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Bike magazine julio

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    Bike magazine julio Bike magazine julio Document Transcript

    • Long travel just got lighter. Not just all-mountain. Every mountain. Both ways, up and down. Test ride the Remedy today at your dealer or check it out at trekbikes.com
    • REMEDY 8™ SUSPEND CONVENTIONAL THOUGHT ©2008 Trek Bicycle Corporation
    • ©2009 FOX Factory Inc. All rights reserved
    • features 063 America’s Secret Stashes Moab, Fruita, Whistler, Pisgah. It’s a familiar litany of popular destinations. But what about the un- likely suspects? What about the trails on the other side of Downieville? What about the brown ice of Brevard, North Carolina, and the limestone laby- rinths of Terlingua, Texas? We offer the inside dirt on six of America’s hidden gems. 074 Black Rock: The Great Experiment Five hundred acres of jumps, drops, doubles and berms litter the old-growth forests of Black Rock, Oregon. The place’s very existence is a minor miracle—the result of unprecedented cooperation between trail builders and land managers. But this isn’t any ordinary freeride park—the trails are open to the public, and they’re attracting riders from around the country. Cam McCaul and Kirt Voreis stopped by to see what all the fuss was about. 082 Rad Ross Ross Schnell may be the best rider you’ve never heard of. The winner of last year’s Downieville races could even be the best all-around rider the sport has seen in years. What’s more, he’s a throwback to the sport’s gritty beginning—when riders raced Cover: Kirt Voreis killing it for fun, not fame, on hard, adventurous courses. at Black Rock, Oregon, Afraid mountain biking has lost its soul? Relax, during a shoot for NWD. Photo: Scott Markewitz/NWD Rad Ross has it all under control. THE PLAINS OF ABRAHAM, MOUNT ST. HELENS, WASHINGTON. PHOTO: RICH WHEATER bikemag.com I 009
    • contents 039 054 108 024 112 gear departments 089 Bike Test: Cannondale Rize Carbon 1; EWR OWB29er; 021 Start Here: Lou Mazzante escapes the expected Moots Cinco; Titus FTM 024 Buzz: All-American edition 098 Beat Down: Shimano SLX: the underrated group that delivers XT performance at half the price 034 Letters: Our readers get pissed, go wild, pound it out, get a flat, sur- render to the mountains and then call it quits 102 Fresh Produce: Three pages of the latest, greatest, gotta-have-it gear 039 Splatter: Montana’s coolest restaurant; the B.C. Bike Race returns with more singletrack than ever; the best racecourses of all time; Bellingham’s 106 Showcase: An exclusive look at six 2010 trail forks and bitchin’ trails; remembering Brent Thomson; and seven reasons why four do-anything multi-tools there’s hope for riding in America 110 Kit: High-performance gear for the long haul 054 Ask Chopper: To raise or not to raise; looking out for the little guys; risking life and limb for Bike; Jenny Craig; Chopper’s unit; and physics 112 Blueprint: DT Swiss is ready to roll with its carbon for dummies all-mountain wheels 058 Grimy Handshake: Mike Ferrentino dances with meat 122 SBC: Cam McCaul flips out on the Sh*tbike BIKE MAGAZINE IS PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER SUPPORTED BY 010 I bikemag.com
    • BE=0@/7<AA7<5:3B@/19;7<2 EWbVbe]4Z]e1]b`]Z0`OWaOR4A@ aca^SaW]bVSAbc[^Xc[^S`4A@WabVS a[O`bSabQ`]aaQ]cb`gb`OWZPWYSOgeVS`S  [[]Tb`OdSZP`WZZWObZgb`OaWbW]a T`][b`OWZbcSTW`[b]eWRS]^S^ZcaVT]` STTWQWSQgORQ]b`]Z]OgbS``OW
    • editorial EDITOR Lou Mazzante PHOTO EDITOR David Reddick ART DIRECTOR Shaun N. Bernadou MANAGING EDITOR Brice Minnigh SENIOR EDITOR Chris Lesser ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR Morgan Meredith ASSISTANT EDITOR Ryan LaBar EDITORS-AT-LARGE Vernon Felton, Mike Ferrentino, Mitchell Scott, Rob Story CAPTAIN GRAVITY Mike Vihon CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Johnathon Allen, Chris Dannen, Ron Ige, Cam McCaul, Colin Meagher, Dan Oko, Greg “Chopper” Randolph, Brad Walton SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHERS Bob Allen, Dan Barham, John Gibson, Sterling Lorence, Scott Markewitz, Stephen Wilde CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Stef Cande, Steve Casimiro, Adam Clark, Lee Cohen, Ryan Creary, Jeff Cricco, Matt Domanski, Chris Figenshau, Derek Frankowski, Mattias Fredriksson, Bill Freeman, Rene Gouin, Brendan Halper, Chuck Haney, Dave Heath, Ilja Herb, Ian Hylands, Blake Jorgenson, Anne Keller, Jamie Kripke, Doug LePage, Steve Lloyd, Victor Lucas, Jordan Manley, Christophe Margot, Sven Martin, Colin Meagher, Chris Milliman, Dan Milner, Tom Moran, Peter Moynes, Chris Murray, Haruki Noguchi, Mike Padian, Matthew Scholl, Dave Silver, Janne Tjarnstrom, Marco Toniolo, Ken Viale, John Wellburn, Woods Wheatcroft, Rich Wheater CONTRIBUTIONS: Bike magazine is not responsible for unsolicited contributions unless otherwise pre-agreed in writing. Bike magazine retains ALL RIGHTS on material published in Bike for a period of 12 months after publication and reprint rights after that period expires. Send contributions to: Bike magazine, P.O. Box 1028, Dana Point, CA 92629, Attn: Editor. BIKE’S COVERAGE AND DISTRIBUTION: The magazine is published 8 times per year, worldwide. BACK ISSUES: To order or receive a free list of available issues, call 866-542-2679 or e-mail:customerservice@primediabackissues.com. SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE: To change your address or order new subscrip- tions, write to: Bike magazine, Subscription Department, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Please send your new address and the ad- dress label from your last issue, and allow eight to 10 weeks for processing. Or e-mail bike@emailcustomerservice.com or call 800-765-5501 (customer service hours: Mon–Fri, 7:00 a.m.–12:00 a.m. EST; Sat–Sun, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. EST.) REPRINTS: Contact Wright’s Reprints to purchase quality custom reprints or e-prints of articles appearing in this publication at 877-652-5295 (281-419-5725 outside the U.S. and Canada). COPYRIGHT © 2009 by Source Interlink Magazines, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the USA. Due to the volume of inquiries, we cannot respond to all e-mail. Sorry. Occasionally, our subscriber list is made available to reputable firms offering goods and services that we believe would be of interest to our readers. If you prefer to be excluded, please send your current address label and note re- questing to be excluded from these promotions to Source Interlink Media, LLC., 261 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, Attn.: Privacy Coordinator. Thanks: To Cam McCaul showing the world that anything is possible on a crappy bike. To Race Face for the sweet digs, and the even better dinner. Julian, you are the man, and we really are sorry about all those dirty dishes. And to Brent Thomson, who left us too soon, but will always be remembered for your masterpiece at Bootleg Canyon. 014 I bikemag.com
    • advertising PUBLISHER Derek DeJonge I derek@bikemag.com PRODUCTION MANAGER Micah Tompkins I micah@bikemag.com SALES & MARKETING COORDINATOR Meghan Grabow I meghan@bikemag.com ADVERTISING SALES ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Mark Milutin I mark@bikemag.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Jeremy Schluntz I jeremy.schluntz@sorc.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Adam Warren I adam.warren@sorc.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Kevin Back I kevin.back@sorc.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Bryan Ellis I bryan.ellis@sorc.com NATIONAL SALES VP NATIONAL SALES James Lynch I james.lynch@sorc.com NATIONAL SALES COORDINATOR Stephanie Brown I stephanie.brown@sorc.com EAST COAST NATIONAL SALES Coral Watkins 212-915-4410 I coral.watkins@sorc.com BIKEMAG.COM CONTENT MANAGER Mimi Lopour I mimi.lopour@sorc.com MARKETING AND EVENTS DIRECTOR OF EVENT OPERATIONS Sean Nielsen I sean.nielsen@sorc.com MARKETING COORDINATOR Scott Kendall I scott.kendall@sorc.com EVENTS MANAGER Darren Brilhart I brillo@socal.rr.com FACILITIES DIRECTOR Erin Foote I erin.foote@sorc.com MANAGER Randy Ward OFFICE COORDINATOR Ruth Hosea ACTION SPORTS GROUP MANAGEMENT SVP, GROUP PUBLISHER Al Crolius I al.crolius@sorc.com DIRECTOR, CFO Ken Lockwood I ken.lockwood@sorc.com DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION Kasey Kelley I kasey.kelley@sorc..com PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER Elishia Matta I elishia.matta@sorc..com FINANCIAL ANALYST Scott Woodruff I scott.woodruff@sorc.com OFFICERS OF SOURCE INTERLINK COMPANIES, INC. CHAIRMAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Gregory Mays PRESIDENT, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER James R. Gillis PRESIDENT, SOURCE INTERLINK DISTRIBUTION Alan Tuchman PRESIDENT, SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA Steve Parr CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Marc Fierman GENERAL COUNSEL Douglas Bates SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA, LLC PRESIDENT Steve Parr PRESIDENT DIGITAL MEDIA Greg Goff SVP, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER Alan Alpanian SVP, MANUFACTURING & PRODUCTION Kevin Mullan VP, FINANCE Colleen Artell CONSUMER MARKETING, SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA, LLC SVP, SINGLE COPY Rich Baron VP, CIRCULATION PLANNING AND OPERATIONS Arlene Perez CONSUMER MARKETING, ENTHUSIAST MEDIA SUBSCRIPTION CO. VP, CONSUMER MARKETING Tom Slater ADVERTISING RATES: CONTACT THE BIKE ADVERTISING DEPARTMENT AT: BIKE, P.O. BOX 1028, DANA POINT, CA 92629. PHONE: 949-496-5922 FAX: 949-496-7849 016 I bikemag.com
    • BY LOU MAZZANTE E RIDE FOR MANY REASONS—FOR to the grocery store. Even those of us who have never ridden Moab or Whistler have seen fun, for fitness, or as an excuse to en- enough photos and YouTube clips to wash the excitement clean off those places. joy the company of a few good friends. So we seek new terrain, new trails and new destinations. Within the pages of this issue we But mostly, we ride to escape—to es- feature some of America’s best, if least-known destinations. “Secret Stashes,” which begins on cape the stasis of a life constructed around a 9-to- page 63, details a half-dozen areas with untamed trails—places such as Graeagle, California, 5 job; to escape the streets of suburbia; and, most which has hid in the shadow of Downieville for years, but has riding that is every bit as good. importantly, to escape the expected. We also include the truly remote trails of Terlingua, Texas; the challenging singletrack outside On the trail, whether it traverses remote moun- New Haven, Connecticut; and places like Ellicottville, New York, which might be the best-kept tains or slices through local parks, anything is pos- secret in the Northeast. Not only do we pinpoint the top trails in each area, we also highlight sible. Those slivers of dirt, the best of them not the best bets for camping, restaurants, bike shops and spots for post-ride margaritas. more than 18 inches wide, contain infinite possibili- This issue also includes a photo feature on Black Rock, Oregon, which might be the best ties. Each corner brings forth new risks, and new network of trails in the country still flying under the radar. Not only does the town of Falls City rewards, leading us further from home and deeper welcome mountain bikers, but the 500 acres of drops, doubles, wall rides and berms constitute into the unknown. So we pray at the altar of dirt, some of the most fun terrain in America. And speaking of flying below the radar, Rob Story and what we ask for most is an adventure. profiles Ross Schnell, who could well be the best rider nobody has ever heard of. Our sense of adventure leads us to local trails And, proving that we practice what we preach, the Bike staff is preparing for a weeklong and distant destinations. But over the years, even trip to Kernville, California, another of the hidden destinations included in our “Secret Stashes” those far-flung places—Fruita, Moab, Pisgah and feature. Although it is less than three hours from Bike’s office, none of our current staff have Whistler—become mundane. Sometimes another ever ridden there. Putting this issue together provided all the inspiration we needed to finally road trip to Utah has all the excitement of running check out its trails. We hope you find the same inspiration within these pages. PHOTO: ANNE KELLER bikemag.com I 021
    • buzz When Dan and I first landed in Alaska, our thoughts naturally turned to getting in a quick ride before the evening sun set. But by the time we arrived at the Gold Mint trailhead, 8 o’clock had come and gone; hopes of getting a decent pedal that day had all but evaporated. But incredibly, Tony, our guide, was putting on his shoes, testing his tires and preparing to head out. We shot this image a good two hours into the ride, in June light that refused to retreat. In Alaska, limitless terrain and endless light make it seem possible to ride forever. —Dan Barham Dan Gronross. Palmer, Alaska. Photo: Dan Barham DOWNLOAD AS YOUR WALLPAPER ■ BIKEMAG.COM
    • buzz This is Willow Koerber on the Ribbon trail in Grand Junction, Colorado. It’s a cool, scenic shuttle run (or uphill on the road) that starts on a big, wide-open slab of slickrock, like a big, flat table that is tilted sky- ward a few degrees. You can almost get lost up there until it drops into this section, where the trail winds through sand and slickrock before finishing further down the valley. —Scott Markewitz Photo: Scott Markewitz 026 I bikemag.com
    • It’s hard to explain what piles of dirt can mean to a person. They can be your best friend and your worst enemy, all wrapped into thirty piles of carefully shaped terra firma. This shot was taken during the final session at the Hidden Valley jumps in Huntington Beach, California. Everyone was there—the Athertons, the Lacondeguys, the Aptos clan, Hidden Valley regulars and even first-timers. Three days later, the city closed them to riding and the trails were gone. —Taylor Sage Taylor Sage. Photo: John Gibson
    • buzz This is a legendary trail in Laguna Beach, California. It is quite steep and can have bitter consequences if one comes off the trail or doesn’t make a turn. I would rate it a triple-black diamond, and it takes a skilled rider to tackle it with anything less than 7 inches of travel. This particular drop needs to be approached and ridden very slowly, braking hard before hitting the berm. It’s steeper than it looks. —Hans Rey Photo: Craig Glaspell 028 I bikemag.com
    • We were driving down some dirt roads in Utah when we came across a big ditch that our rental van couldn’t make it through. I looked out the windshield and saw these two big piles of dirt—one gray and the other red. There was a good run-in, a good run-out and a manageable gap. Big Red Ted and I went to work and dug until it looked rideable. I tried it a few times, but had to hit the eject button. After a few tweaks to the lip and run-in, I finally made it across. This is one of the few jumps that I’ve only ever landed once. —Cam McCaul La Verkin, Utah. Photo: Matt Domanski/NWD bikemag.com I 029
    • buzz 030 I bikemag.com
    • Although Mount St. Helens is most famous for the Plains of Abraham—a windswept, high-altitude, pumice- garden moonscape accented by “ghost trees” stripped raw by the devastating eruption—killer riding also exists in the dank shadows of this Cascades wonderland. The day after touring the Plains, we explored the remarkably lush Lewis River trail, which serves up 10 glorious miles of point-to-point ripping through Jurassic old growth. We entered the buff, tight singletrack seconds from our campsite, charging down the gentle, endless roller coaster, zipping past giant ferns, enormous trees and little waterfalls. —Rich Wheater Senja Palonen. Mount St. Helens, Washington. Photo: Rich Wheater DOWNLOAD AS YOUR WALLPAPER ■ BIKEMAG.COM bikemag.com I 031
    • letters between the staff here and our some über bikes come out that contributors, and edited by Vernon have a weight limit of 185 pounds. Felton. Trust me, you don’t want this group of people anywhere near a trillion dollars. There’s not a bar or bike shop in the country that would be safe. —Ed Riding characteristics for one bike would be different for every rider. Please include the weight and riding style of each test bike rider from now on. I guarantee that LOM LETTER OF your magazine (which is already GOING WILD the best one out there) would be even greater. I have many friends THE MONTH What a coincidence, the day my who ride hard and weigh over 200 Does anyone else seem to recall reading that cycling, of any type, May 2009 issue, which has the pounds. We need that information drastically reduces the count of story about Wilderness issues in to help us make educated “available swimmers” one could Montana (“This Land Is My Land”), decisions on what we ride. produce? I spent every day of a recent hits my mailbox, the front page of STEVE SLIMMON; weekend downhilling my Santa Cruz Nomad. Around the same time, the GETTING PISSED my local paper announces that the CALGARY, CANADA wife and I decided to stop “not trying,” I thought my rival was the Mt. Hood Wilderness Legacy bill in her words, and leave the baby mountain (okay, hill in the was approved. Guess what, we lost Steve, we’re glad you found the blockers in the cabinet. Midwest) until I read the latest over 110 miles of what your July rider weights useful. We’ll try to About a month later, and despite beating the hell out of myself on my issue. I literally pissed myself 2004 issue called “some of the best include them whenever we think Nomad, I proved this notion false. reading “Your Bike vs. Your singletrack in the universe.” And it will help readers like you make I was wrenching on my bike when Sweetie,” (“Mountain Biking’s all the Senators and Congressmen better buying decisions. —Ed. my wife screamed for me to come Greatest Rivalries,” May 2009). said was, “this is so great for upstairs. Needless to say, the word “positive” has never evoked such After a week of suffering on our economy and recreational emotion or surprise. Originally, I rollers in the pain cave, the first possibilities!” Duh: bikes can’t LEFT FOR DEAD thought that I would have to stay out thing out of my mouth come be ridden in Wilderness. I hardly call myself a mountain of the saddle for a few months or at weekend is, “Can I ride today?” As a former IMBA rep, I have biker anymore. Just two years least give up the DH. While I’m stoked that I don’t have to take a break from The process follows the story been involved in this particular ago my routine was eat, sleep, riding, I now have to get my sh*t pretty much to the letter, with Wilderness proposal for over ride, repeat. I would hang out at together, seriously together. the addition of two boys in Little four years. It is a sad day for the local shop and look at all the Lesson of this story: riding is not League and the glare of two dogs mountain bikers in the USA. This bikes I dreamed about riding. I effective contraception. However, teaching my soon-to-be hellion on that literally clean the post-ride new Wilderness has set a bad entered races and won, I looked two wheels how to ride seems pretty singletrack off the rig with their precedent. If they use this same under seat cushions to find spare awesome. Hopefully, he/she is as nostrils. Nice one. I hope my example in other places—asking change to buy that beautiful Fox crazy about riding as his/her old man. sweetie finds it as amusing as mountain bikers to give up 57 fork I saw shining in magazine JUSTIN; ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI I did. Now, about that beer.... percent of their access in other pages. I lived for the ride and any Congratulations, Justin—not just on ALLAN THOM; places—slowly but surely, we will free moment I hit the trail. Then the soon-to-be little ripper, but also CHICAGO, ILLINOIS be losing trail mileage from now on. something happened. I went on learning one of life’s great lessons: We did our best to refute the to high school, homework and you can’t trust anything you read in a I just peed my pants. Your enviros and their lies, deceit and school sports consumed me and, magazine. Let me guess—you’re still waiting for your six-pack abs and the collection of racing, industry, backstabbing, but we lost out as I grew, my beloved Gary Fisher secrets to super shifting. riding, products, commerce and to a better-funded and more Piranha seemed to shrink. As for getting your life in order, romance point-counterpoints organized group. Even though riding was sounds like you’re halfway there— were fabulously funny and ROGER W. LOUTON; becoming less and less a part you’ve got a wife, a nice bike, and a kid on the way. Just take care of the informative. Whoever came up PORTLAND, OREGON of me, I never canceled my hellion the way you take care of your with “Your Bike vs. Your Sweetie” subscription to Bike; you guys are Nomad and things should should be put in charge of the keeping the sport alive for me. work out. And since Troubled Assets Relief Program. POUNDING IT Your articles make me remember the little one will be receiving While I’m not sure they’d solve Just a couple of things I wanted to all of the joy biking brought me. piles our economic problems, I’d be tell you. One, I loved reading the I remember long summer days of baby out riding my bike and laughing May issue’s bike tests. To include where I rode until the sun slipped presents too hard to care anymore. the weights and riding styles of behind the mountains, and in the near future, here’s GRAHAM HOLMES; the test rider is the best idea I begging my mom to take me to something just PLEASANTON, CALIFORNIA have ever seen in a bike magazine. the trailhead. Thanks to Bike, I’m for you. Enjoy I weigh 225 pounds. I’m not fat, not through riding yet. Mark my the Bellwether Graham, that piece was written just big and strong. My riding style words, I will be back. Sedona jersey and Switchback by Chris Dannen, and the entire is pound it and ground it. I abuse JOHN PEAKE; shorts. —Ed feature was a collaborative effort my bike when I ride. I have seen ROANOKE, VIRGINIA > 034 I bikemag.com
    • letters WIG WORLAND John, I don’t know whether to pat you on the back or slap you across the face. While I appreciate that this magazine keeps you tethered to the sport, I can’t help wondering why you so ruthlessly abandoned riding. My guess is that you’re too busy lifting weights Catch & Release Intern Program and chasing skirts. Trust me, there’s more Want to spend your summer riding the best trails to life than football and cheerleaders. Surely in Southern California, working for Bike magazine? you can find an hour or two a week for We are looking for interns for the editorial, photo riding, just to keep a fresh coat of dirt on and digital departments. If you have a knack for the English language, like mountain bikes, maintain your tires. —Ed your composure around deadlines, can pinpoint random spelling mistakes buried in mountains of text, know your way around a camera or a website, FLAT ATTACK are currently enrolled in college and willing to work for credits, then we’d like to hear from you. Two damned flat tires in two days. Why? Is We’ll work you hard, show you some great trails it because I am riding an XC/trail bike on and release you in the fall, just in time to return to trails that people would say are better for an school. E-mail your résumé to: bikemag@sorc.com. all-mountain bike? Does my bike feel pissed off and depressed that I am not shaving my only survived my job because I too have legs and going on longer rides half naked in had my ass kicked on a regular basis by spandex and not using it for its purpose? Is the mountain. The people, the stressful my bike a prude that cannot handle the legal times and all the difficulties in my life both terms of the trails I ride? Maybe my bike has at work and personally have always paled problems with jumps larger than the inches compared with the adversity brought on of travel it possess? Either way, I have to go by the mountain. Whenever I am climbing buy another tube tonight and tomorrow is just relentlessly up the Colorado Trail or trying another day, possibly with another flat tire. to push my 50-pound mud-laden bike out IAN STOWE; MARIN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA of the woods or crouched down in the oak brush waiting out a lightning storm Ian, I can assure you that your bike is not with every mosquito within 20 miles, I am pissed at you. It is not a prude. And it toughened by the mountain. But at the definitely does not want you to shave your same time I find peace deep within my soul, legs. It only wants to be loved and maintained, which helps me not just survive, but thrive. and to have someone who can make sure the The mountain kicks my ass summer, fall, right amount of air is in its tires. Flats happen. winter and spring. It also continually adjusts Change your tubes, check for thorns, stop my perspective; it allows me to see the big plowing into every sharp-edged rock you see, picture—a picture much larger than myself. quit complaining and go for a ride. —Ed Thank you, Mike. You always find a way to express so well what we all figure out while THE MOUNTAINS WIN AGAIN grinding up and flying down the mountain, I have been reading Bike magazine since is- but can never quite put into words. sue number one and have been a subscriber JOE SARGENT; DURANGO, COLORADO since year two. I never miss Grimy Hand- shake, written by my favorite bike and life philosopher, Mike Ferrentino. The last time I wrote was after he wrote “Mountains that Speak.” He has such a great understanding WRITE US of what mountain biking is all about. His lat- est masterpiece in the May issue, “Molded by Mountains,” once again says it all. I am at the end of a very stressful job; I > Bike welcomes your input, and we’re suckers for cavalier use of the English language. Letters may be ed- ited for length, but don’t expect us to fix all your spelling mistakes, okay? Send correspondence to: Editor, Bike retire in July at age 55. I have been riding magazine, P.O. Box 1028, Dana Point, CA 92629. Or send an e-mail to: bikemag@sorc.com. mountain bikes for 27 years now. I have VERBAL RECALL In May’s East vs. West “Rivalries” feature, we misspelled Tupac’s name. Sorry, but Biggie put us up to it. Also, in the June issue, a line of text is missing from the bottom of the first page of “Making the Brand.” The words were inadvertently covered by the black background. They read: “At that time, Joel was North American sales manager and brand manager for Answer Products.” For the complete text, go to Bikemag.com/DIY. 036 I bikemag.com
    • :FDD@KK<;% Y`bj%Zfd AXeefkHl`i`fe =fidXe$GX`ek;gXikdek1(0.0$gijek GX`ekJ_fg#Jk$>fi^j#HlYZ GX`ek%=ifdZfeZgkkfoZlk`fe#k_gX`ekfefli)''08ck`kl[.'`jX cXYflif]cfm%Fli[j`^ekXdZiXkjk_cffbXe[flijb`cc[gX`ekij Yi`e^`kkfc`]`efli:XeX[`Xe]XZkfip%Lj`e^fecpk_ÔejkdXki`Xcj `efliem`ifedekXccp]i`e[cpZfXk`e^jgifZjj#ndXbjlimip ]iXdc`mjlgkfk_IfZbpDflekX`ejkXe[Xi[ÆXkfkXcZfdd`kdek kfhlXc`kp%HlXc`kp`jXcc`ek_[kX`cj#iXk_i#`kËj`efli[kX`cj% g_fkf1AXZhlj;lk`c
    • splatter E V E NTS * P E O P LE * P L AC E S * TR A I LS * C U LTU R E HUCK YOU Big Sky’s THC Café combines Montana’s PART RESTAURANT, PART Schwinn Orange Krate from) some of the best eat- You’ll vintage bikes and ride- bar, part shrine to the cult of mountain biking, The Sting Ray, an original 1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, eries in the mountain-sports world—including well- find The Huck classic food inspired Huckleberry Café (known an ’87 Fat Chance, a black- and-yellow “bumble bee known haunts in Durango, Moab, Missoula, Telluride (406-995-3130) in the Big Sky Town Center, just down locally as “The Huck” or refueling “THC”) in Big Sky, Mon- fade,” team-issue Miyata and San Luis Obispo. It’s the road from the resort. station tana, is easily the coolest gravity-sports-themed from Greg Herbold’s first year as a pro, and an array entirely likely your favorite dish (like the delicious Group rides roll out every Saturday morning at 10 restaurant in the state, and of impressively broken bike fruit-and-custard-smothered during the riding season, possibly the entire country. parts and ski gear. “Jammin’ Rad Cakes,” lifted and lifts at the Big Sky Ski More than 20 vintage The Huck’s owner, Brian from Durango’s now-de- Resort start shuttling bikers bikes hang from the rafters Franks, has created a menu funct Meeting Place Café) up the hill in late June. and walls, including a inspired by (or maybe stolen is already on the menu. —JOHNATHON A LLEN PHOTO: BOB ALLEN bikemag.com I 039
    • splatter WOT WHAT’S ON TAP? > JULY 5–10 Stage racing has flourished around the globe, but America has lacked a race of its own. Until now. The inaugural Breck Epic is a six-day race crossing 200 miles of Rocky Mountain trails, many of them above 10,000 feet. The course weaves its way through the Breckenridge backcountry and offers about 40,000 vertical feet of climbing; breckepic.com > JULY 10–12 The Downieville Classic is a weekend of two famously rugged races. The 29-mile cross-country race offers nearly 4,500 feet of climbing and more than 5,500 feet of descending. The next day, riders tackle one of the longest downhill courses in the nation, descending more than 5,000 vertical feet in 17 miles. Add one good bar, a cool river and 500 or so mountain bikers and you have one heck of a good time; downievilleclassic.com > JULY17–19 We all like beer, food and singletrack. The Mt. Bike Oregon event in Oakridge, Oregon, offers huge quantities of all three. For keep it narrow DANGEROUS CURVES The B.C. Bike Race just $279, riders receive daily shuttle rides that access hun– dreds of miles of singletrack, three meals a day, two nights of The B.C. Bike Race sticks to singletrack promises many camping and locally brewed beer things—at the top of in the evenings—just bring your the list is incredible bike, camping gear and a desire singletrack to ride; mtbikeoregon.com tt HERE ARE PLENTY OF STAGE RACES THESE days—the Cape Epic, La Ruta de los Conquis– tadores, the Transalp and the TransRockies readily come to mind, with new races such as the Intermontane Challenge in Kamloops, B.C., and the Breck Epic in Breckenridge, Colorado, set to stage their inaugural events this summer. Most of these torture-fests singletrack classics. Organizers say they expect singletrack to account for about 70 percent of the 248 total miles. They also have added a solo category, which should appeal to those who prefer to suffer alone, as well as to racers who are unable to find a partner. Whether racing solo or with a partner, the race is no cakewalk—it features seven demanding stages, averag- > JULY 16–19 Highland Mountain’s Claymore Challenge promises to be one of the most exciting slopestyle events of the year. Nineteen of the world’s top pros plan to compete, including Paul Bas, Ben Boyko, Aaron Chase, Brandon Semenuk and last year’s winner, Cam have multiple stages, tough climbs and ample suffering. ing about 35 miles each. If that kind of distance doesn’t McCaul. Expect the rider- built course to include huge But one of the more recent additions to the endurance- sound impressive, consider the technical difficulty. Every jumps and innovative stunts; racing scene, the B.C. Bike Race, has loads of something stage is a hard day in the saddle. Take the first, for ex- highlandmountain.com that many other races skimp on: singletrack. ample. While only 28 miles long, the stage is likely to “Our event has the most singletrack, period. And not walking paths, either; these are trails made by mountain bikers for mountain bikers,” take even pros more than three hours to complete, says BCBR vet and Team Jamis rider Chris Sheppard. Although the race is demanding, the level of > JULY 30–AUGUST 2 Following on the heels of the Claymore Challenge is Crankworx Colorado, the only other major slopestyle contest says Andreas Hestler, the event’s spokesman and support reduces the sting. Massages will be available in America. But the freeride a veteran endurance racer. Hestler is not alone in at the end of each stage for an additional fee. event isn’t the only draw here. The three-day event, modeled this assessment. BCBR veterans and pro racers Kelli Transportation between stages and campsites for after its bigger brother in Emmett and Chris Eatough, both connoisseurs of fine the racers are dialed. And the food? Delicious and Whistler, also includes downhill, dirt, rave about the quality of the trails. It’s a “mountain satisfying. “In short,” says Eatough, “the organizers super-D, cross-country, big- air and dual-slalom contests; biker’s dream course,” Eatough says. have everything covered.” —COLIN MEAGHER crankworxcolorado.com For 2009, the BCBR—now in its third year—has a few twists. This year’s event will start in downtown This year’s BCBR will run from June 28 to July 4. GO ONLINE FOR MORE INFO Vancouver before sampling legendary North Shore For more information, go to bcbikerace.com. bikemag.com ▼ 040 I bikemag.com PHOTO: CHRIS CHRISTIE
    • splatter THE SIX GREATEST RACES KNOW THEM LOVE THEM FEAR THEM IN THE ANNALS OF MOUNTAIN La Ruta de Los Conquistadores biking, there are racecourses, and Religious penitents go to extremes then there are racecourses. These to atone for their sins: the torment, are the six tracks that the world’s the flagellation, the long journeys. best riders approach with a mix- In the religion of mountain biking, ture of fear and elation. Some are the true masochists flock to La Ruta stops on the World Cup circuit. de Los Conquistadores. The race Others have historical significance. across Costa Rica is a four-day Still others are part of the growing painfest composed of endless hike- trend toward endurance racing. a-bikes, 30,000 feet of elevation But all of them are defining cours- gain and hundreds of miles of mud- es that have shaped our sport dy roads. And yet, year after year, and continue to awe fans. They the lemmings come. It defies logic, are mountain biking’s Kitzbühel, but if you feel compelled to suffer Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the fires of hell on two wheels, this Madison Square Garden. Steve Peat. Photo: Victor Lucas is your race. It’s not the prettiest course on the planet, but the trails of the Nevis Range before fun- has ever witnessed a crowd com- and roads of La Ruta helped define Fort William neling them into a tight, technical parable to the hordes at Fort Wil- the sport of endurance racing. > For pure downhill, the king is stretch of root-infested forest. As liam.” The course also gets bonus Scotland’s Fort William. The track Steve Peat puts it: “Fort William is points for the rowdy beer garden Photo: Colin Meagher drops more than 1,700 vertical a true man’s track and is barely at the bottom. feet and is unrelentingly steep, rideable on anything other than a taking riders on a high-speed full-on DH bike. And then there’s Mont-Sainte-Anne romp through the barren peaks the crowd—wow. No other venue Mont-Sainte-Anne is the ogress of eastern Canada. Every facet of the World Cup venue is big and scary, yet undeniably irresistible. The downhill course demands Jedi-like focus—rated tops by longtime pros, it pushes riders to top speed quickly, then constant- ly challenges them with some of the circuit’s rockiest terrain. The XC trails snaking through the woods offer healthy servings of humble pie to everyone. The 4X is big and beautiful, and every single event draws legions of cheering fans. This is what World Cup racing is all about. Nowhere else combines so many world- Photo: Colin Meagher class courses in a single venue. 042 I bikemag.com
    • splatter Photo: Victor Lucas Megavalanche Alpe D’Huez “That was the worst, gnarliest, best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” raved former World Cup DH racer Sven Martin following the 2008 Megavalanche in Alpe D’Huez, France. This is the granddaddy of epic enduro races. Riders start, en masse, on an icy glacier with several hundred other competitors and then plummet 6,500 feet in 19 miles. The course is fast and technical, a mix of snow, scree, fireroads and singletrack. The fastest riders take about 45 minutes to Photo credit: Olivier Croteau complete the race; mere mortals must suffer for well over an hour. It is complete insanity—a course that spawned a new style of racing, and a new style of riding. 100 % Adrenaline Nevegal In racing lore, some races have a ring to their name. Something menacing. Nevegal, in the Dolomites of Italy, terrified generations of Escape to Québec, Canada, to discover the most thrilling mountain downhillers, thanks to its freakishly tough terrain. From 1996 to 1999, bike park East of the Rockies Photo: Colin Meagher • 125 km of maple forest cross-country riding • 26 km of downhill trails serviced by a gondola NEVEGAL • Inferno X-Zone will satisfy every passionate biker with its obstacle • course circuit INSPIRATION FOR A TIRE • Exhilarating downhill courses with over 2000 feet of vertical drop While Nevegal hasn’t hosted a World Cup downhill in a decade, the name lives on in the popular Kenda Nevegal tire. Since its introduction in 2004, it has become one of the most popular tires of all time—it comes stock on everything from $6,000 freeride bikes to $1,000 hardtails. The reason? Its Dirt cheap package tread works in almost every condition. And there’s a good explanation for that—when John Tomac set out to design a signature tire, he based it on the Starting at toughest course he’d ever raced. “Nevegal was extremely challenging to both the riders and the equip- ment we rode on at the time,” Tomac says. “It completely hammered the $21 * *price per person, per day, double occupancy, campsite suspension, the brakes, the frames, the wheelsets, the tires completely and, without service. Taxes extra. Certain conditions apply. Includ- of course, tested your mind and body to the fullest. ing 2 nights and access to cross-country trails for 2 days. “The top was open ski slopes with undulating, high-speed terrain. Next was the white ‘limestone of death.’ This was a steep, twisting chute of solid, rounded-off, baby-head rocks about 1 meter wide. When wet, it was seri- ously gnarly stuff. If you wadded it up in there, it was straight down onto the 1 800 463-1568 baby heads; broken bones were quite common. If you survived the chute of death, you were treated to some killer singletrack through wooded sections www.bike.mont-sainte-anne.com before getting dumped back onto the lower slopes for the finish. Simply finishing a race run at Nevegal was a great accomplishment. “When I designed a tire for Kenda that I wanted to work on almost all ter- rain, I used that course to inspire me, and called it ‘Nevegal’ as a tribute.” Hight performance demo center 044 I bikemag.com
    • Nevegal was a main- stay on the World Cup circuit and ground zero for some of history’s greatest downhill rival- ries. Martin Whiteley, former director of the World Cup, put it this way: “This was prob- ably, in my mind, the first track of the new generation. Nevegal had the high speed, the jumps and a magic technical section un- der the chairlift, which was awesome for both spectators and riders. Nevegal tested every aspect of downhill racing. If you won at Nevegal, especially John Tomac. Photo: Malcom Fearon in the wet, you had conquered Euro down- hilling.” DH veteran Eric Carter echoes that sentiment. “Having a good run at Nevegal was something to cherish, regardless of whether you made the podium or not. It was a beast.” Photo: Rob Jones Houffalize No place on earth has a tradition of racing two-wheeled machines in absolutely terrible conditions like Bel- gium does. And the World Cup course in Houffalize, Belgium, is the track every cross- country racer wants to race at least once in their career. The brutal, 4.2-mile-long course has hosted a World Cup 16 times. It begins with a 14-percent-grade climb right out of town, and then alternates between cruelly tilting skyward or dump- ing riders down steep and tricky chutes, such as the famed “Fosse d’Outh” and “Arsenal.” More than 40,000 spectators throng to see the carnage each year. America’s top XC racer, Adam Craig, sums it up best: “Classic mountain biking terrain, a beautiful village nestled in Belgium’s Ardennes region, tons of people who are fired up on bike racing, perfect weather (whether that means warm sun or sleet), and even organized bike-theft rings to keep things interesting.” —COLIN MEAGHER bikemag.com I 045
    • splatter DESTINATION: BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON North Shore-caliber trails, without the crowds CLOSER TO HOME Once passed over by riders on their way to IN JUNE THEY BEGIN TO TRICKLE INTO TOWN. BY GALBRAITH When riders wax poetic about Bellingham’s Whistler, Bellingham July, it’s a flood of F-150s, Xterras and 4Runners from amazing trail system, they’re usually referring to the stuff on has trails that are Los Angeles, San Jose, Portland and parts south; each Galbraith, the north end of Lookout Mountain. Galbraith hosts worth the detour rig loaded with pilgrims on a journey to the famed North more than 40 miles of trail renowned for chewing folks up and Shore. Vancouver’s Mount Fromme and Seymour lie just spitting them out. In truth, there are trails here for every level of rider, and all are built to across the border. Whistler, a couple of hours more. They IMBA standards by mountain bikers. can practically taste A-Line. For most of them, Bellingham, The easier, cross-country-style trails are on the north side of the mountain. Cut your Washington, is simply a place to take a leak and fill their teeth on Cedar Dust, a mellow singletrack that weaves through dense cedar forest and tanks. They have no intention of riding here, and absolutely is dotted with beginner-level log rides and ladder bridges. Then explore longer trails no idea what they’re missing. such as Ewok Village, Esophagus, Intestine and Candy. Bellingham is a mid-sized college town about an hour Many of the routes that demand serious skill and body armor are on the and a half north of Seattle. It’s a pretty place. Look to southern side of the mountain. Cheech and Chong’s Wild Ride is a great example: your left and there sparkles Puget Sound. Look to your It’s a one-way downhill trail bristling with ladder bridges, rock drops and countless right and you have the Cascades—a wall of snow-capped twists and turns. There are easy ride-arounds to all the stunts—a real plus if the mountains that march north to south as far as the eye can idea of surfing a wet, 4-inch-wide skinny onto a rolling ladder bridge scares the see. And there are trails here. Miles and miles of trails that hell out of you. Want more? Give Evolution, Scorpion and Mullet a go; all are within rival much of what you’ll find on the Shore. striking distance of this trail. PHOTOS: COLIN MEAGHER 046 I bikemag.com
    • Dakar XAM. All Mountain. From the beginning, the Dakar XAM earned a rep as an incredibly Up front there’s 20mm of stiff thru-axle strength to keep you firmly plush, efficient trail bike. This year, we re-worked it from head tube to planted and pointed where you want to go no matter how aggressive rear dropout, making it the best-handling/best-pedaling 6-inch travel the conditions. all-mountain bike to ever set tread on dirt. All powered by SRAM’s revolutionary Hammerschmidt: a lightweight The XAM’s mp3 rear suspension gets a new one-piece bell crank, new transmission system that shifts instantly from 1:1 to 1:1.6, effectively pivot hardware, new seatstays and dropouts for added stiffness at the providing a 22/36T chainring setup. No more chain dropping. No more back end, and a 2.63:1 shock leverage ratio that improves shock life and chain suck. No grinding chain during shifts. offers more progressive control. Dakar XAM. All Mountain. Any Mountain. All the time. Any time. www.jamisbikes.com
    • splatter THE CHUCKANUTS Just south of town, and west of the I-5 are the Chuckanut Mountains. The trails here are of the epic, cross-country variety and the best bet in these parts is the Chuckanut Ridge trail—a root-and-rock-infested, 4-mile-long ridgeline trail that offers jaw- dropping views of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. You’ll have to slog up either North Lost Lake trail or Cleator Road to reach the Ridge trail, but the adrenaline rush on the way down is well worth it. IN TOWN First things first—head to downtown Bellingham’s Boundary Bay Brewery. The micro-brews are amazing and the food is surprisingly sophisticated. I could be stoned to death in public for saying this, but the best Mexican food in town is undoubtedly Taco Lobo, also in downtown Bellingham. Local riders love the burritos at nearby Banditos, but Taco Lobo is the real deal. For outstanding Thai, try Busara. There are plenty of options when it comes to coffee, but the best espresso drinks are at Adaggio, just a couple of blocks north of the brewery. For the best drip coffee and breakfast, head south a couple of miles to the Harris Avenue Café in historic Fairhaven. Upscale travelers looking for lodging should try the Fairhaven Village Inn (360-733-1311); it’s within walking distance of several great restaurants, and you can pedal to the Chuckanuts in five minutes. On a budget? Try the Motel 6 (360- 671-4494); it’s within 3 miles of Galbraith’s northern entrance. —VERNON FELTON the inside line Before You Go: The local advocacy group, the WMBC (www.whim- psmtb.com), produces an outstanding map of Galbraith’s extensive trail system. It sells for nine bucks and, bonus, it’s waterproof. The best map of the Chuckanuts is made by Square One Maps—you can grab one at REI (360-647-8955). Bellingham has some excellent bike shops. Two of the best are the Fanatik Bike Co. (360-756-0504) and Kulshan Cycles (360-733-6440). You can pick up a WMBC map at either, as well as dig for trail informa- tion. As a general rule, folks ride year-round up here, but the best sea- son is June through October. The later months offer less mud. FOR FO TRAIL INFORMATION, MAPS, PHOTOS, VIDEOS AND ▼ GP GPS DATA OF THESE TRAILS AND OTHERS, LOG ON TO BT BTRAILS.COM. bikemag.com I 049
    • splatter THERE’S HOPE FOR RIDING IN AMERICA American men and women trail building. In the past year, or four years,” says Epic Rides’ combined for 40 top-10 finishes SRAM, Specialized and Trek Todd Sadow, whose Whiskey Off in the World Cup last year. Me- have combined to commit more Road race has ballooned from lissa Buhl took home a 4X World than $1 million to IMBA and 400 riders in 2006 to more than Championship, and two men— other groups devoted to building 800 this year. Aaron Gwin and Luke Strobel— new singletrack. each finished in the top 10 of a The NorCal High School Moun- World Cup downhill. It’s time to Even better, an anonymous tain Bike Racing League has be- start paying attention to what donor recently pledged $1 mil- come more than a one-hit wonder. happens between the tape. lion to create a 35-acre mountain The league has 33 teams and 560 bike park in Portland, Oregon. The racers, while its offshoot in SoCal We are finding new and in- proposed area will include trails, has attracted 14 teams and 103 novative spots to ride. Places a freeride zone and even a cyclo- riders in its first year. Now, the like Black Rock, Oregon, (see cross course. According to Mike league is looking to expand to page 74) Ray’s Indoor MTB van Abel, IMBA’s executive direc- other states. League Director Matt Park in Cleveland, Ohio, and the tor, the park is proof that “we’re Fritzinger hopes to have programs Colonnade bike park—located entering a new era of mountain in Colorado and Washington under an I-5 overpass in Seattle, bike facilities.” within two years, and a total of 10 Washington—continue to thrive. programs on the ground by 2015. Public dirt jumps and pump Local race series and grass- tracks are gaining popularity, roots events are exploding. According to the National and lift-access terrain continues The Mountain States Cup, Sporting Goods Association, to expand at Diablo, Northstar, Downieville Downhill and Fluid mountain bike participation Winter Park, Snowshoe and Ride Series all report increased increased 20 percent between Highland. numbers, proving that riders will 2006 and 2008 to 10.2 million race as long as courses don’t enthusiasts, its highest level While we continually risk suck, or cost $100 to enter. in a decade. People are stoked losing trails, there has never “Grassroots events have carried about riding. been more money available for the industry for the past three —Lou Mazzante 050 I bikemag.com PHOTO: DAVID REDDICK
    • splatter THE TRAILS: They have names and a trail builder, and he ap- ing the hills outside of Boulder City. like G-String, Diva, Mother and Ar- proached both with the passion of When he tired of the existing trails, mageddon. They are rocky and pain- an artist. Unfortunately, Thomson he built his own. The Mother trail fully jagged, steep in places, beauti- passed away in February, after suf- was his first, and it helped the net- fully contoured in others. They de- fering a heart attack while riding work earn IMBA’s Epic designation. scend mountains and dance through the very trails he built. Thomson canyons. And every year, they first discovered Bootleg more than THE FUTURE: Thomson’s passing become more popular. Boulder City’s a decade ago, and quickly began leaves a gaping hole in the mountain Bootleg Canyon trail network, not far building trails on the city-owned bike community, and the trails at from Las Vegas, Nevada, possesses land. By 2004, the town hired him Bootleg Canyon in limbo. The town is some of the Southwest’s most thrill- as Bootleg’s trail master, and he looking to hire a new trail master, but ing cross-country and downhill devoted himself to digging trails and several Boulder City board members tracks. More than two dozen have establishing the city as a legitimate have suggested eliminating funding been hewn into the rocky moon- mountain bike destination. for the trails. Local riders, members of scape, including IMBA Epics, rowdy the bike industry and race promoters DH shuttle runs, super-D courses THE PAST: Thomson discovered are fighting to keep the trails open. “Brent had a vision for Bootleg,” and rolling loops of singletrack. mountain biking after undergoing a —L OU M AZZANTE says David “Crash” Collins, a close friend of Thomson. “He quadruple bypass in 1994. Doctors put everything he had into it. THE TRAIL MASTER: Brent told him that he needed to exercise To contribute to the Brent Thomson He’s the reason those trails Thomson built nearly every inch of if he wanted to live, so he turned to Memorial Fund, contact Barret exist. He’s the reason mountain trail at Bootleg. He was a painter mountain biking and began explor- Thomson at barretstudio@gmail.com. bikers go to Bootleg.” 052 I bikemag.com PHOTOS: MORGAN MEREDITH
    • ask chopper BY GREG RANDOLPH THE BALL BUSTER has not been taking ExtenZe; QOM I am somewhat vertically we’re just average size, and we’re challenged and can’t find a okay with that.] BIBLE full-suspension rig that fits. I am about 5’4’’ with a 29” inseam, and most standover For anyone who has cramped while on the can, I suggest my soon-to-be-patented Two OF BIKE heights are too tall. I am most interested in an all- Session Technique. Session One: read until you get to the QUESTION OF THE MONTH ADVICE mountain/light freeride start of “Crucible” and pinch it setup. Any suggestions? off. Go make some coffee and I’VE SIGNED UP FOR THE TEST OF METAL IN SQUAMISH, I took this question very seriously do jumping jacks in the kitchen B.C., THIS SUMMER AND IT’S and sent an e-mail to an over- while it brews. Then head back MY FIRST RACE IN YEARS. worked colleague suffering from to finish what you started. Get I’M NOT CONCERNED ABOUT PLACING, BUT WANT TO GIVE ADD who did some research the dirty business done quickly, IT MY BEST. THE COURSE on standover heights. His effort, courtesy flush, and close the COMBINES A LOT OF MILEAGE which cost me three pints and lid. Sit on top of the throne AND ELEVATION GAIN WITH GNARLY DESCENTS. SHOULD a bourbon at a grungy watering with the lid closed. This will raise I BOTHER ADJUSTING MY hole in New York City, yielded your effective toptube height SEATPOST DURING THE RACE OR JUST RIDE WITH IT AT A the following data on this year’s and place less pressure on your CONSISTENT HEIGHT? extra-small trail bike lineup: femoral nerves, allowing you to Brother, if you throw a leg over a sit comfortably in that nice cool toptube with zip ties on the bars, you’d better care about the result. MODEL STANDOVER sanctuary and finish this rag in Pucker up and give me your best Giant Reign 31.5 ultimate style. Or get a padded, effort, because this shit ain’t free. Kona Coilair 32 gel-fortified seat. A heated one Now, forget about manually fussing with your seatpost during Norco Six 29.1 might be nice in the colder months. the race. You will lose precious Pivot Firebird 28.5 I hear old people love them. time raising it before every climb, IF YOU HAVE A QUES- Rocky SXC 31 and you can’t race with your saddle at half-mast. TION FOR OUR SINGLE- Santa Cruz Blur LT 27.8 THE BIG UNIT If you are going to fiddle with Specialized Enduro 29.2 Is there a calculation to your saddle height, make sure TRACK SAGE, SEND IT TO you do it like you are tuning a Turner RFX 28.9 determine how many violin. When you are shelled BIKEMAG@SORC.COM Yeti 575 28.5 calories one should eat mid-race, freeballing your WITH “ASK CHOPPER” IN THE to replenish the calories own seat height with a quick release is going to be a disaster. SUBJECT LINE. BECAUSE Norco, Pivot, Santa Cruz, burned from a ride? The only way to accomplish Specialized, Turner and Yeti look While it is very true that I have a consistent and efficient NOT ONLY ARE THERE DUMB seat-height change is with an like companies that realize small trouble with counting or actually adjustable seatpost like the QUESTIONS, THERE ARE bikes are purchased by people organizing anything, I do know Crank Brothers Joplin, Gravity EVEN DUMBER ANSWERS. with shorter inseams who value that the “calorie count” school of Dropper or similar product. But listen, Panama Red, their family jewels. You can’t go thought is an incomplete method endurance races are won and lost wrong with any one of those. of analyzing your body’s energy on the climbs, not the descents. needs. To provide the most Even with a trick adjustable post, you need to relax and catch your CRAMPIN’ ON THE CAN precise information possible, breath on the downhills. Going I find myself spending too I consulted a very respected flat-out with your saddle dropped may gain you 30 seconds, but much time sitting on the nutritionist. After all, Jenny Craig if you shoot your load on the throne reading Bike. My has done wonders for Valerie descent, your competition will question is, how do I keep Bertinelli—that woman is back in regain that advantage in a matter of minutes on the next climb and my legs from falling asleep? the smokehouse! use you for traction while you If you had written this to me Each minute of a ride suck flies through your teeth. three years ago, I would have gets one “unit.” We will use Use the lowered seat to gain advantage only where it is really recommended going to a “units” since “calorie” is just going to make a difference, and local Pesky Learning Center or a fancy word for “unit.” Thus, go get ‘em tiger. picking up a copy of English a two-hour ride is worth 120 for Dummies. But now that this units. If you are a woman, damned magazine has gotten each kilogram of body weight so big and bitchin’ your legs are equals two units; men get 2.5 likely to go numb while you flip units. Then suppose a PB&J through the pages. [Editor’s note: sandwich is worth 120 units. THE WINNING QUESTION RECEIVES NEW GLASSES FROM SMITH, LIKE THIS PARALLEL MAX MODEL Despite Chopper’s claims, Bike A slice of cold pizza is worth 054 I bikemag.com
    • ask chopper 125 units. Prepackaged astronaut food is worth between 100 and 150 units, depending on make and model. Beer is worth negative 100 units, since it is nothing more than bubbly water with flavor and blood thinners (and because assigning a proper value to beer would be depressing). Take your ride and find the total unit value. Then take your weight and multiply by the proper number of units. Then subtract ride units from weight units, multiply by 10 and subtract your IQ. Boy, that sure seems like a large number and a lot of food to carry, so help yourself out by drinking some beers, which will have a net negative effect on the amount of food you actually need to satisfy this formula. Keep in mind that the more inefficient you are (i.e., doughy and out-of- shape), the more food units you will need to add. The sooner you can eat post-ride, the better. Aim to get 1 to 1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight (pounds divided by 2.2) within the first hour or, even better, within the first 30 minutes of exercise. Beer has roughly 15 grams of carbs per 12-ounce can, which means I can drink a seven-pack on the tailgate. This sounds about right, and makes me think you can trust this school of thought. In the end, get a rough estimate of the calories you need and then pay attention over time to what your body is doing. If you are feeling weak, eat more. If you are getting fat, eat less. This science is as exact as a science can get when you are addressing an art with a science. CLOWNIN’ AROUND Why aren’t there any downhill 29er bikes? Or at least a 29- inch wheel in the front? Wouldn’t this increase the bike’s ability to destroy/roll over everything in its path? There are a few obvious reasons for the lack of 29er downhill bikes. 1) Downhillers are not trendy metrosexuals wearing shants, chain- link jewelry and festooned with soon-to-be-regretted tattoos related to bike exploits. 2) By the time you put a DH tire on a 29er you would have to register it as a carnival attraction. 3) The only thing worse than a 29er evangelist is a fixed-gear poser. 4) The 29er is like parachute pants. Yes, parachute pants. They were incredibly functional, yet the concept was not altogether perfect. Why? Cramming a backpack’s worth of stuff into your pants’ pockets was a nifty idea, but you couldn’t do the centipede or a headspin without loose change, chewing gum, your tape player, urine sample and car keys spraying like water from a lawn sprinkler. They looked great on dweebs, but had limitations. The same goes for 29ers. Larger wheels roll very well, corner reasonably well, and about half the time they make riding more efficient and fun. But they also raise your center of gravity, turn slower, decrease the amount of pressure exerted per square inch to the ground (compromising tire bite, especially at speed), and deflect more under pressure due to their increased diameter. Shhhhh. Don’t have an aneurism. What is done is done, and this isn’t subject to debate—I wore parachute pants for a while, so I know a thing or two about this kind of stuff. On a downhill bike, 26-inch wheels work well, considering the frame dimensions, weight and power output of the humanoid, as well as the sartorial desires of participants. And if bigger were truly better, I would imagine motorcycles would come with cartoon wheels, too. Alas, even the 69er is a great ride, but the forces of nature make a larger wheel less optimal for DH. In short, you are never going to have a Steve Peat-level game with wagon wheels on your bike. Finally, you might find it trendy to assemble such a contraption, but be sure to wear the appropriate costume. 056 I bikemag.com
    • grimy handshake BY MIKE FERRENTINO the dance of meat Searching for salvation in the almighty spin s s KILL, AS APPLIED TO THE MODERN mountain biking experience, tends to be thought of as a matter of reflex and bravery—especially as the defined edge of what we deem possible on a bike keeps getting pushed outward in all directions. How hard a rider can crank into a turn, how smoothly that rider can float over a rock garden before don’t ever strut or brag about their spin, especially in the current zeitgeist of hucking one’s baggy- clad carcass loosely into space. Spinning is for people who can’t really throw down. Except, it’s not. Because sooner or later you have to climb a hill, or chase down that dickwad who just elbowed you off your line, and at those times, a good spin is a godsend. A spin, one nicely honed by years of pedaling, polished smooth by mileage the way a rock gets caressed round by a flowing river, is the secret weapon that allows people who “haven’t been riding in months” to rip your legs off right when you think you’re the toughest cowboy at the rodeo. A good spin is what enables that crusty beggar- looking guy on the old Giant Iguana with a baby seat to ride you off his wheel on your cross-town a series of step-downs and drops, how much commute. No amount of justification can make that feel any better, especially if you happened to be aerial maneuvering can take place between riding a road bike with an Italian name. A good spin—stay with me here—is the only way you’re going takeoff and landing. to survive with an 8-inch-travel bike, flat pedals and no access to chairlifts or shuttle trucks (for the Speaking entirely for myself—lining up what I sake of brevity, we will refrain here from getting into why the hell anyone would choose something can and cannot do against what the most grace- like this as their only bike if they didn’t have either a ski resort or a fleet of trucks readily accessible), ful athletes in this sport do with ease can make because the only thing nature abhors more than a vacuum is some square-pedaling chump in a pair a man bitter. Fortunately, speaking entirely for of untied 5.10s on an 8-inch bike trying to ride up a gentle grade. myself, I shut that kind of comparative thinking My ability to turn the pedals with any degree of fluidity has become entirely dependent on the straight down, and instead content myself with season. Admittedly, I didn’t do myself any favors when I was young. Instead of taking the advice considering the scope of my own abilities and of smoother elders who suggested that time spent paying attention to turning circles with my feet how they manage to fluctuate from embarrass- would be a skill that would serve me well decades down the line, I derailed myself by playing to the ing to almost half-competent and back with pre- one strong suit I had in my genetic deck of cards. I was kind of blocky and could stomp a big gear. dictable, seasonal regularity. So I did that, a lot. And, as such, ended up being a mostly bow-legged square-pedaling chump. At Nowhere does this fluctuation between almost- least I kept my shoes tied. grace and clubfooted misery show up more than Now, with the guilt-free smugness of someone who can cop to his own blind spots, I can admit in the most invisible skill of all. My spin. People without shame that I’ve read every issue of Bicycling where there was some cover blurb like “Spin 058 I bikemag.com PHOTO: RYAN CREARY
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    • grimy handshake Like A Pro!” (Corrected for anytime between 2001 and 2009, that blurb would probably read “Spin Like Lance!”), and I’ve gone on rides where I did nothing but pedal flat ground and count while trying to let my body sink into some sort of smoothness. I’ve done one-leg pedaling drills in out-of-the-way places where nobody would see me. Hell, I even resorted to fixie riding, once, about 15 years before tight jeans and matching rim/ handlebar grip colors were required to be seen on one of those torture devices. I listened to advice: “Imagine you are scraping something off the sole of your shoe at the bottom of your pedal stroke.” I’ve tried “pedaling in circles.” I’ve even tried to understand what the hell people like Chris Car- michael are talking about when they refer to “an- kling.” Eventually, I surrendered to just letting my body figure it out. And what I have ended up with is something called “The Dance of Meat.” In the middle of winter, The Dance is more of a grim wrestling match, where I fight myself and lose. Stairmastering up climbs, wondering why it hurts so much, mashing down with both legs on the pedals at once (“C’mon guys pleeeeease? Just try and lift up a little on the back pedal, okay?” muttered through clenched teeth while going no- where, chugging like a broken steam engine). By spring, as a semi-regular ride schedule has come into play, the wrestling match is a little less violent. The “thunk-deadspot-thunk-deadspot-thunk” pe- dal stroke has become slightly less lumpy, and cadence of up to 80 rpm becomes a possibility. But it still is far from pretty. Then, finally, sometime in those golden days of late summer, it happens. The Dance of Meat. I find myself, without even thinking about it, just floating along. My thighs are a pair of ham-slabs working a groove with each other. My shoulders are not bobbing with effort. My hips aren’t rocking. My glutes are playing rhythm sec- tion to the beat of the ham-slabs. I’m not thinking about pulling up on the pedals, and my tires are not going “squelch squelch squelch” in time with each unbalanced spasm of muscle. Sometimes it only lasts for a few minutes. Sometimes I get a week out of it, every ride a whole magnitude easier all of a sudden. It feels like cheating. That’s how much easier and smoother it makes everything, when The Dance of Meat is really working. And I cherish every second of it. Then the trade show comes along, and it’s back to drinking too much and not riding enough. Then the days get shorter. Then it starts raining. Then the holiday season comes and turns me into a fat bag of turd that doesn’t ride. The Dance of Meat fades into memory, and I get towed into the next riding season on nothing more than hope and self-loathing. A cyclical life, aboard these bicycles. The Dance of Meat, abandonment of hope, rinse, repeat. 060 I bikemag.com
    • BREVARD, NORTH CAROLINA Pisgah’s Private Playground CHUCK HANEY > Most riders have heard of Pisgah—the steep, rooty, rocky, wet wonder-world of trails in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the stuff of legend. Most have also heard of Asheville, the hip university town that serves as the Southeast’s answer to Boulder, Colorado. The name many riders might not recognize, however, is Brevard, a small mountain col- lege town about 30 miles south of SOUTHERN FRONT: Asheville and the perfect starting ASHEVILLE MAY GET ALL THE point for some of North Carolina’s ATTENTION, BUT BREVARD’S TRAILS ARE JUST AS GOOD, best singletrack. AND FAR FROM THE MASSES Brevard, with a population of 6,687, sits right at Pisgah National Forest’s back door. There are, liter- ally, a million acres of terrain and 200 miles of trail here—and it’s all just a few pedal strokes from the LYNN PILEWSKI its sun-baked slog up Clawhammer Road, weed out the weak and keep the trails largely free of traffic the whole year round. BREVARD Looking for something a little less intimidating? Just a few miles falls and eastern granite domes— east of Brevard is the Dupont mossy versions of Moab’s cele- State Forest, where nearly 100 brated slickrock. west side of town. Be forewarned miles of intermediate trails await. Annual events like the Pisgah that a journey into the depths While Pisgah is full of big ups and Mountain Bike Adventure Race of this dense forest may lead to downs, Dupont brims with gen- give riders in the South something 828-884-8670; Sycamorecycles. encounters with poisonous plants tler, rolling trails. It’s a beautiful to brag about: two-man teams com, 828-877-5790), as does and insects, and perhaps even a place, filled with massive water- pedal for six to 12 hours over El Chapala, a post-ride favorite, black bear or two. And every 70-plus miles with 15,000 feet where grande cervezas wash October the infamous “brown of elevation gain in this com- down endless chips and salsa ice” leaf blanket covers the pletely unsupported race. If that (828-877-5220). forest floor. doesn’t sound hard enough, The town is home to Brevard BLACK MOUNTAIN TRAIL Those who venture into The Black Mountain trail pretty much sums there’s always the “Most Hor- College, and there is a healthy mu- these woods, however, will be up Brevard-area riding: 13 miles long, with rible Thing Ever” in February— sic scene with a decidedly Appala- 2,000 feet of climbing through a mix of for- rewarded with fast, technical ested creek bed, gravel road and steep, think 36 hours and 150 miles chian flavor. There are also plenty descents that rage for miles. technical singletrack. All this climbing of Pisgah pain. of affordable hotels (Hampton Inn Pinning rhododendron tunnels leads to epic views before a 4-mile ridge- line descent along rock-and-root-infested Locals heading from Brevard Brevard, 828-883-4800; Holiday and negotiating root-strewn singletrack that winds through seemingly into Pisgah generally start their Inn Express, 828-862-8900). ridgeline crags are highlights, endless rhododendron tunnels. rides near the Davidson River When you’re done riding, be usually accompanied by Park at the ranger station in Brevard and turn west on Highway 276 into Pisgah Na- campground, which offers year- sure to check out the 150-foot “damn, we’re really far out” tional Forest. Take a right onto FR-477 road, round camping with hot showers natural waterslide at Sliding views of the Blue Ridge Moun- then another right at the horse stables onto and access to the national forest Rock, just 8 miles from town on Clawhammer Road. tains. Shuttle opportunities Sweat out the climb until you reach the right across the road for $16 a Highway 276. Got a thing for wa- are scarce, so bring a good Buckhorn Gap saddle and soak up the views. night (828-862-5960). terfalls? There are 250 of them in all-around steed that is light Continue to the right onto the Black Mountain trail, where you’ll climb and climb until you While the trails of Transylva- the region. And stay on the look- enough for the climbs and reach the 4,200-foot clifftop view. After the nia County may sound spooky, out for Brevard’s “famous” white plush enough for root-filled second summit, hang on for your reward—a the quiet town of Brevard is squirrels, for which the town descents. Grueling access rough, twisty downhill that loses 1,900 feet of elevation. Follow the white dots to stay anything but that. Two bike holds its annual, you guessed it, climbs such as the 13-mile- on the Black Mountain trail all the way back shops sit a minute’s pedal from White Squirrel Festival. long Black Mountain trail, with to Highway 276, where you’ll turn right one the trailhead (hubbicycles.com, —BRAD WALTON more time to return to your vehicle. 064 I bikemag.com
    • > Go ahead and call southern Connecticut a giant, sprawling NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT suburb. But the area offers killer all-day, all-mountain riding, just Trumbull’s Suburban Singletrack an hour and change from New York City. Get out your magnifying glass and find Connecticut on a map. Tucked into the state’s southwest corner is some of New England’s least-hyped riding—Trumbull’s River Valley trails. Go any further north and you’re in the boonies; go any further south and you’ll RIVER VALLEY TRAILS PHOTOS: CHRIS DANNEN As Trumbull is a clusterfuck of connec- tors, skills spots and shortcuts, it’s hard to tell one trail from another. But riding TRAIL HAVEN: NEW HAVEN HAS here can be split into two halves: pre- ITS SHARE OF NYC SUITS, BUT lowland and post. The first half of your SWEET TRAILS LURK IN THE ride will take you through leafy single- SURROUNDING FORESTS track packed into dense groves of trees and scrub. Once you come out the other side, you’ll descend into a sandy open field of tall grass. Traverse it and get back into the woods, and you’ll be riding building that goes on here—one covered in a rare species of moss along several tributary rivers that give the trails a chilly, dank feel. Stay close low-lying sandy area is famous for known as Oh Shitticus. to the river on your right; the main trail its mud holes—Trumbull’s menu Survive Trumbull and head to will try to tug you up a rocky 10-minute of riding is largely nature-made, Wooster Street in New Haven, climb, but the riverside promises undu- lating, stone-knuckled singletrack that thanks to huge glacial rock depos- epicenter of the city’s vibrant Italian weaves over and around huge plates of its and blankets of pine needles neighborhood and blessed with rock that dip thrillingly close to the wa- ter. When you come out the other side, that keep undergrowth at bay. incredible pizza, pastries, pasta you’re at a skills section with several Riders like to say that parts and coffee. Try Frank Pepe Pizzeria four-foot drops, three long log rides and of Trumbull don’t look like Con- Napoletana (157 Wooster Street; a handful of other bang-around obsta- cles to keep you limber. necticut, and they mean that as a 203-865-5762), an 84-year-old eat- NEW HAVEN compliment. The lowland trails have ery so famous it has a longer Wiki- a signature Swamp-Thing feel, with pedia page than Gary Fisher. This TRUMBULL lots of moss, coniferous trees and isn’t pizza like you know it—it’s New up-and-over boulders that would Haven-style apizza (separate Wiki- love to pitch you sideways into the pedia page), a massive, rectangular find yourself amidst some very not huge; we’re talking about 10 muck. Bring plenty of tubes here, or coal-fired thin-crust concoction that pissy former hedge-fund suits. to 12 miles of trail. But it’s a time- run tubeless; you’ll want to run low makes New York and Chicago-style Trumbull’s trails are extensive, suck in its own right, keeping you pressure for the grip, but the edgy look like Boboli. Don’t get the easy-access webs, with new con- in the saddle all day while tooling rocks seem poised for pinch-flats. “famous” white clam pizza—it’s nectors and diversions appearing around on newfound sections, This isn’t a place you rip about as good as it sounds—but every season, and the nearby taking mulligans and working up through, so when you pack energy every other topping combo on the town of New Haven is a post-ride to the big stuff. And big stuff there bars, it’s because you’ll be gone all menu is worth the 25-minute drive oasis with some of the best Italian is: while there’s plenty of all- day. Even XC riders linger in some from Trumbull. —CHRIS DANNEN food this side of the old country. mountain fun to be had, Trumbull of the playground Trumbull doesn’t have major el- welcomes your 7-inch bike with areas, treating them evation changes, so the trails here three-story roll-ins, severe rock as skills sections and aren’t lung-busters—just good old gap jumps, hairy drops and big re-running the odd Northeastern blast-up climbs, with spines of granite. stunt. Show up on elbow-splitting rock gardens and Patience is rewarded. Dozens of a Sunday and you’ll dense canopies of green that keep offshoots from the main trails lead see herds of riders in you cool. All this, without bummers to ledges, drops, rock ravines and gravity gear; get lucky such as paid parking, overuse or other fun stuff, most with clean, and you’ll see one singletrack traffic jams. loamy lines. While IMBA would hit NFW, a 30-foot Like the state itself, the spot is probably frown on some of the trail pants-crapping roll-in bikemag.com I 065
    • ELLICOTTVILLE, NEW YORK The Hidden Empire > He was fit. One of those chiseled, Zone Diet-fanatic, triathlete types. He was also shelled. Bonked. doubt about it, but perfectly feasible on anything from a rigid singlespeed to a burly all-mountain rig. And while Done. You could see it in his thou- there aren’t many wooden stunts sand-yard stare and the defeated around here, the trails incorporate slump of his shoulders. healthy doses of rock that demand “How…uh…(gasp for air)…how your full attention. do I get back to the ski resort?” For those not content to simply I felt for the guy. He was a cruise the trails, there are a variety of long way from home and a whole races, such as the Wednesday Night mountain away from the ski resort, Race Series, the Six Hours of Power, a warm bath and a bottle of his and Roots, Rocks and Ridges. favorite electrolyte mix. A word of advice: Ellicottville’s It’s easy to get lost on the trails are well marked, but maps are singletrack around Ellicottville—not essential. The trails connect, inter- that there are hundreds of miles connect and double back in a man- of trail in this corner of upstate ner that can leave out-of-towners New York. To be precise, there stumbling around like extras from are about 30 miles of singletrack Dawn of the Dead. within an easy spin of the main After emerging from the woods, drag. The best-known routes— there’s the town to explore—all Pale Ale, Big Merlin, Billygoat and one square mile of it. Ellicottville Porcupine—wind their way up and is tiny: 1,738 full-time inhabitants down McCarty Hill and Little Rock tiny, to be exact. But there are a City state forests, just above town. variety of places to cool off and INTO THE WOODS: WHAT Ellicottville’s two ski resorts are JONAS NOCKERT ELLICOTTVILLE LACKS IN also open to bikes during the sum- QUANTITY, IT MAKES UP mer. Need more? There’s another FOR IN QUALITY 10 miles of tight and twisty stuff a 20-minute drive away at Gold Hill State Forest. relax. The first stop should While Ellicottville doesn’t have be the Ellicottville Brewing SPOILED FOR CHOICE the sheer quantity of trails as, Company (716-699-2537), What’s the single best trail in Ellicottville? where riders can sample You have a lot of options here, and you can say, Fruita or Sun Valley, it more reach them all by starting out on the race the burger and wings or loop behind Holiday Valley. Pressed for get all upscale with the time? Try Big Merlin. What Merlin lacks in technical challenges it makes up for with pub’s bruschetta, Thai Chile the best flow in the area. Think swoopy, Mussels or Spicy African roller-coaster time. If you come here look- Peanut Soup. Of course, the ing for something tougher, try combining the Finger Lakes trail (FLT) and Pale Ale real attractions are the fine trails. Ellicottville is home to one of the few house brews, including the bike-legal sections of the FLT (ride sensi- tasty and very inappropri- tively, of course, and help keep it that way). The FLT is plenty tough: the rock gardens ately named Pantius Drop- seem to go on forever. Best yet, you can use ELLICOTTVILLE pus Imperial Pale Ale. Need the FLT to connect to the North, Middle and South Pale Ale trails, which are arguably the caffeine? Head down the best in the entire region. Still feeling frisky? street to Dina’s. Ice Cream? Take a right on Billygoat, hang another right Try Coolings Ice Cream on the fire road and then go left on the Rim trail, another great stretch of singletrack Café. Not into sin? The vil- that takes you to Rock City. You’re deep in than makes up for it in quality. lage hosts the requisite the woods at this point, so hopefully you These trails are good. Really good. ski-town salons, chocolate dropped by the Ellicottville Bike Shop and Which is why riders from Ohio picked up WNYMBA’s excellent Ellicottville shops and antique stores map before you started. and Pennsylvania are flocking as well as a decent bike here to join the legions of riders shop (Ellicottville Bike from Buffalo who’ve spent the Shop, 716-699-2453) and past decade building and quietly several hotel and camp- STEVE GOLDENBERG savoring the goods. ing options (Ellicottville The terrain is quintessential East Wingate, 716-699-6000; Coast—dense forest filled with mud, Allegany State Park, roots and too many log-overs to 716-354-9121). count. The riding is technical, no —VERNON FELTON 066 I bikemag.com
    • GRAEAGLE, CALIFORNIA Downieville’s Sunny Shadow > The tiny Sierra foothill town of Downieville has carved out a mountain bike paradise reputation much larger than most 300-popu- lation towns could ever expect. Riders shuttle up to Packer Saddle, where the spine of the Sierras vectors north, and then descend westward down a now-legendary network of trails and drainages. Few riders ever cast their eyes east before dropping in. MIKE FERRENTINO SUNNY SIDE: ARIEL That’s too bad. Because for LINDSLEY ROCKS ONE OF every mile of well-known, well- GRAEAGLE’S TECHNICAL traveled trail that drops toward DESCENTS Downieville, there is a correspond- ing distance and vertical drop toward the town of Graeagle, a Elwell (7,818 feet) and Eureka Peak quiet community of 825 people on (7,447 feet). Graeagle, on the valley the floor of the Sierra Valley to the floor, is 4,300 feet above sea level. Tracing lines between the peaks, GRAEAGLE through the basin and down into Graeagle, is a network of 40-plus miles of singletrack. From the top of Elwell, 9 miles of steep, narrow trail drops 3,500 feet between the peak GREG WILLIAMS and town. A couple of miles further north along the Deer Lake OHV trail, the Jamison Creek trail sheds 2,200 feet in a riotous 4.8-mile de- east of the range (about 18 miles scent from the spine of the Sierras downright lethal post-ride marga- as the crow flies from Downieville, to Plumas Eureka State Park. ritas and decent dinners shoot for but a good 45 minutes of twisty One of Downieville’s key moun- the Coyote Grill (530-836-2002). road mayhem in a car). tain bike agitators has been shift- The Lakes Basin is festooned with Whereas the west-side ing his focus toward Graeagle and easily accessible campgrounds trails are fast and dusty, the Lakes Basin for several years and lodges (River Pines Resort, MOUNT ELWELL PEAK TRAIL those dropping east serve now. Greg Williams, founder of riverpines.com, 530-836-2552; To seek out the crown jewel of Lakes Ba- up a much more technical both the Downieville Classic and Gray Eagle Lodge, grayeaglelodge. sin riding, you’d best be prepared to climb your brains out. Option A: From Graeagle, diet of rocks and rough- the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship com, 800-635-8778), and in sum- have someone drive you up to Plumas age. Instead of railing (SBTS), lives just south of Graea- mer it offers the perfect post-ride Eureka State Park, then through the park gle and has been chipping away along a dirt road to the A-Tree. From down river drainages, the elixir—choose-your-temperature there, suffer a thousand small deaths trails clamber over granite at trail projects in the basin for the lake bathing. heading south by bike along the Deer slabs and thread down past few seasons. To The only things not Lake OHV trail for about five miles until it intersects with the Mount Elwell Peak boulder-strewn chutes date, 15 miles of trail on the menu here, trail just south of where the PCT crosses into the Lakes Basin. The have been restored, and the key reasons the OHV trail. Cinch up bootstraps and bite riding is slower, more capped by the com- for the area’s under- down on your stem for the next thousand MIKE FERRENTINO or so feet of climbing to the summit. Op- technically demanding pletion of the Smith the-radar status, are tion B: Catch a ride from Graeagle up the singletrack-finessing, with Lake trail in 2008. a bike shop and a Gold Lake Highway to the Sierra County Graeagle itself line and get dropped off in the Gold Lake some high-consequence dedicated shuttle Lodge parking lot. From there, pick your opportunities for speed has the all the trap- service to Packer way through the Lakes Basin via Bear thrown into the mix. pings of a small Saddle. You’ll have Lake trail, Mud Lake trail, Silver Lake trail and then a dash of Long Lake trail before The Lakes Basin con- mountain vacation town: golf to figure your own way up to the accessing the Mount Elwell Peak trail. sists of some three-dozen courses, a market and gas sta- high country from town, and be This will hurt just as much or more than alpine lakes, presided tion and an assortment of touristy prepared to ride self-sufficiently. Option A, and you’ll need a map. But if you like technical, rocky singletrack climbing, over south to north by bead- and trinket-type stores. Nut up for that, and the rewards you’ll have come to the right place. the slopes of the Sierra For breakfast, head to the Café are guaranteed to be plentiful. Buttes (8,591 feet), Mount Mohawk (530-836-0901) and for —MIKE FERRENTINO 068 I bikemag.com
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    • TERLINGUA, TEXAS No Country for Old Men > You know you’ve been formally introduced to Big Bend Country the first time a limestone-loving lechuguilla agave cactus relieves your tires of air pressure. Also known as “letch-u-gotcha,” this needle-tipped angiosperm is in- digenous to the Chihuahuan Des- ert, which fills much of Texas’s Big Bend Country. It’s a long way to this hidden Tex-Mex border outpost next to PHOTOS: CRYSTAL ALLBRIGHT Big Bend National Park (nps.gov/ bibe, 432-477-2251). But those LIVIN’ LAJITAS: TERLINGUA HAS willing to face the heat—and the MILES OF TRAILS trailside risks—will find rewards in AND A HANDFUL the purple-hued mountains and OF DESERT RATS WHO CALL THEM solitude of desert singletrack. HOME With more than 1.2 million acres of public land, it’s tough to know where to start. Singletrack singletrack. High points include (starting from $150, lajitas.com, lovers will want to head directly the aptly named Crystal trail sec- 432-424-5000) with rides right for the Lajitas trail system, one tion, where glittering stones cover out the back door. And whether of the few places in Texas where the ground, and the more techni- you need to buy some extra you won’t be shot at for riding on cal Dome trail, which skirts an tubes or stock up on Gu, head extinct volcano. to Desert Sports (desertsportstx. Big Bend National Park also com, 432-371-2727). The shop has worthy options—although it offers bike rentals and repairs, was one of the original IMBA pilot as well as guided rides. Terlingua also plays host to the —DAN OKO Mas-o-Menos 100K race, which has 30- and 50-kilometer routes as well. Held each February, the USAC-sanc- tioned ultra-endurance race LAJITAS TRAIL SYSTEM takes place on mostly pri- With the main trailhead marked by a simple ki- TERLINGUA osk and nothing but mountains on the eastern vate land (many of which are horizon, the Lajitas trail system crisscrosses closed to bikes the rest of the hilly arroyos that separate the 25,000-acre the year), and attracts more Lajitas Resort from the 800,000-acre Big Bend private land. Texas is also work- National Park. Just keep your eyes peeled for projects to establish singletrack than 400 racers each year. airport signs on the south side of Ranch Road ing to develop the 300,000-acre in National Parks, the riding still is After a day of riding, head 170, halfway between downtown Terlingua wilderness of Big Bend Ranch mostly on remote jeep trails. Ar- to the Starlight Theatre (ac- and the Rio Grande, 14 miles from the national park entrance at Study Butte (pronounced State Park (tpwd.state.tx.us, range a shuttle and bomb the 27 tually a restaurant, starlight- “stoo-dee beaut”). 432-358-4444) into a bike- rough, rocky miles of the Old Ore theatre.com, 432-371-2326) From either the airport or the resort trail- friendly destination. Already on head, you can shape up a smoking 15-mile Road through the foothills of the for the best selection of loop almost entirely on singletrack, hitting the ground is the quad-burning, Dead Horse Mountains. beers in town, tasty burgers, sections like Dog Loop, Jackrabbit Flats and 20-mile Contrabando Loop, one For those looking to explore hand-cut steaks and a hand- Fun Valley, which are featured as part of the of the park’s premier stretches of Mas-o-Menos racecourse. further afield, Desert Sports outfits ful of vegetarian entrees. If Those hungry for miles can double back overnight trips to the state park’s it’s pizza you’re looking for, on parallel jeep roads and link together 30 miles or more of trail, but don’t let those seldom-seen interior, where rid- try the tasty pies at Long West Texas postcard views distract you: ers will discover the Solitario, a Draw Pizza (432-371-2608) In addition to the thorny cactus and ever- collapsed caldera 10 miles wide a couple of miles down 170. present Spanish daggers, desert obstacles include dry-creek dips, ass-busting lime- and estimated to be more than 25 Both joints have regular live stone ledges and loose stone and sand. million years old. From the park music. For beds, there’s Still, make time to conquer the Outer Loop camping in the state and (designated Trail 4), and do yourself a favor headquarters, it’s a 40-mile slog and hit the roller-coaster-like Lajitas Half- along dusty doubletrack to reach national parks, and comfort- pipe and Brennecke Loop (Trail 3). this lonely limestone labyrinth. able rooms at Lajitas Resort 070 I bikemag.com
    • KERNVILLE, CALIFORNIA A Gem in the Southern Sierras posed of undulating singletrack that parallels Highway 178 and has several bailouts, so you can tailor the distance, while JO/WR is a 15-mile-long technical, singletrack downhill trail with minimal climbing. Those not afraid to drive can JOHN SHAFER travel about an hour north for the Slate Mountain Summit trail—a tough, 8-mile lung-busting ride that rewards the effort with beau- periodic visitor deluge is there tiful panoramic views and some is no shortage of quality lodg- challenging switchback descents. ing in off-peak seasons, with the While you’re in the “neighbor- Kern River Inn Bed and Breakfast hood” you can visit the world- (760-376-6750) and Whispering renowned Needles climbing area Pines Lodge (877-241-4100) offer- or the truly mind-bending Trail ing nice rooms at a decent price. of 100 Giants; a band of massive For those who prefer camping, the old-growth Giant Sequoias. The best time to ride this area is in the late spring when TAKE THE PLUNGE: the high-country trails open, KERNVILLE’S CAN- NELL TRAIL DROPS usually after Memorial Day, CANNELL TRAIL 6,500 GLORIOUSLY when the soil is tacky and the The hub of riding in the Kernville area is JOHN SHAFER VERTICAL FEET the Cannell trail. Ridden as a point-to- weather is cool and crisp. Most point shuttle by all but the truly Herculean, TOWARD LAKE ISABELLA of the rides in the area are this 32-miler is the one trail that must be sampled. In fact, you risk having your true also open to motorized traffic, mountain biker membership card revoked and by summer the dust and if this treasure trove of singletrack doesn’t California summer heat can leave you feeling justly rewarded. Cannell starts at 9,200 feet above sea really take the bite off of even > My career as a mountain bike writer has taken me, with bike in for its rafting and camping scene. the best singletrack buzz. Fall is another worthy option, as the level, and about 4 hours later it finishes at 2,700 feet. In between are fantastic views of the Sequoia National Forest, a few sig- nificant climbs and ecstatic stretches of tow, around this continent and well fast downhill singletrack—the homestretch beyond. While there is no shortage And it’s not one of those prototyp- is referred to as the “Plunge,” and it drops of excellent riding destinations, ical bike-centric towns where you the last 5,000 vertical feet in 8 technical, throw a leg over your bike and are switchback-strewn miles. some of my most-memorable trips The simplest way to reach the Cannell have been to the trails around a quick pedal away from orgasmic trailhead is by enlisting the shuttle service Kernville, California, just two hours trails. But once you finally do get from Mountain River Adventures (mtnriver. KERNVILLE com). They also offer shuttles to other trails from my home near Los Angeles. to put two wheels to singletrack, in the region, as well as guided, fully sup- It’s proof that you often don’t have Kernville has trails sweeter than a ported, multi-day ride services. It’s also to travel very far to find truly epic post-coital afterglow. worth noting that Kernville doesn’t have a true high-end bike shop and Cannell’s sus- backcountry singletrack. The Keyesville Classic, just a tained descending loves to chew through This small town of 2,068 is lo- stone’s throw south of town at brake pads, so come prepared. Lake Isabella, is one of Southern Califor- Kernville area Forest Service is a nia’s longest-running good source of info as well as trail mountain bike races. condition updates (760-376-3781). While the Keyesville The Kern River Brewing Com- racecourses aren’t pany on Sierra Highway near memory makers, the downtown is an essential stop. The Keyesville Recreation beers are brewed on site, and can PAUL FERRARO Area is located right pack quite a donkey kick to a de- off the Kern River and annual Kernville Fat Tire Fest hap- hydrated rider, so it’s a good idea has plentiful camping. pens each October. to also order the fish tacos or any It can also be used Also, unless you love traffic and of the other fine menu choices. For cated at the southern foot of the as home base for crowds, avoid planning trips on a those with a true sense of adven- Sierra Nevada mountains and flies two notable rides, the Kern River holiday weekend, when Kernville ture, venture down to The Hut on just below the mountain bike radar. trail and Just Outstanding/Waggy morphs from a quaint riverside Kernville Road. It’s a paradise for The lack of recognition could be Ridge trail. The KRT is a point- village into a three-headed tour- true dive bar aficionados. because the area is better known to-point, out-and-back ride com- ist monster. The upside of the —RON IGE 072 I bikemag.com
    • CAM MCCAUL TOOK ONE LOOK AT Granny’s Kitchen and knew he had come to the right place. He’d visited Black Rock a year earlier, but back then the Kitchen was just a small section of trails, a few tabletops, a couple of random berms. This time, drops appeared between the trees. Tight berms flowed around every corner, and beautiful doubles rose from the ground. Black Rock is tucked deep into the forests of Falls City, Oregon, and offers more than 500 acres of jumps, drops, wall rides, dou- bles and ridiculously fun DH trails. What began after a chance meeting between a mountain biker and a state land manager three years ago has turned into one of the country’s most progressive riding areas. Word of this place initially spread slowly, but the hype is beginning to boil. Last summer, McCaul and fellow pro Kirt Vor- eis stopped in to check out the trails and film a segment for the latest NWD film. The terrain is undeniably good; the only question is whether this public park can sustain itself as a major freeride destina- tion. We can only hope so.
    • –KIRT VOREIS This massive wall ride, ridden by Kirt Voreis, was inspired by Chris Styler, an old-school rider who has built some of the best BMX trails in Oregon. 076 I bikemag.com
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    • SVEN MARTIN —CAM MCCAUL Left: On scheduled weekends, a shuttle hauls riders to the top so they can hit drops like this all day long. McCaul has seen the light. Top: Dirt jumps, drops and gaps litter the terrain, but Black Rock is also home to some gloriously rocky DH trails. Voreis samples one of the best. Right: Immediately after this jump, the trail funnels into an S-berm that McCaul claims is “tighter than a BMXer’s jeans.” bikemag.com I 079
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    • –KIRT VOREIS Riders can either roll off the bridge or gap the entire thing. Here, McCaul takes the high road. bikemag.com I 081
    • DESPITE CRUSHING THE COMPETI- TION AT DOWNIEVILLE, DESPITE THE NEW SPONSORS, ROSS SCHNELL CONTINUES TO DO THINGS HIS OWN WAY BY ROB STORY PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANNE KELLER the Holy Cross trail was built on Wingate Sandstone, Jurassic stream channels and sizeable deposits of testosterone. Just before drop- ping into the trail, Ross Schnell, astride a gleaming new Trek Remedy with orange wheels, peers back over his shoulder and warns, “Hard moves ahead, with off-cam- ber ledges and corkscrews. Lotsa back and forth.” He alludes to sudden transitions and hefty drops. “Racers on hardtails with skinny tires do not have fun here!” Schnell—a 6-foot, 160-pound whippet of a 29-year-old whose dark features, ubiquitous five o’clock shadow and easy grin evoke a love-child of Johnny Knox- ville and Adrian Grenier—then leans over his bars, stomps on a pedal and shoots down the trail, smearing a parabola over a salmon-colored slab of rock, narrowly avoiding a petrified stump. Schnell is suddenly mountain biking’s “It” racer. The buzz began quietly when he co-founded the race team at Mesa State University and proceeded to win the 2001 cross-country collegiate national title, and then won the 2003 award for dual-slalom. In 2006, he followed up by winning the NORBA Super D title. Those were nice moments for Schnell, but hardly the stuff of legends. Then, last year, he not only won the Downieville Downhill, but also the event’s 29-mile cross-country race—setting new course records in both. The buzz had grown into a roar. >
    • Luckily, that roar has not followed Schnell to the Holy Cross trail, in the event. That’s real indicative of Ross as a racer. He’s comfortable in every Lunch Loops area of Grand Junction, Colorado. On this warm Thursday situation, a mutant.” afternoon all is quiet—the way Schnell likes it. He grew up in Grand Suddenly, Schnell has been credited with saving competitive moun- Junction and prefers Lunch Loops to the more famous trails of the tain biking. Suddenly, big-name sponsors like Trek, SRAM and Crank Kokopelli or Book Cliffs areas to the west. He loves Grand Junction. This Brothers are falling all over him. He recently returned from Oakley’s is not a universal sentiment. But to those who’ve questioned the area’s headquarters, where he signed a coveted contract with the company. grandiosity after buzzing by on I-70 or U.S. 50, scoping tree-deprived But with each new sponsor, each new contract, expectations rise. moonscapes and big-box retailers, it should be noted that Grand Junc- That’s especially troubling for someone like Schnell, who never re- tion gets its name from the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison ally wanted anything except to ride his bike. “I’m specializing in being rivers, and is home to a growing network of quality trails. non-specialized,” he says. “Which is kind of stressful. I’m expected to Schnell fires up Junction’s mellow desert inclines (at least compared to be good at everything.” the lung-searingly steep San Juan Mountains a few dozen miles south- east) in a single fast-muscle twitch. Then, at the bottom of Holy Cross, he pulls a deer-like trials move to pop atop a seven-foot boulder and if you’ve ever wondered what a fake boob feels like, head promptly hurls himself off. to Schnell’s place on a block full of modest ranch houses in central It’s easy to see how Grand Junction’s trails made Schnell an elite Grand Junction. Sitting there on the coffee table is a pliable silicone rider. But perhaps the confluence, the Grand Junction itself, forged bra-stuffer. “Girls will come over, look at it, and say, ‘ewww’,” Schnell him as well. Schnell joins rivers of influence—BMX prodigy, lean- laughs, “but by the end of the evening they’re squeezing it, too.” muscle climber, large-onioned downhiller—into the mythical figure While the fake boob’s providence is a mystery, one suspects the of mountain bike lore: The All-Around Badass. long train of medical influence in Schnell’s friends and family. He “Ross is a Dave Wiens type,” says Troy Rarick, owner of Fruita’s Over earned a degree in radiology and worked at a hospital in Glenwood the Edge (OTE) bike shop, where Schnell worked in the early 2000s. “He’s Springs, Colorado. He dates a physician’s assistant, Cathryn Haskins, just a natural on the bicycle. The amazing thing about his riding style is from Montrose. His sister works as an ultrasound technician. And his he’s not remotely single-faceted. He can do trials, DH, dual-slalom, BMX parents own Mesa Orthopedic, which, among other things, makes or cross-country. He’s the first collegiate racer to podium at every single orthotics for shoes. “Their small business…is basically my motiva- LAST YEAR AT BRIAN HEAD SCHNELL WON THE SHORT TRACK, AND ALMOST WON THE XC RACE. HIS SECRET? DOWNING A WENDY’S SUPER- SIZE BACONATOR, WITH SIX JUICY STRIPS OF BACON, AND A CHOCOLATE FROSTY THE NIGHT BEFORE, WHILE HIS TYPE-A TEAMMATE JEREMIAH BISHOP LOOKED ON IN HORROR. 084 I bikemag.com
    • MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING SHOULD BE FUN. IT SHOULDN’T BE A GRIM, SERIOUS THING. I MEAN, YOU ARE RIDING AROUND IN A CIRCLE ON A BIKE. WEARING TIGHTS. HOW SERIOUS CAN YOU BE? tion for not owning a business,” Schnell says. “They work ungodly from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) riding around flipping the bird and amounts of hours, like 80 a week. Not good.” a young star named Cru Jones who blows off his SATs to race his bike. Still, his parents’ union produced three hyper-athletic kids. Sch- Says Schnell, “I so wanted to be Cru Jones.” nell’s baby brother is an upper-echelon rock climber, and he and his Schnell caught Troy Rarick’s eye in 1994, during the World Cup in sister Rana competed for a dual-slalom Division 1 title on the same Vail. “I saw him on the news,” Rarick says, “this young local teenager day in 2003. “I watched her win the national title as I climbed into the taking third in the juniors there. I called his dad and asked if Ross gate,” he says. “I was psyched, then I told myself to pull it together. I had a sponsor. His dad said no, and I offered to sponsor him at Over was lucky enough to take the title, too.” the Edge. He did a bit of everything for us over the years: wrenching, Luck really has little to do with Schnell’s career, though. Consider self- retail, you name it. Ross has been and is a great person to know. Still fulfilling prophecies, for one: The word schnell means fast in German. goes on staff trips with us, still drinks beer in the hot tub.” Plus, he’s been doing this for a long time. He grew up a BMX rat and Though interrupted somewhat by that radiology degree and brief his life revolved around 20-inch wheels, races and checkered Vans. hospital job, Schnell remains a fixture/legend at OTE. Skip Hamilton, a Everything was neon then, and he was a huge fan of the movie Rad— shop regular and the coach of Specialized’s inaugural mountain bike the BMX cult classic from 1986 that features Ray Walston (Mr. Hand continued on page 116 086 I bikemag.com
    • bike test CANNONDALE * EWR * MOOTS * TITUS 07/09 Cannondale Rize Carbon 1: “System Integration” comes to a head with this ridiculously light, sturdy and fast 5-inch trail bike. EWR OWB29er: A high funky-freaky fac- tor and a BMX heritage make this unconventional 29er ready for almost anything. Moots Cinco: This trail bike has more sus- pension than any other Moots model. But can the titanium frame withstand the punishment? Titus FTM: This longer-travel offspring of the classic Motolite looks stunning. But does it deliver on the trail? TITUS FTM, SAN JUAN TRAIL. ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA. PHOTOS: MORGAN MEREDITH bikemag.com I 089
    • bike test CANNONDALE RIZE CARBON 1 $5,849 > CARBON FIBER OR ALUMINUM? IT’S NOT AN EASY choice, but Cannondale has made the decision easier by melding the two materials in the 5-inch-travel Rize Carbon 1—a stiff, light and strong trail bike. Starting with a structure called the “Backbone,” Cannon- dale created a first-ever 3D forging to combine a bottom bracket, pivot and seat-tube from a single piece of aluminum. The Backbone is bonded to an oversized carbon-fiber front triangle, and the transitions between the Backbone and top and downtubes are undetectable, both cosmetically and in practice, when pinballing through a rock garden. A sturdy frame needs an equally stout fork, and though the Lefty Max Carbon weighs less than 3 pounds, its dual- crown design delivers exceptional stiffness. Adjustments bigger hits while never bottoming out. include a push-button lockout as well as rebound and air- Cannondale applied generous engineering mojo spring adjust. But the fork lacks travel-adjust, so you have to stay on top of it—literally. Short, steep climbs require the rider to get over the front of the Rize more than on bikes with low- to the cranks as well. The BB30 Hollowgram Si SL cranks, which weigh an industry-leading 645 grams, feature a bottom bracket with ceramic press-in bear- HIGHS Super stiff, very light and er front ends, but the 68.5-degree head angle kept the bike ings and a huge 30-millimeter aluminum spindle. strong; lifetime frame warran- ty with no rider weight limit in check, so the front end didn’t wander Mavic’s Lefty-specific Crossmax ST too badly on climbs. The Lefty slides on wheels with Maxxis Rendez a roller-bearing system that is supple over small bumps and ramps up pro- tires gave the Rize a decidedly racy feel. LOWS “System Integration” limits gressively on But I swapped for fork and crank options; no some higher-volume fork travel adjust Geax Lobo Loco 2.3-inch treads for a bigger and stickier MORE INFO: contact patch. The bigger tires 800-245-3872 excelled on slippery, sandy, CANNONDALE.COM rock-infested trails with lots of off-camber technical terrain. Even with the extra rubber, and pedals, the Rize never breached the 26-pound mark. If you’re looking for quibbles, look at the XT shifters and cassette. On a bike with a price tag scraping $6,000, one might expect top-shelf components across the board. Still, with so much engineering effort invested in making the Rize’s standout frame, fork and cranks, Cannon- dale can be excused. After four months of winter testing on rugged desert trails, the Rize leaves little to complain about. It is expensive, but all the innova- tion makes it a solid value. And more importantly, it all adds up to a stiff and light trail bike that marries the best of carbon fiber and aluminum. The 2010 model year will be the last that Cannondale makes frames in the United States, so anyone looking for an American-made Rize should pick up one soon. —A LAN DAVIS 090 I bikemag.com
    • bike test EWR OWB29ER $1,395 (frame only) > THE EWR OWB29ER IS A UNIQUE BEAST, AND THE bright green paint job is just the beginning. The 5.6-pound, praying-mantis-looking frame is built of steel tubes usually reserved for BMX bikes, but that shouldn’t be too surprising—company owner Jay de Jesus is a former national-level trials, dual-slalom, downhill and BMX racer. EWR emerged on the East Coast riding scene more than a decade ago and established a loyal following of rid- ers. Bikes like the first OWB (Original Woods Bike) featured high bottom brackets and short chainstays and were designed for rip- ping through the rocks, roots and downed trees common on the East Coast. They excelled at everything from trail riding to dirt jumping. After a several-year hiatus, de Jesus revived EWR and the OWB29er is the company’s second offering. The new bikes are built by Bilenky while I’m listing grievances, the OWB Cycle Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but still adhere to de Jesus’s distinctly different, do-it-all ethos. And the OWB is requires an odd-sized 29.4-millimeter seatpost, which limits post options. HIGHS as different as they come. The OWB excelled on rough and Nimble geometry; incredible standover; likes it rough The unorthodox front end uses a truss system similar to cantilever bridges steep terrain. The 70.75-degree head- to increase durability. The less-acute angle between the downtube and tube angle eased the twitchy, about-to- headtube creates a stronger junction, says de Jesus. Even for a 29er, the bike’s dual-slalom roots could be felt in the corners. It preferred to be leaned and pumped into turns, rather than steered through them. The lively steel endo feeling that plagues many 29ers. And with no seat-tube-mounted bottle cages, the saddle drops all the way to LOWS Heavy; less-than-ideal frame, coupled with the stiff, short rear end, launches the bike out of corners. its rails. All that extra standover height bottle placement; odd The bike’s 12.2-inch-high bottom bracket made it easy to tip into provides for excellent maneuverability, seatpost size turns, but also caused it to wander a bit during steep climbs. The frame and the Reba Race fork with a 20-milli- design yields some unusual bottle-cage mounting options, too. And meter through-axle was a perfect match MORE INFO: for the bike’s predilection 610-659-4430 for rough terrain. EWRBIKES.COM Without turns to carve or rocks and roots, however, the OWB felt like a fish out of water. On long climbs or smooth fire roads, the hefty frame, which built up to 27 pounds with lightweight cross-country parts, was definitely noticeable. I punished this bike on everything from lung-crushing XC races with 4,000-plus feet of climbing to steep, rock- strewn shuttle runs where 5-inch full-squish bikes rule the roost—and it handled each admirably. It may be an odd duck, but the OWB is a great go-anywhere, do-everything, all-mountain hardtail. —RYAN L A BAR 092 I bikemag.com
    • bike test MOOTS CINCO $3,550 (frame and shock) > THERE’S REALLY NO OTHER WAY TO SAY IT: THIS BIKE IS A bastard child. Born from a Colorado mother, a California father, and named after a distant Mexican relative, the 5-inch Moots Cinco is a prod- uct of mixed breeding. The titanium front triangle clashes with the shiny aluminum Ventana- made rear end, and the ride qualities are just as mixed. Weighing in at a respectable 28 pounds with pedals, the Cinco is easy enough to pedal, but on plodding climbs or even rolling terrain, the bike squats lazily in its travel. Switching on the Fox RP23’s ProPedal lever deliv- ers a hint of that magical feel titanium hardtails are famous for, but it begs the question: Why not just ride a full ti hardtail? terrain and up short, punchy climbs. As soon as the going got rough, any I rode the Cinco on fast, rolling trails in SoCal and New Mexico, but complaints about the rear end evaporated—this bike handles like a hard- it wasn’t until I hit some technical, Grade-A, rock-and-root-strewn New tail on steroids. England singletrack that I found the answer. Hauling around a thuddy Handling is tight and fast without being too twitchy, and a big front 5-inch rear end becomes worth the effort when muscling through rocky tire and a 140-millimeter Fox 32 TALAS RLC helped rake the headtube angle out slightly past its 71-degree stock measurement. Plus, the solid 15-millimeter axle lent the bike a HIGHS little extra gusto when Loves rough terrain; custom frame options available; things got rough. made in America; brilliant This test bike arrived seatpost clamp with Mavic Crossmax SX wheels and LOWS pinner Hutchinson Bulldog tires, but I opted for a beefier setup. Instead, I ran a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 up front and Uninspiring suspension a WTB Mutano Raptor 2.4 in the rear, performance on tame with Stan’s sealant in lieu of tubes. terrain; expensive Combined with an already light Crank Brothers MORE INFO: 970-879-1676 Cobalt wheelset, MOOTS.COM the setup delivered a superlative sensation while charging through technical sections. The legendary durability of the Moots front end is complemented by the robustly built Ventana rear end, which uses two stout cartridge bearings per pivot. I noticed zero rear-end slop during the test, and although I found myself missing the economy of an active suspen- sion on the climbs, I can rationalize the trade in traction for the added stiffness and simplicity—something lacking in a complex multi-link de- sign like a DW-Link or VPP. It may be a bastard child, but the Cinco inherited the best qualities from its parents, and it will likely deliver a lifetime of faithful companionship. Mutt or no mutt, me gusto. —CHRIS L ESSER 094 I bikemag.com
    • bike test TITUS FTM $6,495 ($6,195 as shown) > EVOLUTION IS A FINE THEORY FOR NATURE, BUT WHEN IT comes to bikes, Intelligent Design reigns supreme. As much as we like to personify our bikes, they don’t just “evolve” on their own into lighter, stronger, faster beasts. Instead, bikes are given life by designers and product managers, and in the case of the Titus FTM, those guiding hands managed a near-miraculous job. The FTM began life years ago as the Titus Motolite, a widely acclaimed Horst-link bike with 127 millimeters of travel. But as trail bikes grew from 4 inches of travel to 5, losing weight in the process, the Mo- tolite was left in the evolutionary dust. It was replaced this year by the FTM, a modified version that boasts an extra 13 millimeters of travel while trimming a bit of fat in the process. The new model, made by Sapa in Portland, Oregon, features car- bon seatstays and asymmetrical chainstays with forged and CNC’d dropouts. The seatstays also lose a structural bridge that was prone to clogging with mud. Those changes shave 230 grams from the old rear end, yet the bike remains every bit as stiff, Titus claims. The FTM also jumps up to a larger 30.9-diameter seat tube to accommodate adjustable-height seatposts. The geometry stays mostly the same, but the bottom bracket was slightly lowered to anodized finish, was as hot as the Arizona keep a 69.25 headtube angle with the longer-travel fork. Despite the increased travel and the new name (FTM stands for “Full Tilt Moto”), this is not just a Motolite built for bigger trails. This is a decid- sun. It scorched climbs, and even with the sag set at 30 percent of travel the bike delivered a solid pedaling platform and HIGHS Excellent climber that is edly lightweight trail bike. The bike we tested came with a 140-millimeter reacted quickly to pedal input. Climbing responsive on the trail; Fox TALAS RLC 15QR fork, but the rest of the kit screamed XC: Magura will never be an effortless task, but ev- high drool factor Marta SL brakes, FSA Team Issue carbon cranks, Maxm carbon post and erything from ledgy switchbacks to steep carbon Ritchey WCS bars. With pedals, the bike weighed 27 pounds. and loose fireroads seemed a little more When it came to ripping around the trails, the FTM, like its orange tolerable aboard the FTM. The suspension also offered LOWS Rear shock ramps up smooth small-bump absorption, quickly; undergunned and despite the lack of a seatstay brakes; lacks quick-release bridge, the FTM tracked true while seat collar cornering. The geometry was spot- MORE INFO: on for most terrain. 800-858-4887 This isn’t the stiffest or plushest TITUSTI.COM bike on the market, however. The shock ramps quickly on harsh terrain and the lightweight brakes can’t withstand fast, technical descents—so anyone who expects to repeatedly rally this bike on steep trails littered with big hits might be disappointed. But the FTM doesn’t pretend to be an all-mountain bike. This is a pure trail bike, and it excels at its job. Anyone who likes to rip singletrack, sprint up climbs, and possibly enter some endurance or XC races should give the FTM a spin. —L OU M AZZANTE 096 I bikemag.com
    • beat Down SHIMANO SLX $898 (complete group) 949-951-5003; BIKE.SHIMANO.COM ALL-MOUNTAIN, TRAIL RIDING, SUPERFUZZY- neers, I can’t verify the “100-percent stronger” claim, but can attest to the cranks’ incredibly BunnyHucking—whatever you call it, more riders stout nature. They exhibited no noticeable flex. The SLX double cranks come stock with a are tackling tougher trails on light, long-travel bikes. larger-than-average, 36-tooth big ring. Those extra four teeth provide a very usable gear The market is awash with 5- and 6-inch rigs, but range when riding a light, all-mountain-style rig. It’s a nice touch. until recently components have generally fallen into The SLX double also sports steel pedal inserts (a la second-generation Saint), which either the ultra-light cross-country or extra-burly will be a great relief to thread-stripping, ham-fisted mechanic types who work on their freeride camps. Enter SLX: Shimano’s take on all- bikes with a 40-ouncer in one hand and a pedal wrench in the other. Style-wise, the SLX mountain parts that are both light and strong. crank arms take their cue from the latest iteration of XTR, and the brushed-aluminum fin- Positioned as a sort of supercharged LX kit, ish proved nearly immune to scuffing. SLX represents a Best of Shimano compilation al- The polycarbonate (plastic) bashguard doesn’t immediately inspire confidence. In fact, bum. There’s a whole lot of anniversary-edition XT it looks suspiciously like a toy that you’d pull out of a box of Cap’n Crunch. However, after in the disc brakes and shifters, a dash of new Saint a dozen poorly executed log-overs (including one event that threatened to shear my in the cranks, and, as always, a bit of XTR trickle- frame in two), the guard still appears shiny and new. I can’t say how it will fare against down technology. sustained rock, but it shrugs off logs with ease. I spent a couple of months with SLX and came away pleasantly surprised. Shifting is spot-on, PRECISE SHIFTS, BEEFY BUILD brake modulation is fantastic and the double The SLX shifters ($100) have innards similar to the XT. Not surprisingly, they function just crankset is downright impressive. Shimano’s old as well and weigh the same as their workhorse big brothers. The main difference between LX group was about as sexy as a bowl of brussels the two is that XT shifters have fancier metal thumb paddles. Being a stickler for proper sprouts, but I’d put SLX on any of my bikes. cockpit setup, I appreciated the fact that I could mount the SLX shifters on either side of my brake levers. BASH-WORTHY CRANKS SLX breaks new frontiers in the front-derailleur department. There are no fewer than The SLX cranks ($240 with bottom bracket) come seven models to choose from, including Shimano’s new plate-mount “D” standard—there in two flavors—a conventional triple ring or a com- truly is something for every conceivable frame configuration. The stubby, double-ring- pact double. Shimano claims the double, which fea- specific version shown here ($60) features a stout, compact cage that reduces derailed tures an overbuilt spider and axle, is twice as strong chains and boosts tire clearance. Installation was brainless, shifting was spot-on, and I as its XT sibling. Lacking a squad of German engi- didn’t drop a chain once. > 098 I bikemag.com PHOTOS: MORGAN MEREDITH
    • BEAT DOWN T LIGH EAD AH The rear derailleur ($90) is essentially a ER & slightly beefier XT model. While it’s meant to be stout, it eschews the axle-mount of Hone UT and first-generation Saint for the newer, P lower-profile Shadow design. It also COM features a stronger guide spring up and to back off ac- A than its LX predecessor. As a result, shifting is ac- cordingly. SLX rotors only come in Center Lock, companied with a more however, which means definite click—it’s not the wheel choices are limited. convincing ka-chunk delivered by SRAM’s X.0 Speaking of rotors, I experienced little to no derailleur, but it’s definitely a solid shift that drag between rotor and pads. The Servo Wave should please many riders. cam inside the SLX levers not only boosts brak- ing power, it also allows the pads to rest deeper HITTING THE BRAKES inside the caliper, reducing rotor rub. On the When it comes to form and function, the SLX subject of noise, the resin pads were church- brake levers are almost identical to XT. They have mouse quiet. I never encountered the annoying, a nice ergonomic shape, with a pronounced hook wounded-turkey warble that I experience with a at the end that makes one-finger braking feel a lot of other brake systems. bit more secure during rough downhills. The SLX levers also feature the tool-less reach-adjustment DELIVERING THE GOODS knob found on XT and Saint levers. Are there burlier component groups on the Unfortunately, SLX lacks the free-throw ad- market? Absolutely. Saint is an obvious choice, juster screws you find on XT and Saint, so you and you can build a bombproof SRAM X.0/Avid can’t adjust the actual brake-lever travel. Bum- Code/Truvativ Holzfeller kit. Are there lighter parts mer. That would have been a nice feature. While out there? Plenty. The same selection of parts in I’m quibbling, I wish Shimano had used a split- XT flavor will shave two-thirds of a pound (319 perch design (a la Hayes or Avid) on their brake grams, to be exact) off your bike. But are you levers—it would make lever swaps and cockpit willing to pay an extra $340 to save 319 grams? adjustments a whole lot easier. That’s what upgrading to XT will cost you. The SLX calipers use a two-piece construction, SLX is precise, it’s durable, it actually looks which is cost effective, but a bit heavier (77 grams cool and, when it comes to shifting and braking, more a pair) than the one-piece, forged XT cali- it’s pretty damn hard to tell it apart from Shimano pers. Dual, opposed pistons drive the pads home. XT. In fact, once you consider SLX’s excellent The SLX brakes cost $320—for a front and rear double crankset/front derailleur combo, you al- set, pre-bled. That makes them cost-competitive most have to wonder whether XT will have a job with Avid Juicy 5s, and about half the cost of XT. next fall. Shimano’s done a bang-up job of build- When it comes to actual braking power, SLX ing a budget group that doesn’t ride like a budget fares well. Shimano’s “trail” brakes, XT and SLX, group at all. —VERNON FELTON produce 120 to 125 percent more power than the previous XT 755 brakes, which Shimano uses as a base to measure braking power in new models. By extension, the cross- country-oriented XTR is rated at 105 “ The best part of commuting is percent of base, and the recently re- launched Saint group chomps down at an astonishing 150 percent. With this SLX kit I opted for the 180-millimeter rotor option, the ride home and stopping power ” was decent, even with the resin pads in wet con- ditions. Modula- tion was excellent. It’s very easy to sense when the brakes are about to lock 100 I bikemag.com
    • fresh produce LOUIS GARNEAU TREELIUM $100 / 800-448-1984; LOUISGARNEAU.COM The Treelium is Louis Garneau’s top mountain bike helmet. It features extra protection in the rear and carbon-reinforced bridges to keep the safety factor high, while 26 air-scooping vents keep craniums cool. E.THIRTEEN SRS WITH TURBOCHARGER $150 / 978-537-9313; E13COMPONENTS.COM The e.Thirteen Turbocharger is designed to keep riders charging through the roughest terrain. The unique bashguard works like a one-way spring, flexing away from impacts, but also away from the chain. And the meticulously re-engineered SRS guide eliminates dropped chains. LOOK QUARTZ HURRICANE COMPONENTS FORK UPS CARBON $35-$70 / 951-280-6036; HURRICANECOMPONENTS.COM $200 / 866-430-5665 Have a sweet new through-axle fork, but an old fork-mount roof rack? The California-made Hurricane LOOKCYCLE-USA.COM Components adapters provide a simple solution and can accommodate just about any axle size, including The Quartz Carbon pedal is made of the 15-millimeter, 20-millimeter, Specialized, Maverick, Cannondale Lefty and Surly Pugsley standards. injection-molded carbon fiber and uses cartridge bearings at the near side of the spindle and needle bearings at the end. The space between those heavily sealed bearings allows for effortless mud shedding and a wide platform for no-nonsense power ESI GRIPS transfer. The 260-gram pedals come with $17-$19 / 760-947-4345; ESIGRIPS.COM cleats that release at 15 degrees and shims These American-made morsels of bike candy are slightly thicker for a dialed shoe/pedal fit. on the palm side to help absorb hand-numbing vibrations. The high-friction silicone material prevents the grips from twisting, sliding or becoming slippery, regardless of the conditions. They come in two sizes: the Chunky (shown here) and the slightly thinner and lighter Racer’s Edge. PHOTOS: MORGAN MEREDITH 102 I bikemag.com
    • P R O M O T I O N EVE NTS I HAPPE N I NG S I PROMOTION S Freedom Riders World Tour Freedom Riders is a gritty, rootsy documentary that offers a unique look into the creation of one of the first legal, purpose- built downhill trails on U.S. For- est Service land. Narrated by Wade Simmons, the film includes interviews with local riders in Jackson, Wyo- ming, action sequences shot on the once-illegal trails and archi- val shots that trace the progres- sion of freeride mountain biking. The film premiered in April at Sea Otter in Monterey, Cali- fornia, and the producers have embarked on a 50-stop U.S. tour to raise money and aware- ness for IMBA. For more details on the film, trailers and a list of tour dates, visit bikemag.com or 23@3927:CH7= freedomridersthemovie.com. Win Fox MTB Team Rider Aaron Chase’s gear! Fox, Cannondale, SDG, SIC and Bike magazine have partnered up for the sweepstakes of the year. Roll over to foxmtb.com to enter. The grand prize winner will be chosen in June so get to it! B I K E A L S O S U P P O R T S : G E T M O R E I N F O R M A T I O N A T B I K E M A G . C O M
    • fresh produce FREELAP JUNIORTX $390 / 973-277-9437 FREELAP-USA.COM Stop wondering which line through the rock garden is faster and settle the debate once and for all. Ride past the first beacon to activate the stopwatch, pin it down the hill and sprint past the lower CRANK BROTHERS IODINE beacon to stop the timer. Afterward, upload the data to a PC and $1,000 / 949-464-9916; CRANKBROTHERS.COM compare times against Fewer holes means increased strength. At least, that’s the concept behind Iodine wheels. The spokes attach previous runs or the to a vertical spine that runs along the inside of the 21-millimeter-wide rim via 12 cylindrical steel shuttles. times of other riders. The tubeless-ready all-mountain wheels weigh a respectable 1,907 grams. PRO KORYAK BARS AND STEM $65; $60 / 949-951-5003; PRO-BIKEGEAR.COM Pro, now owned and distributed by Shimano, is a new name on the mountain bike scene, but the parts go through the same rigorous quality control and testing as Shimano-branded components. This 270-gram, 685-millimeter-wide Koryak OS riser bar has a 9-degree backsweep with a 5-degree upsweep. The forged, 90-millimeter-long stem weighs 160 grams and uses a box-like shape to resist twisting forces. WTB VIGO CARBON SLT $180 / 800-975-2453; WTB.COM The Vigo is a medium-width saddle with thick padding designed with long-distance riders in mind. The seat features a long profile, replaceable rails and WTB’s signature Love Channel groove, which is designed to reduce pressure on sensitive areas. SIXSIXONE EVO $70 / 888-520-4888 SIXSIXONE.COM The amazingly flexible D30 foam armor in these gloves takes a high-tech approach to preventing bloody knuckles. The secret? D30 says the molecules in its flubber-like material stiffen under impact. We say it’s magic. The gloves’ unpadded synthetic palm offers a tight grip on the bars, while highly breathable mesh helps prevent clammy hands. 104 I bikemag.com
    • LEZYNE SABER $30 / 805-548-8780 LEZYNE.COM It’s not a light saber; it’s a Lezyne Saber—a super-long, plated-steel tire lever with a built-in 15-millimeter open- end for changing pedals or, if you’re wearing your sister’s jeans, tightening the axle nuts on your fixie. The icing on the cake is an integrated bottle opener that even the hippest hipster can appreciate. TROY LEE DESIGNS D2 CARBON HISTORY $375 / 951-371-5219 TROYLEEDESIGNS.COM Troy Lee helmets are known across the globe for their stylish graphics, but only this D2 model includes iconic images from the company’s 28-year history. More than a mantle piece, the D2’s carbon shell uses titanium hardware to keep the helmet light, while large, mesh-covered vents keep the air flowing. PHOTO: SCOTT MARKEWITZ BLACKBURN MAMMOTH 2STAGE $30 / 800-456-2355; BLACKBURNDESIGN.COM Thanks to its massive aluminum barrel, the Mammoth 2Stage fills the beefiest 2.5-inch tires in its “high volume” mode and tops out at 120 PSI in its “high pressure” mode. The pump clamps to Presta or Schrader valves with a simple turn of its TwistGrip smart head, and a lifetime warranty and bottle cage mount come standard. X photos * news * trails * videos * gear bikemag.com I 105
    • showcase future forks SIX TRAIL FORKS FOR 2010 THAT WON’T STEER YOU WRONG Marzocchi 44 RC3 Ti The titanium spring in this 140-millimeter fork delivers pillowy coil-spring plushness without the weight penalty of steel. Built for lightweight performance, this 4-pound fork features a third-generation RC3 damper, a stout-but-lithe 15-millimeter axle and nickel- plated stanchions. Marzocchi 44 Micro Air Ti 29 Marzocchi was the first major suspension maker to produce forks for the 29-inch wheel, and the company is diving back into that mar- ket with a vengeance. Witness this 4-pound fork’s 140 millimeters of air-sprung travel, tita- $779 $729 $1,029 nium negative spring, nickel-plated stanchions MARZOCCHI.COM MARZOCCHI.COM ROCKSHOX.COM and 15-millimeter axle. RockShox Lyrik Solo Air At just 4.8 pounds, the Lyrik is a battle axe of a trail fork. The new model features a full 170 millimeters of travel and is available in the gamut of steerer tube sizes (1.125, 1.5 or tapered). Other upgrades include a new Mission Control DH damper and a freeride version of RockShox’s Maxle Lite through-axle. RockShox Revelation Team The completely redesigned Revelation uses Power Bulges for better bushing perfor- mance, receives an increase in travel to 150 millimeters and comes with an optional tapered steerer, like this Team model. With Maxle Lite and Mission Control damping, this 3.9-pound beauty threatens to be one of 2010’s top trail forks. Fox 32 FIT TALAS RLC 15QR One of our favorite trail forks just got better. Now available with 150 millimeters of travel, this 4-pound 15QR fork benefits from Fox’s new FIT damper (plusher, lighter, more consis- tent), as well as some relocated controls that are easier to toggle while riding. Fox 32 FIT F29 RLC 15QR Fox upped the ante with its 29er fork by adding a 15-millimeter axle. This redesigned 3.5-pound model comes ready for duty with the company’s new FIT RLC damper and up to 120 millimeters of travel. $690 $860 $795 ROCKSHOX.COM FOXRACINGSHOX.COM FOXRACINGSHOX.COM 106 I bikemag.com PHOTOS: MORGAN MEREDITH
    • showcase man’s best friend Four tools that won’t Crank Brothers Multi 17 $27 leave you hanging 949-464-9916; CRANKBROTHERS.COM Everything you need; nothing you don’t. That’s the thinking behind the 165-gram Multi 17. With high-tensile steel tool bits and a knurled aluminum frame, this simple, affordable, effec- tive riding-pack staple comes with a lifetime Lezyne Stainless 20 $50 warranty and just about everything you need 805-548-8780; LEZYNE.COM to get you out of a jam. The tool bits have a Forged aluminum side-plates and stainless tendency to flop around after a bit of use, but steel tool bits make this little work of art it comes with a custom rubber band to hold as brainy as it is brawny. The thoughtful everything in place. precision-fit bits pivot on their central axis, which makes for easy tool turning and smooth, long-lasting flip-out action. Size- wise, it’s the biggest tool on this page, but at 150 grams it’s also the lightest. A chain tool that spins off of the main body includes multiple spoke wrenches and doubles as a pad spreader. Another nice touch: a ser- rated knife for divvying up trailside PB&Js. Pedro’s ICM $28 (978) 657-7101; PEDROS.COM The ICM has been around for a while, but kudos to Pedro’s for not messing with a good thing. Two very functional tire levers snap onto the sides of the tool, and long, leverage-giving tool bits—in all the critical sizes—swing out to get the job done. The ICM also has a Mavic spoke wrench and a deployable 14/15-gauge spoke wrench nestled in the heart of the tool. Plus, it includes a chain tool with the all-important second position for loosening stiff links. Topeak Alien III $65 800-213-4561; TOPEAK.COM Looking beyond its kitschy green alien logo, the 272-gram Alien III has everything but the kitchen sink. Witness its long 2-millimeter L-bend for hard- to-get-at brake lever bolts; its rotor-bending tool; spoke wrenches for Shimano, Mavic and all standard options; its full complement of 8-, 9- and 10-millime- ter box wrenches; and, best of all, snap-in recesses for replacement Shimano chain pins. The tool also includes a knife, a solid chain tool and a chain wire for holding loose links while you pin them down. 108 I bikemag.com PHOTO: MORGAN MEREDITH
    • KIT choose your adventure THIS ENDURANCE RACING KIT IS READY TO GO THE DISTANCE Hours upon hours of training? Check. Motivation for punishment? Check. Apparel that stays comfortable throughout a day or more of pedal mashing? Better check again, be- cause few things are more torturous in the heart of an endurance race than ill-fitting and under-performing apparel. Baggies are great, but let’s be honest: nothing yields all-day comfort like bib shorts. Castelli’s Free bib short ($230; castelli-us.com) features a low-cut stomach, heat-dissipating chamois, flat-lock stitching and injection-molded silicon leg grippers, making them well worth the price. Keep your dogs from barking with Sidi’s Dominator 5 shoes ($270; sidiusa.com), which have non-carbon soles that make hike-a-bikes bearable. Pair them with the breathable DeFeet Levitator Lite socks ($12; defeet. com), which have flat seams to prevent raw spots. Protect your hands with Giro’s Rivet gloves ($30; giro.com), which have a lightweight mesh back and a contoured three-panel palm for a bunch-free fit. The Bell Sweep helmet ($140; bellsports.com) has 20 large vents to keep your noggin cool—and thanks to a flat spot on top, mounting lights is a snap. The Endura FS260-Pro jersey ($90; endurasport.com) offers a snug fit and a grippy waist hem that prevents the contents of its pockets from sloshing around your keister—plus, a zippered compartment keeps small items like quick links from getting tossed. For long stages, try a CamelBak Lobo ($75; camelbak.com). It’s a step up from the back-pocket-water-bottle routine, and its 100-ounce reservoir and 200 cubic inches of storage leave your jersey pockets free to carry more food, like Honey Stinger’s Organic Energy Chews ($2; honeystinger.com).—RYAN L ABAR PHOTO: MORGAN MEREDITH 110 I bikemag.com
    • blueprint BY CHRIS LESSER a new carbon category DT Swiss’ EXC 1550 CARBON FIBER CRANKS, HANDLEBARS, brake levers—even frames—are everywhere. But the incredible weight and strength char- acteristics of the magical material aren’t just for weight weenies anymore. The backcountry is the new racecourse, and products such as the EXC 1550 wheels from DT Swiss prove that carbon is capable of appeasing truly aggressive riders. The secret of these 1,550-gram wonder wheels lies in their first-ever, all-mountain-specific carbon fiber rims. There is nothing like them on the market. The wheels are hand-built around DT Swiss 240s-based hubs and bladed double- forged spokes. The rims use stainless-steel eyelets, measure an impressive 28 millime- ters wide and weigh just 400 grams apiece. In short, the EXC 1550s are insanely ex- pensive, unthinkably light and, according to the company, exceptionally strong. The rub? They cost $2,850 a set, but DT Swiss makes no bones about it. This is a high-end product for riders looking for ultimate performance in a 6-inch all-mountain bike. Prior to joining DT Swiss as a product manager in 2002, Silvan Buerge drove a tank in the Swiss army, worked as an engineer for Siemens and owned his own high-end mountain bike shop. What’s the goal for this product? To have an Nothing is indestructible, so if these rims break, how will they break? They don’t all-mountain bike with 6 inches of travel, just collapse. The fiber construction of the rim, plus the double-chamber construc- front and rear, that weighs 22 or 24 pounds tion, means that if a rim breaks, it will have something like a half-inch or an inch of a with a very solid set of wheels—not just a delaminated fiber section. This makes the rim soft, but it doesn’t really fall apart. The tiny, non-eyeleted aluminum rim. rest of the rim still stays sort of stiff. Of course, you’ll lose spoke tension and your rim How did this wheelset come to be? There’s will be wobbly and you’ll have to replace it, but the fibers will not break. With alumi- CHRIS LESSER always been a downhill/freeride segment, num rims you might have a dent in the rim or a flat spot, but carbon doesn’t dent. The but there was this big gap between it and the level [of force needed to destroy the rim] is so much higher with carbon that it lowers cross-country-race segment. There’s never the overall failure rate. been a light-as-possible wheel that still Is this the lightest all-mountain wheelset ever produced? Check all the cross-country had a rim that was wide enough for pretty wheels out there—there aren’t many that are below the weight [of these wheels]. For large tires. So it all started with the [alumi- this rim dimension and this purpose, and still having a very solid, 6-bolt, all-mountain num, 28-millimeter-wide] EX 1750 wheel, hub with a 20-millimeter axle and big bearings up front, at 1,550 grams per set, I and then as soon as we started the carbon would say it’s a pretty unique product. [XRC 1250] cross-country rim project, I said Isn’t it also one of the most expensive wheelsets out there? It will be a few bucks more. immediately that we would need to have a But if you’re talking about high-end carbon enduro frames, people are spending how 28-millimeter-wide carbon rim, and we much for a Specialized or a Scott? Then consider how important the influence of the worked for more than a year on this project. wheel is for the overall influence of the bike, well, those are our target customers. 112 I bikemag.com PHOTO: MORGAN MEREDITH
    • Photo: Embry Rucker
    • RELAX: RAD ROSS HAS IT ALL UNDER CONTROL continued from page 086 team, calls him “a terrific human being who’s not caught up in himself. When it’s time to focus, he does. When it’s time to relax, he does.” For Schnell, relaxing often means getting a little goofy. Hamilton remembers him showing up for an OTE group ride bent on tweaking “guys in Lycra body condoms fes- tooned with [Italian road] names they couldn’t pronounce.” For his part, Schnell sported Bermuda shorts, an ancient Styrofoam Bell helmet and old Oakley Pilot sunglasses. “When the beginner ride began, Ross took off and the Lycra guys were shocked,” Hamilton recalls. “They insisted he try the advanced group, and Ross said, ‘No hablo ingles!’ The Lycra guys were totally befuddled. Ross did that to put competitive im- pulses in perspective.” though previously known as “Rad Ross” (he even had the nick- name tattooed across the back of the leathers he wore at BMX races), it wasn’t until Downieville last year that Schnell emerged as a mountain bike sensation, a cult hero at the very least. Sure, he had earned a spot on the Trek/VW cross-country team, and he had a handful of top-10 finishes at national cross-country and Super-D races. But after the 2008 Downieville Classic, blog posts suddenly began appearing with headlines like: “Why Ross Schnell is Cool.” Why is Ross Schnell cool? Last summer in Downieville, he started in the mid-40s I’LL NEVER BE THE GUY WHO RIDES A L ROAD BIKE FOR SIX HOURS A DAY AND DRINKS WATER AND EATS VEGETABLES. I WANNA LIVE LIFE. in the 29-mile, point-to-point cross-country race. He traveled there with few expectations and even fewer practice runs. Despite crashing, he won the race. The next day, again facing three-time de- fending champ Jason Moeschler and local leg- end Mark Weir, Californians both, the kid from Colorado who’d never even been to Downieville won the event’s renowned 17-mile-long downhill. Amazingly, he set course records in each race. “I had no idea how serious people are about that race. Winning gave me instant credibility. My career blew up after that,” Schnell says. Even his hometown newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, which normally concerns itself with Halliburton’s local drilling, crowned him the “new king” of mountain biking. The Sentinel identified him as a Fruita resident in the story and a Grand Junctioner (correct) in the photo caption, but still…. Perhaps more importantly, winning Downieville, in an odd sort of way, justified Schnell’s existence as a professional mountain biker. Throughout his career he has avoided road-oriented training regimens and shown a healthy disdain for monstrously competitive and freakishly fit cross-country racers. Instead, Schnell thrives on his own irreverence. This is a guy, after all, who believes that “beer is the best recovery drink.” “In Downieville,” Schnell notes, “you have to pedal up fast and then race down- hill…on a real bike. On the same bike. So it pays to be a hack at both cross-country and downhill. The pseudo roadies who normally win XC races will never show up at Downieville. I don’t know if Downieville is the future of racing, but that’s what mountain biking is. It’s the best race I’ve ever done.” Undeniably a throwback, Schnell seems of an era when XC courses were rugged and support was minimal. If he had an idol from mountain biking’s boom, it was John Tomac— a rider who could turn around in a phone booth, flow downhill like water, and still leave opponents gasping with pulmonary edema on long, rocky climbs. 116 I bikemag.com
    • RELAX: RAD ROSS HAS IT ALL In the sport’s early days, there were no race teams and no national race series. Now the sport’s governing body is strug- gling to re-establish a national cross- country series after the existing model crumbled last season. And with the de- mise of the powerhouse Trek/VW team after umpteen years, Schnell is now Trek’s lone domestic cross-country competitor. He races commando—alone, old-school, independent. “Rad Ross” is also “Retro Ross.” At the Snowmass NORBA Nationals in 2006, Sch- nell showed up with a roadie cap under his helmet. He wore white terrycloth short shorts. Sporting a mullet and handlebar moustache as well, he looked eerily like a young Tom Ritchey. “I heard there was a moustache-growing contest [affiliated with the race],” Schnell says. “Luckily, I can grow one pretty fast. And I thought, ‘Hey, this can be complemented with a mullet and short shorts.’ So I did. Then shaved ev- erything off after the race.” to be a true mountain biker, must one necessarily dislike road biking? It’s an undying question. But Schnell is be- loved for his candor regarding skinny tires. Trek provides him free road bikes, so he owns a couple. Yet, one day in his garage, he points at one and sniffs, “I’m allergic to curly bars, man. I can’t do ’em. Road bikes put you in the worst position possible; I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’ll never be the guy who rides a road bike for six hours a day and drinks water and eats vegetables. I wanna live life.” He holds similar contempt for roadie- influenced mountain bike races. Like, for instance, the season-opening, sponsor- booth-infested, commercial-as-Christmas biggie in Northern California. “Sea Otter,” Schnell says, “is cool if you’re into rain and poison oak. More like Sea Slaughter. I don’t think it’s a mountain bike race if you can win it on a hardtail. A pro roadie who’s never mountain biked could win that thing.” Schnell doesn’t talk about cadence or lactic-acid threshold. He talks about “moves.” To him, the maneuvers required to negotiate tough, technical trails are crucial to the sport. “I talk about ‘moves’ all the time,” he says. “Moves are what mountain biking is all about. When I go out for a bike ride I get more satisfaction from cleaning the local ‘Widowmaker’ than I do comparing best times up the lo- cal road climb.” Thanks to the moves he made at Dow– 118 I bikemag.com
    • UNDER CONTROL nieville, and to his emerging reputation as an all-around badass, his sponsors are “backing the idea of me doing fun events with products real people buy,” he says. That includes the mass-start Megavalanche rac- es in Europe, as well as the Downieville-in- fluenced Super-D races in Ashland, Oregon. He’ll still race cross-country, but aims to hit the killer venues in Colorado, while avoiding the flat-and-wide courses elsewhere (don’t even mention the word “Fontana” to him.) Schnell concedes he may have to get more intense if he wants to compete on the World Cup stage. But not just yet. For one, his metabolism remains that of a teen- ager’s. He goes to bed at 11 and wakes up two hours later to chow cereal. “Last night I took down a family-size bag of Doritos…at one in the morning,” he admits. He’s been known to fill his CamelBak with Coke. (He likes bubbles. And resents Cytomax for lacking them.) The irreverence is real. Not long ago, Schnell rode Utah’s 113-mile White Rim trail in a single day powered by an econo- my-size package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because it was just after Halloween and the candy was cheap. Last year at Brian Head, the last stop on the NMBS circuit, he won the short track, and almost won the XC race—some of the best results in his life. His secret? Downing a Wendy’s super-size Baconator, with six juicy strips of bacon, and a chocolate Frosty the night before the XC event, while his Type-A teammate at the time, Jeremiah Bishop, watched in horror. “So far in my career, I’ve found zero cor- relation between eating well and going fast,” Schnell says. That career has lasted more than a decade, and has taken more than a few unusual turns. Even Schnell seems to struggle when asked to define his role in the sport. “At best, I’m mediocre at every single thing. Which somehow stacks me higher than guys who are good at one thing only. My general goal is to mountain bike for the soul of the sport. I’m not the most competitive guy out there. I love the lifestyle and love what I’m doing, to ride and travel to good places. If that means getting beat by a guy who rides 30 hours a week, that’s fine. The day I don’t have fun is the day I’ll be done racing.” So what does being an all-around mountain biking badass mean to Schnell? It means having a good time. “Mountain bike racing should be fun. It shouldn’t be a grim, serious thing. I mean, you are riding around in a circle on a bike. Wearing tights. How serious can you be?” bikemag.com I 119
    • SH*TBIKE CHALLENGE part XII WINGING IT I didn’t even get to ride the roller to get enough speed for the jump. But DROP TO FLAT The landing hurt every bike in the parking lot. I just went for it, first you can’t lean back on the Sh*tbike; you time. Usually when you land you just keep run, and winged a backflip. It worked perfectly. have to kind of squat off to the side. Once I your back straight, vertical to the ground, The beam didn’t bottom out on the tire and the got to the jump, the backflip wasn’t so bad— and bend your knees to take up the impact. bike came around nicely. The truth is that this getting there was the hardest part. But the seat is so high that I had to lean bike is easier to flip than it is to straight air—it’s over with my whole body and absorb all not really balanced for jumping. I don’t think it STEPPING UP We tried to mix it up a bit the pressure with my lower back. My head was born with the intent of being airborne. and do a superman seat grab because the almost hit the bars every time. bike has that big old beam. You can grab THE RUN-IN My biggest concern on wherever you want—instead of about 3 THE LESSON You don’t really need a was whether I could actually lean back far inches to grab, you have about 3 feet. Then to fancy-schmantzy bike to have a good time. STERLING LORENCE enough, because the seat on this bike is take things up a notch we went for a backflip We had a little crappy bike today, and it re- higher than the stem. Usually, my seat is superman. The best part about the backflip minded me that as long as you’ve got a bike slammed all the way down to the toptube. superman was the cool motorcycle sound the that rolls you can do whatever you want. But the hardest part was just getting through gripshifters made as they spun through my You can even backflip a Sh*tbike. the run-in because you have to manual a hands while the bike rotated around. —As told to Lou Mazzante Bike (ISSN 1072-4869) July 2009, Volume 16, Issue 4. Published eight issues yearly in the months of March, May, June, July, August, September/October, November and December. Copyright © 2009 by SOURCE INTERLINK MAGAZINES, LLC,. All rights reserved. 261 Madison Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10016. Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY and additional mailing offices. Canada Publication Mail Sales Agreement No. 40612608. Canada returns to be sent to Bleuchip International, P.O.Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2 Canada. Subscription rates for one year (eight issues) U.S., APO, FPO and U.S. Possessions $19.97. Canada, $32.97 U.S. funds. (Price includes surface postage to Canada and GST—reg. no. 87209 3125 RT0001.) Foreign orders add $15.00 in U.S. funds. For a change of address, six weeks notice is required. Send old as well as new address to Bike, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Bike, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. FOR EXCLUSIVE VIDEO AND BEIND-THE-SCENES PHOTOS OF 122 I bikemag.com MCCAUL’S BACKFLIP, GO TO BIKEMAG.COM/SBC