By Nate Bird – Photo of Rob Peterson by “Steamboat Pilot & Today”
As I drove into work yesterday, the temperature sign on the Wells Fargo bank that everyone uses to gauge the day’s temp read -37. WHAT? -37. Steamboat Springs had its first snow day in 22 years (it didn’t snow by the way) – this is a hardy town, and that was too cold for the kiddies to get their learn on. So, as for training, I tried to type a good 100 words per minute average while toiling away at Honey Stinger; then, at the end of the day, I put on my teal Lululemon yoga tights (a nice contrast to the hot pink cast on my hand) and rocked pilates like there was no tomorrow – watch out ladies.
No, but seriously, well semi-seriously – winter training (for riding) in Das Boat (the hometown of Honey Stinger) consists of whatever you can do. For the diligent, the bibs are on, and hours are toiled away on the trainer. Spin classes, yogo, gym, the standard practices for all off season bikers go on daily. Some of us (me) have a coach who helps with a winter training plan, unless you get hurt, have surgery, get a hot pink cast, and fall completely off the back on the training.
But we live in a winter wonderland, so who wants to go to a class indoors (unless it’s -37)?! And here in Steamboat (Ski Town USA – yes it’s a trademark, no one else can use it) we have a gorgeous ski mountain and a ton of snow to play on. So even though people are training – having fun skiing/snowboarding is the #1 priority for most. On powder days – good luck finding people at work – they’ll be up at the “office.” At Honey Stinger we have a powder clause – it snows 8” and you can come in at 11 after your powder fix.
Instead of using the lift – many people these days are opting for the ever more popular and quite trendy practice of “skinning.” This entails attaching skins to your skis – and hiking your booty up the hill before you get to go down – “earn your turns” as they say. As someone who is also a freestyle coach – I like the whole lift and let gravity take you down thing – but, well, I’m old school I guess. Plus you’re not getting my teenage athletes to hike up when they can take a lift and bomb down.
Don’t forget there’s still plenty of cycling to be had if you’re hard core enough. Snow mountain biking is quite fun – there’s a plethora of packed hiking/Nordic skiing trails to ride on. Speaking of Nordic skiing – that’s probably the best workout you’ll find in the winter – in Steamboat there are several Nordic centers with nicely groomed trails to enjoy, enjoy being a relative term depending on your skill and fitness levels – it ain’t the easiest sport ever.
Basically – anything goes – anything to get the heart rate up in the frigid months and not be a total louse. Snowshoeing, running, snowball fights, wii bowling, all part of someone’s training regimen. And don’t forget the upper body workout – some 12 oz. curls at your favorite watering hole (mine is locals’ favorite T Bar) for Apres Ski. You have to have somewhere to regale your buddies of the “epic” pow you just rocked.
Nate Bird is a pro rider on the Honey Stinger/Trek Mountain Bike Team. He is currently “training” and sick of being in a cast. www.honeystinger.com
By Meredith Miller
I woke up the morning of Worlds feeling like I do on any other race day, a little nervous but excited. Ok, maybe a little more nervous than usual – it IS the World Championships. The big day had finally arrived and I was ready for it.
We got out to the course around 8:45am to start warming up…it was COLD (probably 25 degrees) so we literally needed to warm up.
The mood all around was enthusiastic – Katie, Sue, Amy, Kaitie and I were feeling good and super charged to go. Katie was going for the rainbow stripes and Amy, Sue and I were hoping for a top 10, which was all within our reach. Kaitie was starting her 2nd CX race in Europe and her first ever World Championships so she was there to take it all in, learn a few things and enjoy the experience.
The ubiquitous voice of Richard Fries, who for the 2nd year was announcing all the races, began calling “elite women to staging”. We were corralled into the staging area and one by one each rider was called onto the starting grid. Katie was called up numero uno since she was number one in the world. Lined up in the 2nd row were Sue and I, Amy was 3rd row and Kaitie was 5th row. I was the last person to be called to the 2nd row so I didn’t have a choice of where to line up. I was hoping for middle to outside but the decision had been made for me – far inside of the track behind Helen Wyman of Great Britain. We were packed like sardines in the grid, but it was important to somehow keep the blood flowing to avoid freezing so I hopped from one foot to the other, shook out the legs, (carefully) swung the arms around.
At the 2 minute mark we shed our extra layers, which with the temperatures hovering around 27-28 degrees not a lot came off. At the 1 minute mark everyone was clipped in, elbows out, wheels overlapping, chomping at the bit. At 30 seconds all eyes were on the stop light – it can change from red to green at any time. Bam, we got the green and it was go time.
I hadn’t wanted to line up on the inside of the track because I knew that everyone would automatically drift inside as we rounded the first turn. Sure enough, I was boxed in on the inside and had to fight tooth and nail not to roll over the rail that lined the inside of the track. As we came out of the first turn some space opened up but it was quickly shut down again as we rounded the last turn onto the first hard packed section of the course. I was no where near the front. I saw a sea of colors filling the course in front of me but I had to stay calm. I’d been there MANY times before so I knew it was too early to panic.
Within 600m from the start we hit the trickiest section of the course – a couple slick turns into barriers into an off camber section into a steep drop in. During my warm up lap I was able to ride the off camber section without problems, but I knew that on the first lap this section would cause chaos so I was fully prepared to start running. Sure enough, there were bodies flying everywhere so I dug my toes into the hillside and ran.
On lap 2 I came into the off camber section with more space around me so I decided to try to ride it. Didn’t work. I hit the ground pretty hard but was able to bounce back up to start pedaling again.
I’m not really sure where I was in the order of things at this point but I do know that every time I hit the climbs I was able to pass groups of riders. The first time I recall hearing someone yell to me my position was somewhere in the 20’s. Maybe after lap 2 I came through the finish and saw that I was 19th. Top 20 was not good enough. I kept big pressure on the pedals on the climbs to continually pass riders, eventually moving into 11th place.
Then disaster struck. Just as I was passing the 2nd pit my rear tire went flat. Poof. It wasn’t a slow leak, it was completely empty. Just my luck. I was as far away from getting a bike change as possible. The same shitty luck plagued Danny Summerhill the day before in the same spot. He fought his way back to 13th. Unfortunately for me when I hit the track with my flat I only had 2 laps to go. I had to ride more than half a lap with a completely flat tire, not such an easy task. All the riders I had previously passed were now passing me back. Finally I got to the first pit for a bike change and was able to ride the last lap and a half at full gas again.
But I had lost so much ground I couldn’t even see riders in front of me to chase down. Amy D. rode up to me (she’d also suffered from bad luck) and we rode to the finish together.
During that last lap I tuned my ears into what was unfolding in front of me – since my race was essentially all but over, I wanted to hear if Katie Compton was going to be the next World Champion. I was listening to Richard give a blow-by-blow account of Katie, Marianne and Katerina battling each other for the coveted rainbow stripes. From what I could tell it was a fierce battle, but I was sincerely disappointed that it wasn’t Katie who would don the rainbow jersey on the podium. She’s a class act, a leader in the sport and in my mind a World Champion. That aside, I can’t say that Marianne Vos didn’t deserve her 3rd rainbow jersey. She, too, is a classy woman, a deserved champion. And, wow, so stoked for Katerina to round out the podium. It says something about the competition in the US to see 2 woman who race in the US to step onto the podium at the biggest event of the season.
I didn’t get the result I wanted, but I’m confident that had I not flatted I would have ridden myself into the top 10. At least that is something to give me some piece of mind when thinking back to what coulda, shoulda, woulda been. Not one to be dragged down, I’m already thinking forward, planning next season, counting down the months until ‘cross season rolls around again. www.mmcyclist.com
Posted by Dina Michev a Jackson, Wyoming-based freelance writer
At night, I might not be able to see the Tetons in the distance, or Cache Peak or the Game Creek drainage closer to me, but I can hear owls coming to life in the aspen and whitebark pine. I can hear coyotes (and I swear, twice I heard wolves) howling as they get ready for their nighttime hunt. I can follow the tracks of moose and deer and be amazed at how I never manage to catch a glimpse of them even though their footprints and beds are everywhere.
The sun was setting just as I hit the halfway point of my backcountry ski tour. I had already skied 12 miles along Cache Creek, up to Game Creek Divide, and along an undulating ridge to the backside of the Snow King Ski Area. Enjoying the peace and quiet of my ski tour – and always preferring longer to shorter — I opted to turn around and retrace my tracks, a three-hour trip, rather than hit Snow King and civilization, a 30-minute trip.
Taking a final glance at the last pink rays of the setting sun, I executed a fairly graceful kick-turn and started sliding back in the tracks I had just made. There wasn’t a movement or noise that drew my attention to my left, but something made me turn and look in that direction. No more than 40 feet away sat a mountain lion. It was looking directly at me.
Years ago I read somewhere that 125 was the magic number for mountain lions, or puma if you prefer. The article reasoned that if you were bigger than 125 pounds, which I am by several multiples of 10, a mountain lion would think you too much trouble to be prey. Pulling my earphones out, I hoped this mountain lion had gotten that memo.
I paused the book I had been listening to on my iPod, began checking over my shoulder every 10 seconds for a big cat sneaking up on me, and strained my ears listening for sounds of puma pads crunching snow. Oh, and I flicked on my headlamp. Usually when the moon is out I go as light and small as possible. That afternoon though, for whatever reason, I put a Stella 200 in my pack. I doubt the orb of daylight that surrounded me mattered to the mountain lion, but it certainly made me feel better. I began looking over my shoulder only every 20 seconds or so.
Obviously the mountain lion did not attack me. In fact, I never saw it again after the 40-foot stare down we had. By the time I lost sight of it behind a tree – I don’t expect any light to penetrate a pine — it hadn’t budged an inch, with the exception of its head, which moved to follow my retreat.
I know mountain lions can have a range of at least a couple of hundred miles, but about half-way back I began to find the meditative groove that make nighttime ski tours such a favorite of mine.
Sometimes I do this tour with a girlfriend – when we’re training for the annual Elk Mountains Grand Traverse it’s a favorite of ours; but other than Jill, I’ve never seen another person or tracks back there. I don’t always do it at night, but as it takes between 5 and 6 hours to do as an out-and-back, and the sun sets before 5 p.m. in Wyoming in the winter, I’m usually in the dark for at least part of it.
My first few winters in Jackson, I was under the delusion activity ended when the sun set. With the sun setting as early as it does, days were short indeed. I’m embarrassed at how much time I, an avid backcountry skier, wanna-be snow biker, and ice climber wasted with this line of thought. Bring on the dark! (Provided I’m carrying the proper equipment….)
Dina Mishev’s work appears in Sunset, Outside, Skiing, Shape, and Via. In February 2009 she set the Guinness World Record for the most vertical feet skied uphill by a woman in 24 Hours (34,546 feet). She used a Stella while training for that too. Read more of her work at dinamishev.com.
The 12th annual Kona Bikes 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo February 19 – 20th is going to welcome over 1,700 riders this year in what has become the largest 24 hour race in the country.
Light & Motion will be there with our leanest, meanest LED rental lights, a fully staffed charging station… and tweezers to make sure you can ride with confidence at night. Ride over to the bright orange booth and get hitched up with some goods.
An “Old Pueblo” special discount will be offered on the new Seca 1400, The Seca Race Bundle, and the Stella 300 light systems purchased through Fairwheel Bikes at the race.
Rentals will include the Seca 900, the Seca 700, Seca 400 and the feather-weight a.k.a. “Whipper Snapper” Stella 200. All systems can be mounted either on the bar or the helmet and come with a rechargeable li-ion battery.
A Light & Motion pro will be there to answer questions and outfit you for confident night-time laps. Rentals for the 900s are $60, all others rent for $40 cash only. Additional 9-cell, 6-cell, and 3-cell batteries rent for $25, $20, and $15. Reservations can be made up until February 14th by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org After the 14th it will be “first come, first serve”.
An Australian named, Peter Terren, known for his electric art installations he affectionately refers to as “electrickery” has recently topped the Joneses with a bicycle featuring the world’s brightest bike light, that apparently would be visible from space.
“I would love to send some Morse code to the International Space Station,” said Terren.
His 2010 Christmas rig uses 18 high-powered 100 watt LED lights – 15 at the front and three at the rear to light up the tree. It is powered by three deep cycle industrial batteries weighing over 30 kilograms.
As a bicycle lifestylist, he does not own a car and got the idea while riding home one night, mentioning the dangers of kangaroos unexpectedly jumping in his path.
Terren was planning to ride it in his local Christmas parade but says “bureaucracy” and a lack of liability insurance prevented him from doing so. It’s illegal to ride on the open road due to the light intensity.
In 2009, he created a nine-metre high Christmas tree using lightning-like sparks from a tesla coil and long-exposure photography. These are but a fraction of his accomplishments with electricity that has given him the nickname of Dr. Shock to those familiar with his antics.
Check out his website Tesla Down Under to see some of his other phenomenal creations.
Here’s a nice video of early cross racing in Europe….trail? tough course.
MTBR just posted a great wrap-up and thorough review of the current lights available to riders. While there are some companies introducing lights with even more claimed Lumens than the Seca 1400, their beam patterns are still inefficient and throw up a good percentage of unusable light far above where any rider needs to see. Out of all the test photos, the Seca 1400 is easily spotted as the brightest option giving tribute to the extensive R&D developing the best possible beam reflector.
Light and Motion Seca 1400 – at $699, this 1400 lumen light measured in at 110 lux on our meter. The standout here is how efficiently that light is utilized. It has the widest beam from close to mid range. And with 110 lux, it throws just about as far as most riders will need. And it still chops off the top of the beam pattern to avoid waste.
On the other end of the spectrum, Magicshine seems to be flickering away, apparently having cut too many corners, their products are now faced with failed batteries and chargers – and now encouraging it’s customers to “stop use immediately”
Heidi Swift cyclist and columnist for the Oregonian newspaper has compiled a Holiday Gift Guide. Light and Motion Vis 360 is listed…a “safe” bet to put a smile on anyone this holiday.
Light and Motion was in Portland the past weekend for the final stop of the USGP Cyclocross races. We had nice foot traffic at the booth both days. Saturday was very windy and cold. Sunday sunny and cold which made for a drier, faster track. Light and Motion sponsored racer Meredith Miller did well on both days and ended the 2010 USGP season on the podium in second place…..CONGRATS Meredith….now on to Bend for the Nationals!