Friday, December 30, 2011

Well, that's a wrap!

2011 has come and gone, and boy has it been fun!  I've continued to surprise myself by how much I can still learn and progress.  Mountain biking is such an amazing sport, and there is so much more to it than just racing.  I know that cycling will always be central to my life, whether I'm competing or just riding.

I'd like to thank some people who have supported me along the way.  Winning races, let alone even getting to races, would not be possible without them.  I'd like to thank my family (especially Mom and Dad) for always encouraging me to follow my heart and do the things that I'm passionate about.  It seems like just yesterday when you drove Jiri and I all the way to Spokane to give mountain bike racing a try.

I am very grateful to Mark Landsaat of Noble, Paul Giarratano of Magura/Uvex, and Garett Heitman of Clif Bar as well as the the wonderful people of American Classic, Schwalbe, and Kore for supporting all of my racing endeavors.  You guys rock!

2012 is going to be a good year.  Some bigger races are on my calender, as well as all the races around the PNW that I love so much.  See you all next year on the trails or otherwise!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dry trails in December

After a couple weeks of cool dry weather, the ski season is not off to a great start.  The flip side is that the mountain biking has been really damn good.  With the freedom of winter break, the trails have been calling my name on a near daily basis.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Bunny Trails

Yes, they might be tame, as their name implies, but the Bunny Trails on Galbraith sure are fun!  The WHIMPS have done so much work on the mountain, it blows my mind.  The Bunny Trails area was one such section that was logged this year, only later to be restored to its former glory and then some.  I got out on the trail work day this sunday and helped rebuild Art's Trail, one of the Bunny Trails.  I forgot how much I love building and working on trails.

In the above video, my teammate Aaron Mickels is enjoying his new Noble F5 as I lead us through the undulating cross country trails.  So lucky to be able to get out in the woods on a sunny december afternoon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mountain biking love

There's something extra special about mountain biking.  I mean, road and cyclocross are fun too, but they will never take the place of mountain biking in my heart.  It all goes back to my roots, I guess.  As a kid I would watch the same mountain bike movies over and over again, then go outside and rip around the local trails, crashing left and right as I tried to impersonate what I had seen in the movies.

My favorites films(and maybe the only mtb movies at the time?) were the early Kranked and New World Disorders.  The best scenes were the "North Shore" segments, where Dangerous Dan, Wade Summons, and other legends would ride these crazy wooden stunts with huge drops to flat.  I just read this article on NSMB that brought back a lot of these memories.

A classic North Shore clip from "Kranked 4:  Search for the Holy Trail."  

There were a couple years as a kid when I too would build ladder-bridges and skinnies high in the trees.  Instead of in North Vancouver, however, my trails were in my parent's front yard.  I really scared the neighbors when I tried to ride one stunt for the first time and ended up tacoing my front wheel and face-planting.  I never did end up riding that one successfully, despite the whole summer of work spent building it...

I feel good knowing that I got all my crashes done early, while I was still made of rubber!  The "North Shore" era of mountain biking may have come and gone, but it will always be an important part of the progression of the sport.

If I keep going on awesome mtb rides like I did yesterday in the Chuckanuts, my cross bike is going to feel very neglected...

Classic under-the-log, through-the-rocks section of Hush Hush trail.

The new Raptor Ridge trail is superb.

 View from Raptor Ridge with Blanchard in the distance.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall mountain biking at its best

I had the mountain biking itch this week. It felt great to get out on my Noble a couple times. Steve Fisher and I rode Blanchard on tuesday in short sleeves. After riding the perfect dry trails, it's hard to believe that it's nearly November. On wednesday, I checked out the new and improved SST on Galbraith. Wow, so much fun! People have clearly put in a whole lot of time on the mountain rebuilding and repairing the effects of the logging operation.

Felt great to ride my Noble after all the recent cyclocross riding.

Chuckanut and the San Juans as seen from Oyster Dome.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bellingham Double-Header Weekend

I am thoroughly wrecked after racing back to back days at home in Bellingham this weekend.

Friday night I helped Ryan Rickerts setup the cyclocross course for saturday's "Killer Cross" event. Motivation to race the next day was not high, but I figured I should give it a go since I helped put the course together. Plus, Whitney and I were able to ride to the venue from home. It's not often I can be a good hippy and not burn a bunch of gas driving somewhere so that I can race my bike.

The race itself ended up being a lot of fun. The sun was out and the lengthy lap had a lot of variety and funkiness, something Ryan's courses are known for. My favorite part was the "bark chip mountain" run/ride-up. Steve Fisher and I battled for most of the race and were evenly matched, as usual, but he had a bit more snap in his legs than me in the end.

Following Steve up "the grassy knoll." Photo: Ryan Rickerts

Today's race was the Lake Padden mountain bike duathlon sponsored by Klicks Running and Walking(formerly and still the best place in town to buy running shoes and apparel). For those who don't know, a duathlon is a triathlon without the swim(I can barely swim without drowning). The order of tri's are: swim, bike, run; but in a duathlon it goes: run, bike, run. I used to run track and cross country for fun back in high school and I still like to get out to some running events every once in a while. I had previously raced the Padden mtb duathlon in 2008 and had a great close race with one of my roommates at the time, Charlie Sunderlage.

The race started out hard, but I used some self control and held a maintainable pace. I'm not a serious runner by any means, but I knew that the strategy of trying to stay with the leaders for as long as possible was not going to get me far like it would in a bike race. The first 2.6 mile lap around the lake went smoothly but I had a lot of time to make up on the half dozen guys in front of me.

I started off on my Noble, legs feeling like lead, and one by one caught and passed people. Now I was in my element. The mtb leg followed the same super-classic course as the Padden Pedal mtb race. Having raced and ridden out there for years, I knew all the secret ninja lines on the descents and exactly where to punch it and where to recover. My F4 felt like an all-mountain rig after riding my cross bike the day before!

I came into the second transition with a healthy lead, but knew that the second run was where it would all go down. The pain of the next 2.6 miles was a foreign feeling after so much bike racing the last few years. At about 400 meters before the finish I glanced over my shoulder and saw someone about twenty seconds back. He came by me with 200 to go and I tucked in behind him and and held on for as long as I could. In the end he finished a couple seconds ahead and set a new course record. Turns out his name is Dusty Caseria and he's a damn good runner! I guess he ran a 1:51 half mile recently in college. Wow.

I really wanted the coveted first-place beer pitcher for winning, but I guess I'll have to train harder next year!

Bellingham Herald article here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Enchanted Traverse

Loren, Mark, Mike, Travis, Eric, Toby and I hiked through the amazing Enchantments area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness last saturday. It was an amazing day. The Enchantment Lakes area is notoriously difficult to gain access to, both physically and legally(overnight permits must be obtained far in advance). We parked a car at each end-Colchuck Lake and Snow Creek-and hiked the route as a 20 mile point-to-point one-day thru-hike. The golden fall colors of the Larch trees are spectacular. Not many people see such a sight.

Colchuck Lake and Asgard pass-the back door into the Enchantments.

Asgard Pass.

Colchuck Lake.

Sudden hail storm at 7000+ feet elevation.

Upper Enchantments basin.

Toby and golden larches.

Prusik Peak in the distance.

Mike and Travis.

The crew minus Toby - he wandered ahead for a bit.

Snow Lake far below us.

Nada Lake.

Check out the strange water jet below Snow Lake. I have never seen or heard of anything like this before, especially not in a wilderness area. Powerful is an understatement.

More photos on my Flickr page.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back to School

After working all summer at Gregg's Cycles in Bellevue, I am happy to be back in school and living in Bellingham. Here are a few things I have been up to over the last couple weeks:

Noble Knob ride with lots of Nobles!

Whitney, my F4, and the White River Valley.

Whitney pushing her bike up a steep hike-a-bike section.

Last weekend's Starcrossed and Rapha/Focus GP cyclocross races were lot of fun. Both days featured superstars of the sport from around the world. It was really cool to have the opportunity to race at such a high level so close to home. I had a great race on saturday, finishing 18th. Sunday was going well for the first couple laps, but I blew up hard and went backwards before being pulled.
CX Magazine reports for Starcrossed and Rapha/Focus GP.

Starcrossed start. Photo: Deanna Lloyd.

Long beach run. Photo: Ryan Rickerts.

Leading Aaron and Nick. Photo: Deanna Lloyd.

Good friend Aaron leading on sunday, rain coming down. Photo: Suza Marie Photography

Sand and Lake Sammamish. Photo: Suza Marie Photography

Last tuesday Whitney and I hiked Yellow Aster Butte in the North Cascades. The pictures speak for themselves:

View from the top looking south. Shuksan left, Baker right.

Looking north into Canada. Mt Larrabee, top-right.

Fall is starting to reveal itself.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Capitol 100

Wow, that was a humbling experience. I have a new respect for endurance mountain bike racing after competing in the Capitol Forest 100 mile race yesterday.

My long time friend, Gian Dalle, and I had made plans to ride most of the race together. Unfortunately, that plan only lasted about 5 minutes into the race when I clipped my pedal on a rock and twisted my chain. My only option to stay in the race was to turn around and ride back to the start and hope I could find someone with a spare chain. Very fortunately, a race-support mechanic from The Bike Stand in Olympia drove up and offered me a chain. I am so grateful to have had my bike fixed and been able to get back in the race. Nothing would have sucked more than only being able to race the first mile of a 100 mile mtb race!

Once rolling again, I started to have a lot of fun cruising through the different sections of trail. Capitol Forest has some seriously fun singletrack! The race promotors and Friends of Capitol Forest did an amazing job of clearing the 42 miles of singletrack (Imagine how long it would take to even walk that far, not to mention clearing brush!). About ten miles in, I started to catch some other racers and for the rest of the first 50 mile lap I slowly worked my way through the field of riders. It was really encouraging having so many people in front of me to chase down. The second 50 mile lap was a different story...

I had now moved all the way back up to third place and I was still feeling good, but definitely a bit lonely out there. It wasn't until the one and only fire-road section of the race, an 8 mile climb up Capitol Peak, that the mileage really started to catch up with me. I was beginning to have stomach problems, felt like I was going to puke, and my body was hurting in places that had never hurt before. It was a relief to finally make it to the last aid station, where I sucked down a couple of caffeinated clif shots. Those helped big time, and I found enough energy to push over the final climb and down to the finish. Speaking of feed zones, they rocked! There were nine feed stops, in total, and each time that I stopped I was overwhelmed by helpful and friendly volunteers offering me whatever I needed.

I rolled across the line in second place, about twenty minutes behind Gian. Going straight to my car, I sat on the grass for a while and tried to eat. That was a seriously hard race in a way that I am not used to. I guess the pain is a big reason why racing is so satisfying though, right? Sounds like Gian had a pretty easy race. He waited for me for a while, not knowing how long I had been delayed. I think it would have been a close battle between us, but I have a feeling he may have been a little stronger. It's been a long season of racing for me and I'm ready to take a break and then maybe ride and run around in the mud (for shits and giggles).

9 hours and 13,000 feet of climbing. Ouch.

This event, like the Stottlemeyer 60 miler back in May, was a ton of fun. I think it's really great that there is a new mtb race series in Washington, especially an endurance series. I think a lot of people are more interested in these longer "marathon" style events as opposed to the "olympic format" multi-lap races. Roger, head of the NW Epic Series, is even planning to add more races to the calendar next year. I'm excited to see what the future brings.

Pimped my ride!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Capitol Forest Classic

The Friends of Capitol Forest put on an awesome event last weekend; the Capitol Forest Classic. Saturday's cross country course was a blast, with 100% singletrack and an epic feel. Greggs co-worker/friend Gian (John) Dalle, Loren Hanson, and I rode a lot of the race together, enjoying the fun trails. I attacked on the long downhill about halfway through the race and held on for the win. Gian and Loren finished strong for 2nd and 3rd respectively. Noble teammate, Aaron Mickels had a great ride for 4th place on the new Noble F5. After the race, lots of free Fish Tale local beer and food was consumed. There was even a tequila bar with free shots!

Sunday's Super-D (D for downhill) was a ton of fun. Gian and I decided to ride over 2000 vertical feet up to the start of the course. Long story short, we ended up getting lost and had to burry ourselves up a fireroad climb in an attempt to make our start times. Gian missed his by a couple minutes and I made mine with less than two minutes to catch my breath. All things considered, it was probably the perfect warmup for the race. I had a mostly clean run, with only one memorable mistake. I was later surprised to find out that I had set the fastest time of the day, ahead of some fast downhill racers. Gian was forced to wait on top of the mountain for an hour until he could take a later start time. Unfortunately, he broke his chain mid-run and had to pump extra hard. I bet he would have given me a good run for my money, had his chain not broken.

All-Mountain king and queen.

As the winner of the XC and Super-D, I was also the winner of the "All-Mountain Championship." Gian finished 2nd and Aaron 3rd. FOCF pimped the women's All-Mountain winner and me both out with some goods. The "King" cowbell will be perfect for cyclocross season!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


After missing out on the Missoula Pro XCT race this weekend, I decided to race the Padden Pedal, a Northwest classic. Mark Peterson of the WHIMPS always puts on a top notch event and is a super active leader in the mtb community as well.

I knew my form was good, since I was aiming to peak for my Sun Valley-Missoula double header. Other than some soreness from my crash on wednesday, I felt great today. I took the 100 dollar holeshot for the first time ever and lead halfway up the climb until Russell Stevenson came flying around me. I couldn't match the acceleration, but tried to minimize the damage. Patrick Means also came around me and was riding super strong up the climb. Over the top Russ had about a ten second gap ahead of Patrick and me. I lead ahead of Patrick on the descent and started bringing Russ back(definately helps to live in Bham and know the trails). As I closed in on Russ, he clipped a pedal and went down. Turns out he twisted his chain a little in the wreck, causing some shifting issues.

Gotta love the northwest forest! Credit: Jeff McConaughy

Now with some space behind me, I settled into a rhythm. Canadian Ricky Federau caught me on the third lap and put in some really big digs on the climb. I sucked down a clif shot and barely hung on. Fourth lap and I countered his efforts and pulled away. Fifth and sixth laps I was solo, but Ricky and Russ were close enough to make the suffering continue. Ricky came within 30 seconds on the last lap, but I had enough of a gap to hold on for the win.

Padden is notoriously challenging.

I should give props to Ricky for racing so strong, especially considering he had raced the Gearjammer in Squamish the day before! I'm sure it would have been a great 3-way battle, had Russ not had a mechanical. The Noble F4's were out in force today as well. It really is the perfect bike for that course. Lots of flowy, punchy sections with some technical climbing and descending too. So much fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sun Valley Nationals

Having previously spent time riding incredible trails in Sun Valley, Idaho, I was super excited when USA Cycling announced that the town would be hosting the 2011 xc mountain bike nationals.

The cross-country race was incredibly hard. The course designers thought it would be a good idea to send us straight up the ski slope on a loose service road. To say it was steep would be an understatement. I managed to successfully ride the climb only two of the six painful laps. The rest of the course was better, with a long gradual singletrack descent and short flat loop around the village that included a challenging machine-built rock garden.

Looking down the course towards the start/finish area.

The race felt more like survival than racing. I fought hard and finished 27th, one of the last to avoid being pulled as a lapped rider. I knew I was capable of a better result, but sometimes things just don't work out the way you hope.

The super-d event bright and early the next morning turned out to be a lot of fun. I raced downhill as a junior back in the day, but had never raced super-d before. Check out the video to see a lot of the course. I surprised myself and finished 14th in Pro on my standard xc-setup F4. Definitely want to do some more super-d/enduro type events in the future.

Sunday through tuesday after the races, local brothers Matt and Andy Luhn took me on some world-class rides. The riding possibilities in this area are endless. I have never been anywhere else where you can (legally) ride all over the place deep in the heart of rugged mountains.

Pioneer Cabin at 9500 feet.

Wednesday morning I loaded up the honda and hit the road for Missoula, Montana. The drive north was so beautiful!

8701 foot Galena Summit.

Sawtooths above the town of Stanley, Idaho.

My plan for Missoula was to race the weekly wednesday night race series, ride with my buddy Brian on thursday and friday, then race the Pro XCT final race on saturday.

Lots of racers at the weekly beer series!

The weekly race was a ton of fun, but unfortunately I crashed really hard on the wooden fly-over ramp. Turns out I should have pre-ridden a little more and not hit the ramp with that much speed. I wasn't seriously injured, but there was enough damage done that I decided to head back to Washington so I could heal up. The course was such a blast and there were so many people out racing already! Looking forward to coming back next year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Methow Valley

Last weekend was the first weekend that really felt like summer to me. A couple days of camping in the beautiful Methow Valley was just what the doctor ordered. The 2nd annual Loup Loup Indie Series race was a blast. A couple tweaks to the course, including a fun new bermed descent had people smiling. Joe Brown put on another great event! Like last year, all procedes go towards expanding the trails at Loup Loup. This should be an even better venue in years to come.

My race went well. I took the hole shot and kept the pace hot the first time up the long climb to the near 6k foot high point. On the second lap I started to fade a little and Kevin Bradford Parish almost caught me on the climb before he eased up. I ended up holding him off for the second year in a row and taking the win. Good friend Patrick Means had a great ride and rolled in shortly after Kevin to round out the podium.

Thank you for the podium shot Patrick and Deanna!

The Sunday after the race, Whitney, Courtenay Mcfadden, Kristin Stouder, and I rode Buck Mountain. I had never done this one and it turned out to be fantastic! Epic feel, without the big commitment and miles. Randomly, it seemed as if the whole Bellingham mountain bike community was riding the trail at the same time as us!

Thanks for the photo Courtenay!

The next two weekends I'll will be racing a few summer crits, then I'm off to mountain bike nationals in Sun Valley, ID, followed by the ProXCT finals in Missoula, MT. Well, that is assuming I can find a way to get to the races...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Test of Metal

Do you ever get the feeling that some things are just not meant to be? For me, Test of Metal might be one of those things. The first and only other time I raced the 67km 800-person mass-start race was in 2008. That year I was having a great race until flatting out. I was really excited to give Test another try this year. After racing Gearjammer a couple times since '08, I've gotten to know the Squamish trails pretty well.

Whitney and I loaded up the civic friday morning and headed up to Squamish. The quick 2.5 hour drive from Bellingham made me wonder why I don't ride up there more often. After meeting Patrick and Deanna and setting up camp, Whitney and I hit some nearby trails. White Rabbit, Wonderland, and the Dump trails were rooty, rocky, and fun. I never cease to be amazed by the number of cedar ladder bridges on the trails.

Friday night the pattering of rain on the tent woke us up. Not letting up until morning before our start, the trails were soaked. Lining up in front of 800 people at the start line makes Test of Metal a truly special event. The race started out with a few miles of pavement as we climbed up through some neighborhoods. Tons of people were out in their front yards cheering. Entering the first dirt surfaces of the race, everyone sprinted hard for position. I saw my heart rate the highest I have ever seen in a race: 198 bpm!

As we continued to climb, now on dirt, a lead group formed that included Max Plaxton(Specialized), Neal Kindree(Devinci), Kris Sneddon(Kona), Chris Sheppard(Rocky Mountain), and myself. After a short downhill for some recovery, we climbed up "Jack's trail"-the first singletrack of the race. With Plaxton on the front, the elastic started to stretch between everyone on his wheel. Fully in the pain cave, I let some space open between Sneddon and my front wheel. Sheppard came around me and filled it in, but I struggled to hold the pace. Coming out of the trail onto Alice Lake road, I was about 10 seconds behind. Seeing the lead of the race slowly ride away from you has to be one of the most agonizing feelings in a race.

From the Test of Metal website.

In no-man's land, I rode steadily for the next few miles, until being caught by Marty Lazarski(Devinci), Kevin Calhoun(Rocky Mountain), and an unknown Blue-Cycles rider. Following Marty down "Cliff's Corners" and "Roller Coaster" was awesome! Canadians know how to descend, that's for sure! The tunnel of cheering spectators lining "Roller Coaster" was the highlight of the whole race for me.

Heading through the feed zone(thank you for the bottle Deanna!) we soon hit "9-mile," the infamously long climb of the race. By the top, Marty and I were together with nobody else around. Following the Canadian down "Ring Creek Rip" at breakneck speeds, I heard the heartbreaking hiss that can only be one thing; a flat tire. Pulling over, I did whatever I could to fix the flat. Patrick even dropped me his Co2 when he went by, but in the end, I had to put a tube in and was only able to pump it up to about 20 psi. It was enough to get me down the "Powerhouse Plunge" and part-way through "Crumpit Woods," before I flatted the tube and had no other option than to run and walk. After about 45 minutes, I finally reached the finish line in 196th place.

It's always disappointing to have mechanical problems in a race, but it really is just another part of the sport. One thing that makes mountain bike racing so special to me is the self-supported aspect that comes from the roots of mountain biking in the wilderness. Plus, when I think about it, I was really overdue for a flat tire. The funny thing is, the last time I can remember flatting in a mountain bike race was during Test of Metal in 2008!

Whitney kicked-butt and finished 2nd in her age group, despite her "lack of riding!" Patrick finished strong for a top-20 in his first Test of Metal. Other highlights of the weekend include great gas mileage (45mpg!) and really delicious cappuccinos from Galileo coffee in Britania Beach.

Full results: here

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ski to Sea

The Bellingham Olympics a.k.a Ski to Sea was last weekend and wow, what a fun weekend that was! The seven leg relay race from Baker to Fairhaven was bigger than it has ever been and the weather was also better than it has ever been(at least of my four ski to sea years). This year I raced for the same team as in past years, but with a new name, "Klicks Running and Walking". We were formerly the team, but the store's name was recently updated to Klicks.

This year marked the 100 year anniversary since the historic Mt Baker Marathon Race. A record number of 500 teams (8 people per team) and more elite level athletes than ever made for an unforgettable race. The number of people in town was shocking. The nice weather brought thousands of people out to watch and enjoy the festivities at the finish line in Fairhaven. There was a solid line of cars backed up two miles long on State Street waiting to park near the finish! Good thing we were on bikes, of course.

Steve George and Jim Clevenger (owner of Klicks) started us out strong with the XC and Downhill ski portions of the race. My roommate, Sam Alexander, moved us ahead of our Whatcom County rivals, Beavers Tree Service, with a super fast time in the brutal downhill running leg. Phil Elsasser, our road biker, rode smart and waited for a couple other riders to work with. They pace-lined to the finish at very high speed, passing or picking up several riders along the way and moving us further ahead of Beavers. Our canoers, Eric Gerstl and Alan Lipp, then powered down the Nooksack River from Everson to Ferndale with a top-10 split.

Nervous and excited to do my part, I waited on the beach until Eric and Alan came charging up in 8th place overall. After carrying the canoe together off the beach, I jumped on my bike that Whitney was holding for me and sped away into the grass fields of Hovander Park.

The mountain bike leg of Ski to Sea is not known for being very "mountain bikey." After racing it last year, I knew what to expect this year and just thought of the course as being its own unique beast, more similar to a cyclocross race. Primarily pavement and dirt roads, aerobars and semi-slick tires (like my Schwalbe Furious Freds) are common. 29ers also seem to be favorable, but my Noble 26er full suspension definitely did not slow me down. The few sections of "singletrack" are freshly cut paths through tall grass fields. This year the course was lengthened by a few miles to a full 20 miles.

The team aspect of Ski to Sea has a big motivational effect while racing. I felt very focused and was able to really turn myself inside out. By the end of the leg, I had passed 3 riders, moved the team into 5th overall, and extended our lead in the Whatcom County category. Our kayaker, Peter Marcus, paddled like crazy and led the team in for the Whatcom win and 5th overall! To make the day even sweeter, it turned out that I was the Top Gun in the mountain bike leg for the second year in a row!

Team Klicks Running and Walking.

Photo credit: Randall Wick

These results called for some serious celebrating. The annual team party at the Klicks store downtown didn't disappoint. Lots of food, beer, and celebrating. Oh and of course we each enjoyed our turn at drinking beer out of the Galbraith Cup! It was another exciting and fun-filled Ski to Sea weekend. Maybe the best ever?


Indie Series Opener

The weekend before last was the first Indie Series mountain bike race of the season. The race took place outside of Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. Indie Series coordinator, Mark Peterson, had the help of Olympic Dirt Society, organizers of many awesome downhill races. They put together a great XC course for the event. Admittedly, the long climb was a drag at times, but the long BC-style downhill more than compensated. Bermed corners, steep chutes, roots, rocks, jumps, ladder bridges, you name it. Refreshingly fun for a cross country race! I am kicking myself that I didn't get some helmet cam action. Oh well, there is always next year.

Also rode some of the Olympic Discovery Trail "Adventure Route." So fast and flowy! No braking and no pedaling for very long periods of time! I'll have to go check that one out again in the future.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stottlemeyer 60

A new mountain bike race series in Washington featuring longer marathon-style courses? Sign me up! The NW Epic Series is an exciting new addition to Washington mountain bike racing. The first race of the 3 race series, the Stottlemeyer 30/60 miler, was yesterday and the conditions could not have been much better. The Port Gamble trail network featured a great mix of trail styles.

The 60 mile race started out a little more leisurely than the usual 25 mile olympic-format races, but the pace was still high enough to stretch the field out up the initial fire road climb to the start of our 4 laps. I was the first to enter the singletrack, with road racer Chris Wingfield on my wheel, followed by Toby Swanson, Eric Atwood, Jason Jablonski, and others.

The next 4 miles were slow-going on fun technical singletrack. I think this was probably the most challenging part of the course for a lot of people. The riding was very dynamic, with constant ups, downs, twists and turns through the thick, wet, dark forest. Similar to Lost Giants on Galbraith and some of the trails I grew up riding out at Black Diamond, bike handling skills could definitely make or break someone's race here.

Finally popping out onto a fire road, the front of the race started to come back together and a large peloton of maybe 20 riders formed before we entered the next singletrack. This trail felt like the polar opposite of the previous singletrack, featuring ripping fast flowy dry track through new growth forest. I looked down at my gps a couple times and saw speeds of around 25 mph. Not bad for twisty singletrack!

Passing the second feed zone, we were about halfway done with our first lap. The second half of the course was more physically challenging, with some longer steep climbs, but it still featured a lot of killer singletrack. One trail in particular was especially fun. It was mostly downhill with soft root-strewn dirt in a dark, damp forest. The sort of stuff that I consider iconic Pacific NW trail.

After completing the first lap, I decided to up the pace the second time through the initial 4 miles of techie trail. Soon it was just Toby and I rallying through the woods, just like old times. After establishing our lead, we were occasionally caught by Jason Jablonski, but would usually pull away again in the technical stuff. By the third lap, Toby was starting to cramp and eased his pace a bit.

Now all alone, I concentrated on riding smooth and steady. Despite having already ridden 45 miles, I made a little goal to myself of riding my final lap just as quickly as my previous laps. I remember in high school my cross-country coach told us about "runner's groove," this blissful state you can occasionally find yourself in, where your body switches to autopilot and your movements feel effortless. It may sound strange, but I started to feel this amazing comfort, smoothness, and ease to my riding. It just felt easy. The peacefulness of the forest, and the joy of riding my bike took over as I cruised through my last lap and across the finish line. Jason Jablonski(Set Coaching) finished second, followed by Ian Tubbs(Audi) in third.

Since I had never raced such a long mtb race before, my plan had been to focus on quality nutrition and hydration, as well as even pacing. The wonderful feed zones twice per lap made my nutrition plan easy. I would stop about once every hour to fill my bottles with Clif Electrolyte mix and grab handfuls of Clif Blocks and M&M's, stuffing them into my mouth as I sped off into the woods. The feed zones totally kicked-butt! Tons of food and water, and very friendly volunteers.

I was concerned about going too hard too early in the race, so I made sure to focus on riding at an effort level that I thought I could maintain for 60 miles. After looking at my lap splits post-race, I couldn't be more happy with how I paced myself. All four of my laps were within 90 seconds of each other, with my last lap nearly my fastest. I was also really happy with my bike set-up. Since this has been such a wet spring and the forecast called for chance of rain, I chose the Rocket Rons, as they are more of an intermediate-conditions tire. The combination of those tires and my Noble F4 had me feeling smooth and comfortable all day.

The Stottlemeyer turned out to be such a killer race. Great course with an excellent level of support from the volunteer-staffed feedzones. To make the day all the more sweet, Whitney won the 30 miler! Yeah, that's right, my girlfriend was the fastest woman! Sounds like it was a close race too, with the top five all within 8 minutes of each other.

Check out complete results: here

Next race up is a new venue, the first Indie Series Race in Port Angeles.