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.
For this year’s Transylvania Epic the training was in the legs, the bike running great and many other pieces were fitting perfectly. Travel and routine if anything was something that I was unprepared for, and these, although I couldn’t put my finger on what went wrong, could have been the factors that hurt me most.
The early stages went great with the legs and body feeling great and I had been racing smart. Then in the middle of Tuesday night I woke to a sore throat. My heart sunk of course, as I could tell this was no dry throat, but an actual cold approaching. Immediately I knew that the next day was my last day to race, at close to 100%.
The racecourse at Raystown, PA was so damn unreal and fast and I put my game plan to work and hung on a wheel for most of the first lap and a half. Then on a steep climb, I sensed a little weakness and made and attack. This gained me about 2 minutes on second place and got me on the top step of the podium for my last time of the week.
The next couple days I suffered more on my bike than I can remember ever doing. The cold had hit the lungs and head and I just plain did not feel well. I knew the overall was out of the question, but I wanted to hang onto third place in the GC if I could.
Suffering and all I was able to finish the race and hang onto third! Not exactly the result I had wanted, but it was a podium at a 7-day stage race.
In all the suffering, I still found the trails in State College amazing! The Transylvania Epic was epic to say the least and toward the end of the week, my PA rock riding skills had come full circle after being scared shitless on the second day of racing.
Even though there are a few pieces in the puzzle to get right, I had an unbelievable time racing at the Transylvania Epic!
You can follow Zeke Hersh’s “Dirt Riding and Racing” here: http://ezekielhersh.blogspot.com/
At Light & Motion, we want to inspire people to not just ride during the day, but also at night – and to capture the spirit of night riding, we needed an epic photographer that also rides bikes. To this day, I’m not sure if it was his impressive mustache or extensive professional portfolio, but we instantly knew Devon Balet was the perfect guy to help us out this year. Devon’s photos have found their way in just about all your favorite bike mags and have certainly motivated you to saddle up and go for a ride – and that is pretty much the goal.
The first photo shoot had us rallying around San Fran, starting with a pre-dawn photo shoot near the Golden Gate Bridge, until 5 shotgun wielding (fingers on the trigger) police officers decided that we had chosen a poor location. Then we scrambled about the city in search of cool cycling spots and good coffee. We learned that the Bart transit can quite crowded for 5 people and their bikes and that Ramen doesn’t just come in cups of freeze dried noodles with flavor packets – but is actually a culinary sensation if you know the right spot to go. We discovered that iPhones refuse to give accurate directions to the Twin Peaks in SF – but we made it anyways and were able to get some great shots before relaxing with carafes of Sake and beer.
A few days later we pedaled through the maze of trails at UCSC’s upper campus with Dejay Birtch, Dax Massey, Ross Schnell, Meredith Miller, Nate Bird, and some local riders to help navigate. Fueled by canned beer and fun, flowey trails we did our best to balance work and play, always erring on the side of play. Devon managed to carry his arsenal of photography equipment on his back and still shred the trails. Darkness quickly set in under the canopy of redwood trees and we got to finish up the night with a very legitimate night ride down through Wilder State Park, dropping us down to the ocean.
Check out some more of Devon’s photos at his website: http://devonbaletphoto.com/
Follow him as he lives the dream traveling, biking, and taking photos: http://www.facebook.com/people/Devon-Balet/747985621
And if you are a social media junky, you can even check him out on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/devonbalet
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 Meredith Miller
Today I am watching the surf break along the beach in Santa Barbara, CA. It’s calm and serene. The white sand is smooth and glistening as the water does its little dance on top of it. Two weeks ago the sand I experienced was quite different. Two weeks ago I was trying to pedal my bike through sand that was ankle deep and sometimes deeper. Two weeks ago I was racing as part of the US National Team at the Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium.
There is no other course in the world quite like the one in Koksijde. Week in and week out I race in mud, dust, snow, ice, and sand but only once have I ever raced in sand that wants to consume me.
I had watched enough video coverage and talked to enough people who’d been on the course before to know that this course was ‘special’. It takes a certain kind of skill to be able to pedal your bike through the sand – you have to float across it. You have to let your bike go where it wants to go and trust that it will take you where you want to go. And at the exact moment when you start to lose speed, you have to dismount, run while pushing or shouldering your bike, remount and get back up to speed all in one fluid motion. If you try to take one pedal stroke too many, your bike abruptly stops and you lose precious time as you clumsily dismount and start running. Your timing has to be precise. Once you’re out of the sand, you ride to the next dune and do it all over again and again and again.
When you think you’ve finally got the right line dialed, the person in front of you puts a foot down and you lose your momentum, dismount and start running…and so on for each person behind you. The game isn’t always orchestrated by you but by the people around you. Keeping your head up is key to knowing what lies ahead.
Sometimes the course goes up, sometimes it goes down. Riding down a steep, deep section of sand requires no less confidence and skill than it does on the flat sections. If your wheel digs just a little too deep or turns the slightest bit, you end up eating a face full of sand after you embarrassingly flip right over your handlebars. The crowd loves it (all 60,000 of them!), of course, but all the bits and pieces of your bike that are now packed with sand are less functional and your confidence wanes. Next time you get to that section, you might opt to run right away instead of repeating said humiliating acrobatics.
The Belgians make riding in the sand look effortless. They ride with precision and confidence. They are ‘sand specialists’. It’s no surprise they went 1-7 in the men’s elite race. I, on the other hand, did less riding and more running because I don’t have the precision and confidence yet to ride my bike in deep sand.
Some of the courses here in the US incorporate sand pits, but they are typically no longer than a sand volleyball court. Riders hit the sand once a lap. The sand pit is one small section of the course, not the majority. Needless to say, I have little experience riding in sand like Koksijde. On race day I checked my expectations at the door and told myself that no matter what, as long as I raced with everything I had, I wouldn’t be too hard on myself if my result was less than stellar. On the other hand, I’d be ecstatic if my result was unexpectedly stellar.
I finished 20th, not stellar but not disappointingly awful. When I crossed the line, all I could say was that was the hardest race I have ever done and I gave it my all.
Here’s a link to some race footage for a real sideline view of the Worlds: http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/240302-European-Cyclocross-2011-2012/video/590132-Elite-Women-Cyclocross-World-Championships-Koksijde-2012
By Nate Bird
This town, Steamboat Springs is dependent on snow, for the joy it brings, for the economic benefits it brings based on our tourism-based economy – the city moniker after all is “Ski Town USA” (it’s trademarked actually). Yeah…not so much this year – we certainly still have snow, more than most are used to or want; but not here, there is never enough snow. This place craves the division of seasons, the amazing Colorado summers versus the deluge of the white stuff that piles up almost insurmountably all winter. But for us, that deluge also offers the same amount of fun outdoor adventures as summer, or perhaps more depending on who you are.
The place I work, Honey Stinger, like many places in this town (and other mountain towns all over) allows for the most beautiful concept of the “powder clause,” the adult opportunity to play ultimate hooky when it snows over a certain amount. Ours essentially dictates that with a head’s up the night before, you can ski to your lil heart’s desire until 11, noon, or even later depending on the permission granted (but if you can’t nuke your legs by 11, there’s a problem). This entire place, a whole city, is itching to use the powder clause this year. We want to be “pressing glass” – getting to the gondola so early the doors aren’t open as you wait in anxious anticipation pressed up against the glass doors. Alas, the opportunity has not arisen as it so frequently does in normal years.
This year, La Nina has been a total beeotch, and almost everywhere has been suffering from lack of snow. There are almost certainly alternatives to be had; you just have to find them. Find the places to play, to get fit, to get your fix and make your body feel good. I’ve been enjoying a class led by a couple of friends for some consistent indoor butt-kicking cross-training no matter what the weather.
The beauty this year has been in those alternatives. In come the substitutes, other things to occupy that fun fix besides schussing. Mind you, we are for sure skiing; it’s just not quite as enthralling as normal, we’re hardly shredding the gnar this winter. Folks here love all forms of skiing – alpine, snowboard, skinning, touring, cross country, skate, etc – just sliding on snow. My alternative, however, has been mountain biking – yep, mountain biking, legit style. One can always find a place to ride in the winter if they’re diligent enough, but, well, it’s been extra fun here this year. Our normal summer mountain biking pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Emerald Mountain, has yielded its bounty this winter as well.
Due to the lack of the usual exorbitant amounts of snow, the trails have been hiked, ran, snowshoed, skied, dog walked, and ridden into summer form – packed single-track. Well, except that we’re trading dirt for packed snow here. Full on, awesome, pure funsnow single-track is up there right now, something I’ve never seen in my bike career let alone my time here in Steamboat. Mid-winter lunch rides with Dave (the dog) are happening twice a week, it’s novel and it’s awesome. The riding is fun, just really fun, and keeping it all interesting. No dissin’ on skiing or anything winter related, we just added bikes to the mix this year in a real way.
Make lemonade outta lemons right? Yup. Skinning up the mountain helps too – a quick post-work jaunt when the lifts aren’t carrying you up fixes the needed fix. There are always a few people scooting up and not sliding backwards on their skins after work. And if you’re lucky, you catch the fresh groom for the way down – super soft before it sets up overnight. Add a Seca and it’s game on – crazy fun and fast on the down, like daylight, or riding your bike at night with one.
I also had the pleasure of going on a sanctioned company hut trip last week with work– something I’ve never done. Something I really need to do again with friends soon. Winter backpacking with a remote cabin and some basic creature comforts (like warmth) to enjoy in between – really recommend that one, you won’t be let down.
I’m still hoping to use my powder clause, and more than once at that. I’d still like to be buried in snow and not even considering riding a bike. But I’m pretty satisfied right now; it’s been fun to find new fun in the winter. My dog is stoked because I’m not ditching him to go get in the lift line, he gets to chase or lead my bike instead this year. Up next is the snowbike crit at the first annual Teva Winter Games on Saturday. Should be an interesting one – it starts at 5 PM with lightsrequired, the Seca 1400 will be ready!
Nate Bird rides for Team Honey Stinger and is a Light & Motion sponsored athlete.
Heading to the 24HOP race? We’ll have lights. Want to ride Dual Seca 1400s? Get your reservation in early! Contact Tori firstname.lastname@example.org to order up your lights for some Sonoran Desert night-riding fun!
Team Tecnu Extreme/Kailash battled it out against other top-ranked athletes from around the world to clinch the 12th place spot at the 2011 version of the Adventure Racing World Championships. This was no small feat considering the epic nature of Australia’s biggest expedition race.
“It was one of the most beautiful and diverse races of my life” quotes team captain and lead navigator Kyle Peter. For the Tassie World Champs race, Peter put together an international team made up of Tecnu veteran and Brazilian Marco Amselem, seasoned adventure racer Ryan VanGorder, and Canadian Liza Pye. The team battled sand dunes, freezing temperatures, exciting white water paddling, and knee deep mud all while navigating their way to the finish line on Tasmania’s Northwest coast. “We had a great race,” says Peter “and it has only made us more excited for the upcoming 2012 season where we hope to keep on moving up the ranking board.”
You can follow more of the team’s adventures at: Tecnu Extreme Adventure Racing
by Chad Denning
In 2005 the Stone Cat 50 was my second 50 miler ever…. It was kind of a bitter sweet experience in that I did actually win the race that day only to hear a few minutes after crossing the finish line that one of my best friends had fallen and broken her leg. To this day I still have that “what if” scenario in my head about sticking to my stated goal and following thru? That day in 2005 my goal was to start and finish with my friend and see how well we could push and pull throughout.. but never really any stated time or aspirations as far as a finish. Well I did not stick to my goal that day and I had not been back to SC since….
Fast forward to 2011, it’s been a pretty good year thus far on the ultra circuit for me and I really wanted to end the season on a high note. That said I did set a goal of sub 7 hours for myself at this years Stone Cat 50. Leading up to the race I put in some good training with the Colby Sawyer XC team and a bunch of long runs with my friend Brandon Baker. In the end I felt like I had indeed trained appropriately for this race… only to get the flu the weekend before. I hate it when that happens!!
I decided that sleeping in my own bed the night before and getting up super early would be better for my body than staying in a hotel before the race. My Saturday morning started @ 2:30am… jumped in the car for a 2 hour drive. Great traveling that early in the morning as NO one is out! Got to the school where the race begins in Ipswich about 4:45am after a brief stop for a few breakfast items.
As I exited the car to go and check in I realized that it was a tid bit nipply outside. Yikes this race always starts out cold. but no worries I think the stated high for the day was to be 49 degrees and sunny. It does not get better than that when it comes to running and ultra all day.
I knew that there were going to be some fast people there so I really just planned on running with the clock rather than worrying about what was going on in the race. If you get too wrapped up in what is going on around you the race can get away from you pretty quickly. I had hoped to run with Aliza Lapierre for some of the race but that never actually happened although judging by the finish times she was only right around the corner for most of the race.
This is what I wore and ate during the event. Knowing that our feet would be wet the entire run I lathered my feet with Sportslick before putting on my Darn Tough socks (DT’s Rock!) and decided to go with my Inov-8 295’s rather than my Hoka One One Mafate’s… reason (water) There was a pretty hefty water section that had our feet wet from start to finish. I have not tried my Mafate’s in heavy water yet so I was gun shy in that regard. I wore my OR swift wick top with arm sleeves and my EMS shorts. As far as my food I had about 12 gu’s, 4 snack cliff mojo’s, and 4 ensures over the race course. Writing it down that seems like a lot of food but hey I am 170 lbs…. Read More