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 






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!


Jason Moeschler: 2015 All Mountain World Champion

06 August, 2015

The stars were definitely aligned for Jason Moeschler this weekend when the 35-year-old Team WTB/Cannondale rider reclaimed the All Mountain World Championship title from five-time winner Carl Decker after winning the DH with a smoking fast time of 45.22.5! The last time Moeschler claimed the title was in '07 but the increasingly tough competition and the demands from his full-time job as WTB's Global OEM Sales Manager proved to be too tough to overcome to train properly for the suffer fest of suffer fests known as the Downieville Classic. Not the case this year as the heavens opened up to unleash a full thunder storm assault the night before the DH, leaving the tracks tacky and otherwise perfect for the Riddler 2.4 Light front and Riddler 2.4 Tough rear tires he'd selected. That along with a dialed bike, training program, and race strategy all combined to settle the score that would land Moeschler his fourth All Mountain World Championship victory in the event he's been racing since he was 15 years old.  

With equal points assigned to the DH and the XC, Moeschler knew he had to race smart with zero room for flats, and develop a solid race strategy that meant saving enough in his legs to dominate in the DH and not bury himself too badly in the battle on the XC course. Letting go of the XC for a 3rd-place finish was a painful pill to swallow without a doubt, but in the end it paid off as his combined DH and XC points solidified his victory in the All Mountain category. It also didn't hurt that the other three threats with strong finishes in the XC: Decker, Colin Daw and Barry Wicks all flatted on the DH course. 

Proof positive that it was a good day to be riding WTB with sponsored riders Ryan Gardner (3rd), Anthony Medaglia (4th), Jeremiah Newman (6th), and Jeff Kendall-Weed (9th) in the top 10 of the Pro Men's DH while Jaimie Kendall-Weed and Lauren Gregg took 3rd and 4th in the Pro Women's DH and 4th and 5th in the All Mountain. Huge thanks to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship for putting this incredible event on for the past 20 years. It's been an awesome ride!

Throwback Thursdays: 1986 Bike Fit

02 July, 2015

It's easy to get caught up in today's world of watts, cadence, Strava times, pre ride, mid ride, and post ride recovery, nutrition and hurt feelings and think that it's an awfully scientific state that cycling has found itself in.  It certainly is - might as well swing by the nearest cycling cafe en route to the weekly bring the pain ride to get things adjusted just so, maximizing output.

What's refreshing is to read that in 1986, bike fit, or should I say power optimization, was already figured out.  Not only that, it even made sense.  Bike fit was bike fit was bike fit, and, still is bike fit.

Take a quick pass at Mark Slate's words of wisdom from 1986 appearing in Mountain Bike, on generous loan to us from Marilyn Price (pretty fun to see her name on its cover) and Trips for Kids / The Recyclery.  You can directly apply Slate's advice today and it makes perfect sense, there are those that would argue that a 24" handlebar isn't cool anymore but before we know it, narrow bars will be cool again.  Enjoy.

Rambling... 'Bout Arizona

03 June, 2015


Our mothers would be ashamed at the mess we made of our outdoor room... if only the real side of bikepacking were pretty.

A lot of people like to start trip reports with a carefully laid out, folded, photo perfect arrangement of all gear taken on the trip.  The background tends to look strikingly similar to a photo studio, things are so neat, tidy, and arranged.  I swear the items they take with them are numbered, alphabetized, and cataloged away in an immaculate spreadsheet where all the columns contently follow commands of flawless formulas and nothing ever reads ***ERROR cell after cell.  I imagine these people fully unpack their suitcases when traveling, even if staying in a hotel room for a mere matter of hours, shelving away crisply folded items of unyielding perfection.

I'm not one of those people.

 Bikepacking for me follows a pretty foolproof formula:

1. Get frumpy.  Leading up to any trip lasting greater than two days, I get this rising sense of inner panic in knowing that yes, I really am going out there, yes it's out there, and yes, something could go wrong out there.  I frown over what I look so longingly forward to the entire rest of the year.  It's weird.  The longer the upcoming trip, the longer the pre-trip frumpy period.

2. I figure out some way to kinda, sorta, politely ask my wife what region of floor space I may occupy for an indefinite packing period.  The pile grows higher.  Small zip ties lurk beneath various rain shells, mounts for oversized GPS units, too many dry bags, camp gloves, this, no that, well whatever it's all in there.  Food goes there too.  It's a feverish state, nothing's where I left it last... which water purifier?  A friend called me on it once, told me I was emotionally packing.  Correct.  I emotionally pack.

3. The pile gets too big.  It angers me seeing the physical size of what I'll be lashing to my bike.  The departure date tauntingly teeters forward.  I continue looking in the same place I've already looked four times for the same thing I don't need.

4. I'm outta time.  I cram, push, heave, zip, buckle, grab, fill, and hoist things into their bags and cubbies.  Somehow, that mountain is packed away.  P.S. it's heavy.

 5. I'm out there.

Then it doesn't matter.  I've probably done some heinous drive, not gotten sleep, and chances are, I'm at elevation.  It's a great way to start.

Then the heat of the moment stress wears off.  The bike is oppressively heavy.  Each pedal stoke is like moving cinderblocks.  What is going on with my steering?  I swear I'll never be able to lean this thing.

But just when it feels like that unrelenting tyrant of weight and stress will never ease up, it does.  I look up.  I realize where I am.

And it's beautiful.  I am where I wanted to be.  All that stress, fidgeting, and irksome behavior is somehow worth it.  I've waited months for this.

Photo credit: Spencer Rathkamp 

So when Clayton from Mountain Bike Action told me he was soon to be testing the Rocky Mountain Sherpa, we both agreed that he had to test it proper[ly.]  No overnight pretend to take it bikepacking staging, this thing needed time out there.  It needed a real trip.  So we discussed it.


We settled on the Coconino 250 connecting Flagstaff to Sedona in a big clockwise loop, throwing in some climb everybody seems to whine about called Mingus Mountain and a bunch of really good looking singletrack.  I'd wanted to do it for years so I promptly committed to it wholeheartedly before having any idea how I'd make it happen.  It didn't help that we discussed it late into the evening during the Throwdown at Weir's house.

The ploy was pretty straightforward.

He had to test this:

Rocky Mountain Sherpa, one awesome overland bike loaded to the gills with WTB goodies and Porcelain Rocket bags

Which in case you didn't notice, comes equipped with this:

WTB Trailblazer 2.8 27.5+ TCS Light: Fast Rolling tire tubelessly mounted to WTB Scraper i45 27.5+ TCS rims... let the horizon be your guiding waypoint. Photo Credit: Clayton Wangbichler

Allowing us to do this:


Even bikepacking doesn't slow down Spencer Rathkamp. He hips, airs, styles, sends and wheelies everything with too much speed. Particularly wheelies. He's a roadie too. Yep, a real one. Plus, he's 20. That means he's invincible. Not fair.

And this:

Clayton tested it properly. You'd be hard pressed to find somebody who has a deeper sense of purpose for exploration than Clayton.  He lives to get out there, and you couldn't find a more upbeat, calculated, hilarious, and rad guy to go out there with, you really couldn't.

Though I'll never admit it, I think he just maybe could have tested those things without me.  And somehow, in some sort of master negotiating moment for me, a terrible negotiator, I traded coverage or something... for going on this trip.  Whatever I traded, I sure hope it pans out.  The trip certainly did.

It involved a lot of this:

Photo Credit: Clayton Wangbichler.  Location: Over the Edge Sedona.  Amusement level: High

Wandering about and coming across people who would peer down with wonder and amazement and utter, Holy smokes! You sure you're going to ride that far carrying all of that? Wow. How much's that hub weigh?

Lots.  And we didn't necessarily ride that far too.  We cut a nice little bit out from Sedona to Cottonwood called Lime Kiln or something like that that trip reporters, after first posting their manicured gear list as photo one, lamented they would never ever make the mistake again.  So we figured we wouldn't make the mistake the first time.  Instead, we'd make sure we make the Mingus Mountain mistake, which there's even a gps file specifically routing people around.  But first we had to meet up with Richard:


Richard rules.  Old school real touring at it's absolute finest mixed with an insatiable thirst for singletrack meets modern day non-rack, sewn bike bag style newfound understanding.  No chamois.  No froo froo cycling clothes.  No overpriced freeze dried food.  No GPS.  No smart phone.  No texting.  No worries.  I watched him cook a pile of ham with a square shaped piece of yellow cheese over a fire log.  No hipster allow myself to woods myself tomfoolery here either - it was, I have food, here is a means of cooking it. He brought a sleeve of bagels.  That's like, heavy dude.  Clayton even started doing some small whimpering about how nice it must be to have real food when Richard whipped out avocados from his backpack and sliced a large dollop onto his bagel, ham, and yellow cheese heaping concoction mid ride.  Richard is real, a good dude who owns Moustache Cycles and I believe referred to himself as a vagabond journeyman during a stint of trail babble between all of us.  Why babble?  We had to go up Mingus:


Richard powering up Mingus Mountain. No gloves, forgot to mention that.  Photo: Clayton Wangbichler

Richard had no problem with Mingus - how do I know?  Easy, I didn't see him.  I was in the back having many breaks and is it really worth it moments.  The kind where you can't hear because your heart is pounding so loudly in your eardrums.  The trail got a lot worse than what's pictured above - ridiculously sharp rocks with really high side narrow singletrack rocks perfectly aimed at ideal shin scraping height while ahhhem, pushing a loaded bike up overly tight switchbacks.  The worst part was, it kept looking like there should be water - green vegetation, this curious feeling of water in the air, damp earth.  No water.  I really wanted some water.  It didn't help that we saw a bunch of these:

Photo credit: Clayton Wangbichler

Those are bear tracks.  I was convinced that bears weren't allowed in Arizona.  Eventually, we were rewarded with singletrack:

Not necessarily order appropriate but this definitely describes the fun descent had as Spencer Rathkamp owns it.  Photo credit: Clayton Wangbichler

More singletrack:

Varied terrain - pines, red rock, desert brush, rock, brush, pines again. Photo: Spencer Rathkamp.

We passed ruins:

WTB Trailblazer, Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion seat bag, ruinous backdrop - all surefire ingredients of success.

Saw a lovely sunset:

And made a mess:

There's something about a long day that makes things spring out of bike bags in great haste.  Then the bike bags sit there, deflated, and make the repack task seem all the more insurmountable in the morning.  That day I don't think we ever stopped climbing but made it to Williams in time for their Western show, which makes me think it was actually Memorial Day:

We stashed our bike bags in the hotel lobby with plans to grab them that night - yep, we wussed out and grabbed a hotel in Williams thinking we'd nail some singletrack in a lighter fashion with bags left in the lobby during our last leg to Flagstaff.  Part of it worked out anyway, a simple plan:


Then send it:

Anybody who says you can't get rad with plus sized tires just plain doesn't get it.  Spencer definitely gets it.  Sends it too.

Then it was on to hauling ourselves back to Flagstaff.  

First fire road:

San Francisco and Humphreys Peak.  No, not the riders, the mountains. Photo: Spencer Rathkamp

Then double track:

Photo credit: Clayton Wangbichler

Then rad:

 Spencer Rathkamp, Photo credit: Clayton Wangbichler

Perfect gentle downhill Arizona Trail led us to Flagstaff in a haze of banks and turns by 11pm, exhausted.  We threw our things about, step one of arriving anywhere, threw real clothes on ourselves, jumped into Clayton's van and pinned our way to the bike bag pickup back at the hotel in Williams.  A very curious Western-esque standoff between the hotel owner, hiding behind his window, and the dirty bikepackers, hoping for their bags, resulted in cops and a suspicion arousing $30 bag retrieval fee.  I was just happy to have our bags.  We lumbered our way back on I-40 and thundered through the desert night, somehow energized through cops, singletrack, and surviving the whole affair.  I arrived back in just about the same state of mind I left in, though forever thankful for the journey, friends, work, and family that all made it possible.

Bikepacking rules.

So buy some WTB 27.5+ tires and Porcelain Rocket bags or better yet, buy a Rocky Mountain Sherpa, it comes with WTB TCS 27.5+ tires and rims and I'm quite certain Porcelain Rocket bags will fit on there.  See you out there.



Throwback Thursdays: 2007 Riddler... Ahhhem... Vulpine 2.1

14 May, 2015

The 2007 Riddler, inspired by WTB professional athlete Nathan Riddle, boasted...

Fast rolling micro center tread combined with cornering side knobs:

Was lightweight, a new breed of tire, never before thought of...

Wait a second... this isn't a Riddler, what are we talking here?

Kissing cousins?  My, they look similar:

And that's just it.  For those out there who thought we just looked at what others were doing, Nope.  We uh, yeah, had kind of done this thing before.  So when Nathan Riddle kindly and rightfully requested a tire that hauled yet cornered like a demon, it resonated with us, resonated big time.  Brought us back to 2007 perhaps, a time before semi-slick's re-resurgence.  And guess what, you can go further than that and also find a time when semi-slicks had their own little cycle of popularity too, and... wait for it, another little cycle and time of semi-slicks before that.

So here's to good ideas from the start, we like our good ideas.

The 2007 Vulpine catalog description:

And the 2007 WTB Catalog cover, this one was Chris' and for those that know Chris, the extra S makes total sense.  Happy Throwback Thursday, here's to a new resurgence of good old ideas.

Hoedown at WTB's Throwdown

12 May, 2015

WTB Employee Alex Hodson getting some at Weir's pump track. Photo: Abner Kingman

I guess I could see it all evolving from almost a longing, selfish jealousy - Weir's got, like, all that cool stuff... lucky.  Kind of like that childhood friend that obtrusively invited himself over, we inserted our necessity to invade his land of irrefutably rad things.  The land of Weir, the land of the Ranch.  We devised a ploy, an extended excuse of justification based on a lofted request from our European office: to tell the California story.  Our caring cousins from the European Union had visited Marin for global meetings and before they were lectured to lethargy, they identified that need, to tell our story.  And we did, through the world of Weir, and we really couldn't have been luckier.

It started here:


Photo: Abner Kingman

Now you'd think that that European media would show up to understand what we're all about.  Not so.  You'd guess that at the very least, our European office would attend, document our Fest de California, and returned armed with our story of roots, origins, trails and triumphs.  That would almost make sense.  Nope, somehow we, WTB USA, and our friends, US media and fellow Throwdown sponsors, got to have the time of our lives at the private trails of the Novato Ranch and gluttonously fun backyard of Mark Weir.  But before we got to do that, school, was, in, session:


Jason Moeschler and Francis Cebedo of MTBR enjoy the Trail Boss' tale. Photo: Abner Kingman

The Trail Boss tells it.  He's seen it, he's lived it, he's ridden it, and he's certainly cleaned it - un hunh, I'm talking that sketchball section of trail, the Trail Boss has definitely cleaned it.  Mark Slate also kindly helped walk us through WTB's product history:

Photo: Abner Kingman

And of course we talked about tires... We ride in the dirt, therefore we talk about tires, that's undisputed, right?

Photo: Abner Kingman

Then, it was time to sign waivers.  Waivers?  We don't need no stinkin' waivers.  Come within 20 miles of Weir's place and it's time to sign some fine print:

I, the aforementioned, understand that mountain biking and WEIR are inherently dangerous, and am hereby releasing all liability...

It actually made some sense, promptly upon arrival to Novato, media were hurled down this:

Ben Cruz, riding too fast to tell it's Ben Cruz. Photo: Abner Kingman

I think they (shredders of the Ranch) call it something like terminal velocity or an equally menacing name referring to foolish speed that I'd always been equally wary and skeptical of, hearing about it for ages.  It just completely drops off a hill.  One second you're captivated by the beauty of what appear to be gentle ridge tops, then the trail falls out from under you before you know what you're in for.

Clayton from Mountain Bike Action approaching the impending singletrack waterfall with aplomb. 

 Yet somehow, they loved it.  Rachelle from Pinkbike couldn't hide her smile:

After hurling off the top, the trail snaked its way into a maze of Bays, berms, stutter bumps, and tables. Photo: Abner Kingman

Nor Jon from NSMB:

Jon Harris of putting his WTB Breakout 2.5 27.5" tires to the test.  Photo: Abner Kingman.

It was simple really, shuttle:

Fox Racing Shox and their SVT Raptor were a huge hit.  Photo: Abner Kingman

Then send it:

Photo: Abner Kingman

I'm getting ahead of myself.  Fun was had by more than just media.  Weir showed us how it was done on the trails he's the master of:

Photo: Abner Kingman

Jason put the big tires to the big test:

Trailblazers are also made for schralping. Proper schralping. Photo: Abner Kingman

Jeff Kendall-Weed effortlessly aired things:

Photo: Abner Kingman

Marco skimmed stutters with alarming speed:

Low. Marco Osborne always looks low over his bike in pictures when jumping.  It makes complete sense in real life, he's going sooo fast, I don't think there's any other option than a low dart across things. Photo: Abner Kingman

And Ben moto'ed his way through things with the sheer force and strength only he seems to have:

Ben Cruz knows this turn well. Really well. Photo: Abner Kingman

Jerome took a brief pause from shaming people on the descents and redirected his attention to shaming people on the rock crawling course:

Photo: Abner Kingman.

 And Nathan Riddle pushed his Riddlers to the brink:

THE Nathan Riddle of the Riddler tire, cornering as the tire, and Nathan, love to do. Photo: Abner Kingman.

 And that was just the riding part.  Then it was time to clean ourselves up, pretend we hadn't been pummeling our way down hillsides plagued with poison oak, take a shower, put on a fresh shirt, try to be classy:

Photo: Abner Kingman

The Weirs' beautiful home was only almost eclipsed by the feast of overwhelmingly good food.  So much meat, Weir threw out some statistic about the quantity of meat consumed that was a rather alarming pound per capita ratio.  It was all the good kind too - you know the happy life, live in Novato kind (I'm talking meat here, btw.)  He, Weir, gave a deeply heartfelt and sincere welcome, thanks, and toast to everyone as we were digging into the scrumptious food on his fine lawn.  It definitely had that ring that hung in the air and was so far from fake.  It wasn't rehearsed, it wasn't long.  It was real, it couldn't be more real.  He said thanks and he meant it.  The more time I'm lucky enough to spend in proximity to Weir (after signing liability releases, mind you) the more I realize that's just Weir, he's real, like it or not, but it's pretty hard to not like.  The next morning, as I was detangling myself from the confines of my truck camper across the street, he approached with a smile and open threats of fresh coffee as I was scampering about, trying not to raise neighbor's suspicions.  He didn't have to do that.  Why was I sleeping in the back of my truck?  Simple, because of this:

Mix free beer, too much good food, pump track, way too many RC cars, a bonfire and it starts to seem normal for mechanized things to fly past your head at speed. Photo: Abner Kingman

Yeah it was fun.

I am fairly certain it is impossible to not have fun here. Photo: Abner Kingman

Jeff Kendall-Weed taming the pump track in front of Alex Dunn's amazing mural - stay posted, more to come on the mural soon. Photo: Abner Kingman

I'd say too much fun but I think it was just right.  I expected a lot of hurt feelings and scraped appendages, purely from the evening but things seemed very... controlled... or I don't know if I'd go so far as to say behaved, but certainly not the level of total meltdown that I think many feared.  I'm even fairly confident to say that I think all had a good time, that's huge, I witnessed no squabbles, people were downright happy.

And though you won't believe me, we did climb, well, a little bit, as Cushionbury of Dirt Rag kind of sort of proves here:

Actually, this just looks like he's climbing.  We did climb though, I swear, and man was it steep. Photo: Abner Kingman

And the party didn't stop, it just moved venues:

Photo: Abner Kingman

On to race tape and tacky red dirt as Ron from Bicycling shows above, then sloppy red mud as you can read about HERE.

Here's to the inaugural Throwdown.  We were the kids that invited ourselves over and didn't leave.  We had more fun than we thought possible and couldn't be more thankful that all our friends put up with us during our seemingly imposed and extended stay.  It was a blast that didn't stop, we couldn't be more fortunate for the opportunity.  A huge thank you to all media that attended and gave us the excuse, to Eugene Power, the finest chef you'll find, Tony Rissotti who raised the meat we gluttonously thankfully ate, the entire Weir and extended Weir family for hosting and graciously accommodating all of us, to all the sponsors that helped make it possible - Smith, Cannondale, CamelBak, Fox Racing Shox, Stages Cycling, Royal Racing, GU, Kali Protectives, Axial, Chico Bag Horizon Hobby and Blackburn.  Plus our athletes that made it happen: Lauren Gregg, Nathan Riddle, Jeff Kendall-Weed, Jerome Clementz, Ben Cruz, Marco Osborne, Jason Moeschler, of course Mark Weir.  A big thank you to Lisa and Heather in marketing for nonstop, tireless planning and orchestration.  How's that for an unwarranted grammy acceptance speech?  How's this - see y'all next year for more fun than you can imagine having.

Here's to the Throwdown and good times.  Too much fun is just the right amount of fun to have.

Photo: Abner Kingman


All Rights Reserved WTB and Abner Kingman Photography 2015

When Bikes, RC cars, a Fire Pit, The Ranch, & Beer Converge... WTB's THROWDOWN

30 April, 2015


WTB Throwdown 2015 from WTB on Vimeo.


The plan started simple: invite media who are already attending Sea Otter up to get a little taste of the real WTB after the event.  You know, show them our former and still garage of an office, then off to the land of the WEIRdo for whatever shenanigans we'd then have to later very carefully talk our way out of with members of importance.  Target European media, tell the California story.

Well, the Euros wimped out and the plan got out of hand.  What you see in the video is pretty much what happens when nobody tells you to slow down and think about things.  We need demo bikes.  Cool, entire truck fulla Jekylls and Triggers.  We need shuttle vehicles.  Great, FOX SVT Raptor.  Scary trails.  Ok, The Ranch.  Beer.  Kegs of Lagunitas...

I wish somebody had told us to stop.  Too much.  Too much good.  Enjoy the video, it tells a glimpse, that I'm still feeling...

And stay tuned for more coverage... we'll do a full recap, when we recover that is...

The Dirtiest Dirty Sanchez

29 April, 2015

Photo: Abner Kingman

The Dirty Sanchez Enduro, probably one of the most polarizing names given to an event.  Many will not even make it to this second sentence due to outright offense at the naming convention of the first.  Somehow, this is the fourth iteration of the event that has slowly, yet surely, become everybody's favorite who's been lucky enough to race it.  Invite only, The Dirty Sanchez harvests only those already known to handle indecipherable wet rocks, red berms, wood lips, unrelenting mud, and an endless sea of Poison Oak.  That's only the riding part.  Mix in top heavy spattering side-by-side shuttles, the incessant sawing whine of motos, resistant shuddering generators powering stadium lights, an all-too-big campfire... Mark Weir, an RC course, RV trailers, media, haphazardly strewn Sprinter vans, racers, and nobody in a five mile radius to call in a noise complaint and you have one hell of an extended weekend.

So how does this fest brimming over with all too much good tucked away in a nebulous undisclosed location happen?

Simple.  One man:

Ron Sanchez, the nicest gruff guy or gruffest nice guy you'll ever meet.  The face of TDS.  Photo: Abner Kingman.

Well really one family actually, the Sanchez family - yep, hence the name, makes it happen.  You won't find a single racer that doesn't feel fortunate for their hard efforts either, I kept hearing cooing about not even a single lip feels sketchy, duuude and it's like I'm back in BC, only, it's better.  Even the rain couldn't keep the accolades at bay.

Chris Ravina, toilet paper, The Dirty Sanchez, and a whole lotta sloppy brown mud. That's inappropriate. Photo: Abner Kingman

Mud.  Eat your drivetrain whole mud.  Lauren Gregg even paid for a wheel chair accessible hotel room with a generously large shower so she could give her bike the soak down it deserved after day one.  We were all astounded, it's not allowed to rain in California anymore, what happened?

Sticks and stones will clean my bikes but mud will always hurt me.  Why?  Photo: Abner Kingman.

 But even mud didn't stop the shredding, there was business to attend to, a race to be had, as Jason Moeschler properly exemplified in a motion blur of delight:

Jason Moeschler ran a wisely chosen Warden / Vigilante tire pairing to a respectable 9th place finish despite the slop.

 Perfect hits kept Jeff Kendal-Weed happy:

11th aboard a Vigilante / Breakout combo, way to go Jeff! Photo: Abner Kingman

 Dane Peterson conquered rocks with his Vigilante tires:

Rock, wet, grime... Dane and the Vigilante conquer it all. Photo: Abner Kingman

And Ben Cruz seemed to alarmingly gain speed with every berm he exited, zinging him to a third place finish:

Ben gets it done, he isn't afraid of the rowdy lines either. Photo: Abner Kingman

But what's a race without heckling and where was the chief heckler himself?  Reveling in the delight of others' misery of course:

Mark Weir.  100% in his element, this photo is sooooo Weir.  Photo: Abner Kingman.

Yet his antics didn't seem to faze the master of poise and calculated smoothness, Jerome Clementz:

Jerome Clementz, calculated champion.  Photo: Abner Kingman

And the serious officials and serious rules couldn't seem to shake Cory Sullivan from suicide no handers:

Whoever said you can't live vicariously through racers must've been crazy.  Or wearing a mustache.  Photo: Abner Kingman

Cory Sullivan adding style to Day 1's runs.  Photo: Abner Kingman

But it wasn't just Cory that added style to what he was faced with, Rachel Throop awed all with her elegant style through even the most technical sections:

Rachel seamlessly puts lines together, it's incredible to watch.  Photo: Abner Kingman.

And Rachelle Frazer kept it together with keen concentration through the high speed sections:

You can tell Rachelle's spent plenty of shore time, steep wet rocks don't faze her one bit. Photo: Abner Kingman.

Yet despite the concentration and competition, fun was had - Lauren Gregg took fun all the way to a fourth finish:

Who said races can't be fun?  Well, this was practice, but it's impossible not to smile when trails irrefutably invoke delight. Photo: Abner Kingman

Wall rides usually help with the smiles too, Marco aggressively seared his way through this one:

Speed and power - Marco is absolutely fearless and there's a sheer strength that seems to hang in the air as he churns past. Photo: Abner Kingman

 Notice how over the front Marco rides, he shameless wants to go faster, until something like this happens:

I can't believe Abner was able to capture this but he did, incredible. Photo: Abner Kingman

Marco rode this out.  Ab-so-lutely crazy, it went on for what seemed like forever - pinging, bouncing, bucking, jumping slamming and finally back on the pedals, planted, pushing faster downhill.  Amazing.

John Waldron slapped a 36 on the front of his 120mm 29er and called it good.  No matter how rowdy the course got, Johnny made it happen.  Photo: Abner Kingman

Local ripper John Waldron had a similar bout with defeat, or shall I say de-seat, that he too triumphantly righted and maintained his composure.  Johnny is a junior at the high school two blocks down the street from us and is a stand up kid, who more than held his own with the pros atop a 120mm travel 29er, way to go Johnny.

And then, before we knew it, the race was over.  Time for side-by-sides to turn their lights on:

The Weir guided tour. Photo: Abner Kingman

Time for revelry:

Photo: Abner Kingman

And oh yeah, I almost forgot, time for podiums too:

Photo: Abner Kingman

Fast ladies - Joanna Petterson, Rachel Throop, and Teal Stetson-Lee, 1, 2, 3.

Photo: Abner Kingman

Men of menacing speed and mischief - Jerome Clementz, Marco Osborne, and Ben Cruz, way to go.

Photo: Abner Kingman

Somehow it happened again and we were all left in a state of wonder as to whether we'd really experience something so real.  High fives, high revs, mud, and good times - The Dirty Sanchez happened again and we couldn't be more thankful for being able to take part.

A huge thank you to the Sanchez family, all generous and kind volunteers for their tireless efforts, and fellow sponsors for making this event of brimming proportions possible.  It doesn't get more real than this.

See y'all next year.

All Rights Reserved - WTB & Abner Kingman Photography 2015




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