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
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
058 Grimy Handshake: Mike Ferrentino dances with meat
122 SBC: Cam McCaul ﬂips out on the Sh*tbike
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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
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
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
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
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
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
your magazine (which is already
the best one out there) would be
even greater. I have many friends
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
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
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
by Chris Dannen, and the entire is pound it and ground it. I abuse JOHN PEAKE;
feature was a collaborative effort my bike when I ride. I have seen ROANOKE, VIRGINIA
034 I bikemag.com
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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
splatter E V E NTS * P E O P LE * P L AC E S * TR A I LS * C U LTU R E
Big Sky’s THC
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
eries in the mountain-sports
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
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
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
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;
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-
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
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
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
• 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.”
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
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
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
No place on earth has
a tradition of racing
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,
has hosted a World Cup
16 times. It begins with
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.”
bikemag.com I 045
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
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
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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.
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.
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
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.
FO TRAIL INFORMATION, MAPS, PHOTOS, VIDEOS AND
GPS DATA OF THESE TRAILS AND OTHERS, LOG ON TO
bikemag.com I 049
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
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 email@example.com. bikers go to Bootleg.”
052 I bikemag.com PHOTOS: MORGAN MEREDITH
ask chopper BY GREG RANDOLPH
BALL BUSTER has not been taking ExtenZe;
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
OF THE MONTH
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 PBJ
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
Always wear a helmet and ride within your limits. Handlebar stress can vary with rider skill.
DR. GREENTHUMB TRAIL,
11 FOOT DROP:
314 POUNDS OF FORCE ON HANDLEBAR
EASTON BAR DROP TEST:
3,300 POUNDS OF FORCE ON HANDLEBAR.
225 GRAMS. PROPREITARY CNT™ COMPOSITE.
LIMITED 5-YEAR WARRANTY.
EASTON. BEYOND ENGINEERING.
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.
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.
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