Year Two of the Annual WTB Semper Fi Mountain Bike Skills Camp

01 June, 2017

For the second year in a row, WTB has partnered with the Semper Fi Fund to facilitate a four-day mountain bike skills camp aimed at supporting fifteen service members on their roads to recovery. The Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit organization with a mission of providing financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured service members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Within the Semper Fi Fund, the Team Semper Fi sports program personifies the motto “Recovery Through Sport” by using sport to overcome the physical and invisible challenges its service members fight every day. WTB strongly supports the continual work of the Semper Fi Fund and is grateful of the opportunity to use mountain bikes, as well as the community they have created, to aid the service members of Team Semper Fi.

 Rather than let them free on the trails of the ranch without any direction or guidance. Jason Moeschler and Mark Weir put together a skills clinic that covered techniques the service members would use at the ranch. 

Photos by Jeremiah Newman

“This was the second year of the event and therefore the relationships have grown and it has shown what we can give back to those who have done so much for us. We can never give back what they have lost in war but what we can give back is the vision of freedom they all fought so hard to preserve.” – Mark Weir, Godfather of American Enduro.

 Arthur Sykes is one of the two Team Semper Fi service members who raced in the TDS enduro. He was a great example of proper berm riding.

Last year, the mountain bike skills camp was held at a privately owned ranch in Novato, California, which provided an exclusive environment that allowed service members to focus on the experience without outside distractions. This year, the Sanchez Family of Grass Valley, California hosted the event on their private ranch following the annual TDS Enduro race they organize every year. Two of the most experienced Team Semper Fi riders, Ryan Beamish and Arthur Sykes, raced in the TDS Enduro this year against some of the fastest racers in the nation. The rest of the service members were present on the sidelines to cheer on (along with a fair amount of heckling) Beamish and Sykes during their race runs.

 Zach Trumble putting the berm skills clinic to good use!

"Three years ago, when I first approached my friend Mark Weir about this idea, I couldn't have imagined the success and immediate impact we would accomplish in such a short period of time. The mountain bike community is such a compassionate family and the idea was to surround our Team Semper Fi members in mountain bike life, ride some of the most incredible trails they would normally not have access to, and receive one-on-one instruction with some of the best riders in the world! This community came together and WTB, Cannondale, Polaris, Kali Protective, Camelbak and others have been incredibly generous with their time and support.” – Sam Tickle, Associate Director of Team Semper Fi.

Practicing brake modulation. Keep the bike rolling but don't let the rear tire hit the ground!

With bikes provided by Cannondale, protective gear from Kali Protectives, hydration by Camelbak, and shuttles made possible by Polaris, WTB was able to kick off the event with a skills clinic for the service members to hone in their technique before taking to the trails. Instructed by mountain bike legends Jason Moeschler and Mark Weir, the service members learned how to properly ride a berm, utilize the modulation of their brakes and absorb trail features for increased speed and control. Following up the skills clinic with two days of riding on the technical trails of the Sanchez ranch, the service members were able to put their skills to good use before heading up to Quincy, California for a final day of long descents on smooth, flowy trails.

 

Mark Weir sharing some wise words of enduro wisdom.

 

Shuttle up, send it, repeat...

 

Matt Kutilek is a roadie through and through, but a considerable amount of his two-wheeled skills transferred over to the mountain side of things. He'll be switching back over to drop bars to race the Dirty Kanza 200 this weekend!
 
"Now that you know how to hit berms, lets practice hucking it through the air." - Jason Moeschler

 

Eight Polaris Rangers made shuttling a breeze. Whether transporting a hand bike or five two-wheeled bike, the uphills often seemed faster than the downs.
 
Craig Harvey showing the group how to absorb a jump rather than airing it.
 
Dan Riley getting up on the first wooden berm while dialing in his focus on the second one.
 
As associate director of Team Semper Fi, Sam Tickle has the role of organizing these events, but he also makes it a priority to get out on the trails and show us how it's done.
 
All smiles, all week. Trains of riders doing one shuttle lap after another.

 

Massive thanks to all the people and sponsors who make the event possible!

 

When the recumbent simply wasn't cutting it in the tight sections of trail at the ranch...

 

....Pete Way said, "Get me on something with two wheels!" It had been 14 years since he rode a bike with two wheels and somehow he still made it look easy.

 

With a bit of snow still in the mountains above Quincy, California, it took a bit of pushing to get us all through the upper section of the trail.

 

Long descents on the loose shale of Mount Hough were quite the contrast from the smooth trails of red dirt at the Sanchez ranch.

 

Mike Schultz is a Fox adaptive athlete who dominates motocross and snocross with ease. Tromping through a heavily flowing stream is easy once you're used to whipping your moto through the air.

 

Pete giving the stream a go!

 

Between all the riding, good times were had by all. Long days of riding were chased down with campfire banter and of course...

 

...RC rock crawling! The WTB crew brought out their fleet of Axial Racing scale crawlers and we spent the last evening of the event hitting rocks at slow speeds for the first time all week.

 

 

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