It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 months already since the end of the 2013 Mtb race season, I guess time truly does fly when your having fun! To sum up the off season(as us lucky pros call it), it would be simply awesome. Last year this time I was dealing with my knee injury hoping it would get better on its own which it didn’t and ended up having to resort to surgery. Fast forward a year, and time off from racing has been spent how it should and It’s been the best off season ever.
I took 45 days or so off the bike after worlds and spent the time catching up with friends, family, girlfriend, surfing, boat trips, fishing, hiking, camping, sleeping in, indulging in amazing local food and bevies etc…among other stuff! I got back on the mountain bike 2nd week of October and somehow I timed it perfect that the trail conditions pretty much stayed all-time until this past weekend, so almost a good 2 months of mint single-track. I rode so many amazing trails the past couple months that
it’s almost a blur. The west coast of BC has so much unreal riding it’s ridiculous and I’m really lucky have grown up and live where I do, I definitely don’t take it for granted. A lot of people enjoy riding/racing the cross bike in the fall but to me it’s the best time of year to mountain bike without the pressure of ride intensity, duration, heart rate, leg shaving, power meter etc…just pure fun with your buddies and usually followed up by a cold beer. I already have a list of places I want to ride next off season in BC.
I recently started using a seat dropper on my Scalpel 29r and I really suggest to anyone that rides technical and steep single-track to get one. While I don’t think I will race one it’s made riding lately a lot funner and has opened up a lot of possibilities in terms of dh speed, confidence and fun.
In mid November, I had the pleasure of flying to New York and visiting Cannondale HQ in Connecticut being involved in some meetings and there will be some exciting news down the road in partnership with Team Sho-Air. Big thanks Pete Vallance for organizing it all and showing me some super fun trails in the Cannondale backyard; was really fun riding a Trigger 29r for the first time.
Training for 2014 is going really well and couldn’t be happier that the body is healthy and strong. I’m currently headed down to SoCal for a little break from the cold back in BC. Will be great to spend some time in Laguna Beach with my good pal and fellow Canadian Olympian Zac and get in some warmish weather surfing and riding. And of course going to spend some time catching up with Scott and Kimber Tedro and the Sho-Air family which I’m so lucky to be part of.
After California it’s back up the BC for a little bit more unstructured fun cross-training followed by some quality family/friends Xmas time and NYE then it’s time to get (somewhat) serious.
Wishing everyone as excited about mountain biking as I am a great end of 2013.
Life is short, keep it fun.
Solidifying its commitment to cycling, Sho-Air International has announce that it will open a bicycle retail store in the city of Orange in Orange County, California. The new store is aggressively targeting an opening date of early February 2014.
“This new store will meet the needs of this area of Orange County while serving as a base of operations for our Sho-Air/Cannondale cycling team,” said Sho-Air President Scott Tedro. “Partnered with the Cannondale and GT brands, we are confident that the store will be a resounding success. As we do in our current core trade show and shipping business, we will strive to exceed the expectations of our customers and pay back the commitment of our partners.”
Also in the news from Sho-Air was that Sho-Air International is reorganizing its cycling segment, currently known as the US Cup, under the newly-named Sho-Air Cycling Group. Sho-Air International’s new bike store business venture compliments its current cycling endeavors, which include the following: title sponsorship of a professional mountain bike racing team known as Team Sho-Air/Cannondale; sponsorship of a professional road racing team known as Cannondale Pro Cycling; and a highly acclaimed national-level mountain bike race promotions company operating as the US Cup. Furthermore, Sho-Air International supports, through its sponsorships, various cycling teams and major cycling events such as the Sea Otter Classic and the Whiskey 50.
“When we started our sponsorships 10 years ago, many people were skeptical of our commitment,” said Tedro. “The cycling industry is perhaps used to seeing sponsors come and go, but we’re still here and more committed than ever. The store opening is something I’ve personally wanted to pursue for some time. It’s a rare occasion when an outside sponsor actually enters the segment to represent and do business with its partners.”
Sho-Air Cycling Group will soon announce exciting news about its race management schedule following a recent meeting at its Huntington Beach offices with USA Cycling’s President Steve Johnson.
The 2013 mountain bike season is a wrap, and I closed it out the same way I have for the last five years: racing La Ruta de los Conquistadores down in Costa Rica. The first year I raced it was 2009, the year that Manny Prado won. Manny was a huge part of the development of Team Sho-Air, and it is fitting that I have stayed with him the past two years racing La Ruta as a part of Sho-Air/Cannondale. It has been great to go down a few days early to pre-ride and get some insight in to how the course and competition is looking. Pua and I flew in on Sunday night, and had Monday to pre-ride the jungle section, then Tuesday to relax around San Ramon, a super nice small city on the western edge of the Central Valley. Paul Pagano was joining us this year to wrench and help support, which was awesome. We also had Adam Pulford from CTS helping as well as Jorge, another Sho-Air original team member, as well as Javier Ruis Arias, a local who has helped me each year I have done the race.
Things were lining up nicely and we hydrated with fresh coconuts (pipas) and ate plenty of casados (rice, beans, meat, salad, plantain) to fuel up. It was looking like a pretty dry year, even though it was pouring rain in the afternoons the Carara section was pretty dry when we pre-rode, and it seems to really take a lot of rain to make things muddy in the tropics. The dirt must be used to soaking up water.
We had nice early dinner with the CTS crew the night before the first stage, and Pua, Manny, and I shared some war stories from past La Ruta’s. We tried to hit the hay pretty early but it’s always hard to fall asleep the night before a big race like that, especially when you try to go to bed at 9:00. For some reason it seems like it is easier to get up early in Costa Rica, and the 3:50 am wake up is never as bad as it sounds. Maybe that’s because the sun rises at 5:20 or so, and by 6:00 am it is warm, sunny, and the towns are bustling. Luckily I don’t have a problem eating breakfast right when I wake up, and I enjoyed some pineapple, papaya, banana, and some granola that I baked before the trip and brought down. I can’t do rice and beans for breakfast, so I packed some granola to be safe. It’s also imperative to have some coffee, which is almost always good in Costa Rica.
We started on the beach again, and made our way through town and over to the hills. The first climb always breaks the race up, and this year three guys got a small gap on the rest of the favorites. They were riders I didn’t know, and I asked some of the Costa Ricans if we needed to be worried about them and they said no, so we let them go and got a pretty big group together and rolled a brisk but not crazy pace on the roads leading in to Carara. Once we hit the jungle sections Paolo, Todd and I broke away from the others and caught two of the riders from the early break. We though we would catch the other guy, but never did. It turned out to be Marconi Duran, who was well known locally, and exceptionally strong that day. Todd and I chased as hard as we could but couldn’t take time back, in fact we steadily lost time all day, even working together. I was feeling about as good as one can expect, drinking lots of Osmo and eating some delicious bread pudding made by Betty, Manny’s fiance.
By the finish Todd and I has lost 11 minutes to Marconi, and Todd got me in the sprint for second place on the stage. We knew we had our work cut out for us on the following stages in order to take some of that time back, but in La Ruta anything can happen, so you always have to keep trying. Stage 2 went up the Irazu and Turrialba volcanos, and is probably one of the longest climbs I have ever done. Todd and I ended up in a group of three with Marconi but couldn’t make a separation. Paolo Montoya was off the front a bit, but we had closed the gap down to about 15 seconds by the top. Todd really pinned the upper part of the DH, but Marconi was right on him, with me third wheel dodging the rocks those guys were kicking up and trying to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately Todd encountered a bit of trouble himself and cut a tire on a sharp rock, and then had some issues getting it fixed and lost a ton of time. Marconi and I almost caught Paolo but never did, it seemed each of us would go through good and bad phases on the descent. I had some issues with visibility on the lower slopes, it was wet and my glasses fogged, but I didn’t want to take them off and get debris in my eye at high speed, but that would have been the better call I think. I lost Marconi’s wheel, but almost caught him again near the finish, coming in 3rd again about a minute and a half off the winner Paolo. I never prefer to gain from another’s misfortune but due to Todd’s tire troubles I was solidly in 2nd overall.
I figured it was going to be a stretch to take 11 minutes back on stage 3, especially with 80k of flats running in to the finish. Marconi also had two teammates who were covering all of the early attacks. By the third climb they were tired, and Paolo made a good move, which I followed, and we got away from the rest of the field. I was way in the red going over the top of the climb, but had recovered enough to help out and take some pulls by the time we hit the downhill and flats. We had a nice gap, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the group, and we got caught a while later. That pretty much killed our mojo, and we knew that barring any crazy mechanicals that the places were set. Everyone seemed to be waiting for the sprint until the last kilometer, and even though I’m not a good sprinter I tried to cover a few moves to keep it together going in to the last 200 meters. Lico Ramirez took the win from the group, the rest of us rolling in with the same time.
It was a super hot stage, but I managed it well, taking on lots of fluids and some ice bags for my back at the feed zones. It felt pretty darn good to jump in the Caribbean Sea after the stage, always does. Even when it’s pouring rain.
I would have loved to bring home the win, but left it all out there for another 2nd. I can’t thank the team enough for all the support, as well as everyone who personally helped. Manny treated Paul and I to a little ocean fishing on Sunday before we flew home on Monday, and we gringos even caught a few! I only caught one, but at least it was a pretty big one.
Now it’s time to unwind after a busy season and get ready for some snow sports, before gearing up for 2014!
The race was by far the fastest in America too; the fast sandy rolling course suits pack ridding and 60k in prize money attacks the best of the best. Since it was a point-to-point it made for an epic feel to the rollout. The race starting in Kalkaska, almost 27-miles east of the finish requires a drop off shuttle and a lot of start line and finish clothing prep.
That start was nuts but fought the swarm to post top five in the woods Cameron Jette of 3 rocks went down and I could hear carnage behind. The last thing on my mind was the cold once up to 19 mph sprinting thru the trails it was a fire fight and the tactical games began to play in.
After a mid race techie section Kabush and I put on some nasty pressure to thin the field, after a tester attack I went off the front and earned a solo gap. The riders behind seem content to take break, once I was 20 seconds clear and 20 k to go I thought what the hell may as we’ll give it horns and go long!
Nothing feels like a solo attack with a the hounds chasing for half an hour, legs at the limit mind on laser focus ripping the turns at the maximum lean!
Much like in football going long is spectacular when it works but risky. Alas I got caught in the last 4 k by the 12 strong group, I guess they got organized somewhat a surprise. I did study the sprint and dropped in on Steven to hit the last k on 3rd wheel and was rewarded bronze so it was all good and I felt pumped on the monster effort.
Campfire and post race beer and spiked hot apple cider was a highlight and nothing like breaking out the flannel and seeing Ron’s Cannondale chainsaw!
The last race of the year was ripp’n fast and one hell of a good after party where I got to hang with some good folks at Cannondale.
I hope your doing great and getting some time in the woods because there is nothing like the cold for your skin and the smell of a campfire reminds you theirs is more to life than your FB status; like Iceman, snow friends beer and a burn brat wurst. If you have a change check this race out.
Thanks go to Sho-Air Cannondale for the awesome support that makes magic season like 2013 happen!
At this very moment, I am sitting at pretty close to the top of the world in a US Airways aircraft that is traveling west across many miles to hopefully deliver me safely back to California. It is hard to believe that only 12 days ago, I was heading east to Asheville, North Carolina where upon arrival, I jumped into the CTS truck to make my way to Brevard for the Pisgah Mountain Bike stage race.
The very first time I heard about the Pisgah National Forest was from the infamous Bruce Dickman. It was many years ago and when I was just getting into the racing scene. When I met Bruce for the first time, it was all he could talk about (when he was talking about trails). He kept saying how awesome it was and how I needed to make the effort to get my butt over there to race, and if not to race, just to ride. Since that time, I heard many phenomenal things about this mysterious place called Pisgah from multiple people, and prior to this past couple of weeks, I did not have the opportunity to visit it and witness it myself to make the judgement. But now as I sit here typing, I believe that I can say that I have been to Pisgah, pedaled my bike on its magical soil and say that it has proven above and beyond what was expected. Maybe I can even say that I now know it better than Bruce! Haha…just kidding!
For those of you who do not know much about this race, you are not alone because I do not believe that many people do and it was not until Day zero of this 5-day adventure that I knew anything either. The only thing that I did know was that it was going to be an epic 5-day experience filled with some of the most amazing and challenging terrain, I was going to be in my saddle for many hours a day which was going to leave me completely spent by the end, and at some point, I would probably be questioning whose brilliant idea it was until I quickly realized that, surprise, surprise…it was mine. But by the end, the experience would be unforgettable and I would thank myself for it and probably even want to go back. And on top of all of that, it would be perfect training for La Ruta and most importantly, I will have spent 5 unforgettable days doing what I love…pedaling my bike for LONG periods of time.
On Day Zero, all the racers and support crews were gathered under the rooftop of the Brevard Music Center where dinner was served while Todd welcomed each of us and began stirring the nerves and building the energy that was already being generated for the week that was ahead of us. It was a very intimate feel being that not only were there under 100 racers, but it was a race being run by family and individuals that were volunteering their time and their next 5 days completely to us. Their sole purpose was to ensure that our experience was nothing short of unforgettable and complete. The course overview of Day 1 was given, notes were taken, questions were asked and then it was off to the final preparations needed before saying goodbye to the day with a deep and restful sleep.
Day one, the Looking Glass Loop, 28 miles with 6,678 feet of climbing.
Day one began at 9am sharp and at 8am, Paul had the car packed and ready and it was off to the start where it would all begin. After a little warm-up, I headed to the line, took a deep breath, exhaled and then we were off.
The start began with the longest pavement section of the week and I could have sworn that we were at the start of a fat tire crit. Immediately after rolling off the line, a team of 3 attacked right out of the gate as if our finish line was not 30 miles away, but 3 miles away. Apparently they did not get the memo that it was not only day 1 of 5, but we still had 30 miles of the most technical single track that we were going to face all week. Needless to say, the attack did not last all the way to the dirt, but it did rip the field apart (and possibly even the instigators) early on and I was happy that I was able to jump into the single track towards the front.
We were told that this day was the locals favorite loop and after completion, I could see why. The course was definitely nothing short of technical, challenging, fun, rocky, rooty, bumpy and beautiful with breath taking views (yes, I took a quick moment to take in what we climbed to the top of….and it was so worth it.), but the penalty of a little spill that I took early on, managed to get most of my attention all day. Lets just say that my pinky that was already broken years and years ago (on a bike of course) and left to heal on its own…got a little bent in a way that only gumby should be able to bend. My stomach is slightly turning as I am replaying the scene in my head, so I will not go into much detail. Yes, it did hurt, but I kept pedaling and eventually the pain managed to slightly numb and I decided that I would give it some attention after crossing the line. I took a little more precaution and less risk as I came up on the real technical sections and I could not have been happier to see the finish line. The importance of the pinky does not rank the highest when it comes to the necessity of fingers, but I now have a little more appreciation for the little pinky finger…it really does play a part when it comes to riding and trying to hold on.
After crossing the line, I was ecstatic that I managed to take the win and come in fourth overall, but my finger needed a little TLC. It was going to be the first time that I would pull off my glove and see what waited beneath it and I had Paul do the honors of assessing the damage…I could not look. Thankfully, it did not look nearly as bad as I thought although the pain began kicking in, but it was nothing that a little ice pack, tape and Aleve could not fix.
The nightly routine of the next 4 nights began and it was a recovery spin, post-race massage, ice cold river soak, head back to the room, unpack, shower, eat, compress, elevate, nap, cook, eat, awards, video recap of the day, overview of the next day, pack, prepare, compress and sleep until the alarm sounded for the start of the next day to begin.
On the morning of Day 2, my internal alarm was working and my eyes opened voluntarily before being disturbed by the obnoxious sound that would tell me it was time to get up before I was actually ready and willing to.
Once again, the Sho-Air express was ready and waiting to roll at 8am sharp for the 9am start of day two.
Day two, the White Squirrel Loop, 29 miles with 5,118 feet of climbing.
After taping my pinky finger to my ring finger and completing my 20-minute warm-up, the leg woke up and I was anxious and ready to take on Day two.
On the first climb, I was able to stay with the front group of guys and as we were climbing, I made my way to the front of our little group of four and shortly after, I heard some commotion behind me and quickly realized that we had just passed a black bear that was on the side of the trail. Being that I have never seen a bear (outside of the zoo), there was a part of me that wanted to slam on the brakes, turn around and catch a glimpse of this creature, but we were long past at this point and I figured that my time would eventually come and I kept pedaling forward.
The pattern continued and I would catch these same boys on the climb until they dropped me on the techy single track, only to see me coming up behind them again on the next climb. It was on this day that the single track was broken up with a few fire road/two-track climbs and so this pattern was even more evident. So, when I looked down at our nifty little course profile sticker that Todd provided us for each day and saw that I was on the last significant climb before the final descent to the finish, I made up my mind that I would break this system and not let myself get passed back before crossing the line. I attacked the last climb and as I crested the top, I knew that the only way I could stay in front of this guy was to be as efficient, vigilant and flow as much as possible, (he was amazing on this terrain)…and I did exactly that. I crossed the line not only with the stage win for the women, but with the guy (Madison) behind me. Gotcha!
It was another fourth overall for the day. And in case you were wondering, no, I did not see any bears nor did I see any white squirrels…again. I was really beginning to wander if this white squirrel was a myth of Brevard and the Pisgah Forest.
After a few exchanges of stories and laughs, it was back into the nightly routine before the day ended with the closing of my eyes and the welcoming of happy, fast and safe dreams to begin.
Once again, the internal alarm clock could not be ignored and although I was wishing that it was the obnoxious unwanted sound waking me up, it was my weirdness getting me up and ready for the next day to begin. And before I knew it, we were off in the Sho- Air express and heading off to the start of hump day, Day three.
Day three, the Carl Schneck Loop, 34 miles with 5,178 feet of climbing.
This day began and ended on the original grounds of the very first forestry school in America – the Biltmore Forest School. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to walk around and take in some of the history, BUT, before the start of the stage, both Kerry
(men’s leader) and I touched a moon tree. Yes, it was a tree whose seeds were actually brought back from the moon and planted here on earth. It did not claim to have special powers, but it was from the moon and a rare species, so, we figured it had to have some kind of special power or energy…right?
This was the loop that I was really looking forward to because of the couple of sections of trail that I was able to pre-ride (Pilot) and Todd mentioned that it was the staffs favorite loop…I knew it was going to be killer. Not easy, but killer.
This day began with a little off feeling, even after touching the moon tree. We had a short lead out on the pavement before we made our left onto the dirt and a few of us in the front got a little confused as the lead police car pulled to the side, and before we knew it, everyone behind us was turning left and we went from first to dead last.
There was no need for panic, but I guess it was inevitable and my goal was to avoid any spills and get as close to the front as possible before hitting the first single track. In order to do this, I was completely red lining it, but I knew that I would have the opportunity to recover pretty quickly and the effort would be well worth it. I did manage to get up there and not lose much, but it took me almost half the day and the two-track to actually begin clicking back in to feeling connected to my pedals and the trail. It might not have been ideal for it to have taken that long, but the fact that I was beginning to feel normal before entering Laurel which would drop us into Pilot…I had no complaints. To give you an idea of Pilot, I heard that this is a trail that the locals do not necessarily tread purposely. It is a trail that is made up of a lot of rock, it is steep, technical tight switchbacks and a tricky way to end a ride.
I managed to get through in one piece and as efficient as possible and when I exited Pilot onto the dirt road that would take me to the finish, I dropped my pack off to Paul and it was 5 miles of just pedaling to the finish. It felt amazing to be able to pedal with no obstacles in front of me. Tucked as small as possible, I began pedaling as fast as possible when I glanced up and saw this little black thing sprint across the road in front of me…it was a little bear! Granted, it was pretty far away and he was pretty little, but I am pretty sure that the little guy was in fact a bear. Once again, I wanted to take a little pit stop and get a better look, but by the time I got to where he entered into the woods…he was gone. I managed to take the stage win and another fourth place overall and only two days were left…still some time for a white squirrel sighting.
The post-race remained the same, but today’s river soaking was a little more special and memorable. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Looking Glass Waterfall, hiked down and found the perfect soaking spot with what they claim to be one of the most scenic falls in the United States embracing us with her beauty.
Needless to say, the internal clock went off and for some reason, it was getting earlier and earlier with each day. The start of Day four was a little farther out of town, which meant that the Sho-Air express departed accordingly and I guess it was a good thing that the internal clock was on the same page.
Day four, the Promised Land Loop, 25 miles with 5,970 feet of climbing.
This day’s route was going to be the fastest and shortest day of the week and they say that it is indeed the Promised Land because it is just under Mt. Pisgah, named for the peak in which Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land.
I will admit that the beauty of this loop was nothing short of breath-taking and it was nice to have more of a pedaling day with more flowing single-track with just a couple of short gnarly sections that demanded a quick dismount.
This was not a super exciting day for some, but for me, the fact that a handful of individuals managed to take a wrong turn and cut out four miles of the course, I was able to feel like I was not alone out there. I caught up on people that magically appeared in front of me and had some company throughout the 25 miles. With the short, sweet ride, we managed to get back a little earlier and have a little more of a relaxing day before the final day arrived…Day 5.
The routine remained the same and the only thing that I was dreading that night, was the weather forecast that was being predicted…rain. The loop was still going to be relatively short, but we were also being sent down the trail that was considered to be the scariest trail in Pisgah and when adding water to a trail that is already scary, it is a perfect recipe for disaster. And when this crowd is calling a trail “scary” you know that you are in for something that is exactly that.
Day five, the Land of Waterfalls Loop, 25 miles with 3,186 feet of climbing.
This final day was our first point to point route and everyone was shuttled to our remote start that was off of a forest road that felt like was in the middle of nowhere. Just as predicted, the rain embraced us from the moment the day began, but apparently it was not really raining yet. But, there was precipitation falling from the sky and it was cold. If you ask me, it was raining and my Jakroo rain jacket remained on and zipped up for the entire 25 miles and I was a super happy camper. Not because of the water falling from the sky (that I could have done without), but because my jacket was protecting me.
So, we hit the first of two climbs for the day and I managed to enter the single track in third, but knew that Farlow (the scary trail) was coming up and I was no fool, I knew that positioning was not going to last very long. And sure enough…
Before I knew it, I was on a trail that was a bed of rocks for as far as my eyes could see. These rocks were more like small boulders that were of many different shapes and sizes, but it was as if someone just threw them on the trail with no order, but with complete coverage. And it was one of those trails that just sneak up on you and when you realize that you are on it, you have to just roll with it and hope for the best. My rolling with it worked very a short time until Thom (one of the videographers of the week) came up behind me to get some footage. Of course he picked the perfect spot,
When I provided him with every photographers dream…the over the bars in slow, very slow motion. It felt like I could have had a whole conversation from the time that my bike stopped rolling to the moment I hit the rocks. I knew that there was a possibility of something really bad resulting in the messing with Farlow, but after my airtime concluded with a thud, I found myself in one piece. The bumps and bruises were inevitable, but I would pay for those the next day because at that moment, I still had 18 miles waiting for me.
At this point, my goal was to finish in one piece and there was no hurt in my ego with running my bike at any and all necessary moments. I worked my butt off for the four days that were now behind me and nothing was worth losing that or my safety. Thom assured me that the wickedness of the trail would soon end and I kept that in my head, pushing any frustration out of my head and managing to keep moving forward.
The rain kept falling, the rocks and roots kept getting slick, but the finish line was getting closer and the two-track that lead us to the final fast, flowy decent to the end was all that lay ahead of me. I will not lie, I love to climb, but those 7 miles of two-track felt sluggish, slow and long. The moment that I crested the top and saw the single track, I knew that I had finally made it…and the last 6 miles that would be the end to my Pisgah experience awaited me.
The rain was coming down harder, I was covered from head to toe in mud and as I got to the road and saw the finish line up ahead, I could feel myself relax my grip on my bars and finally exhale for what felt like the first time that day…I did it and I was in one piece.
I crossed that line as the Pisgah Stage Race Women’s winner and although I was freezing, I was so excited.
Hugs went around while Todd and Heather handed me a custom pottery mug engraved with “2013 Pisgah Stage Race Finisher” and I could not be more proud of a mug!
It was straight to the car to sit on a plastic bag, for the short drive back to the hotel room where I walked straight into the shower. The routine of the week was quickly out the door and I could feel myself take a mental breath because I did not have to worry about getting back in the saddle the next day…I just had to worry about cleaning up, packing up and getting back home.
It was over.
Earlier today when Paul and I were driving to the airport, we were talking about the non existent white squirrels of Pisgah when we looked up on the power line above us and sure enough…white Squirrel!
The trip was now finally complete.
As I mentioned earlier about what I was expecting before I knew anything about this race…it was all of that and more. I enjoyed every moment of it and will never forget any of it. I have left the Pisgah National Forest a better rider and racer, many souvenirs that I would have preferred not to be taking home (hurt pinky, bruises, cuts, scrapes, aches), new friends and of course, having seen a bear and a white squirrel. I was a very happy girl. If you are looking for a challenging and fun stage race that is organized and made up of incredible terrain and trails that will never let you down in a forest that is magical, I think I found one for you.
A few necessary shout outs..
Thank you to the CTS crew of Brevard for accompanying and taking us out on a couple of days of course recon. Not only did this make such a huge difference, but it was awesome meeting and riding with you guys!
Thank you also to all the volunteers that worked their butts of this past week. You guys stood at all those intersections day after day, waiting for us to come up on you so that you could flag us down in the right direction and give us some positive energy and company, even if it was only for a moment. You guys always made me smile and provided me with many firsts….I saw spider man, wonder women, a brown scary monster that I soon learned was a lion, a gorilla, a crazy guy with a blue wig, business men and I know there were a few more too that I cannot remember. But, thank you.
I also need to give a super duper special shout out to Paul, who was the best mechanic, organizer and keeper of me during this past week (well, he is always super duper awesome!). He was there whenever I needed anything and kept my Scalpel running no less than perfect every single day. He enabled me to put every ounce of focus on my pedaling. Everything was ready and waiting for me when I got to the start and when I arrived at each aid station. He was calm and ready for anything when I rolled in and even when I told him about my finger in the middle of Day one, he kept it together and was ready with first aid at the finish line. Then when I rolled back through after my recovery spin, the Scalpel was once again handed off and back in his hands until the next day. Thank you so much P, for being so awesome and taking care of me, I appreciate it more than you know! We did it and you rock!
And of course, thank you from the bottom of my heart to Scott Tedro for getting me out there and providing me the best support possible and imaginable. It is because of you, your support and belief that I (we) am able to continue doing what I love to do and I will always try my best to make you proud. Thank you.
Now it is time for a few recovery days and then turning the focus back on and getting ready to head back down to Costa Rica for the attempt of defending at La Ruta. Not only am I excited to back to another race that I absolutely love, but going back and seeing all the friends that we made and going back with teammates…both Alex and Manny will be racing down there with me!
Perfect timing…I can see LA and it is almost time to land!
I will be in touch, sorry for the novel, but thank you for taking the time to read this…stay safe out there and don’t do as I do, keep the rubber side down!
After crossing the finish line at Cross-Country Nationals, the rest of my year was still not set in stone, but soon after, the path became clear and we realized that it was time to flip it and get back in the saddle and really start riding. Now, let me clarify what I mean by this statement because of course I have been really riding all year, but by really riding, I mean for more than a few hours at a time. I remember being in Montana and standing outside of the house with Ty and looking up at the mountains and wanting to get on my bike and start pedaling. Well…now I can do that. I can find the top of the mountain and when I get there, I can explore the other side of the ridge.
When we took a look at the calendar, we knew that La Ruta was a definite and not only did I need to go back, but we wanted to go back and of course try to defend. October was still months away and I wanted to fill the gap with a few races that I have had my eye on for a while and when doing some research, I immediately found three.
The first was not on the dirt, but I wanted to do it because 1. It was out my back door (kind of) and 2. It went straight up. It was about a month ago and it was called the Hotter ‘n Hell Hill Climb at Baldy, where you gain 5000’ in a short 12 mile grueling ascent.
Before I knew it, I found myself watching the second hand tick and with five seconds left to go, my heart was already racing. The last time I found myself in a time trial was, well…..so long ago that I cannot recall. Needless to say, I was not sure how to approach this thing and to add on to the nerves, I had just switched to actual road shoes and pedals the night before figuring that being completely connected to my bike would be a benefit for optimal speed and to make things interesting (because I always like to keep things interesting) for when I needed to clip in and out. And yes, just in case you are wandering, I did have a couple of close calls with my first few dismounting attempts.
When I finally heard “go,” I got out of the saddle and my tactic was to go as hard as I could from the start and leave it all out there knowing that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Well, I followed through as planned and that is exactly what I did. Needless to say, around the halfway mark, I had to do a little self-check and focus because the going as hard as I could part caught up to me. With a little active recovery on the next 3 second descent, the legs came back alive and I was able to cross the finish line 63 minutes and 58 seconds later, which, a few hours later, proved to be equivalent to the win in the women’s field, the new course record and a fourth place finish among the men. The overall win was less than 60 seconds ahead of me…I guess it was not too bad of a day and putting it all out there paid off.
The second race on my list was the Grand Junction Off-Road, which was the next race in the off-road series that is put on by Epic Rides who has become the spotlight of race promoters.
I will not deny the fact that the cash purse was the initial carrot that drew me to toeing the line, but in addition to that, I knew that going to an Epic Rides event meant a
Guaranteed first class experience with like-minded people, like Team Sho-Air and Scott Tedro, who want to promote, bring awareness and grow our sport of mountain biking.
Just as expected, the Off-Road was nothing short of first class.
When Friday rolled around, the roads of downtown Grand Junction were being shutdown and taken over as the tents were popping up, the stage was being set, bikes were appearing and the energy was beginning to radiate.
On Friday night, the pros toed the line after a very entertaining 2 lap Clunker Crit took place and it was time for an all out 20 minute plus 3 laps of redlining it. The course was about a mile and had many turns that allowed the spectators to choose their favorite cheering section and scream at us to relieve some of the pain for a brief moment or two
Peeling back another layer on the onion-
Trading off a pedal heavy spring season of MTB racing in SoCal and setting my focus on the development project of the Brammo Empulse R electric motorcycle has been a stimulating challenge. A similar theme between the two, the advances I’ve made in both pedaling and motorcycle R&D only expose more weaknesses left to address.
Blending worlds, the highly competitive west coast AFM road race series homologated electric bikes into the racing series this spring. Placing a small bookmark in history, we entered the second AFM round at Sonoma raceway to compete head to head against ICE (internal combustion engine) machines. Having previously competed solely against electric bikes with few competitors, we were in the deep end. On the rare occasion I would make a pass on rider, the result became predictable and somewhat amusing. I could anticipate seeing the overtaken rider abruptly stand the bike their up, shaken by my silent, stealthy approach. The majority of the time, it was the other way around. I would hear a bike right on my rear wheel, breathing down my neck as if I were a roadblock taking the whole track. Exiting the corner gesturing the menacing rider to overtake me, they must have thought I was out of my mind. Truth is, they were no closer than five bike lengths behind and there was no urgency what so ever. It was a weekend for recalibration, trying to shed deeply rooted racing instincts developed over the past 25 years. Ultimately placing near last in the 600 Superbike division, the team headed back to Brammo’s Ashland Oregon HQ’s to further modify the 170 horsepower Empulse RR prototype bike.
A month later we returned for AFM round 3 at Thunderhill raceway. With revisions on the bike, including a bizarre anti-squat sprocket mounted behind the primary sprocket, much like a down hill mountain bike, we were determined to find a direction with the chassis. Initially successful, the teeth sheered off the anti-squat sprocket forcing us to remove it from the new package. Fortunately we found some speed with changes to the pivot height and beefed up triple clamp.
Starting from 16th on the gird, benefitting from the simplicity of no transmission, the RR catapulted into 4th position. A desperate attempt to stay with the leaders began to fail as they stepped up the pace on the second lap. Slipping back to 8th place, we were able to remount a charge on the final lap to finish 7th. Quite far back from the lead ICE machines, but a tremendous leap forward from the previous outing.
Returning to the eGrand Prix series to compete against electric machines, the Empulse RR was the class of the field at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Moto GP venues. Teammate Shane Turpin and I pushed the boundaries, establishing a new record pace for electric bikes that put us close to 600 Supersport race times.
Taking what we have learned from the prototype bike and applying it to the production Empulse R is yet another layer of complexity. Working with the engineers on the many variables such as power delivery, torque command, throttle response, regenerative braking, center mass, and the total chassis package is a complex puzzle. Riding the bikes as they morph into a well-rounded package is one of the many gratifying experiences I’ve had this summer. Adding to this, Brammo in conjunction with Icon Motorsports, has released a limited run of Eboz Spec 32 Empulse R motorcycles and Icon helmets in matching livery. Although silent running, the blue and orange graphics scream loudly.
Reflecting back to the pedals, the many miles and efforts of 2012 paid dividends in early 2013. Achieving a higher power output on the pedals set up some great battles between teammate Ty Kady and myself on the shorter XC events. And although I have yet to find the speed to stay on Tinker’s wheel in the endurance events, it’s simply an honor to roll off the start line with a legend.
With Cyclecross season upon us, it’s going to be quite a hurdle to get this lethargic throttle twisting body to respond the quick accelerations the sport requires. Probability is high the expression on my face is going to be the one of chopping onions at the first race.
See ya out there, Eboz 32
Hampshire 100/Mt Washington Road Hill Climb King of the mountains double dare.
My resolution post Pro XCT was to “put the mountain back into mountain biking”. I had a blast and wrapped up the national series with 3 wins 10 podium finishes and 2nd over all For sure that was a lot of laps and I was jones’n to get out and do some scary stuff on some deep trails.
As I planned the double trouble weekend that bordered on absurd, I said to myself “Tinker did it last year.” Should’a thought about that one a bit… Ha ha ha.
Saturday was the 40th annually Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb. A race steeped in legend and lore. It is so hard to get into that someone has to die for a spot to open up and the weather at the top is among the worst weather in the World. Winds exceeding hurricane force take place on this mountain an average of 110 days out of the year! http://zielonko.org/bike/new_england/mtwash.htm
I thought to myself pre trip yeah yeah; I know it’s a steep road and what not. I went with a gear easier than normal 34 with a 12-28 on my 12 pound Cannondale Super 6 EVO. This was however like going to fish for jaws in the little dingy they use in the movie. BAD IDEA.
Because the road is closed to riders 363 days of the year and I arrived the night before it was going to be a “surprise” to see what’s up there. Yep it was a surprise all right. Clouds flying at you like fuzzy parade floats at 45 miles an hour. You even brace for impact and then just every thing goes fuzz for a second. The back to blue it’s kind of strange while in an anaerobic trance.
Prior to the race I bet friend /coaching client and climbing specialist Cameron Cogburn that I could take him in the double. He rocked a 4th at Leadville last weekend and has the second best time on Mt Washington ever recorded so I knew it would be good. We agreed on percent based formula for our bet.
The gun went off and we quicky ground to a near hault on the first 14% pitch. I realized quickly the legs I had hoped for where still in my checked bag, I suffered hard after the first couple thousand feet of ascent.
Cameron set off in pursuit of Tom Danielsons record. I set to a hard pace and was moving pretty good for my lack of specific prep. The first incline was very steep and had mean pitches relegating me to for the rest of the climbing into low back twisting 55 -65 cadence.
I took in the jaw dropping scenery as we approached tree line realizing I was getting 3rd and that was that. Switchbacks twisted like intestines of some mythic beast…then the road gave way to packed wet sand. Dripping in sweat from the intense effort we rounded an exposed switch back and it was like someone opened a door to and arctic windstorm. 45-mile an hour 45 degree gust and I was chilled to the bone in an instant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Washington_(New_Hampshire)
I remembered the wind whistle thru the spokes and the intense pain in both feet. Some spectators in costume yelled “almost there”!! Expecting to see the top I saw a tower sticking out of a cloud another 1,400 feet vertical feet above.. “o damn” I paced myself so I wouldn’t fall over in the final 24 percent corkscrew. The crowd was going nuts, it was pretty sick, like a mountain top finish in the Tour.
I crossed the line after 44 minutes and it was like an arctic weather station triage zone! Fans yelling and people wrapped like refuges in complimentary blankets, the wind was raging in the thin air. Would I do it again? yes but with a massive gear swap and after a month of Jenny Craig! Cameron won and was 3+ minutes ahead so I had some work to do! Based off the percent formula I would need to win by almost 20 minutes a near impossible feat.
200 miles south in the rolling green mountains of New Hampshire riders were gear up for the Hampshire 100 a test of grit and single-track fortitude, but we where still a 3 hour drive from the race. I was nervous about having not raced longer than 3 hrs this year and more so because my huge gear workout blasted my muscles to cramped spaghetti.
6:45 came way too early we set off with the lead group and played it as efficiently as possible. A lead group formed and luckily it was flat for a while letting me wake up my legs. I managed to ride a super steep power line climb and used the technical single track as a wedge to pressure the other riders. It seemed only Christian could follow in this stuff and I vowed to fight for this one having had a bad day yesterday. It was all or nothing.
I pushed hard to open a gap at mile 55 and got a minute gap after pushing an impossible to hold pace. I decided to make a break for it a really long break! On the rail trail sections I imagined my chasers working together to close down on my narrow 2 min lead. Pushing while my legs were still good was the plan, to get a gap “if I fade out Ill just try to hold on”
Some how and I have no good reason for it other than it was my day… my motor turned full diesel and I could drive the big ring for much of the last 25 miles! I had one hell of a second wind and remembered the race that crushed me last year.
Remembering the bet I had made with Cameron Cogburn the day before that I could take him in the diabolical double. Last I heard Christian Tanguy was 10 minutes back and Cam in 3rd. I need 20 minutes to claim the game so I was in full TT mode! Well, Cameron’s free hub blew while he was in 3rd a few minutes back, I had no clue so I just put it to the maximum. We agreed to a re match at the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo.
I won by the largest margin I have ever won any race by almost 17 minutes!
I can’t forget the thrill of racing the lead moto down a couple of the sweeping final single tracks and pinning it xc style sliding the turns and going for seconds, It was sweet awesomeness.
16,000 ft of climbing in a weekend within only 8 hours and 107 miles the big mountain adventure is BACK! Next stop Shenandoah 100!
Thanks to Team Sho-Air/Cannondale for the bikes and support!
Arnie Mostowy and Thom Barton for support on site and Goodales bike shop for the bike build.
http://www.northeastcycling.com/Hillclimb_Races.html for those looking for all the dirt on the northeast hill climbs.
Strava from the Hampshire 100 not big climbs but plenty of roots single track and deep forest.