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UPDATE: Stephen Ettinger | 2015 Team Camp

February 10, 2015

IMG_4920Two weeks at home can really pass quickly. It’s already time for our Sho-Air/Cannondale Team Camp to begin, but it feels like I just returned home from the Bay Area yesterday. I was hoping to come home from my last big training block to refreshing, cold winter days, but instead found myself in the middle of a mid-winter thaw that brought temperatures in Bozeman up into the 50’s and 60’s. Often, we don’t see that kind of weather until June! Over the course of the past two weeks I’ve watched all the snow and ice melt from my IMG_4909yard, the mountains and roads. I was hoping for a few days good days of nordic and backcountry skiing, but suncrust and ice just didn’t seem appetizing during my rest week, and by the time the corn snow cycle started last week, I was back on the bike and in the gym, focused on the approaching season. Winter will be back, without question, but I will have to wait until March to see it.

Instead of sulking about the dreary winter weather (or lack of it), I seized the opportunity to ride trails that I don’t often cross during the summer. We have some incredible riding out in the Gallatin Valley’s ‘banana belt’, where little precip falls during the winter, and the trails can be world class. Corrine and I spent a couple long days out at Lewis and Clark Caverns, riding and running all afternoon, and chasing it down with soaks in some hotsprings IMG_4939that sit along the Jefferson River, under the shadow of the Continental Divide. There were plenty of evenings spent cooking up fresh food with roommates and friends; we watched that tragic Super Bowl too. Pretty spectacular way to spend time, and why I always love coming home, no matter how brief my visit may be.

The final big block of training before the racing season has begun for me, and will finish up over the next three weeks during our Team Camp down in Orange County. I’m excited to spend some more time with my teammates, and explore a new place a bit. I think there will be some necessary trips out to the ocean, and I see some good Mexican food in my future. Looking forward to maybe growing a bit of a ‘stach, getting tan and coming back to Bozeman unrecognizable. I’ll figure out a way to ride some good trail, and work my butt off too… I guess.

UPDATE: Max Plaxton | Pre-Season

February 2, 2015

IMG_9865Junuary on the island.

As long as I can remember, January in Victoria is almost always amazing and 2015 has been no different. We’ve had a fair bit of rain but then plenty of sun as well to keep the trails and forest, simply awesome.

Backtracking a little bit, my holidays were really fun spending time down with my family in their newly purchased Mexican house in the small little surf town Todos Santos IMG_9868an hour north of Cabo in the Baja. 10 days down there went way too fast surfing almost every day with my brother and exploring some of the local single-track on one of my 2004 race bikes. A bike is a bike but holy guacamole have bikes come a long way in 10 years. The 2004 Rocky Mountain is 26″ aluminium hardtail with v-brakes and had semi-slick tires and not saying it wasn’t a great bike back in the “day” but I sure did miss my 29″ Cannondale Scalpel while trying to dodge massive cactus. I definitely over did it a little on the tequila but that’s just of being down in Mexico for the holiday’s right?

Back in Victoria after the holidays and it was time to get to work. The weather at first wasn’t great but the last couple weeks have been just amazing. Been logging quite a few road miles and in the gym pretty frequently. I’ve also added yoga into the mix and really loving it. I know I’ve heard for years it’s a great compliment for cyclists and I now see why it really opens up the hips and hits lots of balance muscles. I do have a hard time not chuckling a little with all the wording and terms; I think my favorite is the downward dog and Namaste. Also I find the term sun-salutations quite interesting haha.

It’s been a great “January” so far at home and the body and mind are feeling great. Looking forward to another 10 days here of what should be ripping loam single-track and great pre-season training. Super pumped to get back down to Cali for the team camp and some riding in just shorts and jersey, it’s going to be awesome.

Chat soon!

Max The Mountie.

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UPDATE: Keegan Swenson | So Cal Winters

January 26, 2015

10552637_761561013929885_744028893020491891_nThe past few weeks in Escondido have been pretty awesome. And the of course the weather has not been anything less then perfect! Gotta love these Southern California “winters” if you can even call them that…. with the occasional rainstorm or cloudy day. Basically all I’ve been doing is riding my bike…so life is pretty easy and a lot of fun since I love to ride my bike!

Escondido has a really cool park called Daley Ranch, which has some pretty good MTB riding and is right out my back door! Lots of fun single-track and double track riding. The road riding is also incredible, with tons of nice rolling roads with minimal traffic. You can also cruise through Valley Center over to Mt Palomar, which is awesome, if you want to get some climbing in. My favorite way up is Nate Harrison Grade, which is mostly gravel with a few broken bits of pavement, and it’s about an hour long from bottom to top. Then you can come down South Grade, which is a super fun twisty descent! There are also lots of other cool dirt roads to explore on the Evo!

This past weekend I did the Swamis group ride with Jon and that was quite a bit of fun, lots of fast paced riding through rolling terrain with a couple longer climbs thrown in. I have not done really any group rides for a while so it was cool to ride hard with some other guys! The ride finished down in Encinitas, which is a pretty cool little town with lots of good coffee shops, so of course we had to finish the ride with some coffee!

On Monday I made my way up to Sho-Air Cyclery to pick up my new FSI, and my new SuperSix Evo! I also got to squeeze in a quick ride with Adam at Irvine Park before that SoCal traffic set in! The FSI is pretty rad…I have not ridden a hard tail in quite a while and it did not take long to get used to it again! Super quick and agile bike, but it is still really stable at speed! Cannot wait to do some more riding on it tomorrow with Howie on the Ranch! After my ride tomorrow I’m heading back to Durango for the weekend to hangout with Sofia and spend some time in the mountains! Luckily the weather is supposed to be nice…. I’ve gotten soft riding in this Southern California weather!

KS

UPDATE: Stephen Ettinger |High Training Season

January 26, 2015

It’s truly high training season now. My legs can feel the past four weeks of high volume, and my body is sauced from the accumulative load of the gym, riding and cross-IMG_4863training. But I have absolutely been loving it! I’ve spent the final ten days of this January training block in Marin County, it’s my favorite spot to train this time of year. The roads are great, there is some spectacular trail, and the food and coffee that keeps me fueled day after day is world class. I’ve developed a great group of friends in the area, who love to train together all day long and cook up spectacular food in the evenings. Corrine was able to join me for a few days, and having her down here was more than just the icing on the cake. I’m going to be gone a lot over the next 6-8 months, so getting to spend time together is pretty important, and she is never one to complain about a few days of running in warm weather, and escaping some Montana cold. It was an awesome feeling to be out training on my Scalpel and Synapse in Sho-Air/Cannondale green, under the sun!

I was invited to ride with the Bear Development Team while I was in town, as a guest rider during their January training camp. This was the second year I’ve been invited, and it’s such a fun group of kids. I love being able to share a bit of my racing and life experience with them, in hopes that they all turn out to be successful, good people, and if they choose, great cyclists. I had a great coach growing up, and still work with Jason Jablonski to this day, but I never had many accessible friends who’d made it to the top; people that I could ask the million questions that were swirling around in my head about bike racing, college and goals. It’s rewarding to be able to give back to the community, and be a resource and friend to a great group of teenagers who love bike racing. I have to give a huge thanks to Julia Violich for inviting me back!

IMG_4885I was also fortunate to link up with fellow Cannondale rider Mark Weir, for a day of ‘trail’ riding in his hometown of Navato. The riding we did was definitely Jekyll terrain, and riding my Scalpel was terrifying at times. His group of friends have built up a pretty intense network of trails on a friend’s ranch, and watching him attack terrain that I just tried to survive was pretty inspiring. I definitely want to get back there with a Jekyll, but until then I’ve got a lot of work I can do just riding my Scalpel. I can’t wait for more technical, steep, off-camber, and loam riding.

I’m back in Bozeman for two weeks before it begins again in earnest down in SoCal. We have a three-week Team Sho-Air camp beginning Feb 10th, and I can’t wait to get back into the sun and onto trails. Until then, I’m going to enjoy an easy week, and hopefully get in a bit of skiing before it begins again the first of February.

UPDATE: Steven Ettinger | Holidays

January 12, 2015

IMG_4817The holidays are one of the few times each year that are truly sacred for cyclists. We don’t hold training camps, we are allowed to let our inbox fill up a little bit, and training is typically ‘do what you are able’. It doesn’t mean that we get to be total slouches, eating our weight in Christmas fudge each evening, but taking it easy for few days, going riding with friends, and skiing with family is always in order. The Christmas and New Year holidays are usually the last chances we have to take a deep breath before opening up the throttle for training camps, travel and the beginning of a long racing season.

I trained well in November and December, logging solid hours, gym work, and cross training, so I was well positioned to take advantage ofIMG_4789 that deep breath over these Holidays. My parents visited Bozeman for a couple days the week prior to Christmas, and then Corrine and I joined them in Washington for Christmas itself. I love being able to show my parents around my home, skiing, eating and going out. When we were in Washington, Corrine and I were able to spend a rare day exploring Seattle; eating good food, exploring art galleries, books shops, Pike Place and coffee rosters. Sadly a complete lack of snow meant that skiing home trails and bowls wasn’t meant to be, but we did some running on dry trails, and it was good to be riding home roads for a couple days on my Synapse. Just being able to hang out with family and friends, without much of an agenda, is a pretty rare opportunity in my busy life.

Corrine and I returned to Bozeman a few days after the holiday, and immediately packed up for another trip. For the third New Years in a row, we headed deep into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, on the boarder of Montana and Wyoming, for a 4-day hut trip. We packed 11 of our closest friends into a hut and skied thousands upon thousands of vertical feet of powder each day under bluebird skies. This is all ‘earn your turns’ skiing, so what you ski down, you must first skin up. It’s just a phenomenal way to spend time in the mountains, and a perfect IMG_4796way to bring in the New Year. Each evening, after a huge day in the mountains, we had family-style dinners around a big table covered in card games and wine. Although we did not make it until midnight on New Years, there was champagne, dancing and aerial fireworks. It wouldn’t have been complete otherwise. In perfect fashion, there was one friend who went a touch too big as well.

I’ve been getting back into post-holiday training the past ten days, with some good hours, despite a cold and sinus infection. I get to ride in warmer climates later this week, with a ten-day camp in Marin County, CA beginning Thursday. Everything has just been clicking right along in preparation for the 2015 season. It has helped that I started training in November, I just find myself in such a better place this January than years before. Pretty excited for some dirt to roll under the tires of my Cannondale Scalpel this weekend, and escape the Montana cold!

UPDATE: Sam Schultz | Walking Machine

December 9, 2014

trail to the top

Man, this fall flew by.  Surgery number two went down almost three months ago now.  The moving was very slow for a while, but I’ve been making steady progress and I’m extremely psyched to say things seem to be coming around in a big way.  I still get really nervous about jinxing myself, so I’ll knock on wood while I type, my back doesn’t hurt anymore!  Sure, it’s still a little weird feeling and I fully expect to have plenty of hurdles left to jump once I start actually testing it.  To be pain free, even while babying it, is a HUGE improvement and a great place to start.  I couldn’t be happier!
Since surgery I have pretty much been a walking machine.  From the start that has really been my only doctor approved activity so I have been embracing it in a big way.  I have progressed from baby stoking the firewalks around the orthopedic floor of the hospital with nervous nurses watching my every step, all the way to epic hikes in southern Utah and snowy adventures in Montana.  I have also been cleared to swim so I’ve been doing my best at that, and even though I still feel like a fish out of water, I’ve been learning a lot while I’m at it.  It feels really good to progress to a spot where even though they might not be my number one preferred activities, I can still go out, get a great workout, and have fun while I’m at it.  I feel good about the base I’m building and I’m really excited to keep progressing in a smart and slow manner back onto the bike.
I have my 3 month post-op appointment coming up really soon.  Fingers are crossed that all looks good and the surgeon will turn me loose to starting a structured physical therapy program so I can get strong.  I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I am SO thankful to have a team like the Ride Biker Alliance and a boss like Scott who has been unbelievably supportive through all of this.  Can’t wait to be high-fiving at a finish line soon!  Also, I most definitely have to thank my friends, family and doctors.  OK, I’ll stop with my Grammy acceptance speech…but seriously, thanks!

UPDATE: Max Plaxton | Nicaragua Off-Season

December 4, 2014

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Just got back from an amazing couple weeks surfing and travelling with a couple good buddies down in Central America. I travel a lot throughout the year so I think it’s really important to get out there and see the world and travel like a “normal person.” It’s good for the head and at the same time makes you really appreciate certain qualities of life we have at home. I had never been to Nicaragua, but my pal Matt had been twice and having a little local knowledge down there is a huge plus along with the fact that I speak fluent spanish. The main purpose of the trip was surfing so a few of us booked a really nice apartment one of Nica’s premier breaks, Colorados. One of the guys with us could only stay for 1 week and he wanted to live it up sort of speak, so we had big 3 bedroom right on the beach in a gated secure beach resort with a full kitchen, 2 walk in showers, huge patio etc…this is considered luxury by Nica standards at $150 a night. We had a great week with some really fun waves and even snuck a little golf in there too. Once our buddy Al took off Matt and I drove north to a little surf beach called Popoyo. You’d think after the drive to get there with the condition of the dirt roads there would be nobody there, but sure enough it as packed with gringo surfers from all over the world, mainly Aussies those people seem to be everywhere haha. Popoyo is a really neat scene with a bunch of little surf hostels right on the beach and only $10 each a night. We also had a truck rented so we were able to drive around to a couple different breaks which ended up getting us into a bit of trouble!

Second day in Popoyo we drove up to a little town called El Astrillero, which has a really amazing river mouth surf break and parked on the beach andFullSizeRender[2] made the mistake of having all our luggage inside as we where changing hostels that day. We figured by parking on the beach, which is totally fine, that a break-in would be unlikely. I think the thief must of been watching us and broke in when a 20 something wave set came in. Long story short we got back to the vehicle with the driver window smashed and most of our luggage gone. We were extremely lucky as we both had out passports in glove box although Matt had his iPhone taken and a bunch of dinero and I only had all my clothing, shoes, bialetti espresso maker(ouch) stolen. End of the day I still had enough cash to get us through the trip(barely) and yes it is possible to survive a week with only board shorts and a borrowed t-shirt! I hope whoever stole our stuff needs it more then we do and will be decked out in Team Sho-Air/Cannondale t-shirts and Oakley clothing head to toe:) We filed a police report with the closest policia nacional and that was quite the experience in it self. We are hoping a police report will help with the car rental company dealing with the insurance if its covered or not, but after my experience down there I’m not too optimistic.

We made the most of our trip despite a bit of a hiccup but hey we learned our lesson and at the end of the day leaving a bunch of nice looking goods inside a car in a remote area isn’t a good idea in any country, especially Central America.

Most days would start at sunrise with a 2-3 hr surf followed by coffee and a big huevos rancheros break for only then a big hammock siesta, another surf till sunset, sunset beers, huge dinner, card games then local rum with random surf bums.

It felt great to see a new part of the world, surf for 13 days strait, meet some new people, get a little outside the comfort zone, live in shorts and feel some heat; but excited to be back for some adventures at home. Still another week off the bike to go and already can tell its just what I need to recharge the batteries. I wonder how the trails are doing on the west coast? pretty damn excited to hop back on the Trigger 27.5….

Until the next adventure.

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