Sho' enough, one of the raddest charity events to happen all year will happen, yet again Saturday, December 6th at the Embarcadero in SF. So, skid your Thickslicks, grab some cans, win some Thickslicks. Simple.
21 November, 2014
20 November, 2014
Adventure isn't exactly something new to WTB. Getting out, exploring, taking the path less traveled, finding your own way, thinking differently... that's what WTB is all about. I found these photos while digging in my greater mess area and it was crazy. I had just been there. Well, near there - poking around in trucks on ridge lines wondering if there was bikepacking potential. I could have sworn I even passed the same house:
Same once was semblance of a stoop, dilapidated siding, roof now with greater... ahh yes, ventilation. There's even the same shack in the back, now just viewable from the front of the house. Think I'm kidding? Above is from the early 90's. Below is from October. October 2014:
The shot is from further to the right when facing the house, but you can still see the shack, now through it, all a little worse for wear but not bad. Fine, it could be another identically built ramshackle. Either way, it's all still there, waiting for you:
Ready for adventure:
So what are you doing sitting around for? Go get some. Same spirit from the beginning, same for today:
Wilderness... it's in our name. The same quest for adventure, from the beginning, now just as much as then.
19 November, 2014
Another WEMBO (World Endurance Mountain Bike Organization) 24hr Championship went down in Scotland this October and what do you think that means for our man with the big beard and bigger sense of humor? Yes, yes, Brett Bellchambers, yet again crushed the solo single speed class, claiming another victory while finishing 7th outright, pitted (yes, I said pitted in the real, less fun sense) against those with gears. Brutal doesn't even begin to describe it:
Even big, tough guys have to push too. Gotta love the single speed. At this point, having ridden 22 hours straight, Brett had already amassed more feet of climbing than Everest. Brett finished with over 36,000 feet of climbing under his belt... errr... bibs. There appeared to be fun too:
Dark beer, mud on chest, and a hat that says No Fuss (event organizers) on it. Life's good - what's better? Well, with the race is over, onto the goody schwag bags, Scotland style:
In Australia, apparently you get energy gels in your schwag bag. In the US, you definitely do. In Scotland, you get Scotch bottles, two per racer. There was ripping trail:
Brett's awesome wife, laughing and making it happen.
And that was it, a monster of a course that the guy cracking jokes with the course marshals at the start of the race won in the single speed class, even if he didn't get the memo that this was a long sleeves race:
Brett described the course as a sleeper in the hurt department because it was so fun to race with slow and technical descents that Brett favors.
Brett's a champ, our hats are off to him yet again - another victorious feat defying both pain and rain aboard a single speed. No flats, no worries. 7th outright, first in SS. Brett ran a Nano 2.1 29" front with a Nine Line 2.0 29" TCS rear tire on Frequency i19 29" Team rims and a brand new Volt Team saddle that was comfy right out of the gate.
Almost crazier to me is Brett's return. He arrived home at 1AM, shredded to work - Brett is a super commuter, and had to cover doing his boss' job as well as his job, which he faces for four weeks. No skimping on single speed commuting be it sleepless morning after WEMBO SS title, double work load... anything. Brett is unreal.
Get some rest... some day. Until then, keep shredding trail. Congrats, yet again, from all of us at WTB.
13 November, 2014
It happened. I can't believe it actually happened. I swore it wouldn't. It couldn't. It shouldn't. By what stroke of misunderstanding... by the Hammer of Thor.
BioPace is back, da na nun nun na naahh.
NooooOOOOOooooOOOOOooo you say. But yes, dan nun nun na nahhhh.
You don't believe me, you must, behold:
It's green so that means it's cool this time. You still don't believe me, I must have distorted the photo. Fine, here's one you can't argue with:
Q Ring style too, made for the burgeoning fantasy racer boy segment. Okay, more than enough trash talking on my part, that's a waste of a perfectly good idea repurposed again. Apparently, round chainrings give you a dead spot, fewer watts bro, and though round, actually give you a less smooth pedal stroke. There are claims of more traction and better looks too, in your kit that is... That was more or less the premise of BioPace and it must still apparently hold true. Where did this BioPace you speak of exist? Well, here:
Yes, this lovely 1989 Kona Fire Mountain is from my absolutely rad KONA R.I.D.E. 2015 trip this past summer. Remember, the trip went like this:
There was also more beer, super rad bikes, humu-pump trackin', donette slammin', suggested tequila, curious outfits... man, still miss that trip. Anyway, I guess the moral of this story is that if something originally is a good idea, like lots of the things covered in Throwback Thursdays - early monster cross and gravel tires, Grease Guard press-fit style bottom brackets, mutiple width saddle shapes, wider hubs... it comes back around again. If it's a bad idea... I'm just kidding, BioPace must be a good idea, right?
11 November, 2014
It happens: that blissful epiphany following the mandatory journey to get there - bike on rack, rumble of van, banter of the bike-obsessed and gravity-enthused, sway of ascending turns with dude-ness intermittently plaguing the air (that can't be myyyyy helmet) - pass all that and euphoria seems to uncontrollably boil over after a few arcs into dirt perfection. You get it. Life isn't really all that bad. In fact, it's good. Quite good. Ok, it's cheating.
Bill and Sue Roussel bring that enlightenment to you and it couldn't be easier, all you have to do is show up to the door of Ashland Mountain Adventures in Ashland Oregon. If you know what I'm talking about, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, you haven't lived life. You really haven't.
But there's more to it even than the sensation of it can't get better, but it DOES get better as you smoothly sail down the slopes of Mount Ashland tying loam to duff to clay to granular in twists that don't tire and strangely don't tire you - there's a future. Bill and Sue are part of that future.
Having pulled up their Salinas roots and gained year-round permanence several years ago, Bill and Sue have wholeheartedly, unquestioningly, and relentlessly poured their very being into Ashland. Need proof? Last weekend over 30 volunteers showed up to work high mountain trails into perfection before being put to bed for winter beneath a blanket of snow. Bill is an active board member of the Ashland Woodlands & Trails Association, helping mobilize the work force while both he and Sue shovel alongside those who also care. They run the Ashland Mountain Challenge, juggling shuttles, entries, organization, timing, all last minute needs with a smile. Go out for a beer and you might just find the pair sharing a laugh and good times with friends and clients (it becomes impossible to discern - who doesn't want to be part of this?) downtown after a full day of shuttles. It's more than a job, it's life. It's what they live for.
Fast doesn't even begin to describe Bill. It seems like it isn't a Sea Otter Classic if I haven't seen him and if I have, he's already both tamed and shamed the treacherous slalom course - it's his home turf after all. Mention his name and you'll witness a solemn air nod of reverence to a shred of yore. Sue couldn't be a kinder nor more positive person - catch a warm smile and shuttle ride up from her and you know the world is a good place. And that's just it, life's good. So clamber aboard, grab another shuttle and muse over what type of detergent you're going to employ on those odious pads and thank Bill and Sue for making life better - one shuttle, event, and trail day at a time.
Name: Bill & Sue Roussel
Home Shop and City: Ashland Mountain Adventures, Ashland Or.
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
Or, favorite WTB or Freedom related memory (please elaborate):
Sue: Tires - any Bill puts on my Bike! A smiling Mark Weir sitting on my shuttle while I'm driving. Worse WTB moment: WTB Christmas party 2007, Bill got hammered on Tequila and got in the Pixie Bike Race and wrecked everyone!
Bill: 2002 Mutano Raptor, It's tattooed on my right calf. After riding up Mt. Tam with Weir and crew, I was walking by Fred's office when he asked me...”Hey, what would you like in a tread design, I gave him my ideas and there was the Mutano Raptor.
Favorite memory: Riding my WTB Phoenix in Mill Valley, finishing at WTB and hanging with the crew there still stands out. I really dig all the memories though.
Sue: Time Warp, Catwalk, Toothpick, Caterpillar, BTI
Bill: Hell Ride 2005, Weir went the wrong way and I almost caught up!
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
Sue: 1992, boyfriend bought me a bike, Loved the sport, dumped the boyfriend, and kept the MTB friends!
Bill: 1995, Broken Knee cap, leg started to get real weak and doc said I needed a low impact sport, I don't think he meant Downhill MTB racing :) Good folks in my area that loved MTB riding, it was contagious!
Tube or Tubeless, why?
Sue: Tubeless, because thats what Bill wants.
Bill: I have been setting my wheels up tubeless sense 2002 and it was not easy back then! Weir insisted it was the way to go. The gas station I was at when I first tried told me to leave after using their air compressor for an hour and spilling Stans all over there floor multiple times! I flat tubes every time I ride with one.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
Sue: Cell Phone for pics, Best friend, if they'll ride.... matching sunglasses to bike, trail running dog.
Bill: GPS (for Strava reasons,) Shoes, Helmet
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
Sue: Bills dog Pete' (Jack Russel) took on 3 Coyotes at one time, and won!
Bill: Flatting on 3rd Divide in Downieville, losing the nut to the Quick Release, then using a Toe strap on a flat pedal that you get with a new bike to hold it to the fork leg and riding the rest of the way to town!
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
Sue: Good Trail Stewardship
Bill: Carry all the things you need on a ride, tubes, pumps, tools... so I don't have to keep saving your asses!
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
Sue: Dakine pack and could not find it for a week:)
Bill: Yuba river at the Downieville Classic while doing the river jump.
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
Come to Ashland, come in our store, (Ashland Mountain Adventures) get a map and jump on our shuttle, rent a bike and Ride! Ride! Ride!
If your seat, grips or tires need replacing, we have all of the WTB stuff you will need to make every ride a Great one!
06 November, 2014
Tempting as it may be to read the above as a 700 x 44 Nano of 2001, lovely as that sounds, it was a relatively narrow, speed demon of a 26" tread. This doesn't mean that ideas of various sizes and applications of the Nano Raptor weren't already brewing - take a look at the 1999 Nano Raptor 2.1 29" tire after all, the first 29" mountain bike tire. It does mean, however, that there was a Nano 44, something I'd heard about but never found - now there's proof; proof in the 2001 catalog, description below:
Along the lines of experimentation, notice the red-orange band to the Nano 44. You can scour the 2000 catalog, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004... you won't find anything referring to a red-orange DNA strand hinting at compounding. You can even harass the poor Trail Boss himself, he'll kindly hunt (he doesn't have to but he still will) over old part numbers and defunct P,C, and Ds, surmising that it must have meant a lower durometer, which it must have. Next to its 2002 description, top most photo which strangely didn't have the strand, was a lovely collage of present and past WTB employees:
Weir, top, obviously still is very much integral to WTB - Karpiel Disco in it's lowest possible travel configuration matched to a lovely Z1 fork, WTB Moto Raptor 2.4 DH tires, Shimano 646 awesome pedals, those almost look to be Hayes "Purple Hayes" downhill disc brakes - can't life get better? Awesome time period. Wesley Meyer I've had the pleasure of meeting at Interbike, now working for REI, and Dan Sherwood, formerly East Coast Sales, is reportedly well on the other coast.
This just in: the orange band found on the 2001 Nano 44 denoted a wet weather, yet lighter weight compound, you learn something new every day. Feeling left out? Go grab yourself a set of Nano 40s, a tire perfected through years of size iterations and experimentation.
03 November, 2014
Marco abs-o-lutely killed it this season. It became shameless. In August, he didn't stop winning. He even won the Pro GRT in Mammoth in September during the Kamikaze Bike Games aboard his enduro bike. 160/95mm convertible bike with a Lefty versus discipline-specific downhill pros aboard full-on downhill bikes. He won it. Then he went on to grab second behind Brian Lopes in the California Enduro Series Kamikaze Bike Games that same weekend. Crazy. He took first at Big Mountain Enduro's grueling 5-Day Ultra in Crested Butte, cleaned up multiple times at Northstar, owned the gnar gnar Dirty Sanchez - if there was a race, chances are you'd find Marco in the top 5. He'd be standing up there, that part was for sure. He took 21st in Chile, his second Enduro World Series race ever, then secured a top 20 at EWS Crankworx in Whistler - a course that left everyone wincing, limping, and licking their wounds. I could go on and on, list everything and it could get overwhelming. He did it all in the cool, calm, professional poise that doesn't usually seem to emanate from burgeoning second season racers - well, second full season pro anyway. Interbike mayhem time he cruised by in his early 90s Toyota pickup and dropped off his Crankworx race rig and asked if we needed a hand getting everything together, he meant it too - he stayed and made sure he said hi to everyone; seemed as though he wanted to stay longer even, we just shooed him out while throwing tires around. While we were setting up his bike in our booth, he was winning on his other bike in Crested Butte, it was crazy.
I could go on.
Instead, Marco kindly took the time to reflect over his season and respond to some questions I abruptly threw his way. Enjoy his responses and some photos courtesy of Nick and Brandon Ontiveros of Big Mountain Enduro and, in the case of the lovely photo below and atop, Nate Byrom, may his soul find everlasting happiness and comfort at the local police academy.
WTB: What was your favorite course of 2014? Favorite race? Why?
Marco Osborne: Favorite race course of 2014...? Wow, thats a tough one. I would probably have to say stage 5 of the EWS Crankworks was the best stage of the season. Known as the Top of the World, this diverse stage was about 23 minutes long at race pace and dropped from high alpine single track to flowy bike park trails all the way to the village.
My favorite race would have to be EWS Chile. It was only my second time out of the country and was absolutely amazing to see the Chilean culture and take in the South American atmosphere. The terrain was mind blowing, we were surrounded by volcanic boulder fields, huge glaciers and endless rutted-out singletrack. It was fall while we were there and all the trees and bushes were changing colors, the orange and yellow leaves gave the scenery a very unique and beautiful appeal. All the stages were so enjoyable to ride and just put a smile on everyones' faces.
WTB: How’d you feel the overall season went? At a certain point did you feel like you hit your stride? Sure looked like it following you but I’d be curious if you started to feel better as the season progressed.
Marco Osborne: I feel the overall season went great, no big injuries and only a couple of poor finishes. I feel I hit my stride about two different times this season, for the month of April and August. The month of August was unreal, I had a winning streak going for 4 weeks in a row. It was a remarkable way to top off the season. I owe it to my teammates, especially Mark Weir, these guys gave me the opportunity to represent Novato and team WTB/Cannondale.
WTB: Is there anything you’re going to focus on in the off season? Anything you’re looking forward to now that, I assume, most racing is over? Spending time with family? Shredding Marin? Giving Ben Cruz a hard time?
Marco Osborne: During the off season I am going to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and hopefully start a more structured workout routine. This winter I hope to get a road bike and start doing big rides once or twice a week. Now that the season is over I need to get back on my moto and twist some throttle. Brraap braap!! I would also like to go chase a couple big storms in Tahoe and ride my snowboard. I would like to spend more time with my family and my girlfriend Maya as well.
As for Ben Cruz, he always deserves to be heckled... But, it's good that he is going to be living in Novato again, having another training partner alongside Weir is key. Looking forward to putting in big days at the ranch.
WTB: Is there anything you’re going to try to do differently for next season? Training for anything in particular?
Marco Osborne: As for next season, I would like to stay focused during the winter by riding my road bike and putting in solid workouts. I want just be consistent and get through the long season. I will try to dominate local events and try focusing on EWS events. The EWS is on another level, it's so competitive and difficult to even be in the top 20. So one of my biggest goals for the 2015 season is to place in the top 10 at an EWS stop.
WTB: What was the craziest thing that happened to you over the season? You raced a ton, traveled even more, there’s got to be something wild that went down – either on course or off.
Marco Osborne: The craziest thing that happened off the track this season is probably not worth repeating. As for on the track, I would have to say winning the Mammoth Pro GRT on my Lefty equipped Cannondale Jekyll was pretty crazy. I surprised myself and everyone watching. I didn't intend to win that race, I just wanted to have fun. I thought of it as just another added stage to the Enduro race and tried to enjoy ripping a rowdy course.
Here's to another great season to our Novato native - may the pow be deep, the rest time revitalizing, and the road bike... well, the road bike not purchased, ha. Well done Marco, we couldn't be more proud nor more fortunate to have such an incredible representative from our home in Marin county out subjecting race courses worldwide to speed and shame, all the while helping hone in our never-ending quest to refine and provide even better product. Here's to Marco in 2014 and to a great 2015!
30 October, 2014
Even the legendary Mark Weir had to start somewhere and in the awesome race resume above (big thank you to Anthony Medaglia for rounding it up) you can see that even in the beginning, Weir started full throttle. Cross Country, Downhill raced in hardtail or even devoid of suspension class, didn't matter, Weir owned it. In Weir's wording above, he had hoped to "improve my skills as an all around mountain bike competitor." Remove around from that sentence and you have all mountain competitor. Makes sense that the man (Weir is a man,) regarded by many as the Godfather of All Mountain, owned it - he rode 150 - 170 miles per week for crying out loud, of... everything. What makes less sense to me is why he faxed it to DICRG - apparently that stands for Dental Implant Clinical Research Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan - perhaps a little sponsorship future planning with foresight that a life of shredding bikes is hard on the overall tooth count? Can't say. Can say that it's pretty apparent Weir's been a badass from the start. Rad races in there too, Ring of Fire in Occidental, Downieville when it was still Coyote Classic, too many Lake Sonoma wins - you can tell sufferfest was Weir from the start. Here's to Weir, riding everything before there officially was All Mountain, and to, well, dental implants. Catch you next Thursday.
23 October, 2014
Many people clung to remaining InterWolfs with a sense of worth akin to cigarettes within prison - one's wealth could be measured in hoarded InterWolfs. They were a tire before their time. Fast rolling, bigger than most cross-like tires out there, available in a lightweight folding Race option if you hunted for it, volume with a rounded profile and nice rubber that was sticky enough without slowing you down. Its discontinuation sunk the battleships of many. A forlorn wail must have echoed when the 2010 Catalog hit print, devoid of InterWolf.
We can all dry our eyes now, there is a more than worthy replacement. The Nano 40 is, dare I say, just as good - how dare I? Even Stevil HERE came to the same seemingly self-conflicted conclusion I just uttered - it's... yep, better. More volume, somehow feels faster, foolish lateral grip - the Nano pattern really does rule and the Nano 40 feels light when you ride it. A 40mm casing is a beautiful thing.
Here's a shot of a new old Interwolf 38 (yes, yes, WTB will sell this one for $4.2 billion) draped over a Nano 40. You can see similarities in the fast rolling centers of the two but you can tell that the centerline on the Nano 40 looks even quicker. It is. The Nano 40 is also a little bit bigger - that little bit somehow makes more difference than its little should when it comes time to fine tune pressure and assess what you can get away with while riding. They're both great tires. If you loved the InterWolf and think of that tire as the one and only tire, you might want to give the Nano 40 a shot - you might like what you try, perhaps embarrassingly a little more than you might care to admit.
21 October, 2014
These guys get it - put an awesome route together, ping some contacts for potential product, do an awesome job broadcasting it - how awesome of a job? Like so awesome I don't have to do any work. Poof! Stunning photos by James Adamson of Drop Media. Ta-Da, insightful reflections by none other than Kurt Gensheimer, known by his pen name, the Angry Single Speeder. Pretty much leaves me nothing to do... so I've written in tasteless captions.
Kurt's words, James' stellar shots (@_james_ adamson_ )
The Commute Day 2
I don’t use the word epic very often to describe a day of riding, mainly because it’s a completely
hackneyed term in mountain biking circles. But today’s ride from Soda Springs to Foresthill was epic in
every sense of the word. Mind blowing views atop Royal Gorge, towering terrain with 4,000 foot deep
canyons, blackened burn areas, legendary trails dating back to 1850 and the final few miles ridden in the
dark in a complete downpour made the 67 miles and 9,700 feet of climbing a day we won’t soon forget.
What truly befuddled us was the fact that even though we started at nearly 7,000 feet elevation near
the crest of the Sierras and finished at 3,000 feet in the foothills, somehow we ended up climbing almost
as much as we descended, much of it on the legendary Western States Trail. The climbs were brutal at
times. The 1,800 foot vertical of hike-a-bike in 1.2 miles out of Last Chance Canyon was utter
punishment. The 2,000 feet of climbing in 2.5 miles out of El Dorado Canyon wasn’t much better. But all
that pain paid off huge dividends in the descent department. Steep and rocky with dozens of
switchbacks, Western States Trail is a rare treat that most mountain bikers will never get to sample. As a
bonus, aside from a hunter in a gunny suit, we didn’t see a single human on trail all day long.
Jamming through Foresthill in a complete downpour at dusk, Justin and I somehow lost James, who
didn’t know where we were staying. Completely drenched, cold and muddy, Justin and I made it to Sean
Allan’s house, our gracious host for the night. We waited anxiously for 20 minutes, hoping James would
find his way. Eventually he showed up with a huge shivering muddy grin. It was a monster day, and we
made it in one piece.