History was made early Saturday morning in the Soquel Demonstration State Forest, and it was messy.
A posse of 50 professional mountain bikers started the day by grinding out a two-hour, 13-mile climb from the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park into the Demo, then spent another five hours racing each other back down. By the time they arrived at the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival grounds in Aptos Village late that afternoon, they had worn out their bodies and gotten splattered from head to toe clip in mud. They also had become participants in the first legally sanctioned event in the Demo and, moreover, what organizers believed to be the first Superenduro mountain bike race in the United States.
"I flatted in the first stage on the only rock out there, but I had a blast. The trails were awesome and I loved the format," said Matthew Slaven, 35, a professional Superenduro racer brought to the event from Portland, Ore., by sponsor Bell. "It’s a big ride with little races in the middle. It’s really, really fun event and really social."
Superenduro races test competitors on the mountain biking skills most recreational riders use every time they hit the trails — namely, climbing, descending and endurance. The format has been popular in Europe and Canada for years, but it has been slow to come to the United States until this year, when several have sprung up on the racing calendar. The Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival event may have gotten the honor of being first simply because it was held earliest in the year.