Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Day 1 started bright and blurry at 6am, I went down to the bike room to learn that they don’t open for another 30 minutes, this would only cause for more stress and a shorter time span to get done what I needed to do. I didn’t eat breakfast with the whole team, instead I was in the parking garage with all of my stuff sprawled out. Graeme the man was my extra hand when I needed help building my bikes.
This process went on into the morning, lots of things were happening internally, I had to whip the bikes together, change into my kit, and take my credential picture…the morning just drug on and on. All teams were grouped together taking vehicles and shuttling themselves while team USA was trying to get help, and was receiving none No respect I tell you! Joey took it upon himself and used his Spanish abilities to snag a ride on the back of a truck, I thought this was foolish due to what we have been told about traveling in this country, but for Joey it was a great experience minus the diesel soot in his eyes.
We finally flagged down the appropriate truck and got on the bus, still wondering if our bikes were going to meet us at the venue we headed out into the heart of the city with a motorcycle police escort and a officer standing at the front of the bus with a really big gun. The next 40 minutes was an experience as everyone was rubber necking looking out of both sides of the window trying to take in all of the sights. The landscape changed from big buildings to cinderblock shanties, tiny shops, open air markets and bars littered the roadside all the way out to the venue.
The race venue was situated at a National Park, it was a really great area, and it is also a tourist destination with a petting zoo, a gondola to the top of the mountain (which I wish we were able to us), a ropes course among other recreational activities. Upon arrival nobody knew exactly what was going on, where the courses were or who to contact about this. Bike coach extraordinaire Scott Sharples took my extra bike and body armor, that’s where we got separated, he went to the bottom of the course, and we went to the top. Chris Van Dine rolled by and gave us the lowdown; he is an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to races like these as he always has friends in areas like
. Without my upper suit I fallowed Chris down the track blind, slowly creeping looking at one intense section after another. The lack of course tape and course marshals was a bit concerning as there were loco Latin American pinners rallying themselves as practice fully got underway. The DH course was intense especially for this being the first time back on a bike in months. Section 1 up top was fun single track that flowed well right into a peddly road section that was made more exciting with small jumps tossed in. Guatemala
Into section 2 the road dumped into a sweet step down mandatory gap into a wicked right berm, this was the start of a minute long ribbon on trail that was fast, had loose moon dust descents and the steep track caused for lots of swapping and cross rutting.
Section 3 continued into some really steep loose chutes but then quickly moved right into one long massive rock garden, scattered with tight chicanes and derailleur bashing goodness. Near the end there was a near vertical rock roll in that had a missive G out fallowed quickly by another dusty rock section that was guarded by VW sized rocks.
While I was inspecting this section of trail I saw a girl commit to this roll in after a slight hesitation and once she hit that compression her hands slipped the brakes and she went flying straight towards me lawn darting head first into the rocks threading the needle between some big boulders. I was the first on the scene as there were no course marshals or medics available. I had to be the medic while Graeme played the roll of the marshal shutting down the track while the local emergency response team was alerted. This whole situation was very real and things suddenly became clear that I really was not in
no more. Once past this section of trail there were a few high speed rock sections before the sprint to the finish line road gap jump. At about thirty-five feet or so this was a rather large jump. Kansas
Many of the competitors had never jumped anything like this before in their lives, it was a great added feature to the track but due to there being no go around lines it was definitely one of the most frightening places to watch practice as there were too many close calls. Chris Van Dine supplied the shuttle truck, a barrowed vehicle from a friend for much of the team for the day. My day had been cut short after that one practice run due to a mechanical, and with no mechanic on sight there was nothing for me to due. Instead I jumped on the shuttle and became team
’s film crew. Most of the riders that day got in a few laps and some of them were starting to get comfortable with the course. Later in the day as most of the downhill competitors were packing it in I set out to practice the mountain cross course. The weather was threatening more most of the afternoon and right as I was peddling up the road to the track the sky unleashed the rain upon me canceling my mountain cross practice for the day. USA
While most of the team took shelter under umbrellas I took to the dirt and tried to make something out of a rainy afternoon since I was already soaked to the bone. Not a good day for me as I worked well into the night with the help of my coach, Graeme and teammates we got busy getting my bike ready for a brutal 5am wakeup call the next morning.
After a wonderful 4 hour nap Team
met for breakfast at 5:45. Blurry eyed we wrangled up a 6:30am shuttle to the venue where I would partake in a team course walk directed by Scott. USA
It was great to start feeling some team unity as we all discussed line choice, track conditions and reminisced about yesterday’s near misses, accomplishments and problems. This race was so loosely run that there was not pit area at the venue, teams did their best to find a spot or venders like we did to place our valuables and in my case other bicycles. Luckily I was equipped with my kryptonite coil lock system and was able to take care that and keep my bike safe. I got two practice runs the whole day due to a non existent shuttle system, it was a better bet riding out to the road and trying to hitch up to the top. I was not the only frustrated rider out there! Many others were upset with the shuttling situation. Finally when I did catch a shuttle I felt like a cow being shoved into a crowded cattle truck, the heat from the enclosed box truck only intensified the stench of sweaty people and new bright and shiny bikes came out looking like last years race machines.
My goal of obtaining world cup points and representing my country well was going to be a tall order the next day as a lot was left unaccomplished on the track. I had to quickly switch gears as the mountain cross final was quickly approaching. I got one look of the course the day before and made use of this course knowledge by quickly getting up to speed during practice jumping right into it riding hot laps until I couldn’t stand to hike the course again. After the amount of work it took to haul, build up, tear down two bikes for the week I was extremely glad to have raced mountain cross as just being able to ride my bike on a fun track over and over and over made me extremely satisfied.
Mountain Cross Course
One of the best mountain cross courses I have ever ridden! Situated in the heart of the forest the course weaved through trees and used the natural terrain well and had a great variation of features. Most of all, it was a blast to simply ride. From the start gate it was a complete sprint to the first turn with a choice of berm right or inside line that would set riders up for a double into a massive berm left.
A rhythm section fallowed five rollers into another massive berm right with optional inside tight berm line.
A large step up set up a berm to berm chicane, a hip pocket double left would then lead the rider on a sprint into the final straight. Speed management was important as the straightaway started off with four rollers and then into a double that was extremely easy to overshoot fallowed up lastly by a large double and then a quick sprint to the finish line.
Mountain Cross Race
After qualifying all the riders headed back up to the top for the first round of the race, qualifying results took a long time to get out so there was a bit if gate practice before the main event. Once the brackets had been formed the chaos began. There were a lot of very talented and fast riders competing and when it came time to line up to have the number one qualifier on a downhill bike, something was not right. Riders contested the qualifying results, results that I really never understood either as I new I was probably not in the right qualifying position too. This went on for about 10 minutes in the start house, lots of bickering back and forth on radios but in my mind I was there to race and I at this point really didn’t care who it was going to be. I lined up with poor gate position due to the botched qualifying brackets and had my work cut out for me. With a better gate start than my competition I tried to edge over but they held strong, I didn’t want to make too much contact so I raced the inside line. On the second turn I leaned the bike over and stuck out my foot drifting hard right next to my competition, I managed to make the pass and was home free in second place, or was I? Still protecting the inside line I ventured off the main line where it was sandy, knifed my front wheel and took myself out. My day was done and I was pretty disappointed but I was in good spirits as I knew I was riding well. The rest of Team USA, Shawn Neer and Chris Van Dine managed to advance but in the second round both ended up well off the track due to some aggressive riding. The locals were cheering loudly for their rider, but when he got disqualified for the finals things changed, the rider was outraged and the fans were not happy. I left the area when I saw some guards with shotguns approaching the disgruntled fans.
riders both skipped riding in the small final and protested the event by riding a victory run boosting the jumps giving the confused fans something to cheer about. The whole evening was a mess, my rotor was bent and I was hungry, time for a mango on a stick! USA
The rest of my evening was spent disassembling my mountain cross bike and putting it back into the bag, cleaning up the downhill bike and being mechanic for anyone left in the bike room. Somehow I was still the last one in the bike room cleaning up after everyone and myself as the clock was once again striking midnight. A quick visualization of the downhill course that I have only managed to ride on three times and I was lights out only to wake up in the morning feeling like I just closed my eyes.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Howdy everyone and welcome to yet another year spent on the road, on the bike and in the dirt. Still in the month of April and there is so much to tell you all about, the adventures have begun!
I worked my last weekend on the slopes and come the beginning of April I was busy moving out of the house that I had residence in for the last 4 years. It is amazing how many things I accumulated. All the while I was moving out of my house I was preparing to leave for a 3rd world country to compete in the Pan American Continental Championships for Team
We departed for
Sunday morning still full from an amazing dinner Saturday night with my family. We drove 9 solid hours, Holly had a great play list created that played all the way to the resort/casino town of California Windover, outside of and the salt flats. Did a bit of room rate haggling, and then took a walk to the Salt Lake City side of town where we did a bit of gambling on the penny slots. Lost 3 dollars total overall but had a good time and enjoyed the walk back to the Nevada side, lots of bright lights along the way! Day 2 on the road was a bit more adventurous, visited a few roadside attractions including the Utah which was pretty incredible, Mount Rose Ski resort and the Shores of Lake Tahoe. Breakfast, lunch and snacks all provided by momma Buell along the way to help keep me and Holly going strong. Near the end of the day we made it to our final destination, the Pitts residence in Thunder Mountain Indian Monument . Nevada City, CA
It was like Christmas morning all over again! Due to the minimum time I had before departing, Graeme nicely built up both of my shiny new Banshee bicycles. Did a bit of a fashion show for everyone while trying on the new kit, had to get the approval from the Holly and Leslie that everything looked good. Team Geronimo’s clothing company, Wrex, did an awesome job, everything was custom made for me and I could feel the difference. I went to bed that night feeling great, Holly had a great time meeting Leslie, Gary and Graeme and we all enjoyed a nice dinner together.
The Next day was filled with activity! Did a photo shoot in the new team kits with the shiny new Banshee bicycles. Leslie and Holly were the photographers and for almost an hour we fired off pictures from all over the yard, it was really fun. Trailer detail ensued with a stop at the hardware store, old trailer stickers are incredibly hard to get off. The rest of the evening was a blur, to much stuff to get done, bikes had to be torn down and packed, personal bags packed, checked, double and triple checked. With a 4:30am wakeup call that next morning I unfortunately did not receive much sleep as thoughts of all different kinds circled within my mind.
As soon as I went to sleep I awoke to the sound of Angels, my harp alarm clock. I hit the ground running making sure that I got absolutely everything and proceeded to toss all of my equipment in the truck. Holly and I were a bit blurry eyed and sleepy, luckily we had an hours drive to the SAC airport to wake up. Airports, I dislike them very much, even though a lot of excitement is generated within an airport, goodbyes ensue, stress levels go up, people are usually drained and tired and there always seems to be problems with someone’s carry while in security, Mix 1 is not a weapon! It was great to have Holly with me all the way to my gate, it made saying goodbye a lot easier as I waved to her as I walked through the gate. Once on the plane reality again set in, it had begun, we were fully committed and were off on a grand adventure. I took a minute to write in my journal inside the plane, and then sat back and relaxed just as the stewardess told me to do. Landed in
Dallas for a short layover where we met up with teammates Joey Schusler, Looch Worl, Shawn Neer and Lars Tribus, before stepping on the plan to . Excitement was plentiful, we were all very aware of the surroundings we were about to be immersed to, but there was no way to fully prepare for what was to come. Guatemala
Our plan landed later than expected due to a late departure so our times of arrival were all later than expected. This caused for a bit of confusion, there would be lots to come. After clearing customs, which I’m always worried I’m going to be fail due to a loose piece of fruit or something, we made our way outside where there was the Venezuelan team also waiting, more on them later. A large box truck came rambling into sight, a little kid that was handling our huge bags with ease helping us with our luggage; needless to say he earned his tip. I had a banging headache from the flight and the humidity and heat only intensified it. The city was chaotic, busy for 8 o clock at night, there were many American institutions that I recognized like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Burger King, they were usually the nicest buildings on the block. I sat next to a nice gentleman on airplane who has family in Guatemala, his one piece of advice was to be careful in the city, after noticing all of the officers carrying various large firearms throughout the city I can understand way, it was a very dangerous place and we were staying right in the middle of it all.
The hotel Conquistador was a very nice hotel situated right in the middle of a chaotic city, lots of security was needed to ensure all sides and entrances of the hotel were covered. The first night there was in true Guatemalan crazy! After finding Glenda, one of the event organizers, she pointed us in the right direction and helped us get our room assignments. Dinner fallowed and after serving myself from the limited amount of food from the buffet that I could have Glenda came out with a silver platter plate specially prepared for me on a silver platter!!! I hauled both of my bikes into the build room, but with less than an hour before lockdown I did not have near enough time to build both of my bikes. An early wakeup call the next morning would be necessary for me to complete my builds. This would be the start of one of the most chaotic days of my life. To be continued...
Friday, April 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
In the last few weeks I have done the fallowing: Explored a bit of my local area, climbed around a local waterfall, nothing, slept in and did nothing but watched college football, that was awesome!
Been watching a lot of football, Broncos are 2-0...somehow, unfortunately the Buffs could not fallow suit, they are currently stinking it up at 1-2.
Been playing a bit of Frisbee golf, B Bailey has gotten me into that, plans to possibly create a course on the property are in place.
I guess I have been working a lot, which has been unusual as we have been away usually every weekend.
Did a photo shoot with Devon Balet and got some cool shots of us riding on the property, would like to do that more.
After work, we all have been doing a lot of nothing, just hangin out, I definitely felt this at the last race, should do a bit more to keep in shape!
This past weekend however, there was a collegiate race that happened at Sol Vista. It was put on by the School of Mines, part of the collegiate series I so frequented as a scholar, this year however I just raced the open category. It was a good race, but before the race, I forgot to mention me and Michael rode winter park for a bit of fun...which it was. Back to the collegiate race. The course was Cheez it which I really don't enjoy too much as a race course, it is slow, and technical, lots of small bumps and flat washed out turns, makes you feel like crap on the bike, fun trail, just can't go as fast as you really want to. There were some fun festivities that took place over the weekend, including the Collegiate Pump Track World Championships. I participated in Crocs and my board shorts, and won using Dieder's bike. That night some CU hooligans created a 20 foot tall tepee and then proceeded to light it on fire, it then grew to about 30 feet tall, perfect conditions for it made for a successful bond fire. The next day was the race. Joey took the Men A by a huge margin, he also took the speed trap victory as he was fastest through the rocks at 22 mph. The speed gun died and the open classes could not be recorded, which was a bummer as the payout was a cool $100 bucks. Joey repeated and won the Open improving his already fast time by a second and beat me by a solid 7 seconds, as I felt like I had a good run, but not a fast one my any means, still happy with 2nd and the nice little payday that came of it! After the race, as the fire still simmered from the night before we did a bit of free riding in the rain, watched the Broncos defeat the brownies from the bar and then cruised over to Todd and Julie Olsen's house for some BBQ and pump track action. A sleepy food coma induced drive home and a late night brought the weekend to a close.
Currently, its cold out and I feel the ski season creeping ever more closely, already looking at ski stuff on the web, doing a little research!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Started the month of August off right by winning the Colorado Crankworx Dual Slalom and a thousand dollar novelty check, stoked on that! The race was a mud fest and I think my all mountain riding skills and ability to adapt to conditions won it for me as I never dropped a race.
Only video I could find: http://broadbandsports.com/node/28443&loc=mostpop
The next weekend Snowmass held the Colorado State Championships. I had been looking forward to this race ever since last year when I got cought in a freak lightning storm at Sol Vista. Team Geronimo and the Juniors had a great showing with a few state champions being crowned. Unfortunately I couldn't hold it together to capture a jersey. After qualifying 4th in 4X I was knocked out of the final by Jon Watt and into the final where I law darted into the back of a roller...8th for me, 6th for Michael. The DH was a great course and was holding together on race day. I qualified 10th on decent yet mistake riddled run, I tried to clean it up for the final but I had a mechanical and had to play it safe all the way down. I was saved possibly and flagged down near the bottom and was rewarded a re-run. Using Michael's bike I had a grea trun going until I lost it, got off line and slid on my head for the second time in 24 hours. A crash and a 14th place result left a bad taste in my mouth as I knew I had a top 5 in me.
We took a bit of a business trip to Tahoe instead of racing out east for a three week planned trip. It was a very productive time as we coached with Gene Hamilton and World Champion Greg Minnaar at Northstar, CA. After the camp we stayed with our friend and fellow racer Graeme Pitts for a week. It was a great time and very vacation like as we slept in everyday and ate very well thanks to Leslie and Gary Pitts. We rode XC, swam in lakes, built trails and did a bit of sight seeing. I would recommend riding 'toads wild ride' as it was really fun, technical and flowy.
The last race of the season went down last week at Sol Vista and it was fittingly called the Sol Survivor. I was in first place for the overall heading into the race and had to do well to retain my lead. Michael was also in the hunt in 5th. First race of the weekend was the 4X, the same course that was used for the national champs. I had an interesting qualifying run and ended up seeding in 1st, just ahead of Ross Milan, Chris Boice, Dave Zeigmond and Michael. I cruised through my first two heats and then met Milan, Zeigmond and Petr Hanek in the finals. There was a big pile up right after the first straight that involved Petr, Ross and me. I had a bad gate and ended up fallowing in on the wheels of Ross and Petr until Ross slid out into Petr causing a road block for me. I tried to jump the pile but got caught and crashed. Everyone scrambled to get back up and onto their bikes, Ross was first to the next turn, Dave who crashed all by himself above the pile up got up and passed me while I was running to keep in the hunt. I could not reel them back in and ended up in 3rd, earning some good points for the overall. The DH was held on the classic course 'Cougar' I had a good practice and seeding run landing in 2nd place .01 behind Chris Heath for 1st, Chris Boice qualifies 3rd. In my race run I made mistakes all the way down the track and was a second and a half slower than my seeding and ended up with a disappointing 7th and a 2nd Overall in the series. I'm happy with my season, made progress and found myself in position to win, thats all I could ask for. Michael moved into 4th place for the overall.
Next up are some collegiate races, and the Red Bull 12 hour races to finish up the season. In the mean time, I'm gonna have some fun exploring and relaxing in the valley as I'll be moving back to Boulder soon.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I awoke Sunday extremely lethargic and exhausted from the previous night, and I didn’t even party, just a late night. I felt pretty bad too, not sick, but not into it. I tried to focus as much as possible, but after missing my practice run that morning, all I could do was stay loose and ride around a bit. I approached my qualifying run differently then I had all year, instead of going for the win and replicating a race run, I just wanted to hit some lines and cruise. It was the most asleep I’ve ever been during a run, I was so relaxed, but not in a good way. I even hit the three amigo’s without much thought, just hit em and that was that, didn’t even think about it. Next thing I knew I was at the bottom blowing the last berm and then through the finish, seeded 32nd. I attempted to take and nap and refocus over the time between seeding and my final run. I studied my Go Pro Helmet cam footage and visualized the course. Going up the lift I was calm, but still could not feel anything but sick in my stomach, maybe a bit nervous. Did a little warm up top on the trainer, but when I got off I felt like I just got off the trampoline, I was all wobbly and tired, not cool! I took a few swigs of water and then got in line, the UCI made sure of it. I tried to get my legs moving last minute before my run, no luck, time to ride. The course felt even more blown out right out of the gate, held a decent line up top with ok speed, but then the blown fest began! I was losing my feet left and right throughout the loose rocks section, blew a few turns in the sandy section and tried to make it all up by peddling. The rest of my run after the jumps was ok, blew the big berm again, definitely never figured that one out and when I crossed the finish line and saw my time it was a big disappointment. Instead of mingling in the pits like I usually do, I never stopped after my run to talk, just kept going all the way back to the pits to think about the past 2:30 minutes. I slipped into my street clothes and saw the exciting finish that had my good riding buddy Joey Schusler finish 5th and Aaron Gwin take 1st. This race left a nasty taste in my mouth, I know I had a good 4X finish, but that’s not what I was here for, I wanted a great DH finish! It was a tough weekend and I’m pretty proud of myself for overcoming some obstacles this weekend, but I was just hoping for a different outcome. Not the end of the season, not by a long shot. In the next month I will be competing for the State Championship in both 4X and DH, traveling to the East coast and possibly a world’s nomination. You’ll just have to tune back in to see what happens next!
Thank you to all of my sponsors who have helped me get this far: Team Geronimo, Kona, Tom's Sportique Eyewear, Wind River Trees, Bonsai Communities, Basalt Bike and Ski, MRP, Rockgardn, SRAM.
My final run: