The weekend of May 18th and 19th marked the first stop of the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala, Italy and the ever popular Spring Thaw Mountain Bike Festival in Ashland, Oregon. It also marked WTB’s attack on global podiums.
Spring Thaw Mountain Bike Festival Downhill podium: Mark Weir (Mutano 2.4 AM TCS,) Nathan Riddle (Bee Line 2.2 650b TCS,) Marco Osborne (Vigilante 2.3 TCS F, Wolverine 2.2 AM TCS R,) Matthew Slaven (Kona,) Kasey Coffman (Felt/SR Suntour/Shimano)
Jerome Clementz, running WTB’s Volt Team saddle and Moto-X Clamp-on grips took second place overall at Punta Ala after winning the first stage and Novato’s own Ben Cruz took sixth, giving downhill and 4X world champions a real run for their money. Ben’s running a full WTB setup, opting for a Vigilante 2.3 Team Issue TCS front tire, Wolverine 2.2 AM TCS rear, Frequency i23 Team rims, Moto-X Clamp-on grips and a Volt Team saddle.
Heavy rains leading up to Punta Ala made for especially challenging conditions in the first two of four stages as riders faced a very dynamic environment of mud, loose rocks, roots, and eventually dry dirt as warmer weather prevailed. Ben gave us an inside line on what he faced last weekend:
“The tracks were crazy. There was a fair amount of rain so the first two were pretty slick. Not the highest speeds but steep, loose, rock-strewn trail with a deep channel that you had to go full committed into and let your bike do the talking. There would be bits in the woods where you would have perfect traction in good soil then come to a clearing and it’d be slippery glossy rocks. All in all, Punta Ala’s tracks reminded me a lot of Marin riding with the soil and the way the hills rolled.”
Ben Cruz, making it happen at the Enduro World Series Round 1, Punta Ala. All of us at WTB couldn’t be prouder watching Ben’s hard efforts pay off. Ben ran a Vigilante 2.3 Team Issue front tire, Wolverine 2.2 AM TCS rear, Frequency i23 Team rims, Volt Team Saddle, and Moto-X Clamp-on grips. Watch out for Ben in rounds 2-7
The rest of the WTB crew faced smoother, faster conditions in Ashland, Oregon. Scattered showers kept the dust at bay as downhill participants blasted down Catwalk and BTI trails at harrowing speeds. Those who feel that something has been missing in their lives haven’t ridden Ashland.
A shaded and wide-ish trail at the perfect tilt composed of packed, clay like dirt with an almost mirrored finish causes the hair on your neck to raise as you’re coaxed into too much speed before you know it. Catwalk then tightens its belt as sinewy singletrack undulates and contours a steep hillside as trees blur past your helmet and bermed switchbacks rattle their way into your vision. It’s perfect.
BTI starts along a finger of ridgeline before committing to dropping into the watershed. A shameless supply of tabled jumps punctuate decomposed granite and almost sandy soil conditions as riders are forced to perfect the land table, brake, turn/drift berm, repeat scenario. You’re either jumping, braking, or turning in a state of recovering from jumping and braking. By the bottom, you genuinely feel sorry for your brakes and if you haven’t used your brakes, then you’re special. Mighty special.
Anyone looking to enjoy life more should contact Bill and Sue at Ashland Mountain Adventures, 541-499-2298, http://ashmtnadv.com/ for shuttles running up the mountain. It really is worth the trip.
It’s not a hard sell to get our athletes to compete on trails like those mentioned above, so it only makes sense that WTB had a presence once it came time for the awards ceremony.
WTB-sponsored riders Mark Weir, Nathan Riddle, and Marco Osborne took first, second, and third place in the downhill race while WTB athlete Kenny Burt took fifth overall in Spring Thaw’s All Mountain category and Jason Moeschler, WTB’s OEM Sales Manager, took seventh place in the Cross Country. Nathan Riddle, Ashland local, UBI professor, and all around good guy (Santa Cruz, Easton, SRAM, Dakine, WTB) ran WTB’s new 650b tire, the Bee Line 2.2 650b TCS tire on his Santa Cruz Bronson bike and tied for first place overall with Folsom Bike’s Jarred Kessler, who raced on WTB Nano 2.1 29” TCS tires.
Team WTB-Cannondale’s Jason Moeschler focused and fierce – doesn’t matter that Jason worked a 60+ hour work week as usual leading up to the race, making it happen as WTB’s OEM Sales Manager. Just another day at the races.
Lisa Moeschler, WTB’s Marketing/Team planner did a great job summing up the weekend for WTB:
"To see Weir back on the DH and All Mountain podiums in Ashland with Jason in the top 10 in the XC while Ben Cruz finished sixth in an international field of top talent in the World Enduro Series in Italy the same weekend is incredible. From where I sit, it's easy to see the sacrifices that are made for strong results. Family, friends, even the dogs (in Ben's case) take a back seat to punishing training rides and brutal travel and work schedules. Their commitment is inspiring, and we couldn't ask for better representation."
Stay posted for more updates on the travels of Team WTB in more postings to come.
P.S. Here’s link to Weir’s recovery ride after Spring Thaw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdqX59dLonE