Photos from Mt. Ashland Super D

These Ashland Mountain Challenge photos were in our local newspaper, the Mail Tribune, taken by Andy Atkinson. Here’s a link to the whole gallery if you want to check out other racers.

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Cool vid from the Sping Thaw this year

Someone sent me a link to this video that documents the Spring Thaw DH race this year….It’s pretty nice sitting back in my dry warm house watching it.  Easy to forget how frigid it was too.  Nice sound track!

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Oregon Super D #1 (Hood River)

Last weekend was the 3rd annual Hood River Super D race at Post Canyon.  This race happens to be the kickoff to the 4 race Oregon Super D series and is also a part of the recently formed North American Enduro Tour (N.A.E.T.).  And the turn-out this year was the best yet.  I heard there were close to 300 racers there to challenge themselves on the 7 mile long post canyon trail and as always the vibe was serious-fun. It didn’t hurt that on this weekend fell 2 of our approximately 8 days of not rain for this month.  But that’s another subject.

The course in a nutshell; Technical ridge lines and fast flowy sweepers. 3,000′ descent 400′ climbing. Starts on a ridge line with amazing views of mt Hood (when clear) picks up quite a bit of speed and then about a mile of rocky yet flowy sweepers.  That gives way to the steep rock/rooty and seemingly always wet  1/4 mile of trail that then rewards you with a couple miles of, yes, more gorgeous sweepers. Carved rich coffee brown line set in lush greenery. Little hateful power climb. More sweepers to ridgeline. Little climb. More ridge line stuff but this time high speed flowy and in the trees. Last mile was a tight twisty creekside trail that I think you’d have to be a local to feel the flow on.

After battling some serious Portland traffic I got to Hood river at about 5:30 Friday evening and had just enough time to meet up with my friend Brian Happ and completely cake my bike with some thick, gooey, trail fudge. Fudge!  It was nasty. Demoralizing. As in I think I forgot how to ride my bike gross mud.  I’m a freak but I hate riding in mud.  I can race in it fine but I don’t enjoy it.  I ran into Kenny Burt and Olivier Bock close to the bottom of the hill and Olivier (the local) tried to cheer me up talking about how fast conditions can change there if it stopped raining.  Yeah Right I thought.  He was right though…Totally called it.  At the bottom of the hill I met back up with Brian and he described to me “the funnest crash he’d ever had”.  It sounded kinda like that scene in “the Matrix” where Keanu takes the pill, wakes up to reality, and is flushed down the tube. Only this was a 35 foot long mud tube.

After spending a solid hour washing our bikes the next morning we headed back up for some more practice.  It wasn’t raining and the wind was blowing pretty hard and that course dried out faster than (insert something that dries out really fast and is funny).  Olivier was right!  Well it didn’t dry up into dust.  Let’s say it dried up to perfect tacky dirt.  Really nice stuff with just the perfect amount of moisture.  Did a run on both the Nomad/Totem and the Blur Lt/Revelation and guess what I found out.  Little bike was definitely gonna be the ticket for this weekend.  Earlier Sneaky Nick Gibson (watch out for this guy this year) was trying to take advantage of my puffed up head by telling me that if I had the power to push the bigger bike it would definitely give me the advantage.  Oh I wanted to believe it but there is just enough climbing on the course to negate the upper rough & fast parts of the course.

So I went with the Blur LTc for the race day bike.  That bike is a race weapon! When you stomp on the pedals it snaps forward.  When you want it to carve corners it asks “how tight”.  And when you shout in your own head “oh god save me I’ve really F-d up this time”, it hears you and spreads the butter on without making a big deal of it.  It even lets you take the credit for it later on when you’re talking about what a sweet,creative, line you took through that rock garden.  Purely a hypothetical situation mind you.

Sunday was the race day.  Did I mention there were quite a few folks there to race? Yes I did.  Makes me so happy to see how many people are digging this kind of event. There were around 50 dudes in the Cat 2 19-34 alone and almost 40 women showed up to race.  That’s cool. My buddy Matthew Slaven (Kona Factory team) and honorary local (Portland) went off the line first as the safe bet for the win…Even in my own head.  I went off the line second and during the race there were times I reflected on all the fast folks also currently on the course either in front of me or behind me somewhere.  Somewhere back there were Nick Gibson, Timmy Evans, Kenny Burt, Karim Amir (Kona Factory rider who made the trip over from France for the race), Ryan Condrashoff, Jamie Goldman, & Scott Fellers to name a few.

My race was pretty uneventful.  Hit all my lines…Mostly. Pedaled HARD on the climbs and mostly just tried to keep flowing from one corner to the next.  It wasn’t until I heard some cowbells in the last mile of the course that my spidey sense got twigged.  Someones timing was off. I couldn’t even see those people with the cowbells yet.  About ten seconds went by and I heard them again. Right next to me!  Ooohhh! Ooooh! A few more corners went by and I caught a glimpse of Slaven darting through the trees. Then I lost site of him and I was across the finish line.    That’s when I knew I’d had a good run.

Slaven had had a time sink crash when he lost his bike in the creek for a bit. He was also tired from a busy weekend of filming with the Kona crew.  The price to pay for being a rockstar I guess. I was in the hotseat and I knew there were some fast rider still to come down.   I ended up keeping the hotseat with a 21:48. Timmy Evans was second at 22:22 with Nick Gibson hot on his heels at 22:28. Slaven and Teammate Karim were 4 and 5 with 22:49 and 22:52 respectively.

The Pro Women were; Alice Pennington Portland ripper with a 26:52 Lizzy English had a pretty hard crash that left her with some impressive scrapes and a bike that would only pedal in the hardest gear. She had to run the climbs but still hung on for second with 27:38 (not bad!). Lindsey Voreis came in third with a 29:37 and April Graham 29:53 and Cassandra Stann with a 30:33 rounded out 4th and 5th respectively.

Go here for the full results

Well that gets the Oregon Super D series going.  I highly recommend this series for anyone who has a mountain bike and likes to ride it on cool trails.  The series promoters have found some of the best stuff in Oregon (which is some good stuff) to race on.  Thanks for putting on such a cool event!

Next in this series is the OR SD # 2 in Bend–Be there…

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Damn..I think it’s working

The training that James Wilson is having me do that is.  I just got done racing the 20th annual Spring Thaw race in my hometown Ashland, OR and it went really well.  Far better than I expected actually.  I think I have to admit that all the interval training and core work I’ve been doing have lifted me off my old plateau.

On the way down to register for the race I was still about 50/50 whether or not I was even going to race the XC part of the weekend.  A big part of me was in doubt if I had my fitness back from the crash I took at the Keyesville classic and I didn’t want to burn myself out the day before the DH which I thought I had a good chance of winning.  But then I get to registration at “The Standing Stone” brewpub and there’s Mark Weir asking me if I’m gonna race the XC or not.  “Uhh…I still haven’t decided,” I say.  “You’d better race it or your DH win won’t count. I mean you’ll still get the win technically… but there’ll be an * next to your name and we’ll all know you’re a sissy,” he says.  Or something to that affect.  There was a lot of gum flapping going on and it’s hard to remember exactly what he said.  If you know him, it’s not hard to imagine though.

I tell him I’m still not sure if I’m gonna race it or not but internally I already know I can’t let that poke at my manhood and potential DH win slide. They leave. I register for the XC, DH, and Hardtail DH.  I tell myself I’m just gonna treat it as a hard training ride. After pre-race BS and a beer with fellow racers I go home and tell my wife that I got Weir-pressured and I caved and registered for the XC.  She gives me a whole bunch of grief for caving in to the peer pressure and I can’t win…Unless I win.

I rolled out with the leaders in near perfect race weather and was a bit surprised to find myself leading the pack for a little while up the first climb.  It felt wrong somehow.  Like there was a giant trick being played on me.  So I backed it off a bit and fell into a top ten position but still not too far from the front.  I began to pick more spots off on the climb and then really took back some spots on the first descent.  Caught up to my pal Mark Weir about halfway down & sat on his wheel for a while.  Then we turned a corner and headed back up for the second climb up to the top.  I got a bit out in front of Weir & held it all the way home into 4th place overall. Scott Chapin (Santacruz Bicycles) 3rd.  Aaron Bradford (Specialized) 2nd. And Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain) won it very convincingly.  I must say it felt pretty nice to be sitting at the finish line waiting for Weir to roll across…It’s usually the other way around.

The DH on day two of the Spring Thaw has always been my focus and this year was no different other than that there was a huge pro class this time around.  The conditions were nasty!  It had been raining all night. Cold. Snowing/raining/snowing/raining/up at the top all morning during practice runs.  In the days before most of us who had been out on the course were thinking that records would fall this year.  Probably 3 or 4 people would have broken the old records..That’s how fast the track was running.

Not this day.  I think those were the worst conditions I’ve ever raced that course in.  Everybody was thinking the same thing “Just get down the hill in one piece and it will be a good day”.  Just survive your run.  And I had to go and sign up for hardtail class too. Smart.  I got to go tenth off the line for my standard run and 200th off the line for my hardtail  run. It continued snowing/raining the entire time.  Conditions were much worse the second time down after roughly 200 racers had their way with the trail.  Sometimes the trail had it’s way with the racers.

When it was all over the top five were;

Nathan Riddle     4:12:50

Mark Weir             4:15:88

Casey Coffman    4:16:79

Ben Cruz                4:16:82

Aaron Bradford  4:17:10

Pretty close

and I took Hardtail DH too…I actually feel kinda guilty about that.

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Wife likes the new duds!

I’ve always made it a habit of going in to give my wife a hug & kiss before I go out for a ride.  Despite the fact that she always squints at me, crinkles up her nose, and makes some kind of comment about how gawd awful my riding gear looks.  She’s right. It has always been a mix mash of whatever I had around that suited the current temperature, and was clean.  Clean-ish. Not like the squirrels are gonna care right?

So you can imagine my surprise when not just once, but twice (in as many days) she’s looked at me per our usual custom, squinted and said “you look good?! You look really good!” The first time it took me by such surprise that she followed up shortly thereafter by saying “don’t get too excited now you’re socks still don’t match”.

I have Dakine to thank for this  new found stylishness.

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Lars (not sternberg)

If I’m Lars’ mentor is he my protege? Anyway I’m mentoring this cool 14 year old kid here in Ashland for his middle school senior project.  He wants to be a Pro DH racer and I think I was his best local option.  When approached to be his mentor I decided I’d model the whole thing after Karate Kid.  So I’m Mr Myagi in this…Just not quite that old…Or of Asian descent.

First we started with the “wax-on, wax off” stage. Before he could go out and ride the bike I was supplying he had to completely tear the thing down and rebuild it so that he would better understand the parts he’d eventually be breaking. Actually he hasn’t broken anything on the bike yet despite some serious efforts last weekend.

I think there was a “catching the fly with chopsticks” phase and I honestly don’t have a parallel  for that one.

Throughout his training there was a recurring theme of respect for others….So I’ve made a requirement that he has to participate in some sanctioned trail maintenance at some point, as well as attend one of the trail advocacy meetings we have.  Also he must show respect to other trail users, which he’s been doing a great job with,  but so far I’ve been unable to secure his attendance in one of the previously mentioned gatherings, due to scheduling conflicts.

Peppered in through out this time is the training.  Which a big part is getting him to ride uphill part of the time.  Last weekend I’d say there was some of that hopping crane jump kick thing when Karate Kid fell on the stump.  Lars’ version of that was to go for the first big gap jump on Marty’s and front wheel casing it. But somehow riding out of it.

Of course the big showdown will be the local Spring Thaw DH race where he will bring it all together and show those “Cobras” what he’s made of!

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Did intervals at lunch today. 45 seconds to rubber legs and raw lungs. repeat.repeat.repeat.repeat. Fun. Can’t wait to do it again too soon. Tired. Night-night.

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Chris King for 2011

Yes that’s right I”l be sporting the best (and brightest I might add) headsets made on my bikes this year.  It’s a good thing I picked a bunch of really bright colors to go on my bikes because otherwise I might forget they were there….That’s a good thing.  No maintenance…Also a good thing for me especially. Simple & reliable & bright & blingy.  Thank you Chris.

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My back is under attack!

I’ve just completed my first week of following James Wilson’s Strength training program (he’s my coach) and my lower back feels very much singled out for the slacker it’s been.  Now it’s not exactly it’s fault..I’ve enabled it to be lazy. For YEARS I’ve said “no no you just kick back…back– Don’t you worry yourself about this. Let those legs do all the work”.  And they have.  And it has.  My core is going to be the strongest it’s ever been this year.  Bring it on James!  It’s not that my back feels a ton stronger after just a week but what I notice already is more awareness of what my back is doing on or off the bike.

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look out tires!!

My dad, among lot’s of other really cool things, got me a motorcycle tire hot knife for christmas.  Industrial..lots of spare blades.  Heh heh heh heh…heh heh… Look out tires.  You won’t know what hit you.  No more single sided razor blades & blisters on my fingers. No more clippers & snipers.  We’re talking plug it into the wall get it hot & start burnin’ some rubber! Just to show it to the knob will melt it into submission.  Does it make the tire hook up better?  Mmmmmh  don’t know but I usually think it does and that makes it worth it right?  When I get skilled at it I’ll post some pics.

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