Saturday, July 25, 2009

5 in a row

Ding. Another one in the bag for Sabrina...

WC DH - Mont Ste Anne

New Jack

Whistler has a new tough man competition.

For seven years, The Samurai Of Singletrack held the title of Gnarliest XC Race That I Know Of. Unfortunately, I've never been able to participate, since it had always been held during trade show season, and I was busy selling my soul in Las Vegas.

When the curtain dropped on the SoS, a new sufferfest was created: The Soo Valley Rumble. However, while painful, it somehow lacked the "epicness" of the SoS. I did have the pleasure of partaking in the inaugural event, and suffered mightily for the cause.

There is now a new game in town: The 4 Jacks.

The premise is simple: over 4 days, competitors will amass points for rankings in 4 separate events. It kicks off with a time trial in the valley on the thursday night, followed by a DH in the park, a marathon race and finally a "Backyard Jam" which is a combination of observed trials and time trial, with time bonuses given for attempting and cleaning stunts. The catch? One bike. No specialty machines, no stem swaps, no tire changes. Nothing. You either suffer in the marathon on a pig, or scare yourself silly in the DH.

I set up one of our test pilots on a new Altitude, figuring what better way to get some quick feedback than by beating the snot out of it for 4 days running, in a variety of conditions. Vince finished a respectable 33rd, no thanks to some brutal cramping issues in the Marathon.

Time Trial


Backyard Jam

When the dust settled, Matt "The Dirty Dingo" Ryan and Sylvie Allen were on the top steps of the podium.

Mens Top 15 (Name-Bike-Tire)

1 Ryan Matt Special Stump 2.2 Captain 2.2 Captain
2 Burch Dave RM Element Ardent 2.35 Ardent 2.35
2 Phelps Kevin Chromag KP Spec 2.35 HiRoller 2.35 Ignitot
4 Johnston Chris Trance 2.1 Nevegal 2.1 Nevegal
5 Grant Greg Anthe 2.25 Ardent 2.25 Ardent
5 Wolsky Dylan Trance 2.35 Larson 2.25 Crossmark
7 McSkimming James Dawg 2.35 Ignitor 2.35 Ignitor
8 Kristevic Oliver Trance 2.35 HiRoller 2.35 HiRoller
9 Stevens Paul Special Pitch 2.3 Special 2.3 Special
10 McDonnell Greg Reign 2.4 Big Betty 2.35 Nevegal
11 Kemp Seb Commencal Dread Tread Kenda 2.1
12 Boehm Mike RM Element Michelin 2.15 Michelin 2.15
13 Klaus Mike Commencal 2.4 Ardent 2.35 Nevegal
14 Hine Julian Chromag Sakura Ardent 2.6 2.35 HiRoller
15 Abel Matteo Special Stump 2.25 Knob 2.1 Ralph

Womens Top 15

1 Allen Sylvie Fluid 2.35 Minion 2.35 HiRoller
2 Paquette Fanny Trek Fuel 2.25 Ardent 2.25 Ardent
3 Strand Katrina Trance 2.35 HiRoller 2.35 HiRoller
4 Heisterman Nicole Reign 2.35 Minion 2.35 HiRoller
5 Bell Paige Reign 2.4 Ardent 2.25 Crossmark 30.5
6 O'Neill Robin Trance 2.25 Ardent 2.25 Ardent
7 Cowan Lynda SC Nomad 2.35 Minion 2.35 Minion
7 Addario Gloria SC Nomad 2.35 Minion 2.35 HiRoller
9 Korthals Lisa Anthem 2.4 Ardent 2.25 Crossmark
10 Zucht Marla Reign 2.5 Syncros 2.35 Minion
11 Robertson Paula Chromag Sakura 2.4 Ardent
12 Gornall Annie Heckler Kenda 2.35 Kenda 2.35
13 Mancer Kari Reign 2.35 Nevegal 2.35 Nevegal 29.8
14 Tabbernor Jennifer Anthem HiRoller 2.35 HiRoller 2.35
14 Benes Nicole Reign 2.4 Ardent 2.25 Advantage

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chilcotin Mountains Epic

Nine years ago, when I first moved to BC, I began to hear whispers of some far off Mountain Bike nirvana. Somewhere near a lake. Spruce Lake? Never heard of it. Which mountains? Chill what?

Details began to emerge about big days in the saddle, long nights around the bonfire, mountain passes, soul crushing climbs and endless ribbons of singletrack. BC has no shortage of quality mountain biking, god knows, but apparently this little corner of the world stands alone. So much so, it is a home away from home for many of the Whistler and Pemberton crowd, who themselves are surrounded by their fair share of trails. Many people would kill to have access to that terrain, but when the folks from W and P are bored and looking for a new itch to scratch, they pack up their trucks, and hit The Hurley.

I'd tried, unsuccessfully mind you, for several years now to make my way up there. Having lived in Whistler and Pemberton myself for five years, you'd think it would have been relatively easy, but not so. Circumstances conspired to foil all my previous attempts, so I was pleasantly surprised when I made my first call to Mike and a plan began to form. Several calls later, it was on...

After rallying up to Pem late thursday, I met up with Vinnie early on Fri, and we hit The Hurley for the long drive north. Two hours of dusty, rutted, steep, nasty fire road, we were at Freiburg campground, right next to Tyax Lodge. We set up camp, and headed out for a quick shakedown ride: Vince is riding a new Altitude, so we needed to make sure all the nuts and bolts were tight.


After a quick hour and a half rip up and down Cinnabar trail, we headed back to camp for a little r&r. The lake was cold, the beer was cold, the snacks were plentiful and the caesars were tasty. A few hours later Mike, Kev, Tony and Ryan roll in and dinner is served.

Chef Micheal

Saturday morning rolls around, and we saddle up for the big loop: we plan to cover about 65-75km, 3 mountain passes, and hours of singletrack descents. We roll out of camp at the crack of 10:30 am, to the sound of popping knee joints and with the taste of strong java lingering. The sun is shining, the bikes are shifting and going boing-boing with no issues, and the group is raring to go. We begin with a 40 min road ride to the first double track climb, that leads us up to into the park and offers the first glimpses of what's to come.

The best is yet to come

Two hours later we find ourselves at the old mining hut for a little lunch break. Mike the Whippet is flying up ahead, I'm chasing as hard as I can, Vinnie is crushing the pedals on his 2x9, Ryan is toying with us, and the two diesels Kev and Tony are chugging up the climb.

Team shot

Well fed and rested, we continue up the climb to the summit of Eldorado Pass 45mins later. This is my first good look at the surrounding alpine, and does it look good! As it happens, there must be 20 or so friends from Whistler / Pemberton up there!

Team Whistler / Pemberton

They are out for a slightly shorter day in the saddle, but we shoot the shit for 20 mins and catch up. After the head off, we rip a high speed descent into Eldorado Basin, and start up the other side on our way up Windy Pass, where we encounter the steepest climbing of the day, which forces everyone but Mike to dismount. Luckily, unlike in eastern Canada, I've long ago learned here that it's OK to push sometimes.

Pushing through the pain

Long way to go...

One by one we reach the summit, an hour later and stop for food again. Up at Windy Pass, aptly named, it's cranking 35km/h winds, so we don jackets and enjoy the view on that high, grassy plateau. It takes all my willpower to not lie down and take a nap! We shake out our legs, and begin the REAL reason we are all here: EPIC DOWNHILL SINGLETRACK.

Nap Time

High Altitude


The blaze down the mountain, on a ribbon of dirt and sand that switches back and forth across the hill relentlessly. On a perfect pitch, with perfect flow, so that you are never gripped, never riding the brakes. It's 100% cash money. Nirvana. Over an hour later, we drop all the way down to Spruce Lake for a breather and more food. we're just over 1/2 done!

Floatplane dock, Spruce Lake

Pushing off again, we ride more of the same, but this time down surfy sidehills, through aspen groves and alpine meadows. Surreal landscape, really, for us Coast Mountain kids.

Halfway down, Alpine descent

It continues on for another hour at least, until we trickle all the way down to Gun Creek for the final leg: 2 hours of middle / big ring high speed singletrack along the creek. 9 hours after we left the campsite, we pop out on the road dusty, achy, but ohhhh so stoked. Last little push, 30 mins on the dusty fire road, and we're done. Jump in the lake, fish out the beer, and let's get some food going!

Fresh Beer

Reflecting around the picnic table, I gotta say, this was honestly THE finest day I've ever had on a mountain bike, in 19 years of playing with the damn things. If you ever have the time / means / legs, this loop is the ride of a lifetime.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Country Roads, Take Me Home...

Having just spent the week at the factory, checking samples, approving colors and generally being a thorn in people's sides, I'm relaxing in the country at my parent's place. The pace is slow, the weather is fine, and I've got a bike with me. So why not go 'splore the backwoods? Loaded up my Ipod, pumped up the knobbies, and off I went.

Don't get roads like THIS in Vancouver...

With a little Townes Van Zandt playing, I went, over hill and dale. Makes me wonder: why would anyone ride a proper road bike around here? There are scads of them around, "big city folk", who come down to the Townships to pose down in their finest lycra, wailing around in a peloton like it's a Tuesday night crit. People. This is the Townships. Chill out. I prefer a more sedate tour on my 'cross bike, and should I see some old dirt lane through a field, I'll head down it just to see where it goes. Like this. It lead nowhere... But at least I rode through cow shit, so got that going for me...

I soon ran out of pavement, and the best part of the ride started. You see, around here the "dirt" roads get so hammered that you may as well be on ashphalt. The stuff is rock hard. Proof? I was holding 32km/h with 35c knobbies without effort. And if you think that's nothing, CLEARLY you have no idea what kind of fitness it takes to be a product manager.

Ok. So I was breathing a little bit hard. But hey, that was uphill. All this dirt road riding has kinda gotten me somewhat interested in giving the Trans Iowa a go. What is the TI? Well, glad you asked. Straight from their site:

The technical hard data on this event barely scratches the surface of what takes place out there during a Trans Iowa, but it is important to realize what the challenge is that is faced by anyone that pulls up behind “The Dirty Blue Box” at 4am on Saturday morning. Trans Iowa V5 was a 314 mile long modified loop course run out of and back in to Williamsburg, Iowa. Along the way each rider had to navigate themselves using cue cards provided at the start and at each checkpoint for the following sector of the loop. No one knew where they were going until the evening before when they received the cues for the first 40 miles in to check point #1 at Washington, Iowa.The course must be completed within 34 hours and each checkpoint has time cutoffs. Riders often do not have time for anything other than a quick stop to refuel or exchange clothing layers. Checkpoints are at convenience stores, and convenience stores are on the route, but the riders must use their own judgment to resupply or not. No services are supplied by the race promoters.

The roads are mostly crushed limestone and are dotted with sections called “B-Maintenance” roads that are usually nothing more than a dirt slot graded into Iowa’s rich soil. Hills and flats intermix to create a mosaic of pain that many riders find not only a great challenge, but a surprising and intoxicating mix.

Last year's winner took 25hrs to complete the course. DFL? 33:45. Ouch. Ok, maybe we just need a shortened version here, call it the Trans Townships.

Pics from TI 2007: HERE

Anyhow, I digress. So I keep riding past all the old haunts.

Ye Olde Swimming Hole

Yes, Knowlton is old. "Died 1880, aged 60"

Clean livin'

So 40km later, a little thirsty, a little tired, and a little covered in dust and cow shit, I end my cross country adventure for today. With any luck, more tomorrow.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Triple Crown: Done and Done

Ouch. Good times.

We pulled it off on Sunday. Rolled into ParkGate with Vinnie and Mike from Whistler, to discover a crowd 40 deep for the ride. Awesome! Was not expecting THAT kind of turnout. We obviously had Spicer, but also local tough guys Andrew Shandro, Andreas Hestler and Dave Norona. Joining us were a bunch of vets who tore our legs off all day and led the charge on hardtails, and crushed the racer-boi types. Unreal. We also had industry hacks such as Andrew from Brodie Bikes, Andrew and Johnny from Orange Sport, Ron from The Cove and yours truly.

After a little coffee and good cheer, we rolled out at 9 am sharp at a, shall we say, "aggressive" pace, up Old Buck. While the big engines were pulling hard at the front, the rest of us tried to settle into a comfortable pace and hang on. It was amazing to get the testosterone going, and wound up riding Seymour twice and fast as usual: we were all railing each others lines, trying to stay ahead of the next guy, and were done before we knew on, and on our way to Grouse.

We regrouped at the Lynn Valley general store, and picked up a few stragglers (Steve from NRG, etc) and grabbed some refreshments. From their, headed up King of the Shore trails where we suffered our first mechanicals: 1 sheared derailleur hanger, and Vinnie blew up his freehub body.

Lynn Valley Store + Bike Dorks

Out of options, I rode down to Bruce's with Vinnie, in an attempt to pick up a spare wheel and keep riding, but no dice. We called him a cab back to Seymour, and hoped he could catch us later. Now I had to get back to the pack...

I charged up Fromme as best I could, and wound up burying myself. Each pack I passed, I would gasp through chapped lips:

"Gaaahhh.... huuhhh... anyone see.... uuurrrggg... a group of xc dorks???"

Inevitably, the answer would always come back:

"Ohh yeeaahhh. They're WAY up there."

View from Grouse

So up I went, past 7th Switchback, praying I would catch them around ever corner, and finally found Billy with a flat near the very top of the climb. Success. Now if I could only stop shaking, things would be ok. Get some food. Drink something. High point: 1200m.

We regrouped and had a bit of lunch (which I almost barfed up when I hiccupped...) and headed down the most sustained fall line trail on the Shore: Jet Boy / Jet Girl. It just goes and goes and goes. Holy arm pump.

Story behind the Jet Engine

After we worked our way down, we regrouped once again with all the fast guys, grabbed some fresh drinks and Vinnie, and wound our way up through the British Properties, to the Brothers Creek climb, the last serious challenge of the day. And man, was it rough. 35 mins of chicken heads and baby heads, plus skidder roads. Did I mention we were punched at this point? We picked up Leslie Tomlinson and Elladee Brown in the woods, and they joined us for the final push. We eventually hit snow, and I think it was a blessing in disguise, since we had to get off and hike-a-bike the last little bit, giving chapped butts a break.

Vinnie in the snow

Down we went, ripping Big Eye and The Fleshy Wound, to the "last" trail of the day, and caught up with what was left of the group. From 40, down to about 15.

For whatever reason, Spicer and Flex thought it would be a good idea to add one more little trail to the mix, so a vote went out, and everyone headed for the bar except the two mentioned above, Vinnie and Mike the Whistlerites, and myself. We had another 35 mins of riding... A 15 min traverse along Cypress to the access road, down a few trails, then Urban Assault to Park Royal. That's it. No more. Finished. Burgers and beers all around.

Thanks to Dave Norona for this video of the event...

Some stats:

-7.5 hrs
-2800m climbing (that's 9240 feet for the Yanks)
-More shore singletrack than you could ever know what to do with
-3 flats
-1 hanger
-1 freehub body
-6 liters of water
-2 Gatorades

Thursday, May 28, 2009

North Shore Triple Crown

Looks like this weekend is all tee'd up for the annual Bruce Spicer Triple Crown Birthday Ride.

Every year, we attempt to get together to celebrate local celeb Spicer, ex World Cup honch, 13 time natl champ (Mtn, Rd, Track, you name it...), product guy at Brodie bikes.

Spicer on the Shore

It's become somewhat of a tradition now to do the triple crown. Here's his description:

"Start at Bean Around The World, Park Gate 9:00 AM
Cunt Buster (Note non PC version of name).
Bottle Top
King of the Shore
Village Chair Lift Line / Jet Boy ? Jet Girl. (Rode it on Saturday - in good condition).
Brothers Creek to Big Eye tentative. ( I have to go check it this week.)
Fleshy Wound
Stupid Grouse, or maybe Slippery Canoe
Steamworks Park Royal."

Rough approximation of the route

Last time I attempted this ride, it took 7 hrs, though it was cold and rainy for a better part of it. The group started about 9-10 deep, swelled to a high point of 15-17 as people joined up for portions of the ride, and I believe 7-9 of us did the full pull, finishing up with beers at Park Royal.

Weather is supposed to be warm and sunny, bike is running perfectly, and a couple of buddies are coming down from Whistler for the festivities. Should be good...