I'm a Pro/Elite downhiller, and have been racing for John Henry Bike Shop since 2005. For 2011 I'm excited to be a part of the Polartec Team John Henry Bikes Powered by Ethical Bean downhill team. I think the cause John Henry Bikes has chosen to support is a noble one. I'm one of the many that was "rescued" by the bike, and looking forward to sharing that experience with 100 kids this fall. I'm hoping that my enthusiasm for riding and racing bikes is infectious and helps our team raise some money towards a fantastic cause.
The Most Fun Team at Wades Excellent Adventure ... well maybe except for the guy in the green shorts
Sean Verret was stoked to form a John Henry bikes team for Wades Excellent Adventure. Megan Rose, Rob Stead and Ian Kennedy all expressed interest. Wades Excellent Adventure is a team event ride on Mt. Fromme that is organized by the NSMBA.
So the Polartec Team John Henry Bikes powered by ethical bean team was formed for Wades Excellent Adventure. We all had matching fancy new jereseys (except Megan because we didn't have a jersey that fit her even close) and looked mostly professional and stuff. We even had a support team, possibly the best support team ever, in Katie and Spencer. Bike wise we were on a mixed bag. Representing the shorter travel was Megan was on a Norco Phaser, Ian was on a Stump Jumper 29er and Sean was on a Specialized Epic. Representing for the long travel bikes was Rob was on his Turner RFX and myself on a lowered and slackened Norco Range.
Ultimately 10:30 ... or 10:45 came around and the race was off. The filthy downhillers; Rob and I lead the charge. Our first lap was to be down Executioner into Dream Weaver. Most of us a crash or two ... and then there was Sean who seemed unusually attracted to the ground. As a team we were making good time, and having a great time together. We finished lap 1 and headed back up Mt. Highway for lap 2.
Lap 2 was to be Seventh Secret into Leopard into Crinkum. None of us bothered to read the fine print that said exit at the 3rd switchback. Unfortunately Megan had a crash that taco'd her rear wheel. We tried to fix it as best we could, but couldn't get her tubless tire to reinflate. She walked out to the transition area in the hopes that she could fix it and we'd meet her for the next lap. Ian went ahead while Rob, Sean and I helped Megan out. Rob, Sean and I went charging off after Ian. The turn out to the third switch back wasn't marked terribly well (which we weren't expecting as we didn't read the card properly), we were having loads of fun riding, and as a result rode all of Crinkum down to the first switchback. We soon found some more trails markings, so thought we were totally on the right track. We did some XC loop that dumped us back on Mt. Highway and pedalled back up to Ladies Only. At the third switch back was Ian, who informed us that we'd just done an extra half lap. Dammit. And that XC loop we did ... we did backwards adding even more verticle to our ride. Double dammit.
We soon got back up to Ladies Only. Had a good descent down. Picked up Megan in the transition area (who was now riding her boys larger Rocky Mountain XC bike), and pedaled up to Bobsled for our final lap down. We all had a laugh riding down Bobsled as a group. We finished after 3 and a half hours of grueling riding with large grins on all our faces. We were greeted at the finish by Katie and Spencer who had cold Red Racers waiting for us. Legend.
I recored the entire ride on my iPhone GPS and uploaded it, which can be found here.
Cheers to the team for an awesome day out. I'm looking forward to next year already.
Rippin' it up on Cypress on the Turner DHR - Photo by: Cam McRae
I've been a busy guy lately. I helped out at the NSMB Trail Day on Dales Trail this past week-end and managed to get a photo of me being silly included in the write-up. I actually did some real work ... promise. You can read all about it here.
Going back a few weeks I had an opportunity to review the new Turner DHR. You can check out the review here.
Other than that I got up to Whistler Bike Park this past week-end for the first time this year. The whole gong show was in attendance with some epic trains including the Hoff, Emo, Angry Dad, Dodsy and Bryson. The trails were mostly in great shape and everyone was ripping. Cheers for an awesome day boys.
Dinner and a movie NW Cup style. A complementary pasta dinner and 3 DVDs for showing up
Rob Stead and I loaded up in the Element and headed down to America. Our destination was Port Angeles in Washington State for the second round of the NW Cup.
I had raced in Port Angeles back in 2009 and was impressed with the event organization, the course is a blast to ride, and the competition is always strong.
For the very reasonable price of $65 you get three days of shuttles. So we took the day off work and arrived at the race site at 1pm on Friday. We geared up and got out on the race course. I loved the entire race course and had a perm-grin all my face from the very first run. The track had a good mix of features with a wicked flow from top to bottom. Speeds were high, minimal pedalling and lots of corners to rail. Even though we showed up an hour after practice had started we got in 9 fun filled runs. We headed back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and had some drinks. After dinner at a local Mexican restaurant we hit some sketchy bars. It was my birthday so some celebration was in order. For the record, if you’re single and looking for a hot place to pick up someone I’d fully not recommend Port Angeles.
One of the interesting ideas behind the racing scene in Port Angeles is that the Pro and Cat 1 categories race on one track, and the Cat 2 and Cat 3 categories race on another track. Fridays practice was open for all categories. However for Saturday things get split up even further. For the morning the Cat 1′s and Cat 3′s practice. For the afternoon the Pros and Cat 2′s practice. This means that you very rarely run across a slower rider, and slower riders don’t have to ride all day fearing they’re going to get stream-rolled by some one that is barrelling down the course. This meant we had no good reason to get up early, so we all slept in, and meandered our way to the race site. We got in a good walk down the course, and got ready for practice.
Saturday’s practice went well. It was supposed to pour today, but the rains held off and the sun was shining. I was having so much fun on my bike I couldn’t help but exuberantly high five everyone at the end of every lap. I got in another 8-9 laps in a few hours on Saturday afternoon. Once practice was over there was a complementary pasta dinner for all the racers and some DVDs of riding from the area. How could this race get any better? $65 for three days of shuttles, bike videos and a dinner? Once dinner was finished we loaded up and heading back to the hotel. During that trip the heavens open with torrential rain. Tomorrow was going to be soggy.
We woke up to rain battering the windows. It had poured all night. We got up, had a quick breakfast and headed for the race site. Each rider was allowed a single practice run, and then the Pros had a seeding run. Once we arrived I decided to try some cut down spike tires I had made during the week. I had an absolute blast on my first practice run down. I hadn’t used cut spike tires before, but they worked really well on this race course. The folks that stayed on their dry tires said the course also said there was lots of grip. For the most part the course was just as fast and grippy as it was the two previous days. I had such a good time I asked one of the organizers if we could go up for a second practice lap. That was no problem and a second very wet but grin inducing run was had.
Glenn, Rob, and I loaded up and headed for our seeding runs. I had a good clean, smooth seeding run. I pushed in some spots, but saved energy for my race run. I seeded 10th and knew I had lots of time left on course.
On my race run I left the gate sprinting. I rode the top section well and felt quick. I made a small error in the trees and lost a bit of time. I then got a bit greedy entering one of the high speed corners that lead on to a long straight. I drifted through the turn and wound up sliding way inside the corner and lost all my speed. I cursed, and sprinted as hard as I could down the straight. I rode the rest of the course well but crossed the line shaking my head, disappointed at the mistakes I made on course. My time popped up on screen and I had improved my seeding time by 6 seconds. Quickly the remainder of the racers crossed the line, and by the time the mud had settled I finished up 9th place in Pro. I was happy with that result as was only 9 seconds from the win, with a messy run, and 4 of the 5 guys on the podium are World Cup racers.
All in all it was an awesome week-end. The new Norco downhill bike I was piloting was sensational to ride all week-end. The course was phenomenal. I had loads of fun hanging out with Glenn, Rob, Dodsy and Gabby. I’m happy with my result, and can’t wait till the next one, which will be BC Cup #2 at Bear Mountain. Adieus.
Pinned on my race run
Glenn Franks (Angry Dad) and I loaded up into the Element, and headed for Kamloops. The game plan was to arrive in Kamloops around 1pm and meet up with Duncan and his crew from Bow Cycles. I haven't been to Bow Cycles before, but it sounds like a rad store, and if you're in Calgary and ride bikes, I'm told you need to check it out.
After meeting up with the boys at the Bicycle Cafe we went and did a couple laps of Rio. Rio was in great shape, and we all had a great time getting our bikes setup for a week-end of racing. There were loads of familiar folks also riding Rio, and it made for some super fun laps down the trail.
Friday night was Glenn's birthday, which necessitated some celebration. We got the evening started in the parking lot of our hotel. Things were going well, and Glenn was well lubricated on beer and tequila. Later we went out to the Kamloops clubs, and had a good time with some of the other race guys and girls.
Saturday came around pretty quick. We got some greasy breakfast in us, and got out to the Kamloops Bike Ranch. It was great getting back to BC Cup racing. The BC Cup is supported by a great group of regulars, and it was good fun catching up with everyone after a long, wet winter. I was happy with my riding all week-end. I felt fast, consistent and smooth on the track. I had no crashes, and hardly put a wheel wrong all week-end. I was piloting something fairly special this week-end. I had done some testing on the 2012 Norco DH prototype over the winter, and was blown away by how much fun the bike was to ride. I spent the spring back on my Session 88, all the while yearning to be back on the 2012 Norco DH Proto. I asked the boys at Norco a few weeks ago if I could borrow it, which they graciously agreed to.
Race day went off really well. The organization was excellent, the course held up well and I had a ton of fun riding my bike. Glenn wound up winning the old man category with a time of 1 minue 59 seconds. I finished up with a time of 1 minute 58 seconds, and had a good run. I pedalled as hard as I could, and rode a very smooth run. It seems as though I'm a bit down on horsepower as I was 5 seconds off the win and wound up 15th in Elite. I guess I need to do more intervals or something. Congrats to Glenn and Martin Newman for their respective wins in the old men categories.
I'm looking forward to getting some more riding in over May before the next BC Cup at Bear Mountain on June 19th. Until then there are a bunch of other events I may enter, so keep checking back for more updates.
Photo taken while on course at the Cumberland Island Cup
The usual gong show of Glenn Franks (Angry Dad), Ryan Walters (Emo), Rob Stead (Hoff) and myself met early at the ferry terminal. The goal was to walk on to the ferry, and then about an hour and half later meet up with some friends in Naniamo, who’d give us a ride up to Cumberland. Angry Dad and myself were to meet up with our friend Chris, while Hoff and Emo were catching a ride with another Ryan.
The ferry trip over was fairly uneventful. We were all pretty tired, and there wasn’t any new material for us to make fun of. So we quietly sat, mostly bored, waiting for someone to do something dumb. That didn’t take too long because once we arrived in Naniamo we met up with Ryan and his Taliban-mobile. Ryan drives an unknown (because the badges have all rusted off) 1982 diesel Mercedes. All it needs to fit right into a a middle eastern conflict is some bullet holes.
This gave us great material for the drive up and created much laughter. Thanks for that Ryan. We arrived in Cumberland safely, got changed into our riding gear, and started hiking the course. The race course in Cumberland is really fun. It’s only about 2 minutes descending time, but packs in a good variety of terrain in that short time. The top is a bit flat and pedally with some tricky corners and a couple jumps. As the trail enters the trees the speeds increase, the trail gets steeper, and offers up a series of corners loaded with rocks and roots. A blink of an eye and you’re spat over the finish line with big grin on your face. We hiked the course twice on the Saturday, and retired to laughs and drinks at the Riding Fool Hostel.
If you’re ever planning on doing a riding trip to the Island do yourself a favour and stay in Cumberland at the Riding Fool Hostel … even if it’s just for a night. We all really liked the hostel. It was clean, had great amenities, and the staff were rad. The trails in Cumberland looked awesome, and I’ve heard good things from riders who’ve actually ridden more than just the race course. As per usual we drank a bunch on the Saturday night and had a bit of a party.
Come Sunday we all headed out to the race site. We got in 3 runs in the morning (uplift lines were lengthy), and were all enjoying the course thoroughly. The weather was glorious, and the track was slowly drying out. After practice was chatted with some other buddies, and soon headed up for our race runs. We could see a nasty system of weather moving our way, and luckily Emo, Hoff and I got away before the hail storm came. Some elites weren’t so lucky, and had to race down in near blizzard conditions. I made a couple mistakes on my run that were costly given how short the course was. I felt strong and fast on the bike, but obviously need to work on my consistency and pace to keep up with the faster guys. Once the dust and hail settled the Polartec Team John Henry Bikes Powered by Ethical Bean DH team placed 16th, 17th and 18th with myself on a 2:13, and then Hoff and Emo respectively on 2:15s.
Cheers to the gong show for an awesome week-end. There were some epic laughs over chimp frogs, drunken dudes getting off the ferry, sketchy ladies in Cumberland, Jenga, Scrabble, cheeky kids stealing ice cream to name a few. Cheers to Chris for picking us and giving us a ride up and back.
It’ll be a hectic week for me as I prepare for BC Cup # 1 in Kamloops this coming week-end. I don’t believe Emo or Hoff will be joining, but some others from the downillers from Polartec Team John Henry Bikes Powered by Ethical Bean will be coming along. Until then Happy Easter.
The Winner of the Grand Draw Prize at the Super D.
The Hoff (Rob Stead), Angry Dad (Glenn Franks) and I pilled into Glenn's obnoxious Pathfinder and drove out to Belcarra. 60mm of rain was forecast, and Mother Nature was valiantly holding up her end of the bargain. We reluctantly put our bike gear on, and headed out for a practice run. As soon as we got moving, grins on our faces developed. The ground was soft and loamy, and sliding around every corner was mandatory. The three of us couldn’t help but let out bellows of laughter as we roosted out of every turn. Glenn whined pretty much the entire time about pedalling up the hills, while Rob and I made fun of him. Just as soon as Rob thought he was a complete hero the woods of Belcarra sorted him out.
Between practicing and racing the rain continued to pour down. Come race time the rain was harder than ever, and the ground was completely saturated. Rob was lined up in the start gate behind me ... only 30 seconds would separate our start times. I leaned back and told Rob that if he caught me that I was going to punch him in the mouth. I rode well, nailed all my lines, and generally had a great time. Except on the climbs and flats. Pushing through ground that soft was agony. Just moving took gobs of effort. 12 minutes later I crossed the finish line with a distinct taste of lung in my mouth. Rob hadn't caught me, which was in his best interests really, but crossed the finish line frighteningly close to 30 seconds after me. Darn it.
Next were the excellent draw prizes. Many folks left with fantastic prizes. The main prize was a Norco Rampage, graciously donated by John Henry Bikes. The bike was a size small, an odd choice I thought as few people ride a size small. As luck would have it, a young ripper won the prize. He couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. This little ripper was seen still riding his new bike (in the pouring rain) over anything he could find an hour later.
Then the results were up. I finished up 10th overall, Rob was 8th, Jeff Bryson was 6th. Team JH represent! Damn those two guys though. Hoff got me by 3 seconds … seriously 3 measly seconds over 12 minutes of effort. Glenn has been eating too many pies, and finished in 18th. You win this one Rob. All in all the Super D was a fantastic event, and regardless of the weather I had an absolute riot. Props to the organizers for putting on yet another excellent event!
Next week-end the downhill portion of the Polartec Team John Henry Bikes Powered by Ethical Bean will be at the Cumberland Island Cup. Oh and Hoff, it's on!
Riding the 2011 Avid Codes on Cypress Mountain. Photo by: Glenn Franks
I wrote a review on the 2011 Avid Code Brakes for the folks over at NSMB.com. If you're interested, you can check it out here:
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