The good news is…

That the snow level has retreated enough that a person can ride their bike up to the lower missing link trail and get themselves a few thousand feet of elevation in a ride.  The bad news is that lower missing link has quite a few trees down on it.  I had a brief but memorable encounter with one of them….in a very awkward place.  You know that swooping left hander that as you exit the turn you can boost over a little gap if you’re carrying good speed into it? It’s about three turns into the lower section of missing link (just after you hit the road for a bit). Anyway I was carrying good speed into it and about a foot or two from the lip I noticed that there was a tree down where I was planning to land.  About a foot and a half diameter and about 9 inches off the ground too boot. My brain did one of those instantaneous calculations and informed me that based on my current speed and trajectory my front tire would be hitting the ground, and the tree, at the same exact time. It translated this into “you’re toast dude!” but that since I was toast anyway it might as well do some damage control. The signal left the brain, got to my index fingers and I somehow managed to tap the brakes on the last foot of the lip. Just enough to change course so that I landed into the face of the gap, “tapped” the ground, and bunny-hop-double-tire-tapped the tree.  It was close. Stop and go back and look at it close.

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Some big changes for 2011

Hey everybody it looks like I’m gonna be seeing some sponsorship changes for the 2011 season!  I’m very excited to be adding Santacruz Bicycles, Gamut, Easton wheels, Dakine clothing, to my previous sponsors.  SantaCruz Bicycles was a bit of an unofficial sponsor for me all of 2010 season by way of Joe Graney (head engineer there).  I got to put some serious time in on the Butcher and Driver 8 (D8) and have nothing but rave reviews for them.  Gamut is returning as chainguide sponsor after a two year hiatus where I had a conflicting sponsor/team issue that no longer exists.  Super happy to be riding for those guys again!  I also signed on midway into last season with Easton Wheels and Giro and that has been a REALLY good thing. And last but certainly not least is the fortunate addition of Dakine clothing—Those who know me well are right now thanking someone as they have experienced my past cycling wardrobe.  Soon I should have all their logo-links up on the sponsor side-bar.

The flip side of these additions is that it has meant some goodbyes to great companies.  Evil, E-13, and Thomson I owe you much gratitude and thanks for your past support.  I very much admire and respect the people and the products that define your companies.

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Eh…What’s this??…Oh damn it’s my BLOG!!!  Ripley & Wendy are home so I’ll be back soon to put in some updates.

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Ashland 12-Mile Super D

Ashland 12-Mile Super D (from Decline Magazine)

In the first showdown of the year featuring all of the top endurance downhill riders – Mark Weir, Adam Craig, Jason Moeschler, Ross Schnell, Nathan Riddle – Weir proved to be the fastest on the very pedally Ashland 12-Mile Super D course.

Lots of changes came with this year’s Super D, but plowing three feet of snow off the top of the course wasn’t really one of them – we’ve seen snow on the course before. This year title sponsor SRAM continued to support the event in a big way, even holding a 2011 media camp (look for more info on that later) and Bill Roussel from Ashland Mountain Adventures has taken over promotions for the event. Roussel was able to secure a two-day race permit to help ensure that registration didn’t fill up as reports of over 500 riders (last year capped at 200) had already signed up a few days before the race.

The big news of the weekend was the showdown in the pro field. WTB riders Weir and Moeschler proved they gained some speed from doing the Trans-Sylvania week-long stage race in Pennsylvania just a week prior to the event. They finished less than a second apart after over 34 minutes of racing. Craig, who is coming back strong from knee surgery, was third with his Giant teammate Carl Decker taking fourth and Ashland local hero Nathan Riddle finishing fifth.

With everyone all smiles at the bottom of the course and the rival pros chatting it up and hanging with the rest of the field, this race is what endurance downhill is all about. We can expect this race to continue to grow and we sure would like to see another race later in the year in Ashland. With many riders taking many optional routes to get down the mountain, the joke in race practice is that the Super D course is the worse trail the mountain – but that just tells you how good some of the other routes are…

Take a look at how tight these times are:

1. Mark Weir 34:40.3
2. Jason Moeschler 34:41.0
3. Adam Craig 35:01.4
4. Carl Decker 35.02.0
5. Nathan Riddle 35:16.1

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Nathan Riddle at the Sea Otter

It’s Nathan’s wife, Wendy.

He left for his first race of the season tonight. He’s racing the DH, Super D & Slalom at the Sea Otter Classic.

I’ll post updates if I hear anything interesting from him…

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Some shot’s my Photo pal Jeff Anderson took of me



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So I’ve been sporting SRAM’s Truvativ Hammerschmit for about 8 months now.  I love it. It’s been living on the bike I do the vast majority of my riding on and I even raced it at a couple Super D’s this year (including Downieville).   When I first heard about this 2 speed internal crank/transmission that needs no front derailleur and has a built in chainguide I was of course extremely intrigued.  Sounds perfect for what I do day in and day out.

As most of my rides consist of climbing as long as my legs are good and then turning down hill and riding my bike like a DH sled I’ve always been resentful of the need for a double or triple with front derailleur to get to the top, and of course nothing chunders your focus and attitude like dropping your chain along every bumpy section of trail on the way back down.   A rider can always go the single front chainring route which looks way cleaner,  is way cleaner, and looks way more manly too boot.  All those things are good if you’re in the heart of the DH/XC/ Enduro season, but sometimes I just don’t feel that manly and mostly I ride by myself and whats the point of trying to impress yourself anyway.  Enter the Hammerschmit, which from here on out will be abbreviated as HS for obvious reasons.

My first rides on HS proved the things I’d heard were absolutely true.  Shifts happen instantly! No matter what the situation. Coasting into a switchback (one of my favs). Dragging a foot through a turn. Pedaling with all the ponies your legs can bring to the party. Backpedaling,….at some point you just start wondering if there is a scenario where it won’t shift perfectly and you start trying to mess it up.  You can’t.  I haven’t missed a shift in 8 months.

I’d also heard it’s a bit of a porker.  It is.  No one ever said it was the newest XC race weaponry out there.  That’s the new XX stuff.  It will add weight to your bike but I can’t think of a better place to put it than nice & low at the BB.  It’s not the kind of weight you feel when you’re riding the bike either, just the kind you feel when you pick it up at the trailhead (which only matters in your head  so get over it).  If you still are leery of the weight why not go the extra poundage and get rid of your suspension, disc brakes, nice tires, height adjustable seatpost,….that’ll turn those riser bars upside down in a hurry.

It changes how your bike pedals.  Well yeah it might a little.  It also changes where you pedal your bike and let’s you sit and pedal up stuff you’d usually have to walk up.  When it comes down to it if you have a bike that already pedals efficiently it still will, but it may feel just a little more bouncy in steep out of the saddle ragged stabs at the pedals type stuff.  But I haven’t ridden a full squish bike yet that does that stuff well.

You don’t need a chainguide anymore.  True.  I haven’t dropped my chain once in 8 months of aggressive riding…Knock on wood. And you’ve got the ground clearance of a granny ring too.

Frames gotta be compatible.  ISCG tabs are a must.

I’ve gotten so used  to the perfect shifts every time and the very use-able gear ratios that I’ve become a little addicted to HS.  I often use it while riding downhill knowing that I can make a huge gearing reduction ( equivalent to around 5 or 6 gears at the cassette ) with one instantaneous click. I use it when I mess up a corner and need a way easier gear.  It’s modified the way I ride high speed downhill switchbacks.  Now I just charge into them heedless of the gear I’m in knowing that I will simply downshift the HS while coasting into the corner and have the perfect gear for exit speed & acceleration.  No more stalling out on surprise terrain changes.

My opinion;  If you ride a ton of roadie style XC races ( or just identify with that type ) HS is not for you.  You stopped reading when I said it would add weight to your bike anyway so by by for now.  I’ll be writing about XX sometime this spring.  If you’re trying to win your category DH race it’s probably not for you.  But if you’re just into riding a lot and you want to be able to climb to the top of the mountain and then be able to shred the descent all the way home with never  a dropped chain and never a missed shift then I think you should try it out for yourself.  You could become Hammerschmitten too.

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Alrighty, my big exciting news at the moment is that I’m going to be racing on all SRAM for 2010!!  Woo hoo  Boxxer WC, XX, Elixer’s, Noir, Lyrik—All the good stuff for all my race bikes.  I’m so honored as a racer to be receiving this kind of support from such a big player in the biz.  Pretty darn cool to be able to get everything from suspension to drivetrain to brakes and bars & stems all from one company.  Thanks SRAM, I’m looking forward to racing with you this year!

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Ok Cats outta the bag

So the cat is officially out of the bag about Evil’s new 140mm bike the “Sect”.  Looks really cool. I can’t wait to ride the proto!  68 or 66.5 degree head angle with a 13.25 or 13.00 respective BB height.  Mid 6 pound frame mark…..I think this one’s gonna be right up my alley.  And I love the looks of the Revolt.

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Nathan Riddle Featured in Decline Magazine

Hi there,

It’s Wendy (Nathan’s wifey) – just a quick post from me to tell you about the October Decline Magazine. It’s on the shelves right now and features a very cool interview with Nathan, as well as a fantastic overview of the Mount Ashland Super D.

In the interview, Nathan threw the gauntlet. He officially challenged co-racing daddies Eric Carter, Myles Rockwell, and Mark Weir to a Daddy Race. Sleep deprivation is a must. He hasn’t heard back from them yet.

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