Saturday, July 25, 2009

2009 National Championships: Sol Vista part 2

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:

Brian Buell National Championship final run Sol Vista from Brian Buell on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2009 National Championships: Sol Vista

The dust has settled and I have cleared my head allowing myself a chance to analyze the weekend and my performance at this year’s National Championships. This whole season of racing had been in preparation for this weekend, my training was geared so I would peak at my highest level for this race, a lot of time and effort had taken place and it was time to perform on America's grandest stage.

Training pre race

Being a Colorado resident this race is perhaps considered to be in my backyard, home court advantage if you will, but let me tell you this, there was no such thing as home court advantage this weekend. After inspecting both the dh and four cross tracks which were new tracks being introduced at this years National Championships, I realized that it will take a lot of effort to do well on either track due to the massive amount of terrain, the difficulty of the obstacles and the risks that will be taken to enable a fast run.

Thursday: Both tracks were in need of getting ridden in, especially the four cross track. To get an idea of how large and tough the four cross course was, I practiced Thursday morning on my Kona Stab downhill bike instead of the Cowen hard tail like usual. Practice went well, the course got burnt in nicely and I had a ton of fun on the big bike. The Pro only downhill track was raw, to get a good idea of what it was all about imagine clearing an 8 foot wide path through loose baby head rocks, deep sand areas and toss in three large doubles ranging from 30-50 feet, then add some high speed berms, jumps and moto whoops. It was a recipe for a hard race course that was great for spectators and the progression of the sport. Practice went extremely well minus a near weekend ending case on the 48 foot gap on my very first run. I did 5 runs and was feeling completely up to speed was a great feeling. Thanks to some bad sausage I ate that night the rest of the weekend was turned upside down and left me playing catch up.

Friday: I woke up feeling absolutely miserable Friday morning. I couldn't even sit up without getting sick, laying down was the only thing I wanted to do and the only thing that was at all comfortable. I had to get up though, the sun was baking me out of my sleeping bag only causing more discomfort, it would end up taking a monumental feat of will power and mind over body to rise to my feet that morning. Unfortunately I would be unable to practice both downhill and four cross due to my illness, instead I sat still in a camping chair in the Team Geronimo pit all day, unable to help with our junior riders, paralyzed with sickness from a few bits of sausage that had obviously expired. Towards the end of the day I felt my body fighting the stomach bug off and I was able to ride around and later watch the Cat 2-3 four cross. Team Geronimo Rider Roy Benge did extremely well on this demanding track finishing in 3rd place, good job Roy! Team Geronimo Riders Tanner and Tyler Spence, Robert Pettit and Alec Toney also had great runs and did very well impressing me as all were extremely competitive out there. The day ended well as I was starting to perk up a little with the help of my wonderful mom and her extensive knowledge of Chinese herbs.

Race Day Saturday: DH practice & Four Cross

Four cross would have to wait until the end of the day, there was DH practice to be had. I awoke this morning alive, awake and best of all nausea free ready to ride and make up for lost time. The three amigos jumps on the downhill course had been in my thoughts ever since I cased number three hard Thursday, I didn’t have a fear of them as there was nothing to be scared of, I had just wanted to hit them for the last 48 hours. Downhill practice went really well and on my first run through I greased all of them without a worry, over clearing all of them a little bit actually, it took a few more runs but by the end of the day those things were second nature. Highlights from that practice included a top to bottom helmet cam run with Mike Kreger. Thursday I had the chance to ride and film behind Shaun Palmer, which was pretty cool! I was nuking it through the roughest part of the course and high sided landing hard on my back and head, thank goodness for full body armor. After I got up and dusted myself off I realized that my helmet cam mount had snapped off leaving my camera sitting on top of the rocks…rough!

The one hour of practice for mountain cross ended and I was extremely exhausted! Where did all of my energy go? Yesterday’s sickness was starting to take a toll on me, luckily I had a chance to recover while watching CAT 1 qualify, I also ate a fair bit of Almonds and a Laurabar that my mom provided me. Without a real reason I waited and was one of the last to qualify. My quail run was fun and full of hucks to flat, Canadian head slaps and rear tire roosting me into 9th place overall. The hard tail was a bit rough on this course but it made it that much more fun. After many, many delays, debates and decisions the pros finally got their chance to run it at right around 8:30pm. The lights were causing funny shadows on the course and made things a bit distorted as it wasn’t completely dark yet, luckily I had just switched into clear lenses. Here is a round by round reply of how things went down:
Round of 32: Heikki Hall had opted to not race making this a three horse race. Logan Bingelli and I would easily advance after a sketchy start by us hard tail riders.
Round of 16: This time the round was packed and I was left with 3rd lane choice. I had a great gate start and pimped Logan on the inside and rode second all the way down on the wheels of Mitch Ropilato.
Round of 8: Again was dealt with 3rd lane choice and was going up against some great gate starters, because of this I let them all get in front of me and tangle up in the first corner allowing for me to go from 4th to 2nd again riding the wheels of Mitch to the finish line.
Round of 4: The final! 4th gate choice as I was the slowest qualifier. I was going to stick with the same strategy as the previous round but during the first straight I had a great start, hesitated for a second and then saw the bottom of the turn wide open. I came out 3rd behind JD and Mitch, JD would crash trying to take Mitch on the inside of a tight flat corner. I was in 2nd looking to make a move on Mitch when I missed my high line through the grass, this allowed Houseman to slip in on the inside to take 2nd position, I fought for position but Houseman is a big man. This is how we would finish up, Mitch 1st, Houseman 2nd, Me 3rd, JD 4th.

Immediately fallowing the race I was informed I had to take a piss test, this made me ultra excited as I had never had a reason to do this before, I had made the big time at last. It was an insane race, so many spectators, it was night and somehow I managed to make it to the final of the National Championship four cross with the defending national champion, the nation’s best young racer and probably the most talented mountain biker. It was a pretty surreal experience overall, the whole night I never was a bit nervous, I had no expectations, I felt right at home and it was more like a jam sesh then a race, somehow I kept coming back up to the start. The crowd definitely was pumping me up as they were chanting my name and yelling people’s champion, great stuff! The best part was my whole family was there on hand to experience it live and a bunch of young ski team groms I coach were also in attendance just soaking it all up as well as our junior racers. I just felt like a kid out there, not a care in the world just having a blast doing what I love to do!

I would have to thank my brother though for giving me the low down on practice the day before and also my mom for keeping me energized and of course all of my supporters out there that were behind me the whole time making it a night to remember!

Some Videos:
Fallowing Mike Kreger Helmet Cam:

Go Pro helmet cam Brian Buell fallowing Mike Kreger on the Sol Vista National Championships pro only DH course from Brian Buell on Vimeo.

Mike Kreger chesty cam:

Pro Downhill Track POV Cam - 2009 U.S. National Championships from Litter Mag on Vimeo.

Filmed and edited by Noah Sears for Western Slopestyle Productions & Bike Magazine: Just click on the image below!

2009 US National DH Championships from NoahColorado on Vimeo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Whistler to Colorado

Pretty mellow ending to Whistler, once the Lanes left the weather got crappy and cold. Phil and friends arrived but we were only able to muster one top to bottom run with them as the rain was taking its toll on us and the mountain. I felt like I was swimming while riding, everything was soaking wet, I was riding a bit sketchy, fast but taking some risks especially since I could see anything. It was a good few runs total, but in all honesty, I think we had our fill of Whistler. After loading up and drying off we headed over to Brian Lopes's cabin where the crew was staying, hung out then hit the road.

The wet weather had foiled my plans of riding hard all day and then riding the next day in Vancouver with Kristen Smart, a ripping local, but it was best we just start trucking. Then Pacific Northwest is a real cool place in all weather conditions as the fog and clouds make the landscape look incredible which made for a nice drive to the USA Border where we would run into the grumpy patrol. First off, as we pulled into the open lane, the dude working it decided to leave...huh? After backing up and driving to a new lane the guy comes back, nobody helped Michael back me out and into the new lane, they just sat there all pist of looking. We pull in and turn off the loud diesel handing over our passports and get the usual barade of questions and reasons why there are only two of us and 13 total bikes in the trailer. Not a surprise we go to immigration, grumpy patrol man treats us like we are criminals and rotten eggs and at the end of the search pretty mush tells us to get the hell out. I'm gonna check off the possibility of being part of the border patrol. Did some fueling up at in the USA and later that night found a parking lot ontop of Snowqualme pass where it misted on us all night, somehow I still fell queckly to sleep.

Day 2 of travel was long! Washington and Oregon are so slow, speed limit of 65, give me a break! Also on one of the hill climbs the truck overheated and when we popped the hood I realized that the propane line was broken of and was spraying liquid propane everywhere, not a good situation! We got that fixed and put some water in with the coolant and away we went. Made great time in Idaho and Utah hovering around 80 something the whole way. With no working fan, the windows were open the whole day and for periods of time I felt deaf as I could not hear a word Michael would say to me. Camped out near Green River on HWY 6 at a, enduro dirt biking spot we found a few years back, really wish we had em today, would have been awesome! Michael climbed in the cab and gunned it towards the finish line way before our navi system(navigator Nancy) said we would get home, I finished a book I started at the beginning of the trip, success!

It sure is hot out, but it was great to get back! The Ranch is so nice, I can relax a bit, sleep in my own bed and eat great! Now, all I can think about is getting prepared for National Championships! More to come about that, hope you all enjoyed fallowing us around the Northwest , get ready for some more racing action as the National Champs come to Sol Vista next weekend, I'll be ready!

Monday, July 6, 2009

More from Whistler

Yo Everyone, Michael here,
Weird you may be thinking, Michael is actually posting something. I definitely don't get a chance to post as often as I'd like to. Most my time usually gets eaten up pretty quick with Team stuff and what not. I think about posting a lot and then never get to it. I guess I tend to all the other stuff so that in turn Brian gets a chance to spend time doing this kinda cool stuff :)Brian's been doing a pretty good job though of keeping everyone up to date on our sweet adventures. This seasons definitely been awesome, feels like its lasting forever yet flying by at the same time. We've had a bunch of sweet adventures and a ton of good riding, in a lot off cool places, currently up in Whistler BC at then end of a sweet trip which included a race in Mt Hood and two awesome day's riding just outside of Seattle.
We'll there is my short post for now, mostly just wanted to add a few photos of myself, since Brian seems pretty partial to posting all the sweet ones of himself. So enjoy, and hopefully I'll keep up a bit better with this blog thing here. These are photos from throughout the year as well as this trip.
But before I log off I wanted to extend a thank you to Ace and the rest of the Lane family for making this last trip possible for us!!!
One more day here at Whistler tomorrow, then back to Co, next stop Sol Vista and National Champs

Friday, July 3, 2009


First real day was a Beauty eh! Rode all day long, not much more to say. Trails are a bit dusty, but I was chucking my meat all day long and having a great time. The day was capped off with a sweet hike a bike up from the top of the mountain to a sick bandit trail, oh it was EPIC!!! The trail also ended right at a killer food joint with the biggest plate of nachos that I have ever seen in my life! Overall, about a 10.8 on the stokage scale for the day. Pics and stuff to come!!!

Sick, just saw a Turner DW link bike cruise by! I'm chilling here at the GLC restaurant which is located at the base of the hill and has a great view of the riders coming down the mountain. Its been a great stay here in Whistler with Ace and crew, we had a ton of fun, learned lots and progressed! Michael and the Lanes are currently on route to the Vancouver airport leaving me here to fiddle around and rest. I've been needing some rest as the week has been filled with adventure and constant activity, mostly mountain biking:) We got here on Canada Day, July 1st, experienced the 4th of July in the great White North, had some great Lake adventures, Village adventures and of course adventures on the mountain. The Magic Bus is on its way back home too right now, safe and fun travels to them, it was epic! Lets do it again!!! I'm not totally alone though, part of the Sol Vista Crew and Alex Vidal has made it out, and we are going to shred tomorrow, our last day here. The weather here has been awesome, sunny and very warm, I was a sweating machine, but it made for a great atmosphere. At the moment it is misting and I can't see the top of the mountain, this means the trails are going to be super sick tomorrow! Can't wait to ride again, but resting is just what I need at the moment, I went so hard yesterday afternoon, I closed down the park! Anyways, feeling fast as hell and the Kona is killing it. More stories of the weekend to come, for now here are some pictures, yes I finally took some yesterday and they are pretty cool! Check em, out!

Also, in the mean time check out this quick vid from Mt Hood that I dug up: