-By Guillermo Barron, Red Deer, Canada
I’ve been cycle commuting, winter and summer, for over twenty years in Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, and Victoria. So I thought I’d post a few thoughts on how to winter cycle. It’s intimidating to many, but easier than it looks.
- Start early. If you continue your cycling from summer into the fall, the transition to winter cycling won’t seem so abrupt.
- You don’t need complicated or expensive clothing. A good rain jacket and rain pants built for cycling will be adequate down to – 15 or so. When you’re cycling, you generate lots of heat, so wind protection is more helpful than bulky insulation. Rain gear will do the job nicely. And a sweater or vest will give you another five degrees when needed. At -25 or so, I switch to a lightly insulated Cloudveil Circuit jacket. Clothing with reflective patches is amazingly visible at night and always a wise choice.
- You can protect the extremities incrementally as it gets colder. Start with bare hands, gloves, gauntlet gloves, mitts, and finally mitts with extra liners. An ear warmer under the helmet gives way to a thin toque and finally a cowl. I’ve experimented with ski goggles and neoprene face masks for full facial protection at -30 or so, but I’ve found that my glasses get fogged, so I’ve given up on them. YMMV. I wear Keen winter boots below zero; any comparable brand will do.
- Make sure your bike is winterized. Sometimes cables freeze or your rear hub will fail to engage, leaving you in permanent “coast” mode. Have a competent bike mechanic overhaul your bike if needed. Sometimes bringing the bike inside during the day or overnight will thaw frozen components.
- You’ll have to pay extra attention to lubrication, especially when warm weather drives sand and slush into your chain. I don’t think anything is harder on a chain than sand. You may have to lubricate weekly or even daily. If you don’t, you’ll find your chain lengthening due to wear. And the lengthened chain will then damage your sprockets, leading to costly replacement. Trust, this procrastinator knows.
- Get good lights. Not all LEDs are created equal. I like the Light and Motion Urban 300. It’s solidly made, waterproof, and very bright at 300 lumens. It quickly mounts on either helmet or handlebars. I tried out the helmet mount and was an instant convert. When you turn your head, the light turns at the same time. No more waiting for the front wheel to catch up. It’s also rechargeable via micro-USB, which means you don’t have to buy replacement batteries and you don’t have to lug around a charger brick. Just make sure you have the appropriate USB cable at your home and office computers. $20 LEDs may look like a bargain, but they may not last and will cost more in the long run when you factor in the cost of batteries. And having a big bright beam really makes night riding enjoyable. I’ve found myself getting up earlier and earlier to beat the sunrise. If you’re serious about night riding, on road or off, a good LED light is an expensive, but worthwhile, investment. The local cycling club has discovered that the new lights have made night mountain biking a real opportunity. And, on road, driver are more likely to see you. But comparison shopping is wise.
- Standard mountain bike tires will be suitable for most riders and you can buy studded mountain bike tires if you need them. I ride a hybrid (skinny tires are faster in the summer) and have been running on studded winter cyclocross tires for the last couple of years. They’re only about 35 mm wide, but surprisingly effective. The studs have worn to the level of the rubber so I don’t know if they really provide much benefit. There’s lots of options out there if you’re shopping for good winter tires. Studded tires are heavy and slow so I am happy to take them off when the last of ice disappears. If you only want to use one studded tire, put it up front. On ice and snow, control is more important than acceleration.
- Ride conservatively. Avoid sudden turns or stops on slippery patches. On road, you’ll often be forced to cycle in car tire ruts and this makes you a target for aggressive drivers. But at least they can see you. If this isn’t working, and the sides of roads are covered with ice or snow, switch to the sidewalk. But in this case, be wary when crossing streets. Car drivers aren’t as attentive to users who aren’t in the middle of the road.
- Watch the weather, and dress appropriately. But don’t believe their “wind chill” reports. The last few days, the wind chill here in Red Deer is said to have hovered around -40 or lower. At these temperatures, exposed flesh is supposed to freeze in five or ten minutes. But I cycle a constant 15 or 20 km/hr (which is, after all, equivalent to riding into a 15 or 20 km/hr wind) for half an hour. And no frozen skin. So don’t be spooked by these overly protective and possibly alarmist warnings. But as a general rule, it’s too cold to cycle when teenagers start wearing toques.
- Some people think that all it takes to get into cycling is the cost of the bike. But you may also have to invest in a pack or courier bag (way more practical in my opinion), a good U-lock, extra clothing, lights, a helmet, and regular maintenance. This may seem like a tidy investment, but the costs of commuting by car are far higher. Car commuting may seem “faster”, but if you consider the hundreds of dollars per month you’ll likely save (car payments, depreciation, gas, parking, insurance, registration, maintenance, etc.) and the number of hours you’d have to work to pay the differential in cost, you may end up losing time instead. I consider my bike expenses trivial compared to the cost of a second car. And remember the very real benefits to the environment and your mental and physical health. Every minute you spend cycling, you’re getting stronger; every minute you spend driving (or blogging!) you’re getting weaker.
This past weekend we headed to the Hammerstein 24 hour mountain bike race held near the Laguna Seca Motorway in Monterey. Racing the trails around Fort Ord is a treat and all those who compete at Sea Otter Classics have experienced the fun these trails offer. What awaited us was a fast 10.5 mile course with 1,500 feet of climbing per lap. Ryan and Jen VanGorder along with Mike Kohn entered the 3 person category while I raced solo.
No matter how in shape you are for a 24 hour, you’re always going to suffer at one point or another. These races are simply too long and will beat you up. The Hammerstein 24 was no exception.
We all had to race hard to the bitter end but our effort paid off as I won the solo category and the team won the 3 person category. A lot of energy was expanded and sore muscles abound but it was well worth it.
The victory did not come easily though. After more than 4 hours of racing a mere 5 minutes separated the top 3 solo racers. I only took over the lead on lap 5 with the others close behind. Taking this lead at this point meant that the top guys were well matched but, for me, it was a good sign since I hadn’t pushed the pace too much. Like most of the others, I was trying to pace myself for the long race. There is no point in leading early on if you’re too tired to hold it to the end. I was there to race for 24 hours and needed to pace myself accordingly.
That said, I knew that waiting until the night to make a stronger move was risky as you never know how well you’ll feel after the sun sets so I opted to push the pace a little once I took the lead to see if the others would follow. If they followed, it either meant that they were as strong or that they were pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone and wouldn’t last. Of course, the risk for me was just that, that I would push myself too much too soon. Luckily, the increase in pace started to payoff as no one followed and I gradually increased my lead every lap as the daylight hours passed. By the time the night arrived, I had opened a half hour lead on 2nd place and friend Kyle Peter of team Tecnu Extreme.
Despite my lead, I knew that Kyle knew had to suffer through the night with the best in the world. As an elite adventure racer, he’s been there before and a single night without sleep was nothing for him. As it turned out, he didn’t disappoint as he mounted a strong comeback through the night and ate into my lead for 5 consecutive laps. When the light of day spread over the race course, a mere 13 minutes separated us. During the night, I tried to pace myself and held a relative steady pace but not particularly fast so Kyle was able to capitalize with an impressive show of force. However, I knew that when the sun came up, I would have some more faster laps in me. To cut into my lead, he’d have to ride even faster. As I had hoped, I was able to pick up the pace and, for 3 laps, I cut my lap times by 4-6 minutes compared to night time.
My faster laps worked and I started to increase my lead again. On lap 20, I came upon Kyle who looked quite worked. He told me he had had a bad case of diarrhea and was absolutely worked. I felt for him as I’ve been there before. But in usual adventure racing style, he soldier on and finished not only lap 20 but also 21 to consolidate his 2nd place. Steve Gallo finished 3rd, congrats.
After passing Kyle, my motivation instantly disappeared and I started riding really slowly and all sorts of pains flared up. The pains I was pushing away mentally were now flooding my brain pain center. That’s when I realized that the course had really worked me with all these short power climbs and bumpy descends. Even the fun downhills sent painful vibrations throughout my sore body. Let’s be clear, this was not a technical course and it was super fun to race but after more than 20 hours, the subtle challenges of the course amplify and the course slowly becomes more difficult as laps go by. It’s the nature of 24 hour racing. So, I spent the last 2 laps (21 and 22) whinning to myself but when I crossed the start/finish line for the last time, I was all smiles and felt immense satisfaction. It’s an incredible rush to push yourself for so long.
Shortly after crossing the finishline, I found out that the others had also won the 3 person category. We couldn’t ask for a better weekend of racing!
At the Hammerstein 24, I had the biggest crew ever and they were absolutely superb in helping me throughout the night. Jackie Petro was my crew captain and she ran the show and took care of all my nutrition needs. Max Flaxman was my mechanic and kept my bike humming all race long (not an easy feet in a 24 hour race) among all the other things he did. And my dedicated friends who raced the 8 hour race but still spent the entire night helping , Paul Chung and Jack Baginski (8hr team), and Jay Harbison and Ben Morris (8 hr solo). Thank you so much gang. Without you, I won’t have pulled this off. You’re an integral part of my success. Merci!
By Cary Smith
Today was not a typical day for me. First off, I was at a bike race, but not racing. Secondly, I was in Boise, and it was raining. Hard.
The first anomaly is easy to explain. After a week of hard racing at the Transylvania Epic, I wasn’t ready to duke it out for eight hours in the 9 to 5 race. My wife was racing as part of the two-time defending champion women’s duo team so thiswas the perfect opportunity to return a bit of the support that she has given me at so many races.
Which leads me to the second atypical occurrence. When I agreed to support Amy and Robin, I figured my role would be to shout encouragement, fill bottles, lube chains and maybe ride a few laps with them. Well, the rain changed all that. I spent eight hours under an EZ-UP trying to rid their bikes of the most tenacious mud known to man. I’m talking ten pounds of wheel-stopping, chain-sucking gunk. With no hose on site, I quickly depleted my rag bag and was basically smearing the mud/manure combo around, hoping to keep their drivetrains functional for the entire day. I’d like to think that I played a part in their three-peat victory but I know it was their riding that put them on the top of the podium.
As they showered and got ready for a victory dinner with fellow racers, I was finally able to don my kit and head out for a ride, at 8pm. The trails around Boise dry amazingly fast, so I knew I was in for a treat as soon as I hit the dirt.
I grew up riding motorcycles and mountain bikes in Boise but haven’t lived here for 15 years, so it’s always a trip down memory lane when I ride here. There are many new trails but I always try to ride some of my favorites, especially when I’m alone. For whatever reason, the memories were especially poignant tonight. I would see the same obstacles that gave me fits 20 years ago and ride over them without even a second thought. I know my skills have improved but I kept dwelling on the technological advancements in equipment.
My first bike was a Fuji Sundance that I rode with Chuck Taylor shoes, a sweet wool Fuji jersey and a Kiwi helmet that weighed as much as my bike and breathed as well as an asthmatic in a pollen factory.
Now I’m riding a 29” carbon bike with an ultralight helmet carrying 1400 lumens of Light and Motion brightness. The fun factor remains just as high now as it did “back in the day” only now I go twice as far in the same amount of time.
At least I am still wearing wool knickers.
Steamboaters love snow. Last April….we were neck deep in it.
In April of 2011, you’ve never seen so many people who love the snow so over it and yearning for some respite from the long, snowy winter. In stark contrast to last year, this year the valley is green and trails are dry. We’re talking mountain biking, real legit mountain biking. Our amazing singletrack, reh’ tuh’ go.
Though ski season didn’t officially end until the second weekend of April, it pretty much ended way earlier than that here – it was a dismal snow year in Ski Town USA. But luckily we have bicycles to save us. The bike season kicked off early for Team Honey Stinger/Bontrager with team camp in MTB mecca Fruita, Colorado the week before the celebrated closing of the ski hill. The rag tag assembly of some bada$$ Colorado Mt. bikers did not struggle to enjoy the two days together. We might have also gone for a pretty dope night ride or two with our Light & Motion bike lights – a veritable choo choo of lights rallying under a full moon at Highline State Park. The evidence is in the pics.
Next stop was the Sea Otter Classic. Mad amounts of fun starting with some picture taking con lights and some of the best and most fun bikers in the industry. Picture this: Santa Cruz, Light & Motion lights, single track, super good riders and people, ‘nuff said. This was proceeded by a visit to the factory where Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews are made – talk about being a kid in a candy factory. Mr. Wonka was not present, but the Oompa Loompas were very accommodating in his stead. Oh, and Sea Otter….. the place where there is something to satiate anyone who likes a bike of any sort. We sampled and sold a lot of Honey Stinger, but we just had the best damn time talking bikes and having fun with our fans. And Coco (AKA, Buzz the Bee), hit the jump into the airbag with the bee suit on; a valiant attempt at a backflip when you can’t even see the jump you’re hitting – watch the sick footie attached. The homies at Trek enabled me to race on a super sick Superfly 1oo Elite last minute and off the couch (booth) to complete my trip to the No to the Cal.
April’s last stop was vacation, if you refer to vacation as racing that is – the Whiskey 50 in Prescott, AZ. What an event – rarely do you see a town rally around an event (let alone a bike race) like the folks in Prescott did. The promoters and the town truly put on an event that all of the locals embrace – it felt like being at home in Steamboat, CO. Despite the awesome atmosphere, I had been having some problems with my drivetrain and didn’t know what was up. Much to my chagrin, but probably a blessing in disguise, I discovered my shifting issues were due to a very cracked chainstay five minutes before the fat tire crit, I don’t really need or desire a carbon puncture wound. It also may have been a gift because I didn’t have to race a fat tire crit against the likes of Kabush and JHK. It was super disappointing nonetheless, but luckily I was allowed to start the race and then pull out immediately so I could race in the big show on Sunday.
And then, without a doubt, the nicest, most generous example of a stranger’s kindness ever in my life happened. Basically, a bystander (who turned out to be one of the mostest cool peeps in the AZ bike community) overheard me bitching about my busted rig and approached me. His name is Kaolin, and I later found out he is bros with many of my bros. He, completely and selflessly, found and personally installed (at his insistence) the part I needed after a fairly exhaustive search on his part. I had mentally already checked out of the race, but he hooked me up, and completely changed my mental complexion at the midnight hour (actually 1 AM – 7 hours before the race start). He made Falcor race ready, fixed the broken wing. I raced, had a fun time, gave it all I had, and that’s that – it was awesome.
And another bonus, my boy, another Nate (Miller), won the single speed category the day before. Not only did he win the single speed, he beat all of the other geared racers whilst setting a course record for the category. He’s won his last five races, including Sea Otter, and being on the winning Light & Motion team at The 24 Hours of Old Pueblo. We call that “baller” in the parlance of our times.
Up next – the first night ride of the season – tonight. I’ll have my stash of Light & Motion lights to illuminate Emerald Mountain and get lights on other bikers to show them just how awesome night rides and Light & Motion are. Boom.
Nate Bird works when he’s not riding for Honey Stinger.
Lights & Motion sponsored Tecnu Adventure Racing is off to a great start with their 2012 adventure-racing campaign. There are lots of exciting changes this year with new focusses and faces on the team – and it seems to be working. In January we had a team meeting in Sacramento where we welcomed in some new team members, and formed 2 squads of Tecnu athletes. Our expedition squad consists of our captain Kyle Peter, Marco Amselem our “Brazilian Sherpa”, the “Queen of our Machine” Liza Pye and the “Nav God” Bob Miller. This expeditionary squad races all over the globe at ARWS qualifying events to gain exposure and publicity for the team and sponsors, and will end the season hopefully vying for a podium spot at the Adventure Racing World Championships in France in September. Our domestic North American squad consists of Garret Bean, Ryan Ognibene, Andrew Peterson, and Mindy Fernando. Together these 8 athletes will race in over 10 races this year in promotion of Tecnu, and lighting up race courses all over the globe with our killer Seca’s and Stella’s.
2012 started off with a win at the Baarr Brawl 24 hour adventure race near San Francisco, which is an annual clandestine race well attended by some of the better adventure racers on the west coast. Both Tecnu squads raced there, and we were the only teams to clean the entire course finishing in 1st and 2nd places! Our expedition squad then went to Quito, Ecuador in February to race at the ARWS Huairasinchi 4 day expedition race hoping to qualify for the Worlds in France. Out of 49 teams that started the race, only 3 teams finished the course and we finished in 2nd place, and qualified for Worlds, losing only to a local and acclimated team as the race went up to almost 16,000 feet in elevation. That race had HUGE elevation change, extremely wet/cold conditions and the race course bested all but three teams. Last month our domestic Tecnu squad went to Kentucky and raced at the LBL 24 hour adventure race and captured the win.
The Expedition Team just got home from the ARWS Costa Rica 5-day expedition race. There were 17 teams that had travelled from all over the world that competed to win and get a free entry to the 2012 AR World Championships in France in September. After missing the win 2 months ago in Ecuador with a 2nd place finish at the ARWS qualifier, the team was extra motivated to push the pace hard. Taking the lead from the onset, Tecnu adventure racing never looked back, and at the end the Team cleared the 550 km course to win the adventure race!
We could not do it without our L&M Seca 300′s and Stella 800′s lighting up the course for us and helping us travel light and fast. Thanks Guys! Be sure to watch out for the team as we go through an exciting year for us. We have a great season of racing ahead of us, but with three wins and a hard fought 2nd place to start the year, we are off to a good start and excited to see where the season will take us. World Championships in September here we come. Next up for us is the Central Coast 10 hour adventure race, the Dawn to Dusk, May 12 in California where we are the defending Champs. Adventure on!
Doug Judson is the team manager for Tecnu Adventure Racing
By Margaret Hartnett
The repairs to the country after the massive earthquake that struck Haiti two years ago are only beginning to be discernible by the casual viewer. It is not a huge stretch to say that the ‘infrastructure’ that most Americans take for granted virtually is nonexistent there. The city of Port au Prince (PauP) is still most remarkable for what still needs to happen: though fewer in number, people still live in tent cities; buildings-both humble and majestic like the Presidential Palace still lie pancaked as they were moments after the quake; garbage fills the canal systems and the unemployed are legion. The tasks in PauP are enormous but that is where most of the large multinational NGOs have their projects, the team I go to Haiti with is different, we head for the mountains.
The Haiti Health Initiative (HHI) is an American non-profit based in Salt Lake City. One of the founders Marc Aurel Martial is a Haitian living in the states and working in healthcare. Directly after the earthquake happened, he and other medical providers in SLC set off for Haiti and joined the ranks of emergency medical teams addressing the immediate crisis. While working there, it became obvious that the rural peasants in Haiti were all but forgotten but in incredible need – both in the moment and ongoing. This was the birth of HHI.
HHI is an all volunteer organization that raises funds for teams to go twice a year to a small community called Timo, deep in a canyon in the mountainous West, about 2 hours from Port au Prince. The team is met at the roadside drop off point in the town of Tom Gato and the hike in begins. Locals bring horses and donkeys to carry in the many large bags of medicine, medical supplies, dental tools, educational materials, shoes and more. The hike is a steep, scree filled path, the trip in takes about one hour. When we arrive in Timo, we are a bit like the “circus come to town.” We are met by a large group of Haitians who help us set up the medical and dental clinics and the educational tents. During the week we are actually in Timo, locals open their homes, give up their beds, cook for us, haul water and act as translators and escorts – we are rarely alone. Everything in Timo is basic, there is a two stall outhouse, that while we are there they designate Male and Female for our benefit; we bathe in the stream that is a 10 minute walk away and use endless baby wipes for interim hygiene.
Over the last couple years, at a rate of 2 clinics a year, we have determined where are the ideal places for the various worksites, especially in terms of crowd control and flow. We see about 1200 people of all ages in five days of clinic. We are up with the roosters and begin seeing patients very early and work into the evening. As in all places near the equator, there is little to no twilight and total darkness descends quickly. I had made an appeal to Light & Motion for some headlamps so that those of us who were entering the clinical data could do so in the dark. We bring generators to run the dental equipment but there is no in place, permanent power in Timo and dental drills and computers have priority over light bulbs. We were really handicapped by the darkness.
Light & Motion responded to my request and sent us a batch of Solite 150 lights. For the first time we could see what we were doing, both reading the paper clinical forms and the keyboards of our laptops. The truly brilliant part of the charging system was the USB capacity, allowing us to charge them during the day for nighttime use. We were all set and then one of the dentists asked if our light was brighter than his – of course it was.
I gave him a newly charged lamp and off he went. I caught up with him midday and he said it was the best light he had ever had and he was using the medium setting. The dental team was set up on the east side of camp under blue plastic tarps to protect patients, equipment and themselves from the elements but it made for a dark environment. It didn’t take long for the other dentist and the hygienists to ask for our headlamps. I was constantly recharging during the early part of the day to ensure they had enough power for the lamps.
It seems so basic, the idea of enough light, until you do not have it, need it and have no way to get it. Through the generosity of Light & Motion we overcame a barrier that though small in some ways was huge in others. Whether they were on our heads or set up as table lanterns they were all we could hope for; their versatility was a much welcomed component of their success in an unlikely application. For us in HHI – they have no equal, they are our light.
Margaret Hartnett is the Data Team Leader for the Haiti Health Initiative.
By Jake Branch
First morning commute on the new frame and I can’t stop starring at the paint; so bright. If somehow I were to get tagged the excuse, “I didn’t see you” would be so mute its not even funny. Posting color pictures up so you can see the “neon-ness” of it all.
Every action happens so much quicker on this frame. Turns bank into corners with a snap thanks to the over-sized head tube and the acceleration from the BB30 crank is literally wheel spinning. Specialized pulled out all the stops on this one; race frame with dirt clearance. As I take the next corner, I’m leaning like it’s the final turn in a crit race, inside pedal up, weight down hard and the bike just sings through it.
Alas, not all roads are curvy and flat, some go up and down. There’s only one last test for the new frame; the grinder. The BB30 crank came with a 46 tooth chain ring, which is 4 teeth more than my legs were used to. I sat in and kept cadence until my quads were losing their voice from screaming so much. And then I stamped out the last 100m pulling and pushing in a frenzy of wild movements, all of which sent me speeding up grinning foolishly.
My legs send me all kinds of signals making promises of hours of pain, but I don’t care. I didn’t know bikes could ride like this; so connected. This garishly yellow bike is mine and I can’t wait to swing my leg over it again.
Jake Branch is a regular contributor to the Light & Motion blog – you can follow him on the at no-cars-go.experiment – a year by bike.
by Ezekial Hersh
For the past three years, I have made a mid-February journey to the Arizona desert to race in the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo. Last year the weather seemed not so different from Colorado’s and left most of us wishing for a warmer escape. Thankfully, this year was different!
Earlier in the week, the racecourse had received an inch or so of snowfall. The cooler temperatures kept camp a bit chilly, but this gave the racecourse its best shape I ever witnessed and made for some fast, smooth riding.
As the sun came up over blue skies on race day, the temperatures rose to perfect racing temps in the upper 60’s. The perfect temperatures and course had the first fast racers putting down smoking times. Our first rider, Nate Miller, threw down a fast 58-minute lap. Then Dax Massey followed with another 58. Next, our fast lady, Kelly Boniface, went out and threw down a 1:07 lap and passed me the baton.
The last two seasons I showed up to this race a bit heavy, which is to be expected living in the mountains this time of year. I was so heavy, though, that in the past I received the nickname “The Walrus” – not so funny! This year I was determined to show up lighter and faster and to have a jump on fitness for the season. One of my main goals was to beat an hour on my first lap, then race consistent times and try to stay within 5 minutes of my best time.
The first lap is always good to get out of the way. The nerves and anticipation usually drive me crazy, and I just want to get the first real race burn of the season over with. The first section of this course is a good warm up. Or, at least it seems like it is, until you hit “The Bitches.” Then you feel the real burn. The one nice thing about “The Bitches” is that there are passing opportunities. As soon as you get into the singletrack, those possibilities can be hard to come by without some consequences from Cholla, other cacti and other racers.
This is a race where being very vocal a long way out can help alert fellow racers of your fast moving approach. This works sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t! I still came up on people and almost had to stop after repeatedly telling them of my approach or passing options. I am still baffled as to whether these folks were wearing earphones or just refusing to hear me. Oh well! I did my best not to piss anyone off and keep it safe. I was racing after all, and damn it’s fun mashing as hard as you can!
My first lap turned out to be a little disappointing. Between the heavy traffic and dropping my chain twice (nothing a little early season tech work can’t fix), I missed my sub hour mark. I came in with an hour even. I guess there’s next year, and the reality is that I smoked my previous fast times by four plus minutes. I call that worthy for a Walrus!
Next up was Kyle Stamp. He went out on our fifth lap and showed some great early season form, especially for a fellow mountain town local. Kyle proceeded to throw down another lap just over an hour. We were rolling now. All the jitters were gone and the fun was happening.
This year we were defending our 5-person Coed win from the previous year, riding under the sponsorship of Light & Motion as our title sponsor. Our camp was fully decked out by our camp sponsors – KOA Dave, Kep’s Pollen Balls and Honey Stinger. Dave puts together quite the support, including the comforts of an RV, an enclosed and heated tent, and chicken noodle soup. You name it and we probably had access to it. Thanks, Dave!
With the night laps coming up and the team running dual Light and Motion Seca 1400’s, we concentrated on our goal of keeping the lap times as close to your first lap time as possible. The only thing holding that back was fitness, because the course was glowing with these Seca 1400’s blazing the trail. Numerous times on course I heard fellow racers commenting on how bright our lights were. To that I would reply just as I did on course: “Light & Motion, get some!”
The night laps were fast. Camp was cozy and friends were all around. We took the win again this year and were second overall. We also had the top 3 Coed duos in our camp and the winning women’s duo team!
The desert and the riding were what I need this time of year. Now I am back in Colorado to some shred some POW, but looking forward to my next ride on dirt.
Thanks to all my sponsors: Light and Motion, KOA Dave, Kep’s Pollen Balls, Honey Stinger/Bontrager, Schwalbe Tires, Santa Cruz Bikes, Formula Brakes, Stan’s NoTubes, Infinit Nutrition and Fox Racing Shox. Thanks for getting me on the trail!
You can read more of Zeke’s adventures at: http://ezekielhersh.blogspot.com
By Sarah Kaufmann
It felt like I had waited forever to meet my new teammates and get to race with my team. I was SO EXCITED. Not to mention the chance to get out of the (admittedly mild) Utah winter and onto Tucson desert singletrack. Standing in the pick up line at the airport waiting for Shannon, I was positively giddy to play around on the Epic Rides pump-track style course.
Shannon (Gibson) and Jenny (Smith) picked me up, we made the mandatory TJ’s stop and rolled out to the desert where we met Sue Haywood, and Olympic medalist Susan DeMattei (!!) along with the rest of our little crew. As an aside – is it wrong that I’m star-struck by my teammates? We set up camp, set off a gear explosion and headed to the Epic Rides dedication dinner in Susan’s honor.
Susan had been subbed on to our team, after Kaila got sick. I think she was a little wary because she wanted the weekend to be super chill and to race on a team where she could just ride a couple mellow laps. She hasn’t been riding much and she claimed to feel some (unnecessary) pressure on our team. That wasn’t the case, as we were all just incredibly honored to have her. And as it turned out, she went out and ‘toodled’ along her first lap to rip a 1:11. Go figure. The dedication dinner was really special – the highlight was hearing Sue Hayward speak about her idol, Susan DeMattei. Oh, and Barry Wicks‘s comments were a highlight too…let’s just say, you had to be there for those.
It was cold in the tent at night but once I wised up to putting mittens on my feet, I stayed warm. Though getting settled in the dark, I was kicking myself for forgetting my Light & Motion Solite. Stupid! I woke up super early and headed out to ride a little. By my count, between my two and a half solos (two complete and one dnf), one team race and other pre-rides, I had done 49 laps on the course. So I didn’t think a pre-ride was really necessary. But a singletrack fix definitely was. When I got back, people were starting to stir and we finished getting stuff ready, took some photos and Jenny got ready to roll lap 1. Since Jenny can run like the wind, we sent her first. It paid too, she was the first chick on the bike after the chaotic LeMans start.
Jenny ripped a super fast lap and Sue took off. I got ready, spun around a bit and waited for Sue.
When she got in, I headed out for my first. It was really good/terrible to ride that hard again Traffic is a bitch at that race but I tried to keep my head on straight and be patient and nice. I think I only pissed off one person. Okay, maybe two. The rest of the race unfolded without too much drama (except when a certain unnamed teammate lit the table on fire – good times).
Ride, eat, shower, rest, rinse and repeat. This photo was at the Light & Motion booth was on my way to the showers after a night lap. I stopped by to gush about how much I love my Seca 1400 and Stella 300. (And, yes, it is a HUGE luxury to have showers at a race in the middle of the desert. Epic Rides goes ALL_OUT. Full stop. Their events are top-notch).
I had some stomach issues, which I suppose shouldn’t be much of a shock with the amount of candy I consumed. Bad, Sarah.
Having Jimmy was awesome. And a huge adjustment for me – it was pretty rad that the only thing I needed to concentrate on was riding fast. Everything else was already done.
Lots of catching up with people, lots of impressive and super fast riding and lots of having a blast. Got to race with my idols, got to pedal hard for the first time in a while and got a *little bit* of sunshine and a singletrack fix that should hold me over until Austin. Oh, and we won!
Now for the cheesy part… I am super stoked for the year. I am on a team of incredible people and athletes. Huge thanks to Shannon and our sponsors:
By Jake Branch
What better way to escape the car traffic and narrow or nonexistent bike lanes than a 24 hour mountain bike race in the Sonoran Desert? Joining a four man team for the 24 hour old pueblo mountain bike race has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. It also allowed the perfect control to see if the nocarsgo experiment was working in the training department.
I woke to a cold arizonian sunrise with my mind spinning. A disgustingly warm winter has left the normally frozen Missouri single-track trails completely unrideable. Has riding to work every day prepped my legs for the challenge the desert about to dish out? Will my legs hold out for 24 hours? I’m officially past the point of sleep, so time to track down some coffee and make this day official.
There’s something about riding a full suspension 29er down to the local coffee truck that just feels right. A daily commute of single track that requires a mountain bike = commuter-lottery-winner. As my coffee sinks into my bloodstream, waking my brain, I’m thinking the desert life isn’t so bad, at least in February when the high is 72 degrees.
It’s 9am and the “town” is buzzing with excitement waiting for the race to start. . . This time tomorrow, I’ll know if the experiment has been successful so far.
Jake Branch is a regular contributor to the Light & Motion blog and now a 24-Hour ”diehard” after his respectable finish on the Team “Die Trying” this past weekend. Jake has given up his car to ride his bike to work for one year.