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 NSMB.com 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
« previous post   |   next post »