Category ArchiveDownhill Biking



Downhill Biking &Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking 01 Jun 2011 10:26 pm

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…

Downhill Biking &Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking &Training 23 May 2011 09:05 pm

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.

Downhill Biking &Mountain Biking 26 Nov 2007 09:46 pm

Trust me it’ll be fun….

Ah—how many times have you led friends astray off on some wild, stupid, idea of a ride where your friendship is definitely strained until you get back to civilization. The symptoms are; You feel like a total asshole and you have a hard time looking your friend in the eye because you know that you’ve chosen a poor route, kinda like when the dog tosses the garbage & can’t look you in the eye when you get home. Symptom two is; You find yourself saying things that you know aren’t true like; I think it levels out pretty soon, or I think we’re getting pretty darn close, or after this next little bit it gets a lot better. Symptom three; is that you mentally start tallying all your combined foodstuffs & resources. And symptom four; You find yourself yo-yo ing back and forth down the trail checking to make sure your friend(s) is still ok but not necessarily wanting to get within range of their stink-eye and mutterings.

Thus I present to you Mt Shasta’s “Entertainer” snow ride;

mtshasta_entertainer.jpg

Top of Entertainer

mtshastacollage.jpg

downieville_mthood-197.jpg

Mud,Dust,& Snow

Downhill Biking &Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking 21 Aug 2007 11:29 am

OBRA Oregon State Championship race at Willamette Pass

The Pro/Expert course has evolved every year since the beginning at Willamette Pass, with most of those changes occurring in the treacherous top third of the course. And most of those changes have been due to the efforts to reduce the number of ambulance trips to Eugene (the closest city with a decent hospital) It’s a steep dusty mountain at the top with lots of fun rocks & logs to drop off. It’s not the rocks & logs themselves that are so treacherous but the deep shifting dust filled ruts that come before and after them that are the wreckers. The dust-rut-70 degree switchbacks aren’t a terror because when you crash it’s like falling into sifted flour–just keep your mouth closed.

Bike Setup;

I used my V-10 with Fox 40 & DHX 5 rear (which just shrugged off all the deep fast braking bumps) along with WTB DH Wheels & Dissent DH tires as no amount of side knobs will let you hook up in the dust ruts and I figured the super low rolling resistance would let me make up time on the high speed lower sweepers (they worked great), that is my favorite part of the course, and few pedally parts. As always my Gamut P40 performed perfectly–it’s easy to forget it’s there as it never does anything I have to think about. Hayes prototype Strokers–Rad. Thomson post, Thomson stem–Solid

For me the race itself was a tale of two runs–both very different from each other. First run was great–no mistakes, felt slow up top in the steep deep dusty rutted out stuff–then really let the V-10 stretch the legs out from mid-course down through the high speed sweepers & deep braking bumps–First run good enough to put me in the hot seat with about 10 seconds to spare to the next racer. Second run was UGLY–about 100 yds in my stomach was on my seat with legs dragging behind on the ground–somehow didn’t crash but had to stop to get back on the bike (and on the course). 200yds after that I had to stop again get off my bike straighten my bars (which had somehow gotten very crooked?) get back on the bike & go. I was about 20 seconds slower on the second run. Fortunately my first run held by about 5 seconds so I took the overall and I guess I get to call myself “OBRA” state champ as it was the “OBRA” state championship race. Of course there’s also the “State Games of Oregon” at Mt Hood which Lars Sternberg just won too. The Oregon State racing thing is so mixed up….It’s really too bad for the racers that the Oregon DH promoters can’t get along with each other & make one solid series.
There were some other Pro’s there but they weren’t very close–The real competition was coming from the semi’s–I guess Phil Weiring has been pretty much schooling all comer’s, pro or semi this year up there. He was there and had a good run but not quite good enough. It felt good to bring the fast time back to the pro camp–where it should be.

Nathan

Downhill Biking &Mountain Biking 13 Aug 2007 03:58 pm

Team Lopes comes to Ashland

My wife Wendy Maynard & I recently had the rare honor of having 3 time World Champ Brian Lopes & his wife Paula (team Lopes) stay at our house in Ashland OR.

Years ago my friends Alex Criss, Duncan Coppedge & I sat on the grassy bank at Laguna Seca watching the first ever Mountain Cross race at the Sea Otter Classic. You may remember it as the race where Nathan Rennie’s Yeti frame disintegrated underneath him over the low triple jump. Or you may remember it as the year they had to shorten the huge step-up jump on the second day of practise because only 5 or 6 people could land backside on it the first day. But I remember it for the very last race of the day and one of the most inspiring feats of come back-from-behindness I’ve ever seen in any sport. Final heat, Lopes washes out in the first corner, I mean right out of the gate in the dust, the rest of the pack long gone, probably 75 yards ahead of Lopes before he gets back on his bike. Now I think alot of people would probably give up at this point and shrug their shoulders and kick the dust. Some other racers might figure,.. well shoot might as well give these good folks a show and catch some styley air over all the jumps hamming it up for the crowd. But not Lopes. Nope he wasn’t done kickin’ ass yet. It was like someone poured lighter fluid on a fire. I can still remember how far back he came from, how he passed everyone like they were standing still. How from 100yds away you could see the determination as he passed the last obstacle to his victory. It blew me away.

If you’d asked me that day that years later I’d play host to him and his wife at my house in Ashland, OR. I probably would have chuckled, shrugged & jokingly said “anythings possible”. Hmm. Anything is possible.

Through this unique sport of mountain biking where connections are forged over the desire to share our favorite trails with one another I sit here in my living room with Brian & Paula Lopes, talking about our quirky dogs and home improvement projects. The Lopes’ are two of the most down to earth, cool, mellow, generous people, I’ve met by the way. And it’s hard while sitting there talking about our non-racing lives to remember that this guy is half made up of lighter fluid and that every other racer out there holds a lit match. Not hard to remember while he shows me the best lines on my backyard trails though!

After they left Wendy & I both found ourselves hoping that the Lopes’ will always use our house as a halfway point between their house and the mtn mecca that is Whistler. See you next time!

Cheers,

Nathan

Downhill Biking &Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking 21 Jun 2007 01:17 pm

Downieville Preparations

Downieville is Awesome! It’s beautiful high Sierras at it’s best, and the trails are so much fun. Racing Downieville can become a bit of an obsession in terms of bike setup. For half the course you really want your DH bike and the other half you’d be hating your life to be on anything bigger than a good full squish XC race rig. And then there’s the last mile of flat pavement where you want your road bike. It gets even more complicated when you’re racing in the pro class and you have to race the pro XC in order to get to race the pro DH the next day. No kidding,..if you DNS/DNF the (28 mile with about 3500ft climbing) XC you’re pulled from the DH. To complicate things even more you have to race both events on the exact same bike–no changes whatsoever–bikes are weighed before each race. So it really becomes maddening trying to balance everything out with tires & wheels of course being the biggest worry spot. It’s awesome!

Racing it cold would be tough,..there are a bazillion corners to remember and Mark knows every single one. I actually went there last weekend in part to get myself some helmet cam footage of the entire course (49min of DH) at race speed with morning race light (yeah I know thats pretty geeky but with 14 or so miles of rocky singletrack it really comes down to knowing which blind-cliffhugging shaley off-camber corners you can rip and which ones you actually have to slow down for). And I’ve only been there 3 times now so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

I was there with my friends Ian Bagshaw (owner of Flywheel Bicycle Solutions in Talent,.OR) and Brian Happ (owner of two healed broken ankles R&L that give him a bit of a limp to his “get-away sticks” on a cold day but don’t seem to affect his riding one bit). I was there to test tires, hang out with friends, get some good helmet cam footage, & generally just have a good time. I graciously saved my pals from the flat tire gods by taking all 4 of the weekends flats for myself (2 on the first run/first day). Between that & changing tires to test out different combos I spent quite a bit of time futzing with tires before I finally got to my favorite combo WTB Dissent race for the front and Weirwolf LT 2.55 team FR for the back. Ian “Popeyed” his foreams the first day so he left just Brian & I to do shuttle runs on Sunday. Can’t wait to go back for the big race weekend!

Downhill Biking &Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking 07 Jun 2007 09:38 am

2nd Annual Mt Ashland Super D (pre-race course conditions)

Hey kids, make sure to bring your wool skinsuits & mittens this time cause it’s cold right now up on Mt Ashland. I was up there last night putting arrows at all the key intersections & it was cold,..& then when Brian went back up to get the shuttle truck at sunset he said it was snowing.

That said, overall the trail is in WAY better shape than it was last year,.. there are no snow drifts to throw the dice on up top & someone went through & actually raked (groomed) the singletrack section after the nasty climb–Thank you to the kind soul who did that. If it doesn’t rain for the next few days the trails will be in perfect shape. And I mean perfect–it just doesn’t get any better around here.

Breakaway Events Race Details

View of Mt. Ashland Super D from Google Earth