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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, Godfather 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 Godfather 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, on Godfather trail, 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!

 

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:

Setup:

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.

 

 

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