|Team Giant: Northwest Update Monday, July 06, 2009
It’s been an entertaining and productive last couple weeks in The Northwest, let’s have a little recap here of some fun stuff that happened, and some productive stuff that happened, usually they’re one and the same…
Test of Endurance 50-
Initially when I learned about this fifty-miler in the coast range just west of Corvallis I thought, “I’m only going if it’s sunny” then I remembered how much fun I’ve had racing the Mudslinger in those same hills in fairly horrific weather. With this in mind I set off for Hood River, which is right on the way to Corvallis, to do a little warm-up kayaking and Post Canyon riding. A late-night break-in to Tina Brubaker’s (empty) house in Salem gave us a place to rest for a few hours and fry some eggs before the 9am start under cloudy skies and light rain from the Blodgett School. The race organizer, Mike Ripley, was our lead moto (but he was on a bike?) for the neutral rollout. Since I was on my rigid singlespeed, it was my fault that the pace increased appreciably on the first long climb of the day. I just didn’t have any options. Fortunately, I waited for Wicks and Ryan on the first flat section so we could shred the day away, and have someone to talk to when we got bored… Ryan naturally crashed or something on the first (amazingly perfect slickness) singletrack descent and from there on out it was Wicks and I riding around fast in the coast hills just like we did years ago. I’d charge the climbs and he’d reel me in on the flats with his 29er duallie. We always made it a priority to start the downhills together though, it’s way more fun to watch someone roost or know someone is being entertained by you than just riding alone. Eventually we started not waiting for each other toward the end of the second lap. By my rough calculations I needed about fifteen seconds on Barry when we started the three-mile dirt road drag race back to the finish line. I only had about ten dropping into the last (kick ass) descent on drying trails with breaks of sunshine. I figured I was screwed. But somehow I came out with the ten seconds intact and felt a headwind on the road, just what I needed to keep our speeds down and preserve my advantage. I crossed the line after 50 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing in 3:43, a new course record and a solid day of training for Nationals… Everyone should come do this race, such fun trails in such a beautiful forest, preferably with an old friend. Thanks, Barry.
Portland International Raceway Motorcycle Track Day-
I hitched a ride back to Portland with some of the S&M boys to meet Carl, Eric and Cindy at her place and get ready for a track day on street bikes at PIR on Monday morning. Carl cleverly pointed out the week before that I had roommates with sport bikes and a new set of Michelin tires to barter for a day on one of their bikes. Josh gave up his Suzuki for the day in exchange for me breaking in the new rubber… Um, this was a damn good time. Upon initial inspection I wasn’t that fired up on PIR’s nine turn configuration, but I learned after a few laps that our six twenty minute sessions were all going to be some of the most fun I’ve had in recent memory. The little SV650 only went 136mph on the front straight, which meant Carl and Eric had to wait with their expensive Italian bikes if we were to ride together, and getting passed by guys doing 170 was kind of interesting, but we settled in and rode fast. I even found someone to play with, a vintage racer on a 1969 Moto Guzzi. He was fast and taught me some great passing lines to get back around the guys on fast bikes riding slow in the twisties. Carl got too fast from turn 3 to 4 for me to even use those ninja lines after a while. Fortunately, we were in the “B” session so passing on the inside wasn’t allowed, otherwise things would have gotten really interesting… As it was we rode about 200 miles worth of track in a day, learned a lot about cornering grip and line selection, didn’t crash, and are pumped to do it again.
Hood River Super D-
I think there’s a direct correlation between the burliness of a Super D track and Longitude of the location. As we moved north to Hood River from Ashland things got a bit more interesting. Post Canyon is one of the most diverse places to ride bikes down hill that I’ve ever been. Everything from buff singletrack to hacked out Moto Trails to perfectly flowing jump lines, drops and skinnys. There’s even hilarious fall-line skid trails. The Super D Course here included each and every type of terrain available. We started hauling down a ridgetop fireroad overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. That quickly funneled into “Two Chair Two”, a moto trail accentuated with inside jump lines and blown out rock gardens. After a couple minutes the woods thickened and the trail steepened through a deep, dark rock section. This is where the DH guys were MOVING. Just as you were getting pumped things mellowed out into a perfect flowing bermed singletrack. Classic dusty fun. Then came time to pay the piper, any trail named “Mitchell Ridge” must have some climbing to stay on said ridge. This one did. Initally on slippery singletrack, then a brief respite before more doubletrack wheezing. The reward was another rad view of the gorge before dropping through some fun hip jumps into the next steep section. This one directly on the spine of the ridge, making for magical evening light on our last (of three) practice runs Friday. You could almost let it go, but not quite, there just wasn’t room between the trees. A mandatory (to be fast) tree gap booter finished the section and flung us onto the lower ridge trail, a clinic in bermed hardpack ass-hauling. Midway down this was the type of line that should be in every mountain bike race of any type, a steep chute led to a road crossing, the trail jogged left and back right up an 20 foot embankment, the clever amongst us just straightlined it and aired up the embankment onto the trail.. Rad. More pedaling and hauling from there brought us to the finish chute, one more inside line and rain rut gap and you were done. Fun stuff that took pretty much every skill a bike rider should have to complete fast, and, well, complete. I did just that in the race, no huge mistakes and legs that worked got me down the 3000 feet over 7 miles in 16:20. Local shredder Matthew Slaven was next at 19 seconds. Dang. Our boy from the Northstar/Giant team, Jon Wilson, was third. This set up the Gentleman’s Challenge between he, Jared Hobbs and I for the two-day multiplier. Those guys are proper Downhill Race shredders so we figured we’d all multiply our Fluidride Cup DH results the next day by two and add the Super D times to get the overall weekend shredder. Read on to find out how it went…
Fluidride Cup Downhill-
On the way up to Hood River on Friday I stopped off at the Mount Hood Ski Bowl to do a few runs of DH practice and expand my parameters for the Super D race. They’d just finished buffing the top to bottom track at Ski Bowl, Cannonball was freshly bermed in and the lower woods section was fresh cut glory. My, er, Glory DH ate it up. If only I knew how hungry it really was I could properly shred. After a few runs with fast guys I knew where I was going, sort of, and headed to Post for an evening of Super D practice shuttles, planning to revisit the DH bike on Sunday. Revisit it I did, but only in my seeding run as I somehow missed practice by an hour. It’s fun to act like an amateur sometimes… Fortunately Marc Gullickson at USA Cycling got me a pro upgrade so I could do two runs. He did give explicit instructions not to end up with a compound femur fracture though… Not practicing that much means I ride DH like kind of a sissy and never am THAT much of a hazard to myself. It also means I tried to take a left where there was clearly a right in my seeding run. Oh well, still have the race run. My boy Hobbs suggested that we go “walk” the track between runs. What a revolutionary idea! It was like kayaking, scout your run, know your lines. We figured out some clever ways to straighten things out in search of speed and I rode the lift to the top fired up for the race run. Not fired up enough to ride fast, but fun at least… I took ten seconds off the seeding run time to do a 4:29. Jon Wilson came down shortly thereafter with a 4:11. DANG. He was in the hot seat for a few minutes till the heavy hitters dropped in. Things ended with JD Swangun posting a 4:02 for the win. Guess I need more practice. Fortunately, Jon’s advantage of 18 seconds in the DH still gave me a little buffer for the Gentleman’s Challenge. Hobbs blew his finals run (still beat me) and was out of the running. DH racing is FUN! There were a few hundred people racing on the day and most were surprised to see “XC Guy” coming out. It might become a bit less rare…
Salmon River Gorge Kayaking-
It’s good to do a proper kayaking mission once in awhile, the Salmon River Gorge just south of Mount Hood is just that. A long dirt road shuttle drops you off with a two-mile hike to the put-in at Split Falls. You’re questioning the worthwhileness of it all until the schlep ends at a perfect twenty-foot spout. From there it’s a day spent in a deep, pristine gorge with tons of waterfalls guarded by old-growth forest. This all culminates in Final Falls, a 75-footer that must either be run (water was a bit low for it on Monday) jumped (we did it last time) or rappelled off (which we did this time). An amazing day to end a pretty rad weekend in the greater Mount Hood area.
Things aren’t all fun and games around here these days. US National Mountain Bike Championships are coming right up, followed by my favoritest World Cups in Quebec. Carl and I have been doing a variety of things to get ready. He’s been on the interval session program for the last couple weeks. I did a Lactate test yesterday with the Rebound Sports Performance Lab to confirm my interval pace and establish a baseline to grow from through the summer. I’ll be metering this data through the Mountain Bike SRM Powermeter Unit I just received from USA Cycling, having a training tool at the important races will be great, as will the data I collect from pre-riding the East Coast World Cup and National Round Courses. We’ll apply that to training approaches for next year’s World Champs in Quebec and World Cup at Windam, NY. I’m FIRED UP for those! An altitude tent from Altitude Tech just showed up on my doorstep so I’ve been sleeping in that in an attempt to ease the inevitable Colorado wheezing at Nats. We even have been racing the local Road Criterium the last couple weeks, Carl more effectively than me with a win last night and second last week. I haven’t lost a sprint yet though, they’re just all from the chase group… Our team tactics are getting honed for the National Champs Short Track, I put five bucks on the Deckerator. OK, all this serious stuff talk reminds me that I need to take a nap before the afternoon interval session. Or are we going to shuttle South Fork…
Thanks for reading.
For a sweet Fluidride DH Video, where I appear towards the end in the Giant Jersey with sweet white Shimano DX shoes, follow this- http://www.pinkbike.com/news/fluidride-cup-3-results-2009.html