom. My crash was so stupid! Hardly a wreck, and the only time I hit the ground all weekend. An unfortunate chain of events from one rock sliding my kneepad down to the next sharp rock, cutting me like a hot knife through butter.”

KATIE STRONG

This race can no doubt be a challenge, but in mountain biking, there is also the realization of risk that comes with our sport. Katie Alton is accustomed to pushing the limits as she owns her own training business called Pursuit Strength and Conditioning. On the first day of racing, Katie was involved in a horrible crash. This crash resulted in a head injury, broken collarbone, six broken ribs on her left, two on her right, a collapsed lung, and a temporary coma. It was a hard hit for all at the event, and it was decided that racing would be called off for the rest of the day. With this list of injuries, it’s hard to fathom the medical costs, but the great news is that Katie is awake, speaking, and working through the steps of recovery/therapy. Please help support getting Katie back on the pedals by donating at her GoFundMe page. For the latest updates on her progress, give @pursuitstrong and @dnazel a follow on social media. (Photo by Brady Nations)

PEOPLE AND ATMOSPHERE

The owner and man behind the best grassroots mountain bike weekend, Ron Sanchez, oversees each stage and gets around quickly on his property by dirt bike.
Amanda Morris found out firsthand that spectators can get covered in the famous orange dirt after a rider slapped a berm throwing up dust where she was sitting.
Icon and legend Mark Weir sets up cans with his son Gus for racers to powerslide through after the speed trap where some riders reach speeds over 40 mph. Weir expresses why this event is so special with a simple response: “Family tradition.”
Keeping things fun and the party alive, racer Ray Syron frequently would hop off his bike to kiss his significant other and even set up a stack of cans for the next rider to hit off his body. Syron explains, “TDS is the yearly pilgrimage where we cleanse our bodies with frosty beverages and bikes. There’s no option to not have fun.” The rider in the air, Trevor Mejia, wasn’t prepared for Syron to set up this obstacle test; nonetheless, Mejia rose to the occasion and knocked off the tower of cans with precision. Mejia expresses, “TDS is special for a lot of reasons, but it attracts some amazing people in a fun and rowdy environment that the Sanchez family provides.”
Marco Osborne has won TDS before, but due to injury, he decided to spend his time doing trackside interviews and keeping the fans pumped up for racing. Osborne explained what makes this event special by stating, “The people, the atmosphere that surrounds the event, and the spirit of just having a good time on/off the bike. It’s just special, hard to explain until you’ve been.”
Noah Goldrup throws down some style after the racing. At the end of the day, riders congregate on the ranch to jump bikes, race RC cars, tell stories and keep the good times alive.

RACE RESULTS:

PRO MEN

1. Duncan Nason

2. Myles Morgan

3. Spencer Rathkamp

4. Cory Sullivan

5. Evan Geankoplis

PRO WOMEN

1. Amy Morrison

2. Essence Florie

3. Rachel Pageau

4. Lia Westermann

5. Julie Baird

E-MTB

1. Ryan “R-Dog” Howard

2. Luca Cometti

3. Alex Chamberlain

4. Kyle Strait

5. Jon Buckell


 

Enduroenduro racingtds enduro