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Axialfest 2016: It's Okay to Leave Your Bike at Home

15 August, 2016

Over a mile.

If you were to stack up all the rechargeable battery packs that were depleted throughout the glorious weekend of Axialfest 2016, the impressive monument would be over a mile high. To put it into perspective, that's more than three Empire State Buildings balanced on top of each other...equating to over 16,000,000 mAh of energy! Nowhere else in the world is the amount of nerding so highly concentrated for a single weekend of scale RC crawling. 

Scale crawlers of one-of-a-kind uniqueness are flown in from all over the world as their drivers attempt to navigate the seemingly endless trails and obstacles amongst a community of likeminded others. Though there was a record-breaking 1200 participants this year, it's apparent that many were repeat offenders of the Axialfest experience, as getting to the trail often involved stopping by a few camps to visit with trail comrade from previous years. Crawling before breakfast, crawling through brunch, crawling through the midday heat, crawling past sunset, crawling with scale-size headlights leading the way. It's a weekend of the usual camping activities, except stories are shared on the trail rather than at a campfire. Trash talk is guaranteed if you try to take the easy line, but you won't receive too much heckling for flipping your truck on a challenging route. 

Mark Weir...you're familiar with him crushing unforgiving descents with understated finesse and obliterate unsuspecting corners while also establishing himself as an animal when the trail points back up, but have you seen him do this:

It's quite the spectacle. Not only due to its contrast from his two-wheel limelight, but primary because those who witness it are unsure if he possess more skill on two wheels or four. Think there can't be vast differences in skill level when it comes to wheeling a scale crawler through the woods? The difference is astonishing.

The standard weekend banter of mountain bike discourse is replaced with terms and jokes of man-toy obsession. Dialing in pressures on our mountain bike tires was replaced with venting RC tires. Chain lube is left at home, though we're sure to hit the course with the proper weight of silicone oil in our shocks. Anodized headsets may be making a comeback, but have you seen anodized steering linkage?

Let's talk about crossover. The elephant in room...why are so many mountain bikers now standing stationary, as a motorized vessel has all the fun? They simply mesh with each other too damn well. First of all, we as mountain bikers spend countless hours exerting ourselves all in the name of enjoyment, often to the point of cracking. The slow pace of RC crawling at the end of a long day, or week, of riding can be quite the relaxing contrast. Legs are spent, back is feeling it and feet are happy to be cozy in sneakers. And of course, we hope it never happens, but testing and pushing our abilities on two wheels will periodically leave us laid up for a period of mending. Unable to get out and pedal, it ain't all that bad spending the period of recovery out in the sun with a group of buddies. 

MY TURN!

MY TURN!

Second, it's fair to say that mountain bikers tend to be gear-focused. We're techy. We geek out on our bikes, whether it be reading magazines, donning our whips with personalized bling, custom tuning our suspension, or making sure our valve stems match our grips. RC crawlers are simply another outlet for allowing the inner geekiness to show. 

Axialfest is a production...providing far more than simply a place in the woods for likeminded folks to get together. Numerous members of the Axial Racing crew spend weeks leading up to the event making sure that everything is up to snuff. Six trails, each with a 150 markers, create a massive network of crawling that is difficult to conquer in a weekend. Here's a taste of all the scale creations that exist for a single weekend of the year:

Ron Koch, tech editor at Bicycling Magazine, left the bike at home and joined us for the spectacle as well. Nice hat, Ron. That's him dual wielding a beer and remote on day one. Scale traffic jams provide scale frustrations. That's when conversations regarding crawler modifications and techniques come into play. 

All the speak of nerding is in good taste...as I'm one of them:

Team Semper Fi Mountain Bike Camp at the Novato Ranch

20 May, 2016

WTB. The Semper Fi Fund. The private ranch in Novato, California. 16 service members. WTB/Cannondale OverMountain Team athletes Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler. 2 days of rain. 1 day of sun. 

It all came together to create a rowdy weekend of perfect dirt, seemingly endless shuttle laps, high-speed descents and a level of camaraderie that made it impossible to end each day without a smile. The service members who protect and serve our country have done so much for all Americans, while many of us are often unaware of all they've had to endure in the process. While no amount of thank yous will ever be enough, WTB partnered with the Semper Fi Fund to help create an unforgettable experience for a group of service members who have used their love for mountain biking to aid in their ongoing recovery from a life of service, both mentally and physically. 

 

Semper Fi Mountain Bike Camp from WTB on Vimeo.

Photo: Ken Viale

 

Even the service dogs, such as Sequoya here, had a blast. Photo: Ken Viale

 

Photo: Ken Viale

These guys have been riding bikes with each other for years. They’ve known each other since Mark was wearing Lyrca and Jason didn’t have any of his four Downieville Classic All-Mountain titles. The number of miles they’ve logged and hours of demoralizing climbs they’ve conquered together are beyond anything reasonable. Times may have changed in the sense that they’ve left race tape behind and are both fathers of rambunctious young boys, but their ability to tear down a trail has not diminished in the slightest. The combination of their different skills and riding styles provided well-rounded skills clinics where the service members could learn technique at the top of each lap and then immediately put it into application on the descent.

Photo: Ken Viale

Jason explains how to ride an off-camber section of trail by pointing out the angle of the trail and emphasizing where to keep your weight. Verbally, he explains what riders are going to encounter and how to handle it. Some would say he takes the preventative approach to riding where he keep everything tight and under control.

“I’ve taught mountain bike skills to a lot of people over the years but it was incredible to see how much better and how much more confident the servicemen were from start to finish in such a short period of time,” Moeschler explained. He added that having the support from their friends and the people who worked to put the whole event together helped to convey the normal every-day scene that he and Weir love so much. “I was honored to be able to share it with them. It’s our little slice of heaven that we wouldn’t have without their bravery.”

Photo: Ken Viale

Mark takes the experiential and visual approach. He wants riders to get a feel for what he’s talking about. “Keep your tire on the high side of the trail, hold your line like this and trust your side knobs. Here we go…” Equal amounts of finesse and manhandling meet each other every time Mark touches a bike and it’s apparent in his instruction. 

“I’ve spent my entire life racing, which is a fairly vain way of going about things in comparison to what these guys have done,” says Weir. “It’s my turn to give back to each of these service members and the least I can do is provide them with a weekend of rowdy trails and good times. I can’t thank these guys enough for the sacrifices they’ve made for all of us and hopefully this is only the start of something much bigger.”

Trails don't get faster than this brake-free, fully-committed line down the steepest grassy pitch we've ever seen. Photo: Ken Viale

See those nearly unnoticeable rollers wrapping the grassy knob? The rowdy speed through this pinned section turns those little rollers into 20-foot senders for those who are willing and able to commit. For the rest of us, it still provides a rare experience to see hundreds of feet in front of us with no obstacles. Photo: Ken Viale

Shuttle laps were put on repeat...

Photo: Ken Viale

Again and again...

Photo: Ken Viale

Six professional athletes and six of the service members...all waiting for the photo to be over and the sendage to ensue. Well worth the wait. Photo: Ken Viale

It took us a few days to find out the secret behind Jon Disbro's skills on these trails, which often eat people up. Turns out, he lives only a few hours away and spends his days riding the trails around Reno and Tahoe. Not a bad region to put your practice laps in.

That saddle's got AMERICA printed all over it! Photo: Ken Viale

Each of the service members were handed their own limited edition WTB Volt Team saddle on the first day of the event, featuring a star spangled design of red, white and blue. For the remainder of the weekend, flashes of the patriotic colors were seen ripping down the trails of the Novato ranch. Through this saddle, the service members were able to return home from the event with not only the memories of the weekend, but also a tangible reminder of our appreciation for each of them.

Outside of this small batch, WTB will also be doing a limited production run of the Volt Team saddle. It will be available for purchase on the WTB website late this summer and a portion of the proceeds from the saddle sales will be given to the Semper Fi Fund to help support future opportunities to allow recovering service members to experience the activities they love.

Ryan Beamish installed his saddle with haste and treated it with the same love he would anything that bears the stars and stripes. 

Pedaling is great, but the ranch is steep. Painfully steep. There were four flavors of shuttle experience. 1. The Everyday Ride: Jason Moeschler’s pickup brought everybody to the top in the tried-and-true mule for mountain bikes, the Tacoma. 2. The Backwoods Whip: Graciously provided by the Sanchez family, organizers of The Dirty Sanchez Enduro, riders could reach the top slightly more roughed up, but with a bit of extra grit for the descent. 3. The Dream Truck: Fox brought one of their Ford Raptors out, for anybody looking/willing to reach the top at highway speeds. 4. The Comfy Couch: Mark Weir’s Old Blue may not go any faster when he lays on the gas, but it sure as hell gets louder. Photo: Ken Viale

Jorge Arreola jumped on a Cannondale Scalpel the first hour of the weekend and never looked back. With the rest of the crew on Jekylls and Triggers, he chose the pedal-friendly option, but never let up on the descents. On the end of the third day, he was asked if he wanted to do another lap. “Of course!” he responded with a puzzled look, as if it were a question with an obvious answer. Photo: Jeremiah Newman

Daniel "Danimal" Riley examplifies why there are no valid excuses for not getting out there and doing what you love. Faster than many of us on two wheels, he always refuses to take the easy line. Photo: Jeremiah Newman

Would you put your life in the hands of Mark Weir on a dual slalom course? Normally we’d be terrified to hear somebody say their leg fell off somewhere along the way. Only Daniel would be able to following it up with a hearty laugh and toothy smile.

How did we make it happen? Duct tape….camo duct tape.

Ryan Beamish is a Marine who now makes it rain...torrential downpours...of dirt that dreams are made of. Photo: Ken Viale

Not only does he have the ability to keep up with the pros on the trail, but he also has an artistic side that makes repurposed saguaro cactus sculptures out of bike parts. Check out some of his creations here

Mark Weir rides at a speed that leaves you constantly wondering when he’s going to merely tap the brakes. Here he demonstrates the “Brakes are for sissies…dirt drifts keep the speed down.” Free dirt showers for all spectators. It's still up for debate whether him or Ryan had the better drift. Photo: Ken Viale

Events sponsored by WTB have become synonymous with muddy, greasy conditions. We’ll take it though. One day of sun and two days of rain gave the riders two different riding experiences at a single riding location. WTB Vigilante tires were run, both front and rear, to keep the traction dependable and the mud flying. Photo: Jeremiah Newman

"Fez" Christopher may be the only guy we know rocking 20" tires, but he does it so damn well that it's hard to argue it! Photo: Jeremiah Newman

Mark and Jason headed the skills clinics with the service members, but there was plenty of other elite talent out there as well. We can only assume Aaron Bradford, professional racer for Evil Bikes, is giving some “Grip it, rip it…then send it” advice. Photo: Ken Viale
 
Jaime Sigala’s only known facial expression is one of a massive smile. Full of stories and always willing to share, he’s quick to become friends with anybody, and everybody he encounters. After decades of service, he retires this November and is contemplating building a van conversion to travel the country in. Mark Weir finally found somebody who can match his level of stoke! Photo: Ken Viale
 
Oh yeah, Jaime also made the dual slalom course look simple. But that apparently wasn’t enough, because he was also the first at the ranch after the pedal back from the Stafford Lake Bike Park.

Jaime reppin' the W. Side note: Jaime pedalled from San Fransisco to Los Angeles...two weeks after getting his first bike. No big deal!

Axial Racing provided a handful of RC scale crawlers for the Service Members to crawl around with in between shuttle laps. Even with exclusive access to elite level trails, it was often hard to pry them away from the crawlers! Photo: Ken Viale

Can you blame them? The Axial crawlers even evolved into snack trucks that delivered Hi-Ball energy drinks and Red Vines to riders as they rested. 

Photo: Ken Viale

Eugene Power (far left) was generous enough to have the entire camp at his house, two nights in a row, for incredible dinners, a welcoming environment and campfire conversations that led from one story to the next. Thank you, Eugene. Photo: Ken Viale

Many hours we spent around this campfire as we knew a big day was ahead of us, but didn't want to leave the circle of great people and conversation. Again, thank you Eugene, for welcoming us to your home. Photo: Ken Viale

Check out this video, made by OTR Media, for a further look at what went down at the Team Semper Fi Mountain Bike Camp.

Semper Fi Mountain Bike Camp from WTB on Vimeo.

 

 

TI, or, Trans I.O.U. Some Deep Respect

04 May, 2016

It lies just beyond the horizon, an ever gaining black mass of inevitability, creeping forcibly forward, strengthening and unrelentingly unavoidable.  It's that thing that if your mind wanders momentarily, it pangs with the shuttering stillness of halting and sobering reality.

It's coming.

And there's nothing I can do about it.

Is what seemed to happen to me as the calendar ticked off February, March, then April.  Game time.

Trans Iowa is a swallow you whole event.  Overwhelming is an understatement.  340 miles of self-supported pedaling to be accomplished in 34 hours on rural dirt roads.  No outside support of any kind.  No GPS.  No hitchhiking.  No shortcutting.  No worries.

At mile 163 a rider debates whether continuing onward is worth it.

It's the type of thing that when you toss the idea about, 9 or 10 months in advance from the safety of your home in some far away place, it really sounds like somebody just turned the awesome challenge amplifier up to 11.  Really?  No GPS?  Nobody to help you?  How do you know where to go?  How do you bring enough food with you?

 You don't actually know where to go 'til you're there, in, like, such as, the Iowa.

You get cue sheets, that look just like these guys here:

And, as you can see, they are highly detailed, down to the hundredths of a decimal place.  Plus, there are crossings marked, even things in CAPS telling you to WAKE UP, DANGER!  Somebody is looking out for you... who might this somebody be?

Mark Stevenson, known to many as Guitar Ted, is Trans Iowa's race director.  No, he's not even technically looking out for you as this is 100% self-supported and people enter entirely at their own foolish risk and peril, but boy, you will not find somebody worrying more over you having all the tools necessary to properly attempt this monster, nor painstakingly walking through every last inch of it time and time and time again.  Every year it is an entirely new course that is devised to give nobody an unfair advantage, every year it is scouted, mapped then mapped again.  Even the day of the Pre-Race Meat-Up, the very night before the race began at 4am, he'd been out meticulously checking off the first 75 miles despite having thoroughly completed a full recon and mileage confirmation the Saturday before the race.  It is as though nothing, including perfection itself, is good enough for Mr. Stevenson.  His heart, soul, and being are poured into Trans Iowa, it brims over the fill line with undeniable care.  Real deal care.

 
No, you don't have to cook meat, yes, there are vegetarian and other options. Getting up to grill is intentional - mixes people about, evokes pleasant banter, washes away pre-race jitters.

And that brings us to the Pre-Race Meat-Up, hyphens and all.  Right about at the next oh no, this is really happening moment, just hours prior to departure is an absolutely mandatory rendezvous.  Miss this, you've already missed the race, let alone the first 53 miles' worth of cue cards.  But rather than what I envisioned for an event so monstrous - creaking heavy door, blackness, lightning somehow striking within, eery music, possibly a singing saw, and it somehow raining - rather than all that, you meet the volunteers.

Each number plate is personalized by race director Guitar Ted, how's that for an incentive to finish?  First there were many, then there were none. Then there were also Legos.  Legos are sweet.

People like Mike Johnson seen to left there, George Keslin finding the number plate, and cut off way right, Wally Kilburg.  All of the volunteers love this race, have raced it, and those who haven't undeniably believe in it and believe in Guitar Ted.  You immediately feel it, not suffocating, just a hanging respect in the air, an appreciation and thankfulness in the event's existence that's both embracing and uplifting.

 Race director Mark Stevenson (L) and volunteer Tony McGrane (R) watch the leaders pass Check Point 1.

 Wally Kilburg, whose beautiful images grace this rambling, and yes you should check out his lovely photography - I am being sincere and plugging here, it is possible - Wally mentioned that the feeling is still the same now after his seventh Trans Iowa captured as his first.  Trans Iowa, you've not lost that lovin' feelin.  Real.  It is so real.

I'd be content ending the post right here - the sincerity, heartfelt devotion to the event, and ceaselessly perfected format is standalone worthy - beyond that, it's one and only - with one and only people, not to mention organizer, and the post need focus on it.

But, rapper or not, it's flip the script time.  And this emcee got shamed at the rap battle and it's time to hear the tale, blow by blow, real time.

Race time.  Lights, shuffling, affixing, loved ones, gear futzing, pre-regret, darkness at 4am.  Then you're off.

The bunch somehow thins and you find some sort of rhythm, having kinda sorta come to terms with things.

Light hits the sky and it almost feels like a ride, seeing things, though the twist and turns follow the leader to somewhere style, and no physical understanding of where, is perplexing.  Check Point 1, the first timed hurdle at 53 miles passes with new cue cards and a sigh of relief.

 

 

It gets hotter and whoever said the Midwest is flat is a stone cold liar.  I've had a family-sized junk food feast (you mean I get to ride AND eat Twinkies - where do I sign?) at our first convenience store passing.  This convenience store thing is nice.  Quite nice.  These abruptly undulating hills do not quit and I'm debating my layering misunderstanding while inviting myself alongside Warran Wiebe, Jim Cummins, and Scott O'Mara.  It's a pretty good sign when the cofounder of the famed Dirty Kanza race does this one time and time again only about a month away from his own event.

 Native Iowans, in a similar fashion to the fabled hyperbolic 5,000 Inuit words for snow, have equally as many names for the finer subtleties of gravel.  This one, Suhke-soh-Hrrdhe, pronounced "Suck-So-Hard" means the start of sand.  I am trying to be funny.  It is not funny.  The beginnings of sand at the wane of patience were just that, the beginnings of sand at the wane of patience.

 

This one - Soop-ha-Suhhke - I'll spare you.  Yep, real sand did, soopa suck.  Real wind also makes the crunchy frumpy bumpy dumpy getting to Check Point 2, at 160 miles in, totally awesome.

At Check Point 2, I saw awesome volunteers and flopped to eat a King Size Snickers.  King Size Shamelessness is the name of this game.  I glanced left, a familiar sound interrupted my wolfing.  The metalic snap of a lancet device and what appeared to be a blood glucose meter.  The ensuing conversation went like this:

Hey, you're a diabetic

No response.

Hey, that's awesome.

Nope, it's real sh*tty.

He didn't even look up.  I know that one.  It's like when people try talking to you 300 miles into a 500 mile bikepack.

No man, I mean, it's real awesome that you're out here, like this, a diabetic and this you know

 Nope, it's still real shit*y

The man had a point.  And he was over.it.dot.com

I know man, I've got like 30 GUs or something strapped to my handlebars.  Way too much shirt to bring.  Only I didn't say shirt.

He was unwrapping an overly large seat bag.  Like a big big bikepacking one.  The kind that even I'm a little embarrassed to be seen with based on its heft.

I've got four insulin pumps.  Count 'em.  Four.  One already failed on me today.

Then we got to bitching about insulin pumps.  He disuaded me of his, I disuaded him of mine, he posed another option he planned to switch to, I gladly pronounced why it sucked.  We had a real nice thing going.

Then his riding partner came, even more overitdot.com, and they communicated in a way that only people that have ridden solely together for 160+ miles since 4am can understand and then pedaled off.  I had no idea what was said.

That's a real shame, they're gonna call it at the next stop  said a kind volunteer.

 The sun goes down and that's when you feel like an idiot. People are barbecuing. They might even be on their second, perhaps third beer.  You are pedaling - and for what?

I caught up with them at the next convenience store.  They were doing that thing that's never good, calculating and forecasting what it was gonna be like and moving quickly but not in a happy about it manner.  I heard talk of wind.  Somehow the volunteers were there again.  I asked several mommy, where does gravel come from type questions.  Enough that even the volunteers left.  I kept eating fried chicken.

First place finishers Greg Gleason and Walter Zitz triumphed the B-road in daylight.  Not place finisher Yours Truly cowered past it sometime near 1 am.

 And then I saw it.  Ho-lee-mole-eee-mo-lee-mole-eee-eee.  The famed B-road.  Many of us fake west coasters had heard about, talked about it, perhaps even shamelessly written about it, B-road pursuits I think is the preferred coining - but there, infront of my eyes, was, a real, life, B-level maintence road.  Such a boring name, so much excitement.  It was kind of like a west coast singletrack, only a crapped out fireroad.  And it was terrifying.  Pitch black, I thought a million mountain lions were snarling atop the ledges that weren't there, breath penetrating the not cold enough to see your breath warm air.  The B-road went up, the B-road went down, I didn't get eaten.  Success.

I'm out of nighttime photos so this one of Salsa athlete Greg Gleason, in front of kind volunteer, driver, and good guy George Keslin, will have to do for timeline.

And somewhere either an hour before or after the B-road of enlightenment I came across a tractor.  Everything was black and seemingly still but the tractor's lights pierced through the darkness, methodically turning the corner of a field, tilling at far too late of an hour.  I could hear the metallic clicking of the plow, digging and bouncing over the earth above the repetitive din of the song I'd heard at least 4 times by now on shuffle.

I've come across this before, but I thought back to a moment when I was maybe 6 years old where I wondered what I'd be like when I was older.  Would I like, get one of those icky girlfriends or something?  Would I have glasses?  I thought about that kid seeing me now passing a post midnight metallic clinking tractor of evil in a field of Iowa while riding a bike for a near inexplicable reason.  That kid would think I was completely crazy.  He'd probably be barbecuing by now, on his second or third beer perhaps.

And at right about the same time I called it quits, Greg Gleason and Walter Zitz crossed the finish line.  They even held hands to ensure they crossed at the same time having ridden together so long neck and neck.  Who does that when they're a mere minute off a sub 24 hour Trans Iowa 340 mile finish?  Only in an event like this, with care like this, do winners ensure there's no first and second place.  I'm still floored by this.

And Sarah Cooper took fifth place overall, first place women's finisher, hardly behind those two.  You can read her properly crafted account of this race HERE

In a gesture of true gravel chivalry, Greg Gleason insisted Walter Zitz, his co-finishing companion, be given the Riddler 45 winning tires.  The pair of 37s went, rightfully so, to Sarah Cooper.

And WTB is incredibly fortunate.  As if just being somehow associated with Trans Iowa were not enough, we were too lucky to give the first place men's and women's finishers a set of the new Riddler 37 and 45 tires, we really could not be more thankful to give these tires to such worthy riders.  We did everything we could to get every finisher a pair, but sometimes it just isn't possible and for now, the fastest woman and man of Trans Iowa get a pair of handmade Riddler 37 and 45 tires while we wait for the production order to hit inventory.  We really couldn't be luckier.  And Salsa rider Greg Gleason, mark my words, you will get your pair of Riddler 45s too, your generosity is just as mind blowing as this event.  WTB cannot be more thankful for Trans Iowa v12 - here is to more Trans Iowas, to all who make it happen with a big thank you to Guitar Ted.

Long live Trans Iowa

TDS 2016: The Buddy Newman Invitational

27 April, 2016

The Dirty Sanchez is an enduro race, sure, in the sense that number plates, pinner lines, stage wins and champagne showers could be considered the main events. However, you’d be making a tremendous mistake to consider it simply another stop on the seasonal race calendar. Coming at it with such an approach would result in your eco-friendly car stuck in the mud, your liver rightfully pissed off and a guaranteed shaming from Mark Weir’s ever-present whistle. It’s a one-of-a-kind gathering of athletes, families and spectators who have come together over the years/decades to form a grassroots mountain bike community that recognizes ripping trails as only a single piece of the lifestyle it has created. It’s fueled by a community that believes every section of pedaling requires an earful of heckling, that Vigilante can’t be ridden until the rain sets in, that good rides must come with good conversation and that such an experience is always better when everybody involved gives it their all.

When Mark "The Mustache" Weir gives the thumbs up on race day, you better have left all excuses at home. Sh*t's about to get Weird. Photo: Abner Kingman

How do you practice with an EWS World Champion hot on your back? You can take notes on Marco Osborne's line, but you have to be an animal to actually commit to it. Photo: Abner Kingman

Amy Morrison, WTB rider and supreme trail slayer, shows us how it's done through the first line of doubles on day one. Directions are as follows: First stage...send it. Then...return to sender for the next eleven stages.

 

 

Enduro Banana, nuff said! Photo: Abner Kingman

WTB rider, Nick van Egmond, straight off the plane from five months of Quebec winter. No time to shake out the cobwebs. Photo: Robert Lowe

There’s no doubt that being able to ride at the Sanchez ranch ensures one is a skilled rider who can dice their way through a plethora of rock gardens and technical corners. On the other hand, racing at the ranch solidifies an understanding that one is a top-shelf rider capable of handling edacious streams of jagged rock, while also having the legs to climb back up to the start of each stage. Racers begin prepping the night before, with mouthfuls of whiskey, a borderline excessive bonfire and midnight whips on the minibike track. Turns out…even after such nights, they still send it.

The many muddy, stoked faces of the TDS. Clockwise from top-left: Ben Cruz had to pull out of the race after stage 5 due to a wreck that would leave the rest of us much worse off. On the bright side, it enabled him to focus on his commitment to campfire banter. Iago Garay, claiming Spain as his homeland, came to the TDS direct from the Argentina EWS round where he claimed 13th place! Landing the 6th place spot at the TDS, we're certain he's smiling within the confines of his helmet. Ty Hathaway is a man of many skills, who is alleged to use special beard oils to repel the muck of the TDS. It seems to work. Joanna Petterson was seen rocking the opus of all mustaches. She's proof that harnessing the power of the stache is the only way to claim the top spot at the TDS multiple years in a row.

Nathan Riddle's method for success: Keep the WTB Warden mounted up all weekend, regardless of the weather. Keeping it consistent. Photo: Abner Kingman 

Ty Hathaway may or may not have used his shoulder in this one. When at the TDS, use whatever method works! Photo: Abner Kingman

Ol' Republic Brewery, another generous sponsor of the TDS, created a limited-run can for the event, which features both of Buddy Newman's Galaxy and Goggle Man designs. Who better to wrap the edges of the can than some of WTB's finest, Mark Weir and Jerome Clementz.

What would a pre-race party at the Ol' Republic Brewery, attended by hundreds of mountain bikers, be without a pixie bike race!? Photo: Abner Kingman

Aaron Bradford cranks out of a corner. Photo: Abner Kingman

The speed of Jerome Clementz needs no explanation, but it's the calculated style of his riding that make it incredible and awing to watch. Photo: Abner Kingman

The TDS and mud have become synonymous with one another. You simply can't have one without the other. When the rain sets in, it's time for the WTB Warden.

For his first year as a professional XC racer, Spencer "Wheelie King" Rathkamp decided to...race The Dirty Sanchez? Dayyyuuum! He may be found wearing Lycra most days of the week, but his stylish whips silence any possibility of trash talk. 14th overall...we're impressed. Photo: Brandon Biro 

It wouldn't be a TDS recap without highlighting some of the finest messes the racers could find themselves in. Let's get them all out of the way, in a single, off-camber, sloppy funnel of a corner. This guy seemed to know exactly what was about to happen...

Clockwise from top-left, some of our favorites are the: "Sweet embrace", "Vans slip-ons were a bad idea", "Head down, shoes up...I display the inverted moonwalk" and "Helmets streamers: do you even enduro?"

Some of our

Through proper teamwork, where no rider is left out of the fun, they were quickly joined by "I'm crawling home", "Push through those boundaries", "You get a tire! You get a tire!" and "Superman that corner!"

Coming in as hot as the rest, we have "I will never let go" and "Lead us not into the dirt."

The man with the whistle, Mark Weir, is portrayed in his proper element, double-fisting with an RC remote and a bottle of brew. Photo: Abner Kingman

The presence of Axial R/C kept the tires spinning late into the night. Built by Casey Sanchez, the short-course track involved railing through puddles, roosts of red mud and unofficial shortcuts for those looking to prove their huck-to-flat skills. Photo: Abner Kingman

Recently embracing van life, Lauren Gregg has been traveling around the West, waking up at a different trailhead multiple times a week. She has recently started a project, Turn Loose, to support up-and-coming athletes to attain their goals when funds are otherwise limited. The mission: To spread passion and enthusiasm by sharing stories and supporting inspiring athletes and adventurers. Photo: Abner Kingman 

Make way for Kendall-Weed! Stage after stage, Jeff Kendall-Weed was among the fastest riders through the most technical sections. We even heard a puzzled spectator question, "He's not in first!?" during stage 4. His pile-driving crash on the Godfather section of stage 11 left him with a few bones on the mend, but he's certain he'll be back on the bike within a couple weeks. Heal quickly, Jeff! Congrats, you made this section of Vigilante look too damn easy. Photo: Abner Kingman

 

Those who win the nightly showdown of last-one-standing may be at a slight disadvantage the next morning, but if they're able to make it to the early morning coffee at the WTB tent, there’s still a chance they’ll have time to get their head on straight before the first stage. Ariel Lindsley proved himself as the rider with clout everybody yap about, earning him the inaugural Spirit Award. Antics, hardy laughs and dedication to good times are all crucial ingredients that make The Dirty Sanchez so unique and, you guessed it, Mark Weir holds the final determination as to who done did it right. With Scott Chapin coming in 2nd and Aaron Bradford in 3rd, it seems apparent that Mark would like to see a little more from them next year. Nothing good ever happens past 2am, except at the TDS, where the memorable moments have just begun.

 

Photo: Abner Kingman

And then, without warning, Red Beard happened:

You know what they say...there's more than one way to race a trail. Mike Lee instills some fear in the crowd as he takes the high line, while Marshall "Enduro Jesus" Eames goes low and keeps the plants at bay.

Chris Morrison, brother of Amy Morrison, started mountain biking less than a year ago and his only previous race experience was on a borrowed bike, yet he still won the sport category. Every second of his line down Red Beard had us thinking he was going down, but grip-it and rip-it, he held on through it all!

 

 

Dan Chiang, known by the WTB family as "Taiwan's Most Famous...Dan", may have been calm and collected in conversation, but he rode without reservation and charged some of the rowdiest lines we've ever seen out at the ranch. The Godfather of American Enduro front-and-center, leans in as Dan receives his first silent cheer. It doesn't get better than that. Photo: Abner Kingman

As the title of this post implies, the 2016 TDS was more than a race and carried a greater meaning for many who were present. Each moment of it was enjoyed in joyful remembrance of a beautiful individual who left us far too soon. Last December, WTB, and the mountain bike community as a whole, lost an incredibly loving, welcoming and genuine member of the family. From the Nevada City office, often in the wee hours of the night, Buddy Newman created all the custom graphic designs Jason Moeschler and his OEM clients could come up with. The TDS is a culmination of everything that has brought numerous local families together over the years and has become as much a family reunion as it is anything else. Buddy loved the TDS, from the riding, to people, to the surroundings in which it is held. We wish he had been able to witness the 50-rider train on the new Hey Buddy trail during practice. We’ll think of him each and every time we ride its massive, grippy berms.

Countless years of races, celebrations and losses have all strengthened the bonds between the Sanchez, Moeschler, Weir and Newman families. With the TDS being an event that meant so much to Buddy, and each of the families, it was only appropriate for Jason Moeschler to present the limited edition Galaxy TDS saddle to the Newman family as an intro into the awards ceremony.  

Buddy was a welcoming, caring individual who loved the unique and different. When he suggested the Galaxy design for an aftermarket saddle, we originally thought it might be a bit much, even for WTB. This one's for you, Buddy. Your design has landed exactly where it should be, on a production saddle. You'll be in the thoughts of many on their daily rides. Photo: Abner Kingman

Photo: Abner Kingman
1st: Joanna Petterson
2nd: Amy Morrison  
3rd: Essence Barton

Photo: Abner Kingman
1st: Jerome Clementz.
2nd: Marco Osborne (by only, wait for it...a single second gap).
3rd: Mark Scott.

COMPLETE LIST OF RESULTS HERE

Ron Sanchez, the man behind it all, is nonstop the entire weekend. If you're able to track him down, talk quick, because he's likely about to peel off in order to orchestrate the next solution to the endless needs of such an incredible event. Photo: Abner Kingman

The Dirty Sanchez is a weekend where the experience is created and fueled by those who realize that participation and engagement is what creates the ultimate event. It's a weekend of the year where mud is a promise rather than a possibility, side-by-sides outperform their capabilities, local rippers keep the seasoned pros on their game and spectators have the opportunity to crush an EWS World Champion the one place they can…on the RC short-course track.

An endless thank you to the Sanchez family for hosting such a unique experience that we look forward to for the remainder of the year. To all those who donate their time, simply out of the desire to experience the nonstop smiles it produces, thank you. We're so grateful to be part of such a one-of-a-kind event and look forward to whatever is in store for the future. 

Nobody knew about the possibility of a Spirit Award until the winners were being announced. We can only imagine what folks will get themselves into next year when they know there's a second podium to gun for. 

Until next year...

WTB TerraAssassin Inspires Plus-Size Confidence in the Muck

01 April, 2016

MILL VALLEY, CALIFORNIA – As pioneers of the plus-size movement, WTB continues their commitment to innovation by introducing the first ever plus-size mud spike, the WTB TerraAssassin. The TerraAssassin 3.0 27.5” is designed for long days ripping soaked trails where plus-size benefits keep the trails intact as the tall, toothy knobs are needed to dredge through a steady flow of trail gravy. Bottom line, the TerraAssassin is the hard-charging, brown pow slinging, plus-size dagger needed to complete any tire quiver.

Last year, Jason Moeschler used the previously competent Warden 2.3 27.5” to combat oppressive mud during day one of the Dirty Sanchez Enduro, though he finished wanting even more traction. “Sure, the Warden 2.3 hooked up like Velcro, but I still found myself wanting more,” stated Moeschler. “In that moment, it was immediately clear the higher volume, greater contact patch and increased compliance of plus-size tires were the solution to riding slop without any flop. In hindsight, we’ve realized we designed our tires in expectation of a 15-year drought, but we simply can’t count on it. We feel the plus-size mud spike has filled the final hole in our line of tires. The confidence it inspires on loose, muddy courses has even left me considering getting back into racing.”

While many riders will likely request a 2.8” version, WTB has done extensive testing on sloppy trails, through seemingly endless downpours, to confirm that a greater traction coefficient is found within the sloppy, top layer of mud compared to the unyielding earth a narrower spike would dig into below the surface. Extra wide and overly supportive, the contact patch of the WTB TerraAssassin essentially keeps the tire afloat through rivers of trail, which allows just the tips of the spikes to penetrate the initial layer of sludge.

The WTB TerraAssassin features WTB’s sealant-optimized Lightweight Casing and Dual Compound DNA Rubber, with an MSRP of $74.95. Pre-production, post-mud samples of the TerraAssassin have been weighed at 1278 grams each, providing next level mud control in a relatively fast rolling design. While the TerraAssassin will be available TCS tubeless as an OEM model, it will only be available aftermarket with a wire bead, as riders who choose the TerraAssassin will likely choose to run a tube as well. TerraAssassin 3.0 27.5” TCS Light: High Grip tires are currently available and shipping from WTB, though the unseasonable amount of local precipitation will likely leave them backordered until La Nina settles upon the West Coast.

TakeAim Cycling Skills Clinics at the Santos Fat Tire Festival

25 March, 2016

This was my fourth year doing skills clinics at the Santos Fat Tire Festival in Ocala, Florida. It's become the traditional start to my busy season as a skills coach. The FTF is one of the largest festivals on the East Coast, with over 2,000 people attending. It's not hard to understand why they come when they have things like great trails, Florida sunshine, fun skills clinics, and an expo area where participants can check out MTB gear and demo as many bikes as they want in three days


Despite Florida being the flattest state in the Union, the Ocala Mountain Bike Association has done a stellar job creating a lot of diverse riding experiences. You can ride fast and flowy singletrack where every turn can be drifted or you can hit up the progressive jump park all day like many choose to do. The trails in the old limestone mine are far more technical than you'd expect in Florida or many other states. You'll find a lot of wooden features sprinkled through the woods or the infamous Vortex section which is the heart of Florida's freeride scene. Don't laugh! 

 

 

This diversity of trail style allows me to teach a selection of skills that riders can immediately go test on the trails. The clinic subjects are mostly specific to one topic and last only an hour so people can get back out on the trails and try the new techniques. One of the best things about teaching at Santos is that people can go experiment then come back and give me feedback. 

 

 

Four years ago, the skills clinics had sparse attendance, which I attributed to the general attitude that mtb clinics were only for beginners. This has been the case in the first year for all the festivals I've given clinics at, yet each visit back I find the clinics have begun to fill up to the point where I have to turn people away. I'm extremely happy to say that the clinics at the FTF in Ocala this year were bursting at the seams! Almost 130 people attended one or more of the eight clinics I gave. 

 

 

The festival attracts a lot of people from the southeast and even a couple crews from colder states above the Mason Dixon line. It's the perfect spring break weekend for more than a few riders with the relaxed atmosphere and trail riding camaraderie. 

 

 

If you want to get away from your winter blues, head down to the festival next year in March. I'll be there! 

 

- Harlan Price

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Our Choice Picks

18 December, 2015

There’s a good chance you’re currently in the same boat (let’s call it the USS Senderson) as many of us are. It’s a fairly massive boat, which makes it difficult to see who else is on it, but we’re sure you’re there somewhere. This is the boat of individuals who will soon be huddled around a decorative tree, but have yet to nail down the perfect gifts to go beneath said tree. Gifts that show we’re perceptive to the needs of our fellow trail buddies and know exactly what’s on their trail slaying wish list. So let’s get off this boat, because while the USS Senderson is an excellent vessel, we miss dirt and are itchin’ for dry land, where the trails are tacky, cold beers are bountiful, sendage is mandatory and high-fives are aplenty.

For those in your life who don’t ride a mountain bike, easy, get them one or shame them into getting one. Otherwise, go with the latest in rotary razor technology with the Norelco Shaver 6100, for a shave that’s not quite smooth, but will pass for presentable. The tried-and-true Christmas gift. No need for a razor? How about a new pair of tearaway sweats, the new craze in activewear, soon to be found taking over nearby piano lessons. However, those who take to the trail with you will be expecting you to show up to Christmas morning with your present game strong. Here they are, gift ideas for the Angelina Gnarlie or Brad Pitted in your life.

Rad VHS

You’ve seen it (right?), loved it and based your childhood dreams and expectations upon it. Though it has not been digital remastered to DVD, the intro credits, set to John Farnham’s “Break the Ice”, can remain your pre-ride motivation for years to come with this VHS screening copy, discovered in the closet of a local high school AV Club. Care to follow the Hell Track commentators in English, but read the cover in Hebrew? This rare edition is a perfectly appropriate late Hanukkah gift to extend a fellow ripper’s holiday season.

Retrofitz

Winter is in full effect around most of the country and while we’ve scroll through many gear guides aimed at battling the cold, they’re all lacking something crucial. Winter cycling shoes are great for the casual spin, but the rough and rugged need something to match their masochistic need to pedal through whiteouts and conquer frozen tundra, through dark eyes and icy beards. We’re talking boots. Real boots with supa high tops and hefty soles, without understating the importance of proper fashion. Unfortunately, such boots do not currently come with cleat inserts. Luckily, Retrofitz has the solution for such riders with more brawn than brain. For the wayfaring adventurer with an excess of juice, we suggest attaching the cleat inserts to some original Timbs. For those who rip around with a bit more pizzazz (the razzle and dazzlers of the pack), we suggest these metallic sole shakers.

Sugar Free Gummy Bears

For those blissfully long days in your WTB Volt saddle where any combination of bars and gels simply won’t cut it. These are for the nutritionally conscious and self-aware gummy bear enthusiast who desires all the flavor, without the crash of natural sugars. Deliciousness aside, reviewers of such treats seem to have found a secondary selling point of these tasty snacks. We highly encourage you to read the buyer reviews. One begins “I didn't feel the need to plan my weekend around 5 small gummy bears. But if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

B is for Bicycles

There’s a good chance all your child needs is a push bike and a set of cones to be hooked on riding all day. However, at the end of the day, as you open up your favorite mountain bike magazine and relax, your young shredder will also be looking to chase his idols through a handful of vibrant pages. B is for Bicycles is packed full of banger shots as you witness a dog endlessly endurolize from one page to the next. Similar to researching components, be sure to read this review before buying. They’re rolling off the shelves, so make sure you have your local bike shop order you one through QBP...yesterday.

Deer Whistle

Nobody can confirm their effectiveness, yet they’ve been stuck to the grill of the family station wagon for decades. It’s about time we, as mountain bikers, also became more aware of critters out on the trail. While the idea is still fairly new, it’s only a matter of time before anodized CNC aluminum handlebar, fork, seatpost, helmet, chain stay and wrist mounts become available to ensure the whistle is located in an area of optimal air flow. In a matter of years, they’ll be integrated into the head tube of every bike on the shop floor, but don’t be at the mercy of a local buck in the meantime. It may not be aero, but it will save lives.

Soda can(s)

Recently named “The Hammer” by your riding buddies? Tired of pedaling? Looking to twist some throttle instead? Dirt bikes are expensive, but soda is cheap. Take a knee, crack one open, ride the surge of energy, then place that can where it belongs…smashed between your front tire and fork. Instant vroom vroom, without all the danger and added greenhouse effects. With names like Sprint and Crash, you’ll be faster and sending harder than the rest. You’d be hard pressed to beat 72 sessions of pseudo throttle therapy for $15.80.

Heated Grips

Gnar shredders of the world gathered one warm summer day and realized their steeze would be doubled with the absence of gloves, yet quickly discovered one of the many inconveniences of their decision. Winter came, and with it, similarly steezey hands that were too cold to utilize all the extra grippage. Enter, heated grips. Being innovators at the forefront of product development, we look forward to building upon this idea and introducing the first purpose-built, heated saddle, the WTB Ignitor. WTB's faux heated saddle gives all the benefits of wetting oneself - warm, relief from the cold and ability to mimic Dumb and Dumber, without the unwanted side effects of Dumb and Dumber (reference here).

 

Countless WTB Products All Under $100! 

We understand there’s a possibility none of these gift ideas resonate with a certain loved one in your life. That’s all right, as we all have different tastes. This list may not have had all the answers to your current state of Christmas shopping distress, but we’ve stumbled across another list that we personally guarantee will include the perfect gift for the trail enthusiast in your family. Tires, saddles and rims, all under $100. How about free shipping? You got it! Use promo code: FREESHIP15. Stay shreddy out there! Happy Holidays!

 

The Tibet Challenge 2015

28 October, 2015

Arnold Zhang our Marketing Coordinator in China finished at 7th overall and his team: Camp-Vaude finished at 3rd. There were 31 participants of race and only 9 finished. 

The route is 5,476km using the National Road, from Sichuan Province to Lhasa,Tibet.The race 2015 started on the 10th of October and it finished the 19th. The daily average altitude was 3,600-4,000 with an daily gain of 2,500m. They rode through mud, snow, ice and rain to complete this race. Most riders were wearing rubber gloves to stay dry and keep warm. 

Most everyone road road bikes with a few cross bikes and hard tail XC bikes sprinkled in there. Arnold was riding the Thickslick tires and didn't get any flats unlike his competitors. 

Here are a few pictures of the race: Photos by: Andy Shang and Biketo.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Q& A with Arnold about the race: 
  • What was the most amazing thing you saw? 

The snow peaksThe Namcha Barwa!!!!(God i get goose bumps!)and sooooo many stunning landscapes and the Holy Mountain

  • What products did you ride? 

All 3 of us Team CampVaude)were equipped with Freedom’s Thicksilck 70028C Sport tires front and rearI DIDN'T HAVE ANY PUNCTURES DURING THE WHOLE RACE AND NO DEFLATION AT ONCE!!!It's INCREDIBLE!And Silverado Carbon saddle under my arsethe other two run Volt Team and SL8 Team.

  • What kept you going? 

As a team leader i'd set goals before the race startedfinish it and try our best to get the strongest rider He huaisong on the podiumalso flight for Team-Overall placement. I had some emotional motivation of my own:my grandma passed away 6 months ago when I exploring the route of this event. 

  • What was the weather like? How did you stay warm? 

The weather there is one of the biggest challengesthe temperature varies greatly between day and nightin extreme condition we using cling film to protect our kneesfoothead and body from frozen wind. 

  • What makes this race so special? 

high sea level altitude long distancestunning landscapefamous route318 National Roaduncertain  weather extreme conditions and crazy organizers and riders

  • How many competitors were there? How many finished? 

319 of  those completed the race! 

  • Most important lesson learned? 

“Take it easy  and keep your eyes open dude”“Make your body as warm as your burning heart

  • Tell us about the race: 

Your sight will be the sweetness in heaven when your body suffering in hell

  • If you could describe the race in one word- what would it be? 

CrazySufferingor SuicideGame for Bravenot Impulsive

  • Anything else you want to add? 

Too many words and stories,you need be there to experience that more than meets the eyesat least! 

 

Congrats Arnold on this amazing accomplishment! 

Bellchambers Takes 2nd at WEMBO 2015 Weaverville, Wins Hearts & Minds of All

05 October, 2015

WEMBO 2015 Weaverville - WTB Rider Brett Bellchambers Takes Second in Single Speed

One of these guys is taller than the others. He also appears to be turned around telling jokes. Can you find the WTB rider?

Weaverville, where men are men and Smokey the Bear looks onward longingly:

Where original Overlanding happened, before it was cool:

And where horses and cyclists happily get along:

In this beautiful wonderland nestled against the Trinity Alps of California, the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation, WEMBO, held the 24 hour world championships.  An event of serious proportions, it brought serious athletes:

Correct, that is the Tinker Juarez, who sadly suffered a migraine that began shutting down his vision, forcing him to call it before sundown.  WEMBO is the event for 24 hour racing.  Each year it travels to a different country but the theme is the same - amass as many laps as you can, endlessly and solo within a 24 hour period.  Riders got to know this course quite well, too well:

12.4 miles and 2,018 feet of climbing per lap.  There was a big climb, that was cursed, and a steady uphill singletrack section, at just the right grade to be frustrated on a singlespeed, and just the right mix of rockiness to be referred to as a "fanny puncher," though I'm sure I've got the exact lingo wrong.  So who would come to this fest of the suffers?

Our night in shining armor, Australian WTB racer Brett Bellchambers, of course.  And, gent that he is, he brought his family along too, who were his very pit crew:

And the goofball writing this even got to attend, under the guise of Official Tire Changer In Case of Emergency though with Brett's Nine Line 2.25 TCS Light: Fast Rolling front and Nine Line 2.0 TCS Light: Fast Rolling rear matched to a Frequency i19 TCS and KOM i23 TCS combo of tires and rims, there was little to be afraid of.  Worry not, I feared anyway.

It started with a regressive showing of horsepower:

 In the front, mad ponies yo; in the middle, who you callin' a pony?; in the back - what's this talk of ponies, I came to race

And after the Mustang led riders down the first stretch, the race was on.  Forever.  It was on forever.

It got dark.  Shapes appeared.  I could no longer see number plates due to light searing lumens piercing the night.   The windy became cold and windy. 

The shapes became riders.  The night lengthened.  Eventually, the music died down.  Riders kept grinding past, ghosts mindlessly pedaling.  The grandstand was deserted, tireless announcer off sleeping somewhere - everything had a surreal, vacant heaviness to it.  Brett continued to pit without even getting off his bike.

It became hard to stay awake and I wasn't even riding.  I witnessed things I kind of wish I hadn't.  Ok, things I really wish I hadn't.  Things that happened in the pits.  What I assumed could only be the husband, handed palm fulls of chamois cream to what I assumed could only be the wife racing.  She scooped, dug in shorts, rescooped, dug again.  He kissed her.  Away she rode.  A high strung, voice commanding male rider took off his shorts, put on a fresh pair, maybe 20 feet away from my lounge chair.  I didn't look.

Daylight struck.  I had wimped out and taken a few hours' snooze in the back of the truck.  Brett's family didn't skip a beat all night.  Marie, Brett's mom scouted the number plates of approaching racers.  Lorrie, Brett's dad, constantly calculated the lap times separating Brett and the three riders nearest him.  Janecke, Brett's wife, prepared and handed each bottle while ceaselessly refreshing the iPad's leader list.  His well behaved kids slept in the RV, having set aside their own lap logbooks.

Thank you all night coffee stand complete with American flags.

The race came to a close.  It finally sadly looked like Brett may not be able to take first.  The whole race is like a long, drawn out baseball game in the height of tense competition.  There is so much strategy, so much uncertainty, incremental gain then dramatic change.  The young local single speed rider who was killing it earlier nearly collapsed around midnight.  I watched him stagger off his bike and noodle about his pit.  He appeared to be trying to carry a conversation though I don't think was saying anything.  One or two pits down, Scott Nicholas did a 20 second, don't leave the bike pit stop.  "That's the difference between still racing it and just now riding it,"Alex Cousins explained to me.  Alex helped organize, house racers and their families, shuttle officials, and ensure that everybody, even non-racers, was taken care of.  He is entirely too nice of a guy.

Brett was still decidedly upbeat, funny, and positive before his final lap.  He knew Scott Nicholas had it in the bag but he said it was ok, sometimes that's how it goes.  He really seemed ok with it, I couldn't believe it after he'd put in so much.  He joked about having his final way with the hill before heading out.  His final lap took an eternity and I wondered why.

 

Brett congratulating Steven Mills on a great race. This was Mills' first 24 hour race and the Redding local took home 6th!

Brett thanked every volunteer, course official, and rowdy cheering squad member on his final lap.  His mom later told me he couldn't help himself, that's just how he is.  After shaking fellow single speeder Steven Mills' hand, he promptly went to Scott Nicholas and gave him a proper congratulations.  This was the first time in six years Brett hadn't won the single speed title.  Both Brett and Scott pedaled over 235 miles and climbed well over 38,000 feet.

Brett and Scott must be talking about how fun that climb was, 19 times in a row. I kid.

I am blown away with Brett's modesty and still kind of reeling in the enormity of it all.  He only got off his bike twice - once to clean his own chain (I should have done that, pretty sure that service fell under the guise of my title) and before the final lap to tell us it'd been great and that this was now the easy going lap where he'd show the hill who was boss.  He didn't eat fancy food, he didn't even come close to breaking his cool and he never lost his sense of humor.  He drove the RV ten hours up there the day after the Trail Boss and I showed him our favorite nuances of Mt. Tam's trails.

I couldn't be more thankful to Brett and the Bellchambers family, thank you.  You won't find a kinder racer nor family.  A big thanks also goes to the people of Weaverville for housing racers and their families, and to the organizers for making such a great and amazing event.  There is something raw and profound about witnessing sheer determination and unyielding devotion as racers relentlessly press onward, it is beyond real.  Here's to all who raced, organized, attended and made it happen!

 

Adventures in Stage Racing with Weir and Moeschler at Epic Cymru

21 August, 2015

Photo: Anthony Pease

Stage racing is not without certain challenges to both the bike and body, the rental car, and especially the poor soul(s) supporting the racers. Each time Moeschler and Weir go abroad, they run into them... challenges that is. Case in point... this last adventure to South Wales for the Epic Cymru (pronounced come-ree), a five-day stage race with no less than 50km of solid technical trail with 1,200-1,500 meters of climbing each day. Timed XC and downhill sections made up 40-50% of the riding, with the remainder being un-timed linking sections utilizing Bike Park Wales as well as Margam Park, Mt. Ash, and trails in the Afan Valley. 

Photo: Anthony Pease

Fresh off the Downieville Classic podium, Moeschler was ready for this one, as in the race. The Cannondale Habit he raced in Downieville was dialed. The only thing he changed from his Downieville set up was the back tire and rims, replacing them with a WTB Riddler 2.4 Light/Fast Rolling back tire (same as the front) and WTB Ci24 Carbon rims.... More about his bike set up here thanks to our friends at Singletrack.

As for the challenges, those were another story. You might have caught the posts on our Facebook page of the lost bikes on the airline, the flat on the rental car, chest colds and tons of stairs at the hotel. Good stuff.

Photo: Anthony Pease

When they did find their bikes, Weir's was damaged during a photo shoot the day before the race which put him out of the prologue, and out of the competition for all intensive purposes, but the set back didn't stop him from riding and enjoying the awesome experience that the race organizers and sponsors all made sure would be worth the trip over.

Photo: Anthony Pease

They did not disappoint nor did the tales of the pair's adventures that  ensued, ending with Moeschler claiming the podium in a castle, an awesome week of riding against some wicked-fast locals on their ripping home trails, an excellent bottle of scotch along with a bunch of new friends for Weir, and a little lesson about diesel vs. gasoline....

 

Photo: Anthony Pease

At this time, I invite you to grab another cup of coffee and settle in for Weir's account... If you have a hard time following, switch from coffee to scotch for an even more entertaining read. Just a suggestion as this was written late night, on day 4 after Jason lost the day but held onto the lead in the overall.  Mark begins his tale after the next photo of what appears to be their  rental van getting towed.

"You want the green pill or the black. Well in Wales, green is regular gas, we have a diesel that's black. Laugh as you will, I got it coming.... It was a long day and seems that lights in the gas station are not the most important. 23 liters later, we swallowed the green pill."

"Oh Martin, what a guy. With his rigs at the event, he borrowed his bird's car and picked us up. Oats in lap, he had a two-hour drive. He has store credit at my place. Thanks buddy."

"After I tried to look for a garden hose and a bucket, we noticed the locals are very proud, and not of us. We call a tow."

"Top of Mt. Ash with good people. This was another track that makes repetition feel like new every time. It was short grass and high speed cutties like nothing I've ridden since years ago in France. A real gift."

 

"Jason's lead is still over two minutes despite his teammate's poor pill choice. Chipps from Singletrack helped me get over it. Bottle in hand is better than two in the bush. I feel fine now." -Mark Weir

Thanks to the race organizers of the Epic Cymru for the invitation to this first-class stage race. It's one for the bucket list for anyone who enjoys racing world-class trail systems with world-class people. Good times!!

See for yourself... Checkout the video!

 

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