The 2011 Ashland Spring Thaw was full of surprises complete with teeth-chattering temperatures and snow levels so high, race organizers had to re-route the XC course. There was even talk of snow the next day at the start of the downhill. The start of the XC bore its own natural wonders, as there was more than one double take when Team WTB/Cannondale rider Mark Weir showed up on a Flash 29 hardtail. For a guy who is almost synonymous with endurance downhill riding, one had to stop and take a gander.
Not one to compromise performance especially on race day, Weir ran Stryker 29” wheels with the new 29” Wolverine 2.2 tire on the front and 29” Bronson 2.2 on the back. The result: a fifth place finish and trip to the podium for the overall. Weir was just 41 seconds off local favorite and WTB-sponsored rider Nathan Riddle (Santa Cruz/SRAM), who came in fourth with a smoking fast time of 1:43:34. Kenny Burt (WTB/Ibis) stayed true to his 26” roots, and finished in the top 10 in 1:47:01 on Stryker wheels and Nano TCS tires.
Also making his race debut on a 29er hardtail was Team WTB/Cannondale rider Ben Cruz, who finished first in the Men’s Cat 1 (19-34) event in 1:46:34, seven minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. He ran Stryker 29” rims with one of the new Bronson 29” tires up front and a 29”Nano on the back—a combination he said worked “super perfect.” He explained that the Bronson’s traction handled well on the flowy course while the fast-rolling Nano helped him out on the climb.
Weir on his way to a second-place finish in the Spring Thaw DH. Photo courtesy of Jen Burt.
For the Downhill competition, it was back to the full-suspension 26” format for the Team, with Weir finishing second in 4:15.88, three seconds behind first-place finisher Nathan Riddle. For this event, Weir ran Stryker wheels and tested the new Moto 2.3 AM TCS tire up front with a Bronson 2.1 AM TCS tire on the rear. Ben Cruz took fourth place, missing third by only .03 of a second! Bobby McMullen, despite freezing afternoon temperatures, had a few surprises of his own as he cleared the rock garden and finished the tacky, unpredictable course like a champ! For those who may not know, Bobby McMullen is legally blind and an inspiration on and off the course!
Bobby McMullen is guided through the rock garden in the Spring Thaw DH event. Photo courtesy of LM.
Kenny Burt shredding the DH on Strykers! Photo courtesy of Jen Burt.
Thank you to Echelon Events for hosting another fantastic Spring Thaw event. Rain or shine, you can count WTB in for next year’s surprise party!