By Joh Rathbun. Photos by Jason Van Horn.
Most ladies I know wouldn’t be too happy if you told them they “ride like a girl” — unless you’re one of the ladies from the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, that is.
On February 1, I joined up with ladies from the BTCEB for the monthly Ride Like a Girl event. Ride Like a Girl is the first Saturday of the month, and is ladies-only. According to the group’s meetup.com page, “The emphasis of these rides will be [to have] fun and to meet other women who love to ride. We have rides geared towards all level of riders with experienced leaders.” This was my first time riding with them, but not my first time at El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve, commonly known as Skegg’s. It’s part of a green belt just south of San Francisco comprised of 62,000 acres of land, in 26 open space preserves.
BTCEB was founded in 1987, and is a founding member of IMBA. From its website, “BTCEB has been a leader in encouraging low-impact environmentally friendly riding, volunteer trail work participation, cooperation among different trail user groups, and grass roots advocacy. Of course we also love to ride bikes and have fun!”
While the sun was out, the temperature was low compared to our recent weather—about 50 degrees. After introductions, Amy Arcus led while Jane Moorehead swept the eight of us. We entered the park on a downward singletrack. The redwood forest welcomed us with the hush of wind through the trees and the smell of wet earth. The singletrack led us past the redwoods and lush bracken ferns, to tight madrone and tanoak groves. After the dryness we experienced in Santa Cruz, the forest felt fecund.
“Strava clocked us at 10.5 miles and 2,400 feet of climbing, I think the elevation gain is a little high but I’ll take it,” Amy said, but it didn’t feel like 2,400 feet of climbing, as the downhill and uphill changed frequently. We rode trails like Sierra Morena, Methuselah, Giant Salamander, Blue Blossom Trail, and rode the Fir Trail back out—which was a nice graded fire road. Ten women, one crash, lots of laughs, and 10 miles later, we exited the park, blissed out.
BTECB stoked us out on snacks after the ride—and there was even beer. Big ups to Inga Beck for arranging the Ride Like a Girl Ride, and to Amy and Jane, who may not have known the names of all the trails, but knew how to have fun. Lastly, here’s a big thank you to Family Cycling Center for the loaner bike—the Santa Cruz Blur LTC was built for Skegg’s! Like my carpool buddy, Donna Riggs said, “It was worth the drive.”
Joh Rathbun is a freelance writer, and columnist and ride leader for Shine Riders Co. To stay up to date on West Coast events, like her Facebook page, or contact her at johrathbun.wix.com/freelancewriter.
Tools, in the most basic sense, empower you. They’re an investment in the future; they will help you accomplish things. Foundry Cycles, as a brand, has really pursued the marketing their carbon fiber bicycles as tools. In the hands of a skilled user, or rider, the tool will be transformed into a beautiful thing. Dirty, but beautiful. My tool was the carbon fiber Broadaxe B2—a 29er hardtail, sporting the middle of the three SRAM drivetrain packages. The price for the three Broadaxe models ranges from $3,000 for the X7-equipped B1 up to $5,600 for the XX-equipped model.
“Stealthy” is how I would describe this bike. Its lines are symmetrical and clean and seem to flow uninterrupted, fore and aft. If you appreciate a matte, primer gray paint job on a classic muscle car, you will like the looks of the Broadaxe. Internal cable routing, tapered head tube, the new SRAM X0 Type 2 rear derailleur, Press-Fit 30 bottom bracket, 15mm thru-axle in the front, and a 12x142mm thru-axle in the rear make this bike a caucus of the latest standards and tech—the Broadaxe is kryptonite to retro-grouches.Tweet Print
Photos by David Gabrys/45NRTH
The frozen feats of strength known as the Arrowhead 135 started Monday morning and 45NRTH sponsored rider Jay Petervary took the win in his first attempt, finishing the 135 miles in 20 hours and 11 minutes.
Though it was his first crack at the race, Petervary is no stranger to these types of races. He has won the Iditarod Trail Invitational (350 AND 1,100-mile versions), the Tour Divide and now the Arrowhead.
Armed with nearly a full fleet of 45NRTH gear, he likely stayed pretty toasty warm, even as temperatures hit -30 degrees overnight.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Petervary set a record in the Arrowhead. The record is actually held by Todd McFadden at 14 hours 20 minutes.
Think those videos you see of amazing mountain adventures just come easy? Think again. Some aspiring filmmakers from Slovakia got in touch with their story of their adventure in the West Tatras mountains and how their new film “Get High” came to be.
By Zuzana Triebusnikova
One and a half year ago I did not know almost anything about mountain biking. Now I can say that I know more about it and have seen more videos than a regular rider. Peter Lengyel has infected me with his passion and showed me that it is possible to do what you like.
He had this video in mind for a long time. Thus, when he was ready to make it I wanted to take part. Even though it is a short movie, it took a lot of work, effort and planning. It is almost no budget movie. No budget, because we had only family support (borrowed cars and some equipment) and a borrowed bike for 2 weeks which Peter have not ridden before. However, without the priceless help of our friends, the video would be impossible. The biggest thanks goes to Juraj Lovás and Michal (Sakso) Stiksa who filmed the entire video.
So we had two weeks to film it. As you will see from the pictures, the weather was not always pleasing us. Rain, snow, fog, drizzle, wind, sun, we had all kinds of weather…Tweet Print
Photos by Griff Wigley
The Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop was held on January 9 and 10 in Cable, Wisconsin. This gathering brought together over 70 advocates from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin devoted to improving off-road cycling and fat biking in winter. The event was sponsored by Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) and hosted by Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC), International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).Tweet Print
There’s little doubt the mountain bike industry is heavily focused on the West Coast, but what about the rest of us back east? There is no shortage of amazing trails and beautiful scenery, so why don’t we see it represented in elite-level mountain bike filmmaking? FatTireFests is here with a response: a new series highlighting the best of the “other” coast.Tweet Print
By Montana Miller,
On the last day of Breck Epic, the fastest single speeder gets to shave his pubes. The slowest single speeder gets glue those pubes to his face.
I’ll be racing all week, and posting updates and results here. I really hope I don’t lose. I already have a beard.
A couple weeks ago, I headed out of Pennsylvania. I’ve been on the road traveling around Colorado, riding everyday and trying to adjust to the altitude.
The Monarch Crest in Pocha Springs, Colo.
Breckenridge, where each of the Epic’s six stages start and end, is at 9,500 feet. Coming from sea level, a hard game of checkers is enough to make most people see stars. And the stages head up from town, topping out at over 12,000 feet.
At this point I feel pretty well adjusted to the altitude. Instead of making me dizzy, the thin air just burns my throat when I breathe.
Half of the single speed field is staying in the same house. We got into town on Wednesday night.
Since everybody else just got to altitude, my friend Gnarmire decided we needed to hike a 14er to get acclimated. After repeatedly saying that I didn’t want to go, I was peer-pressured into going.
We walked up a mountain for three hours. It sucked. Over 13,000 feet, every step felt like a huge effort. I wanted to be on my bike so badly. At least the view from the top was neat.
Quandary Peak in Breckenridge, Colo.
Walking downhill for an hour was worse than going up, but we did run into some goats. I’ve seen internet videos of mountain goats lapping up pee for its salt content, so I decided to see if they would be attracted to my urine.
When I unzipped my pants, the goat family looked offended. One dropped his horns and got ready to charge. So I scampered away without peeing in one of their mouths. Maybe someday.
After the hike, we got back to the house where 14 of us will be spending the week and did some furniture rearranging. The guy who paid the security deposit has a steady job, so we’re not afraid to break things.
Then there was some cowboy hat hot-tubbing, chicken grilling in the rain, and writing code.
Not a very wild first evening, but at least there’s some booze in the lettuce crisper.
Packet pick-up is today, then the race starts on Sunday morning. There’s 240 miles of racing ahead of us. The house will be weird, and the race will be epic. I can’t wait. Check back every afternoon for updates.
The race is the self-designated Single Speed Stage Race World Championships. It’s a legitimate world championship because there’s one Canadian registered.
For pictures of the trails we’ll be riding all week, head to the Breck Epic Facebook page: facebook.com/breckepic.
By Matt Kasprzyk
I have a new riding buddy.
Royal Zero the Zombie Killer has been a part of my pack for about 17 months now. He’s not a fox. He’s about a year and a half old Shiba Inu, one of the oldest breeds in the world, despite almost going extinct after WWII. My goal has always been to develop him into a great trail dog.
I’ve been nervous about the task for a couple reasons. Shiba Inus are notoriously independent dogs and can be a challenge during obedience training. Because of this it’s suggested that they always be on a leash. Obviously not a good thing if I have aspirations of training him as a trail dog.
On top of that, Shiba Inus were originally breed for hunting. Not only is there a temperament barrier to overcome, I have to also train him to suppress thousands of years of instinct when out on the trial. This wasn’t the best choice of dog if all I was after was a good riding buddy.
So from early on we kept him well-socialized and active with lots of exposure to people and other dogs. This seemed to have a great affect on his personality, as any trainer would predict. And although he’s just recently started coming on rides, Zero has spent a lot of time outside playing and hiking.
One of the techniques we’ve learned through obedience classes is that in high stimulus settings you need to have an “uber” treat as a reward. Something your dog wants above anything else. For Zero, it’s a ball. Not food, but rather just a ball to chase. Sticks work almost as well. So when hiking I’ve always tried to keep him engaged on what I’m doing, whether it was kicking leaves for him to bite or finding sticks and throwing balls to play fetch with. Also make sure your dog is the right age for prolonged exercise.
Zero has also learned a lot from another Dirt Rag office trail dog. Josh’s riding buddy Toby has been a great influence on Zero when off the leash. Once you’re accepted as pack leader I think it gets much easier. Keep him focused on you, keep him safe, and have fun. There’s a strange primal enjoyment to riding with your pack.
This is an event of major significance for the future of American mountain bike racing. For the first time in years, there are US riders in the top 5 overall in the World Cup points standings: Cross Country racer Willow Koerber (Subaru/Gary Fisher) is currently ranked 3rd in Elite Women, while Aaron Gwin (Yeti Cycles) sits 4th place in Elite Men Downhill. Additionally, Windham area native and US. Olympian Todd Wells also sits in 13th in Elite Men’s Cross Country, while, Mary McConneloug and Georgia Gould sit 9th and 11th respectively in Elite Women Cross Country. All have legitimate shots at improving their overall ranking on home soil. Elite Cyclocross racing phenom Katherine Compton leads the charge of many more American riders looking for glory this weekend. Our riders’ home turf will definitely be a field-leveling advantage, as nearly all on the World Cup Tour have never competed at this first-time venue.
Official on-course inspection and training begin on Thursday, then racing kicks Friday with DH and 4X qualifying. PRO XC and 4X finals Saturday, then the DH Finals on Sunday. YOU can race the Worlds, too! There are full classes for non-UCI downhill and cross country citizen racing that anyone can enter, on Sunday. There is also a full compliment of other activities and entertainment both on site and in town, including free concerts, big-wheel racing, and a huge block party to celebrate the world coming to town.
Truly, there has been nothing like this on US soil for many years, and history will be made this coming weekend. If you are not already committed this coming weekend, this will be a phenomenal experience to take in.
More info can be found here: www.racewindham.com
Professional cycling is a fickle sport and in late 1991, Parkin finds himself unsigned for the upcoming season. He returns to the United States without a team, a career, or a country that felt like home.
Parkin’s recently released second memoir Come & Gone: A True Story of Blue-Collar Bike Racing in America, picks up the story as he chases a professional cycling career in the United States. Despite landing a coveted spot on the Coors Light team, Parkin has difficulty relating to American road cycling culture and his motivation begins to wane. After three grueling seasons, he finds himself in the familiar position of being without a contract as the Coors Light sponsorship falls through.
A twist of fate leads to Parkin to contact the Diamondback team, where he quickly trades asphalt for mud and signs a pro-racing mountain bike contract. Parkin feels a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the sport he once loved. Dirt riding is just plain fun and Parkin is hooked.
Far from being a fairy tale, Parkin’s professional mountain bike career threatens to become a string of underwhelming performances peppered with a few brilliant races. Spectacular crashes, mechanicals, and tactical mistakes consistently derail his chances to shine on the national and international stage. Yet, he steadfastly chases the dream of nailing that perfect race and hammering home the big win.
Come & Gone is an unflinching look at the grueling and often mundane world of professional cycling. Dirt geeks will appreciate the historical context as Parkin races in the blossoming mountain bike scene of the 90′s, and competes against legends such as Ned Overend and Tinker Juarez. Parkin’s humility, humor, and at times, indignation combine into an engaging coming of age story on the bike.
Ronit Bezalel is an award-winning filmmaker and sports journalist based in Chicago. Her work can be found at ronitfilms.com.