Monthly ArchiveJuly 2007

Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking 27 Jul 2007 10:00 am

Mt Hood 2007 State Games of Oregon Recap

Mt Hood was in rare form for the 2007 Oregon State DH Championships…..and by that I mean perfect. I almost didn’t recognize the mountain at first under the beautiful BLUE skies. Yes that’s right blue, shadows were cast on perfectly tacky dirt–There was no dust–just a really sweet World Cup caliber course.

The Course;

from the top you can see about the first 2 minutes of any riders race run, and wonder if you could possibly be going as fast as them, as it zig zags back and forth across, what is in the winter, Ski Bowl’s main run. After diving over a rocky waterfall, the first half is high speed rock strewn double track with curb sized embedded rocks at very awkward places linked by about 4 tricky gravely off camber corners. Then there is about a hundred yards of gravel fire road for racers to recover a little, take note of how their hands are most likely white knuckle clenched around the bars, and try to prepare themselves, mentally and physically, for the second half where the real fun begins.

Second half starts out by diving down an off camber singletrack with big funky rocks the kind where you can easily bottom your cranks out if your timing is wrong,which I did but my Gamut Chainguide saved my run (or destroy your front wheel/ flat your tire and not know which one of those rocks is the culprit if you’re Morgan Benbo). Then about an 8 foot drop off the “sun deck” before diving into the dark woods. Interlaced roots-tight corners-about 3 or 4 natural gap jumps/log doubles–and then emerging from the darkness to the bright finish sequence. Couple of big sweeping singletrack corners, followed by about 100yds gravel fire road give’er all you got left kinda sprint (usually feels like a squirrel trying to roll a watermelon home) .

There’s also a great write up, and some nice pictures, about this race currently on

I think it is the nature of that course but I always feel torn up completely from head to toe when I finish a race run there–I mean just beaten with sticks. Lungs roasted-forearms rebelling, hands clenched around bars in a claw of pain, thighs burning, and light headed. And that’s the best case scenario–That’s if I don’t crash.

The race format at Hood is great–You get 2 race runs, and keep your best time–Plus you get chairlift practice on the day before too. All for around 35-40 bucks so it really feels like you’re getting your moneys worth.

The Competition;

The race itself was stacked with some great competition,..Lars Sternberg (Fluidride), Darell Young (Arrow Racing), Simon Lawton (Fluidride), Zeb (Fluidride)are a few of the pros who could take the day–Not to mention that there are a bunch of Semi’s & Experts who are smokin fast too and since Mt Hood pays out to the fastest overall times–that’s on everyones mind. After the first run Lars was in the lead>Darrell next>then me> and Simon bent a crank on his run. The crazy thing was that we were all three of us separated by about 1 second over about a 4 minute course. It was on like a pot’o neck bone for the second run, we all knew it was still anyone’s race. …But not much changed. Lars,..who is super fast won it with a 4:01:?, Darrell-also super fast- got second with a 4:01:?+sneeze, I got third about 3 seconds off their pace, and Simon..almost got his bike fixed for the second run–as it was he posted a super fast time (Without a chain, as in no chain on the bike whatsoever, from the start gate to finishline) I can’t help but think there’s a really good chance I might have gotten bumped a spot had Simon’s bike been whole. But hey…That’s racing right.

Anyway,..Thanks to all the great competitors who are the reason we all get faster, fitter, and better. Thanks to Peter Kakes for putting on another great event. Thanks to the mountain for having perfect weather this time–and not extracting any huge bodily sacrafices for it.


Downhill Racing &Mountain Biking 18 Jul 2007 12:30 am

Nathan Riddle’s Downieville Race Report 2007

The DH

Well Downieville is over with for another year…unless you are a kindred obsessive spirit and are already strategizing and second guessing those strategies for a year from now. I am, and I know that most of those who go to D-Ville are. OK I’m going to stop beating around the bush and get this next part over with. Because really when it comes down to it this whole entry is a carrier for the next statement and until I write it down I’m going to just keep trying to figure out where & how to fit it in to my “Downieville Race Report” so that it doesn’t look too much like I’m bragging, But I am….I got 3rd in the Pro DH and I’m as happy with it as if I’d won! Well maybe we’ll see about that— I’m sure it feels pretty damn good to win it 7 times like Mark Weir who just won it again with a 46:14, and of course Jason Moeschler got second again 46:51 but I was way closer to these champs with a 47:09 than I was last year and for that I am beyond happy. Jurgen Beneke (former DH World champ) was right behind me with a 47:33. So next year he will start just a short minute behind me and it will be my work to try not to think of that the whole race down the mountain. Because he will want to win just as much as I will just as much as Jason will want to finally beat Weir just as much as Weir will want to wear his “can’t be beat, won’t be beat” boxer’s robe again. And I do want to beat those guys–being on a team with a bunch of amazingly talented, fit, riders makes everyone stronger and I am very honored to have shared the podium with them –at least for this year–who knows what will happen next year–what new talent will show up(Nico? Lopes? Craig?)–what flat tire will happen,(Rennie & almost Weir this year)–people who had flukey bad races this year may do really well next (Curtis Beavers, Ariel Lindsey)–who knows.

Saturdays XC Race

I didn’t care too much about start placement since my strategy was to just take it easy, you know, save my energy for the next day’s DH race which is why I was really there. I ended up in about the 3rd row back just in front of Eric Carter and behind Nathan Rennie—Ya you read that right! Eric looked prepared for the worst case scenario with his knee & elbow pads, huge camel back, iPod, & thousand yard stare. So bam—we start & about a mile into it I realize that my take it easy strategy is out…not just because I have that competitive instinct but more importantly because I had just a 36t single ring up front and there was about an hour of steepish climbing ahead of me. It hurt. Finally the “top” came & there was about 5 miles of rolling fire road where I was doing pretty good with my mostly taking it easy program until Rachel Lloyd passed me with a kind word of encouragement & smile and I’m really not proud about it but something inside me bucked then. I realized at that point that there had been a line drawn in the sand and that it had just been crossed. A little voice inside my head said “uh uh”. It was a stupid little voice. I picked it up a notch & promptly laid my shit out on a stupid gravel corner. Minor scrapes on all the pointy parts and there I was wishing I had EC’s knee & elbow armor ( which I’m sure he never used anyway). But I had managed to stay ahead of Rachel. And then the descent started. A blur of baby head rocks & passed riders. At one point I got so cocky that I yelled out to a rider I was about to pass “they’re dropin’ like flies”. It wasn’t instant but karma did strike. On third divide I flatted and almost destroyed my rear wheel. It took me a good 7, 8 minutes to change the flat. You know separate the tire from the tubeless rimstrip, spill liquid latex, assess whether or not the rim would now even support a tire at all..I was hurrying but I did have time to look up just in time to see her pass me back for the last time, well as about 17 other racers. EC & Rennie made it in just under the 3 hour cutoff mark. Rennie riding in on his 3rd flat. He was seen later cuddling with a Fajita, sitting on a hay bale surrounded by people, and staring off into space. Oh I’m pretty sure he’ll be back. There’s something about Downieville, you’re not just at some race site racing against your peers, it’s also a challenge from the mountains themselves. Like they’re testing you. Are you good enough? Will you be back? Scared of heights aye? That hill long enough for you? Cause there’s more where that came from.