Monthly ArchiveAugust 2007



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