Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vanessa's Brian Head NMBS Race Report

The view east towards Escalante National Monument from Thunder Mt. Trail.

Vanessa is on her TOMAC CARBIDE that weighs in at just 22.7lbs in Utah this weekend.

The race for Super-Dizzle was postponed due to a major thunderstorm on Saturday, and that just about hosed all the girls who would have done both disciplines this weekend at the final NMBS race of the season. I just called Jim at the KENDA truck, and he was already packing up the truck at 12!! This never happens, so that tells me that there are only about eight human beings at this race. If Jim is packing it in at noon, that means all the team trucks, timing trailer, Team Big Bear, etc. have all rolled out hours ago, and the timing is being handled by Roger and his SIGMA PC-15 HRM watch. It sounds pretty sad there, and with Super-D being moved to the same day as the XC, my $ is on the notion that nobody did it, in an effort to save their legs for the XC race that goes off any minute (it's noon there at the time of this post).

A close up shot of Super-V courtesy of the greatest sports photographer of all time, Michael Darter. She is here passing the feed zone with Roger in the background in Los Olivos, California this year.

Vanessa in Monterey, California at the Sea Otter Classic, showing her competitor where she will drop her during the race.

That sucks, because Vanessa's Carbide is a bad-ass Super-D weapon. She is extraordinarily fast, and Roger is about as supportive as a custom made bra from J.C. Penney's. Her bike will do well in the opening six miles of climbing up to the 11,000' split from the peak fire road to Sydney Peaks trail. From there she will be on a sweet and rocky singletrack that will break right down a narrow and rugged section of the Marathon Trail. The 90mm of suspension in the back will be great here.
She has to then roll through the woods until she crosses a broken bridge in an alpine stream, appearing just below the first feed zone located on a back-woods fire road that runs them up another climb. They pass the feed zone and come to the summit of the plateau again. Here you could bust down Bunker Creek Trail to the right, but the race takes you left back up Sydney Peaks trail and through some of the best mountain biking in the U.S. Once back to the junction of Martahon and Sydney Peaks, you drop down the very jagged and dangerous precipice of Marathon Trail into the woods behind the ski resort. An often muddy trail section usually leads to someone breaking something, followed by a loggy section that leads into a large Boy Scout camp. You think your done? Not hardly.

Vanessa trying not to freeze to death at Sea Otter. She just got fleeced for ten thousand dollars to do a Super-D race or something, and is NOT happy.

From here, you roll up a very steep, VERY long firebreak that seems to climb back to the 11,500' summit. In full oxygen debt and feeling like the end HAS to come realize you still have a great deal of racing left. A few more miles of rolling fire road brings you back into town, and into earshot of the finish area. too bad they take your weary ass back into the woods for some more suffering! Finally landing back at the finish line, you beg for death. In 2006, JHK ran this course in just under an hour and a half. I couldn't do that course on a dirt-bike in any less than three hours. It is by far my favorite race course, and I believe that Backbone Alum James Cross won there not too long ago!

A close up at a Rim Nordic XC race near Big Bear, California.

Vanessa and Roger will have a loooooooong drive back home, and surely will be hitting every greasy burger and ice cream stand on the seven hour drive back to Los Angeles. It's a Sunday, so make that the twelve hour drive back to L.A. (Vegas traffic coming back to L.A. is epic on Sundays!)

The apres-podium medal count was high this day last year at Rim Nordic.

The warm up before another National.

Racing up to the 8,000' summit on Grandview Rd on the back side of Snow Summit.

Vanessa's mug shot from last season, courtesy of Michael Darter Photography.

Ahhh the close ups after a race....

I am going to post a butt load of pix from the past few years that we, as a team and as friends, have taken while near Brian Head for the National and just plain-ol' camping out and riding...Enjoy! KARL, if you read this..I can't find any from the week we spent there, so send some foo!

Ryan Nolan's Last Two Races

Hey Chris! Wanna give you an update of the last 2 races. I said about 5 races in 5 weeks, but that didn't happen. I just didn't want to drive 8 hours to some NORBA race that was going to suck, so I have planned on finishing out the rest of the Diablo races because they are usually so much better. I'm going to try and hit the last Gravity East race in October as well. There is usually a collegiate race in September that I will do as long as it is still happening and I am looking to do a Super D race that is pretty local to me as well.

Sugarbush,Warren VT (Gravity East)

Big mountain, and the course had a bit of everything. The course would have been really good if a lot of the woodsy sections weren't as slick as the were. The top part of the course was about a minute of pedaling right out of the gate. It was downhill but if you wanted to do decent it meant pedaling your a$$ off right in the beginning. Once you entered the woods you were now tired and didn't really want to ride your bike anymore... or at least stop and make a pit stop to recover from the 6 tacos you ate the night before. A mandatory stop and rest was not in the agenda. So to make a long story short I crashed on my face in my race run, in the section that was the most difficult I guess because it was where everyone chose to watch. I was really tired coming into the section and my front wheel just hung up and a rock grabbed it, and over the bars I went. I wanted to just hang out for a little while because I had just landed on my face, but the angry mob around me with all their screaming at me convinced me not to take a breather, and to just keep on going. I didn't get hurt so that was the good news. I don't know what place I got because I left right away to go over to Killington to do some runs there. Killington by the way is one of if not my favorite place I ever rode which is also good news. The bad news is I still don't know what place I got. With the crash though I wasn't real concerned, because you take your foot off in Pro and you loose, crash and they will throw rocks at you.

Diablo #3, Vernon NJ

Diablo. My favorite place to race or ride. DUST! You tell me that a course is DUSTY and you will see a smile on my face that is not soon to leave. I love dust so much... just about any course can be made great if you just throw some dust on it. Well Diablo 3 was dusty and the course was great. It was a real downhill course that had some pedaling in it but not that much, and not for extended periods of time. It was also a rough course. Plenty of techy rock gardens and also open places where you were just pinned. It was the best course I had ridden in a while just because I feel courses are lacking so many things lately, and whoever designed this must actually ride downhill and realize how to make a course that 1-Flows 2-Isn't a marathon 3- Has sections that if hit with good speed, your bike feel like it is going to blow up. This course met my expectations and I couldn't have been happier about that. My race run was ok. I had a few mistakes and had a hard time keeping my feet on the pedals, which is a problem... but I didn't crash. When I could keep my feet on the pedals I was going pretty fast. With the few mistakes and bobbles I had I ended up 14th. In AM the run would have been ok, but after talking with a bunch of PROs I realized that a really small mistake is a big deal and a few of them is a huge deal so having flawless runs is something that I am going to have to work on.

***********Well, RYAN, unike SOME people, at least you MOVED UP (and you didn't even win consecutive National Championships), so we can surely cut ya' some slack for taking top 15 in the PRO class. Nice job homie-G, and thanks for the update!*****************************************

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pedro Fages And The Quest For Deserters

I'm not sure why the only portrait of Pedro depicts him with young children, but it's kinda creepy.

In 1767, Lieutenant Fages left Spain with the Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia for New Spain. In 1769, Fages was selected to lead the Gaspar de Portolà expedition to found San Diego, California. Fages sailed from La Paz on January 10, 1769, aboard the San Carlos and arrived at San Diego Bay on April 29 with scurvy-ridden troops. Fages accompanied the 1769 and 1770 land expeditions to locate Monterey Bay. During this time he was promoted to Captain. Also during this time, many his party would desert their posts and populate the western Mojave Desert. Pedro would be sent after them after his return to Sand Diego de Alcala.

He would roll north from San Diego through the Cajon Pass.
This same pass would later be the gap that American pioneers would pour through to populate the Inland Empire for citrus and lumber, and Los Angeles and San Diego for gold and land. Now angelino's use it to escape East for a wekend to Las Vegas! After reaching the high desert, Officer Fages broke north through the back of the Sierra Madres, over into Lake Elisabeth, up through the Tehachapi's (see the earlier article on the Tejon Pass) and down into the San Joaquin Valley. He would never find the men (who were the first anglo's to populate the desert!), and returned to San Diego.

After Portolà left California in 1770, Fages served as the somewhat independent military governor of New California, which was later to become Alta California. During this time, Fages explored by land San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, the Carquinez Strait, the San Joaquin River and surrounding areas.He earned his nickname El Oso while hunting bears near San Luis Obispo. Fages fought with Father Junípero Serra, and was replaced in 1774.

In 1777 Fages returned to Sonora to fight the Apaches, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In 1782 he was appointed Governor of the Californias, replacing Felipe de Neve, and returned to Monterey which had replaced Loreto as the capital of the Californias in 1777. He was promoted to Colonel in 1789 and resigned his governorship in 1791. He moved back to Mexico City where he died in 1794.

I love this stuff. Much more interesting than the CURRENT Gov. of California, don't you think? Has Ahnolt ever dealt with scurvy, or had to ride a horse across the desert looking for a degenerate deputy district attorney? I doubt it...


Joel has informed me that the XL size TYPE X carbon hardtails are ready to go! That is super convenient for me, since that's EXACTLY the size I want! that will instantly take a full pound off the overall weight of my bike, bringing it to a very respectable 22.85 lbs in an EXTRA LARGE. Nice thing about that is, NOT A BIT OF THE PARTS ARE TITANIUM or CARBON (except the frame of course, just REALLY OLD aluminum stuf from the likes of Easton and Thomson. I will be making an order soon, even if it means cutting the honeymoon short a couple of days....:)

At just 2.4 lbs in a medium, they are made from high modulus carbon and will accept an 80 OR 100mm fork! All frames will accept TWO water bottles (rare these days) and sport racey SHORT chainstays and a long top tube. Nice.

The Type X in an XL waiting for me take it home from Sea Otter. O.K., that is Joel's bike...but with a little chloroform and a towel, I could have it!~

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dead In Brian Head

Roger and Vanessa rolled in to Brain Head, Utah today for the final stop on the NMBS race schedule....and doubled the population there. With no vendors except KENDA there, and a only a small selection of team trucks/trailers, it looked more like a ghost town than the final race of the biggest series in North America. I hope you don't need any help with that 1000 dollar FOX fork you bought, because this weekend, you are on your own. Going to these races is very expensive, and for those who have to pay for everything...the chance to get your unobtanium suspension/drivetrain stuff worked on is the only silver lining to the cash-cloud.
Thank GOD Jim still brings the KENDA truck and trailer to the events. Without Jim, the trip is a sure waste of time. Tom Wehe and Roger are currently working with Jim in the trailer while Vanessa pre-rides the 11,500' race course. It's a Friday at 4 o'clock, and that place SHOULD be awash with bikes and people and industry trappings. It's not, and it wasn't last year either. The people in the now extinct village had no idea that race was even coming to town last year. So.....with such a poor turnout and NO industry support, what next? Do wait for a huge and faceless team to buy their way in? Do we just scrap the whole thing and start over? Well, I for one am going to grill up a steak tonight and have some beers. But after this year, we are going to see some HUGE freaking changes in the NMBS series...or it will die. Which will it be?

You Know Your Old When..

I was talkng to Lauren "The Lick" Lichtenaeur on Wednesday night, and realized something very painful. I am no longer what anyone would mistake for young. Old people don't even call me "young man" anymore...and why? Because I am NOT. So as Lauren and I were joking around, I made an A-Team reference. You know, something like "I ain't gettin' on no plane, Hannibal!" Falling on 21 year old ears, the joke began to flop wildly on the floor as I realized she had no damn idea what the hell my crusty ass was talking about. "You see, B.A. was afraid of flying, but because many of the episods involved just that, that's what he said right before they drugged him and threw him on a plane!" It's not funny if you have to explain it, and even equally as NOT funny when it wasn't funny to begin with. The trifecta comes when it comes from me....the old unfunny guy who explains the jokes.
I bought my first mountain bike in 1986, and it was a sweet Mongoose polished chromo job that had GIANT moto-style mountain brake levers. These things were so large, they appeared to have been taken off of a 70's dirt bike. The stem was a quill type with a GIGANTIC v-brace thing that had about 42 lbs of aluminum in it. No suspension, a first generation tire that was just way too hard to describe with any clarity, and drilled out wheels to "save weight." The canti brakes were crazy-bad, and had foam grips and friction shifters. Most guys I meet don't even know what that is or was. I explain it as a more dependable version of a SRAM twist shifter without the indexing...and faster. The bike was sweet, and actually still in working order in my mom's garage back home. No linear-pull anything, no disc brakes, no sticky-rubber, just a few gears and no helmet. HEY, it was 1986, and I was freshman. Freshman didn't wear helmets then. We wore big hair, because that's what the guys from Whitesnake and Firehouse wore.

My first real dirt ride was on San Juan Trail in the Ortega Mountains. I went with some friends and an original member of the RADS. He rode in cut-of khakis and flip flops on the sweetest old Fat Chance I had ever seen. It too had no suspension or decent brakes, but he rocked that bike. From that day on I was hooked. Flash ahead to the current trends, and a 3" travel full suspension bike isn't even used for XC anymore, and my old CONEJO AP/5 had 4.5" in 1995, and that was HUGE DH TRAVEL. It's no wonder that guys like Bert and Jim Roff are such great technical riders, they both had to ride that crap before 10" of travel and 8" hydraulic discs! So, seeing the current crop of riders come up, it's amazing to watch how quickly they go from novice to plain bad-ass. Back in the the Pre-Cambrian period, we broke a lot of crap and lugged some heavy ass equipment through those mountains, but it IS nice when my old ass plows through a rock garden on my TOMAC hardtail, while a guy on a new full suspension carbon 25lb trailbike has to walk it.

I just hope I don't fall. Broken hips are hard to recover from, and if I lose my false teeth in the woods, I'm screwed....