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Throwback Thursdays: Sea Otter - 95 til Infinity

16 April, 2015

Sea Otter Classic turns 25 years old today.  Old enough to rent a car.  So it only seems fitting that we do a throwback post in the whoa it's been a ride style of Sea Otter's past in a tribute to its birthday and future.  The oldest photo I could find came from the 1995 XC race start, appearing in the 1996 WTB Catalog:

Can't really make anybody in particular out unfortunately but you can see a proud old school Grip Shift logo and the Sea Otter logo itself happily touts turquoise as its primary lettering with perhaps purple accents, hmmm... can't quite see well enough to discern.  On to better things, IT being SENT:

Terrible photo quality but at least they're on WTB product.  You see a lot of photos of the Dual Slalom, must be something about a bicycle skying over a car racing track and being such a showdown, here's a better one:

 

 Kirt Voreis, takin' care of bidniss, on a lovely Intense Tazer HT.  There was nothing lovely about the Tazer HT, it was an M1 without the fun massive shock that let you luxuriously case landings.  Ok, speaking for myself here.  The Tazer HT was definitely a Ferrari of slalom bikes - tight, taught, nimble and unforgiving.  There were other treats tucked in the folds of the Bicycle Retailer throwback to 2003:

Pretty sure they're long gone so I can openly make fun of them.  Yes, there was a time period, un hunh, 2003ish, where bikes looked too much like moto bikes and not in the good way.  See how high that BB is - it's almost as tall as the kid (it's at least higher than his theoretical belly button) grasping the Double Track, the cheap OEM version of the truly expensive heavy misunderstanding, the Double Wide, which I wanted because Bender had it, but had to settle for the Single Wide.  Depending on who you talk to, this was either the best or worst period for mountain bikes.  Notice I didn't even mention the Super Monster fork - yep, everyone erased that from their memories... 40mm stanchions, heavier than children, known for tearing off their 1-1/8" steerers, and lowers that extended so far beneath their axles that it wasn't a matter of if but when an unruly stump or upset root would slingshot you over the bars.

Somehow, at the same time, this occurs:

The zing of angry freehubs, a whole moving irksome mass hurtles past on the speedway, leaving the aftershock of something sweet lingering in the air... hmmm.... roadie perfume?  Don't they know that thing's designed for race cars? They can't be fast enough for it.

It's a unique time, that's for sure.  This perhaps intentional, perhaps not titling of the photo from the 2003 Vol 12 No 8 Bicycle Retailer probably sums it ups best:

 

 Yep, no idea.  Not sure I want to know.

But I do know that amidst the fluttering flags, blowing dust, uncertain weather - are we sunburned and parched or soggy and unhappy?  Somewhere in the middle of all that, set up, take down, sneak beers in, act professional, there's a real sense of community.  Too many people come together, even more race, and it's all for celebrating bikes.  That's a good thing.  So here's to another 25 to Sea Otter, the most cycling merriment you may or may not wish to experience.

The Story of the Riddler

14 April, 2015

Nathan Riddle and his son, Ripley Riddle during an interview in 2014  about the Riddler tire's development.

Anybody who's been lucky enough to meet or hang out with Nathan Riddle will quickly agree, the UBI (United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, OR) Professor sure is a nice guy.  And, sure is fast.

I think the first time I met him I was working a Downieville Classic race weekend and he had driven down from Ashland.  We were atop the deck of the house WTB rents year after year (I don't know how they willingly continue to rent to us) situated oh-so-conveniently close to St. Charles' Place bar on the one main intersection the mining town boasts.  Nathan had just generously tuned the rear derailleur of our Marketing Manager at the time's bike.  In return for Riddle's kindness, our manager was trying to persuade Riddle that he didn't have to sleep in his truck again that night, that there was plenty of room in our downtown overlook.  Riddle was having a hard time accepting the offer, I think he kept mentioning that he'd be invading our space.  We tried to shame him into accepting a bed but Nathan flat out refused, he wouldn't even take a couch.  So, he laid his Thermarest over the balcony's green astroturf and that's where he slept.

I remember watching him quickly cross the finish line the next day and marveling to myself that he was the first pro to be wearing baggy riding clothes.  Scratch that, he was the only pro to be wearing baggy stuff.  It left an impression - the real rider somehow seemed all the more real as a result.

His calm, easy going, modest, and unassuming demeanor is only eclipsed by his bottomless knowledge of all things bike and his natural talent aboard a bicycle.  Finding him standing atop podiums, particularly in Oregon, is a very common sight.

 

4th in Pro ain't so shabby but this soft-spoken man of speed likes first, like all professionals.  He seems to particularly like it, first that is, in Ashland, his home turf.  It's as common an occurrence as winter rain in... well... I guess Oregon, not California.

 

 Mark Weir, Nathan Riddle, Marco Osborne.  1, 2, 3, WTB.

So when Nathan found himself in 2nd on the DH, standing next to Weir at the 2013 Ashland Spring Thaw Festival, he must have thought something might be missing.  Jason Moeschler, pictured below, also racing, had just given Riddle a peak at the new proposed WTB tire line.

Nathan had raced his Bee Line 2.2's to a speedy second place... but something must have been left somehow wanting more... he must have wanted something to knock Weir off that top spot at Ashland's podium, his home trails...

So Nathan identified a hole in WTB's tire lineup.  There needed to something foolishly fast like the Bee Lines but something that also sank its teeth in with the tenacity of Vigilantes... something for sure.  Jason Moeschler heard him out, agreed and put him in touch with Evan Smith, WTB's product design engineer.  Before he knew it, early iterations of Riddle's request were bouncing back in the form of e-mails from Evan:

 

And samples came, and samples were happily ridden, in Ashland, by Riddle:

And that's the Story of the Riddler, named after the nicest guy in the biz, Nathan Riddle - from racing alongside friends, to talk of tires, to direct feedback to Evan Smith, our product design engineer, to tires to Riddle, dirt tested, shred approved.

So enjoy the Riddler 2.4, like Nathan, it sure is fast.  And guess what, it's available now.

Jay P Closing in on Arizona Trail Race Home Stretch

10 April, 2015

WTB athlete Jay Petervary is currently hiking across the Grand Canyon, his bike disassembled and strapped to his back, on the home stretch of the 2015 Arizona Trail Race starting at the Arizona / Mexico border and ending at the Arizona / Utah border.  This is just 3 weeks after Jay P won the Iditarod Trail Invitational in an awesome finish with Jeff Oatley.  You can read about it HERE.  Jay P went from -40 degree temps in Alaska aboard a fatbike trying to avoid freezing, to dealing with tyrannical Arizona hike-a-bikes over scraggly remnants of trail riddled with thorns and cacti.  Here's a quick sampling of the flora from Jay P's Facebook:

Whole lotta thorns...

This race has been quite a showdown too.  Aaron Denberg and Jay P were neck and neck seemingly well ahead of others until recently as Jay P pulled ahead and Denberg has reportedly gotten some much needed rest and food.  Now, Dylan Taylor of Bozeman, MT is just entering the Grand Canyon as Jay P hikes his way out.  These guys are nuts.  The Arizona Trail Race 750 is a single-stage, unsupported bikepacking race following the grueling, draining, and demanding Arizona Trail.  Trackleaders kindly posts and follows the racers' locator beacons, monitoring and constantly updating their movements.  No outside support is allowed and many push through on little to no sleep.  A 300 mile option also beckons racers to the brink.  Last year, Salsa rider and Prescott geology professor (who teaches a course titled "Geology through Bikepacking") Kurt Refsnider reset the 300 record in fewer than 48 hours at 1 day, 21 hours and 7 minutes.  Kurt also holds the AZT 750 mile record at 7 days, 6 hours and 35 minutes.

These people are crazy.  And awesome.  Really awesome.

So, peep http://trackleaders.com/aztr15 and watch a momentous finish of herculean efforts and tonight when you're restless, awake in bed trying to fall asleep, just think, all those racers are still out there, still racing, probably not sleeping.

Here's to the beasts and heroes of bikepacking, long live the Arizona Trail Race.

Check out more about the Arizona Trail Race HERE.

WTB Unveils Minus Sized Tires, Undersized Overdelivered Performance

01 April, 2015

Contact: Det. John Kimble

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GUADALAJARA, MEXICO – April 1, 2015 – WTB unveiled a comprehensive line of minus sized tires during day one of the month of April. Minus sized tires combine the traditional overall diameters of standard sized tires with non-traditional, narrower widths, fitting within the dropouts of existing bicycles in the market without the need for proprietary or custom modifications.

“Minus is more,” stated Willy Loman, WTB’s former top outside salesman. “It proves that with less, you really can do more. Why lug around extra grams when you can have the same overall diameter at a lower rotational weight? This means the same rollover characteristics available in a more sprightly package, ensuring faster Strava times.” 

You said Schralpability twice... I like Schralpability.

Though the industry seems in a state of flux as to what width minus will collectively settle on, most tire manufactures are following suit in the 29 x 1.0 to 1.15 range.

“The math actually works,” stated Holden Caulfield, WTB’s chief cynic. “Believe it or not, a 29 x 1.0” is the same overall diameter as a 27.5 x 2.5” but go any lower than a 1.0 and you run the risk of entering non-ETRTO compliance and unsanctioned usage. Due to the undersized nature of this emerging category, rather than overall diameter, we are now referring to it as underall diameter,” furthered Caulfield. “Remember,” cautioned Caulfield, “two minuses make a plus.”

High levels of Weight, Boring Factor, and what is referred to as the wuss out Factor are observed in normal tires.

“This poses a remarkable opportunity to frame builders and OEM brands,” stated Alotta Unitz, WTB’s European OEM sales manager. “Your quiver killer has arrived. Where else can you get pitted through seven stages of Enduro then throw on some bike bags, rando your way to a hashtag moment? We’re at a point of carbon fiber and suspension where bikes are light and efficient enough that yesterday’s EWS winner is today’s #adventurelifestyle selfie star. It’s limitless really. Spec our tires, it’ll change your life.”

By contrast, Minus Sized tires show markedly higher levels of Endurability, Schralpability, the Send It Factor, and whatever Legends of Gnar Gnarnia signifies.

WTB Minus Sized tires will be available in three tread patterns. The LaserDyno combines heritage with new school design, blending decreased rolling resistance with enhanced cornering through a bald tread pattern. The Pitted-o-Saur, designed primarily for Enduro usage, features regressive side knobs and is intended for you know, the type of riding we all do. Details are scarce on the third tread pattern, thought to be named the #Mysterious, though referred to by others as the WolverHampton and though WTB representatives have been tightlipped about its application, those that, know, and revel in obscurity, have proclaimed it to be a randonneuring tire. WTB Minus Sized tires are projected to arrive on the 12th of Never with a MSRP of A.Q.

 About TCS

WTB’s proprietary sealant tubeless system, TCS (Tubeless Compatible System,) revolutionized rims and tires in 2009 when combining ETRTO, ISO, and UST standards with light tubeless rotational weights. Never before had a standards-based tubeless system weighed so little. Certified as the first sealant-based tires for the UST system in 2012 by Mavic, TCS continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible through purpose-built tires and rims tailor-made for every discipline of cycling. Learn more about what’s possible at wtb.com/tcs

About WTB

 Founded in 1982, WTB was formed in the birthplace of mountain biking to design better bicycle products. Renowned for saddles, tires, rims, and grips, this rider-driven company continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible through an unrelenting spirit of innovation and passion for two-wheeled adventure.

www.wtb.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursdays: 96 Mountain Bike Germany New Paradigm Hubs Review

26 March, 2015

1996 in Germany must have been amazing, I find nothing but stoke gracing the covers of magazine clippings we have dating back to then.  Perhaps the long sleeve adorned rider was particularly enthused because mountain biking was to become an official olympic sport in 1996 in Atlanta - remember?  Paola Pezzo won it for the women, Bart Brentjens (not to be confused with Bart Taylor) won it for the dudes.  However, he (airborne man) is most likely invigorated because this issue featured New Paradigm hubs, which would put a smile on the face of any yellow turtle neck wearer.

Google tells me the German bold caption beneath the hubs says "in from outside greasable hubs allowing excising of dirty lube through use of the grease gun every ride."  Great, I'll take 'em.

They were an international success because they internationally ruled.  The idea made sense regardless of what country or severe weather they were subjected to - grease was purged, kind of like a modern day cleanse - that is what cleanses are right?  A lot of time ridding oneself of supposed unpleasantries?  Anyway, Grease Guard® ruled, Germany knew it too.  

Then again, the air aficionado on the cover could always be stoked because he's skying above wording that among other things lists, "GT Thermoplast," un hunh, again.

 

The Story of the Trailblazer

15 March, 2015

How it went from this:

From: Mark Slate
Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2013 12:36 PM
To: Mark Slate
Subject: B+

Hey,

...the idea that we could do things that have not been done before. Looking back I think that our greatest successes and our notoriety comes from being different...

...Your response is required. If I do not hear from you before the end of next week I will hunt you down....

To this:

 

In order to tell the tale, we actually have to go back further than the October 2013 e-mail from Mark Slate to WTB Staff letting them know he'd hunt them down if they didn't honestly respond to him.  We have to go back to this:

What is this?  This is Wes Williams' Mountie 28" with WTB NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tires on it, outside of Wes' shop in Crested Butte, Colorado in April of 1999.  Why do we need to go back to this?  Because Wes Williams was instrumental in the creation of the first 29" tire, the WTB NanoRaptor, and in 1998, Wes Williams didn't have e-mail.  Bob Poor had e-mail.  Bob Poor was in Crested Butte.  Bob Poor was the direct line of communication between Wes and WTB and was also instrumental in the tire's creation.

Bob Poor and Mark Slate are creative, independent thinkers.  I remember meeting Bob Poor at Interbike 2013 - he had kindly helped me work on a 29" history project I'd been tasked with leading up to Interbike and in return I'd secured him a VIP pass for Interbike.  I was at Outdoor Demo, preaching the merits of our product, it was hot, dusty, I may or may not have already been frumpy.  I got a tap on the shoulder.  I turned around to see a rugged man attired in a broad smile.  He offered smoked salmon.  Good smoked salmon.  Salmon he'd caught on his boat in Alaska.  That was Bob Poor.

Bob had real ideas.  He was seeing the rising popularity of 650b/27.5" and he also saw how much attention fat bikes were getting.  After Interbike, Bob visited Mark at his house.  They thought a lot, talked a lot, looked at and created drawings, and settled on 2.8" being the fattest 27.5" tire that would fit within most 29" bicycle stays.

WTB employees debated the pros and cons over rides, while jockeying for position in our sized for one (large coffeemaker that is) kitchenette, and, of course voted in favor.

Before we knew it, Interbike was upon us again and Kris Henry of 44 Bikes welded a beautiful steel frame showing the tire in all its glory, not to mention absolutely impeccable welds.  That is a standard 29" fork by the way, plenty of clearance, Bob and Mark's time was well spent:

 

And of course, being the outdoor kids we are, we promptly had to go shred trail, camp out, and shred more trail upon return in Marin.  Jeremy Rozen, rad rider that he is, kindly showed us how to put the big tires to good use:

And of course we camped out:

And when it came time for iF Design's Taipei Cycle Awards, we knew we had more than we needed, a tire that transformed the ride while working within existing standardization.  A tire that takes you out there and was developed in a very WTB way - listening to our extended WTB family, rethinking enhancing the rider's experience within standardization, then voting together on it, and finally being fortunate enough to be recognized for it, for being a Trailblazer, through iF Design's Taipei Cycle d&i Awards for WTB Trailblazer tire and WTB 27.5+ System.  So, grab your bike, slap on some Trailblazer tires, and get out there:

 

Throwback Thursdays: 1999 WTB Ti 29" Interbike Display Bike

12 March, 2015

Dave Locke's Wilderness Trail Bikes 1999 Ti 29" bike in the same configuration as it was when shown at Interbike in 1999 when WTB first showed the NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tire, the first ever 29" tire.  A special thank you to Nate Woodman of Monkey Wrench Cycles for rounding up the photo.

Yes, this is the very bike that was displayed at Interbike of 1999, proudly showcasing WTB's NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tire, the first 29" mountain bike tire.  Below you can read the fourth draft that Mark Slate wrote to accompany the bike at the 1999 booth - in reading the draft, one can immediately understand that WTB was fully committed to 29":

To see more detail photos, as well as the owner's story of the bike, cruise over to fiveandaquarter.blogspot.com HERE

 

NAHBS - New Fat Chance & WTB Ci24 Carbon Sneak Peek

06 March, 2015

What better way to show something new and drool worthy than when two historic, deeply rooted brands steeped in mountain bike history come together with... something RAD.

Fat Chance is back, full force with all modern luxuries and requests, courtesy of extensive polling of loyal fans, and... lurking beneath that beautiful steel frame oozing class... is...

The first official glimpse of WTB's brand spanking new Ci24 Carbon Rim.

Yes, mounted to those also lovely White Industries hubs is a carbon shark, lurking in sheer beauty.  Auburn Bike Company prepped and assembled these virgins, sworn to secrecy, building with the utmost of care, that extra touch they are famous for.

No, I cannot divulge the details.

Yes, I can tell you where to peep 'em.  Go to NAHBS.  Yes, book a flight.  NOW.  Go to booth #504 and allow your eyes to melt with wonder over beautiful bikes and beautiful rims.

Then... wait for the official Ci24 launch at Taipei Show, March 18th for all additional splendid details.

Throwback Thursdays: More 1993 Derby Shots

26 February, 2015

The 93 Derby shoot was a chance to get all WTB friends, family, racers, and employees together to do one massive photo shoot.  Hipsters on Instagram today refer to this as their past weekend.  This was a big deal for WTB and many beautiful black and white shots were had, many of which seem to keep resurfacing as I sift though tangles of historic archives here.  In the shot above, you can see that in 93, apparently helmets were optional.  You can also see that the helmet on the right, yes, that one that looks like a Rhode Gear but isn't, I am pretty sure that stunner is the original Giro then re-released as an urban helmet with overwhelming popularity in San Francisco.  I say pretty sure because I'm probably wrong.  In the photo below, you can see the famous Mark Weir scowl in a time... before Mark Weir.

You can also see the future in some of these photos.  Nope, I'm not saying tube socks will come back in the future but hey.... wait a sec...  No, I'm talking about the photo below:

Photos like this one put it all in perspective why Mark Slate fearlessly created the first 29" mountain bike tire, the WTB NanoRaptor in 1999.  In 1993, above, he was clearly on a wheel size that was too small for him.  Also from the future, look at the dude on the right.  He's wearing at least one knee pad and has a handlebar bag - talk about predicting trends, whew, enduro and bikepacking all in one visored package.

Here's to more group shindigs.

 

Liv Allride Shreds to a Riding Mecca Near You

23 February, 2015

Angi from Kona shows onlookers how it's done. Anybody who knows Angi, knows she sure can shred.

2015 marks a shredfest for the Liv Ladies AllRide Tour powered by SRAM.  From the wooden berms of Ray's Indoor to the serene singletrack of Ellijay Geogia, there's nothing but smiles for all styles.  The inspirational skills clinics will leave no potential ripper behind targeting local trail alliances, women's groups, high schools, colleges, and even destination resorts - yes, no place to hide for the aspiring shredder.

"And this... is how you do a suicide no-hander.  Yep, that easy," must be the bestowed know how in this session.  All levels welcome, all have a good time.

The Liv Ladies AllRide Tour will also be partnering up with Bend, OR based Grit Clinics to ensure equal coverage nationwide - yes, wireless carriers wake up, the Ladies AllRide Tour has figured out effective nationwide coverage.  Think of a place you'd want to ride, correct, anywhere, and chances are the Liv Ladies AllRide Tour will be coming through:

March
12-15   Ray’s Indoor Women’s Weekend - Milwaukee, WI
April
10-13    Mulberry Gap Get-a-Way - Georgia
16-19    Sea Otter Classic – Gold Rusch Tour - Monterey, CA
May
9-10      Grit Clinics - Austin, TX*
30-31    Cog Wild Women’s Skills Weekend - Bend, OR
June
6-7       Little Big Event/Clinic - Truckee Bike Park
13-14  
Private Women's Club - Bend, OR
20-21   Bellingham, WA
27-28   Grit Clinics - Bend, OR*
July
4-5       Panorama Resort - Invemere, BC
11-12   Cog Wild Women’s Skills Weekend - Bend, OR
18-19   Snowshoe, WV women’s weekend
25-26   Copper Harbor, MI women’s weekend
August
1-2       Grit Clinics - Spirit Mountain - Duluth, MN*
12-16   Crankworx - Gold Rusch Tour Free Clinics!! - Whistler, BC
22-23   Retallack 3-day backcountry experience weekend (near Nelson, BC)
September
5-7       Cog Wild McKenzie River Women's Skills Retreat - OR
12-13   Grit Clinics - Wildflower INN - Kingdom Trails Vermont*
19-20   Grit Clinics - Bike Farm - Pisgah, NC*
26-27   Grand Targhee Resort, WY

Yes, that certainly seems to cover it.  Anybody notice that Retallack 3-day backcountry experience?  Unh hunh, very intriguing:

Photo coutesy: ladiesallride.com

And, you can be a dude and do the Retallack one too - Kirt will be instructing along with Lindsey, splitting the group up.  This trip even includes an optional heli drop - send it up and send it down too, for an additional, though of course totally worth it, fee.  Check out more on the Retallack trip HERE.

So here's to Lindsey Voreis and all kind, generous, and thoughtful coaches that are part of this year's Liv Ladies AllRide Tour powered by SRAM.  May more women find their love of mountain biking through the positive, inspirational efforts and guidance of this amazing tour, coming to a shredding mecca near you, this lovely 2015.

 

 

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