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Video: The making of ‘Get High’ in Slovakia

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.

getting-high-2

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…

Keep reading…


Fat Bike Summit brings trail users together

SONY DSC

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).

Read more about the event here.


Trailer: From Where We Stand

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.

Read more about From Where We Stand here.


Breck Epic – Checking into the Single Speed Frat House

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.

 


First ride with a new trail buddy

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.

 


Ticks suck!

If you mountain bike, you will interact with ticks, and tick-borne illnesses can be deadly. Here’s what you need to know.

 

By Gregory A. Cummins, D.O., M.S. American Board Internal Medicine Fellow Candidate, American Academy of Wilderness Medicine

Illustrations by Andy Jones

Ever notice that your biking game just isn’t up to your usual pub crawl bar-to-bar speed? Been achy, run down, sick? And you only had four microbrews for breakfast? It could be that you’re more of a lightweight than in your younger days. Or, it could be that you picked up a little friend while biking.

Ticks cause more disease in the U.S. than mosquitoes or any other critter you can see with the naked eye. If you mountain bike, you will interact with ticks. Just because you’re bigger, and hopefully smarter, does not mean you will win. Ticks transmit diseases that can kill you. More often, they simply maim and drag you down for a bit. Several friends and fellow mountain bikers I know have been sick from tickborne diseases, including a recent master’s MTB Champion. In fact, I picked up a case of Lyme disease at a family reunion four years ago.

Anyone who spends any amount of time in the outdoors is subject to tickborne diseases. Others in your house, non-bikers (spouse, kids, friends), are also subjected to your wild ventures. Pet owners in particular are exposed—so if you take your dog (or cat) biking, listen up. Ticks often come home on your clothing, or your favorite riding friend’s fur—thus subjecting the innocent and unsuspecting to your wanderings.

Most tickborne diseases occur in the warmer months, April through October or so. However, ticks can be found year-round, even in the middle of winter on warmer days. Some ticks have been documented to go for more than 13 years without a blood meal. To oversimplify, ticks reproduce by oral sex (the male inserts his sperm into the female’s reproductive organ via his mouthparts—the same ones he uses to suck your blood.

Ticks can mate and lay eggs even after their brain equivalent has been surgically removed from their body (kind of like the average college student). Each female tick lays 2,500 to 5,000 eggs. Larval ticks, which can transmit disease, are often less than one millimeter in diameter. Hundreds to thousands of them can get on you from one egg batch, if you stop or sit in the wrong spot. Nymphs are about 2-3 millimeters, making finding them on you quite challenging. Adults also transmit disease, but because of their size, are often easier to find before transmission of disease occurs.

Ticks feed slowly. Most ticks are on you for about 24 hours before they begin to really feed—it takes time to get the juices flowing— juices that thin your blood so the tick can feed, and help to cement it into your skin. Oh, and those juices from the tick gut are infested with disease-causing bacteria. If you are astute and check yourself very carefully (more on this and other removal tips later), you can prevent most disease transmission. Many diseases require the ticks to be on for 24-48 hours before disease transmission occurs. Others however, transmit disease in six hours, some in minutes.

The top three tickborne diseases you will encounter in the U.S., in order of prevalence.

Lyme Disease

Lyme is most common in the northeastern states (roughly Pennsylvania/Maryland, east to the coast and north into Canada), and the upper Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan peninsula. Ticks that transmit Lyme disease (LD) are the deer ticks, or Ixodes ticks, most often the nymphs, which are only a few millimeters in size.

A few days to a few weeks after a tick bite, a rash may occur in about 75-80 percent of patients. The rash is often concentric reddish rings alternating with whitish rings, with a pale center, the infamous bulls-eye rash. About half of the cases may also have low-grade fevers (less than100 degrees Fahrenheit), body aches, etc. If untreated, there may be myriad arthritic, neurologic and other systemic complaints.

The key is to diagnose and treat them properly and early. Antibiotics in pill form treat early disease, are well tolerated, inexpensive, and prevent the more severe chronic problems. More advanced disease can be very debilitating, usually requires intravenous antibiotics (read as NO RIDING) for 6-12 weeks, and are very expensive, so get treated early. There is a close cousin to Lyme disease, in the southeastern third of the U.S., called Southeastern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI). It is very similar to Lyme, but with less severe consequences, and is transmitted by the Lone Star tick. Treatment is the same.

Ehrlichiosis

Say what? This disease just became recognized as a human disease in 1990, though it has been around much longer. First diagnosed and recognized in Arkansas, it is now present and known throughout the world, and in nearly all states. Many different species and all stages, except the larvae ticks, transmit Ehrlichia.

Symptoms occur within three days to two weeks of a tick bite; symptoms include body aches/sore muscles, back pain, headache (sounds like the after-effects of any great ride), high grade fevers, (usually more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit), and sometimes other symptoms such as abdominal issues.

This disease can get you real sick, real fast. Often, hospital stays are required, sometimes in intensive care. It carries a 3 percent fatality rate, despite proper antibiotics. Do not miss this one. It is also called the “spotless spotted fever”, as in Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as only about 20 percent of people have a rash with Ehrlichiosis. To diagnose this disease, a good history and examination is all that is needed, though labs confirm it. Again, a simple antibiotic pill (the right one only), will treat it, and prevent any further complications.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

Nearly 97 percent of the cases come from east of the Rocky Mountains. The Appalachians account for most of the cases, though there have even been isolated cases in the South Bronx. The wood ticks or dog ticks primarily transmit RMSF. The disease is transmitted in only six hours, so check frequently in areas where this disease is found. Symptoms are present within two days to two weeks of a tick bite, and can get bad very fast. This disease can become fatal in days in some cases, and carries a 3-5 percent fatality rate treated, over 30 percent if untreated.

Symptoms include headache, body aches, and fever, present in 70-90 percent of patients. The rash is a fine, red, sometimes blackened rash, and present in 85-90 percent of people. Many people have severe headaches due to bleeding issues within the brain, cough due to severe lung involvement, and other serious symptoms.

Again, with early diagnosis and treatment, antibiotic pills work just fine. There are a plethora of other tick diseases that you can encounter biking in the U.S., not to mention worldwide. Babesiosis is a malaria-like infection, with cyclical high fevers. Many diseases may be transmitted by the same tick bite.

A viral infection called Colorado Tick Fever, and a bacterial infection called Tick Borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF), can both be easily encountered on a ride in the Rocky Mountains, especially if doing a hut-to-hut type of trip. There are many other spotted fever illnesses found worldwide, often similar to Rocky Mountain spotted fever. There is a virus in Russia, called Russian Spring-Summer Encephalitis, which carries a 50% fatality rate. Luckily, there is a vaccine—if you plan to ride in eastern Europe/Russia, get the vaccine.

Tickborne Disease Prevention

If you don’t mind the use of chemicals, use a permethrin containing product on your clothing/ gear, but don’t get this on your skin. Permethrin kills ticks on contact, and lasts through many washings. Higher containing DEET products can be used on skin, and deter or kill ticks. Shaving your legs like any good roadie will help your tactile response to feel ticks on your minimally stubby/hairy legs, and you can get them off before they attach.

I personally just check myself real well for ticks while stopping to fix a flat, look at a map, or immediately when done with the ride. Change your clothes BEFORE getting into your car for the ride home. Bag your clothes to isolate them. Ticks will live for weeks in a car or house, without a blood meal.

You will wind up with ticks on you at work if you drive to/from the trailhead, then to work on Monday. I destroyed some ticks from my research that had been unfed for more than two years, and were very vigorous and hungry. Look carefully for ticks, and use a mirror, or a good friend/spouse/significant other/riding buddy, whomever, to check the nooks and crannies you can’t quite see or reach. Ticks like highly vascular areas, like your grundle, armpits, scalp, etc., so look really well there. Launder your clothes when you get home.

Dry what you can—a hot clothes dryer kills most (not all) ticks. Another trick is to fumigate the clothes in a bag with a rag soaked in permethrin, before laundering. Check your trail dog (or trail cat) upon returning home. Use Frontline/Advantage/Advantrix or equivalent on your dog if he rides a lot with you. Doing so prevents the female ticks from feeding and dropping off in your yard, leaving thousands of larval ticks behind.

What to do it you have a tick on you

Keep some fine-tipped tweezers in your bike bag. Firmly, though gently, grasp the tick as close as you can to the skin. GENTLY and steadily, retract the tick straight out, in the direction it is attached. It will almost always withdraw, making a clean exit. Clean the area with an alcohol wipe, and place antibiotic ointment on it. Watch for local infection, or a rash or other signs and symptoms at a later date.

Tick bites can get infected, as they don’t clean your skin before they violate your space, so watch for that also. Save the tick in a jar of alcohol for a while in case testing or identification is needed. I slap them in between pieces of clear tape if nothing else. Larvae, or “seed ticks” can be removed with duct tape, or scraping along the skin with a credit card or driver’s license. In most situations, no need to seek medical care unless any signs/symptoms.

What not to do

Whatever you do, skip the old remedies. DO NOT: light a match and touch the tick; use your bare fingers (always use tweezers); cover the tick with fingernail polish, petroleum jelly or any other lube, etc. Doing any of these will highly increase the chance of disease transmission (you will cause the tick to puke into your body—and remember the secretions part above, thus injecting a lot of bacteria into your bloodstream).

If you don’t feel well, and are reading this, you very well may have a tickborne illness. These very often mimic a typical summer cold. Explain to your doctor that you are a mountain biker, and spend a lot of time in the woods riding and building trails. If your doctor doesn’t listen, well, find a new one who does. History is key in making a diagnosis, especially with tickborne diseases.

Find a good general internist, family practice doctor or infectious disease specialist, but don’t seek out a “Lyme disease specialist.”

Disclaimer: Any concerns, see your doctor. I am a doctor and avid biker. Please don’t sue me for disagreeing with me or if you get ticks. I have no control over them, and they are responsible for their own actions, as are you and I. Just remember, TICKS SUCK!

More in the Mag

This article originally appeared in Issue #155, along with detailed maps of tick species’ ranges and additional information about how to spot them. You can order a copy in our online store, or order a subscription to see all our features as soon as they’re published.


UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Finals, USA Takes On The World (Party)

This coming weekend the best riders and biggest international trade teams in the world are coming to Windham, NY to compete in the UCI World Cup Finals! This is a landmark event, as the Mountain Bike World Cup makes its return the US for the first time in five years. The fanfare, competition level and energy will be at an all time high, as the pageantry and global importance of this event combined with the historical significance of this season’s epic series culminates at Windham. All season the world’s best racers and teams have traversed the globe racing towards the glory of becoming UCI World Cup Champions. The making and breaking of people’s dreams are all on the line as the World Cup Champions will be crowned in Men’s and Women’s Downhill, 4-Cross and Cross Country racing. More than just a bicycle race, the World Cup is a celebration in the spirit of competition and global unity.

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


Come and Gone Review

In 1986, Joe Parkin was a fresh-faced American teenager with a bike, a spare set of wheels, and a dream of becoming a pro cyclist. While his peers were cutting their teeth on the US circuit, he flew to Belgium and embarked on a hard-fought European cycling career built on blood, sweat, and countless Kermis races. Parkin’s 2008 memoir A Dog in a Hat details his whirlwind journey through the European professional cycling ranks at a time when Americans in the sport were quite rare.

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.


Monterey By Way of Hollywood

The first Sea Otter Classic of the 10’s was welcomed with beautiful California weather. Gone were the high winds, flash flooding rains and bone-chilling sub-60 degree temperatures. I arrived in Monterey via a small prop plane from San Francisco, which I realized is the rigid singlespeed version of air-travel: You feel every bump, sweat a lot and you’re pretty stoked you made it when its over with.

I arrived in Monterey without a lift to the venue, so I asked the only guy I saw carrying a bike helmet if he wanted to share a cab to Sea Otter.  He replied that he already had a ride lined up, but I was welcome to join. Nice!  We waited outside for a minute until a Team GT dually pulled up.  Turns out he rides for GT. Turns out Pro Downhill. Turns out my ride is with Eric Carter.

After racing the MTB Tandem class two years in a row, I decided to spend the weekend off the bike, and take in the Expo. I quickly adapted to Bike Show Sustenance by hydrating with the help of free beer coupons and staying fed with various free energy bar samples.

A couple cool items were on display that caught my eye.  First up was Crank Brothers.  They’ve come a long way since selling Eggbeaters, now offering a full lineup of components.  New are the stem selections, handlebars, grips and 29er version of the sexy Cobalt wheelset. Also spotted was the hot new Candy pedal, getting an alloy cage to replace the plastic model.

Pardon me one second – beer break.

After finishing the latest round of brews & chews, I couldn’t help but notice the sweet aroma of fine leather in the air.  My nose led me to the Dromarti booth, makers of the richest looking handmade cycling shoes you’ve never put on your feet.  They are available in three models; the ‘Race’ model for road pedals, the ‘Sportivo’ for SPD and the smooth-bottomed ‘Storica’ for flat pedals.  If you have any sense of style, these should be on your “Top 5 Must-Have Bike Stuff” list. Prices starting from $225 per pair in classic brown.  Also available soon in black.

In closing…

And a little gallery: All photos by Jeff Thrasher.

Jeff Thrasher runs the Hollywood on Bicycle blog, and can be found at all sorts of bike events in the western part of the country.

We’ll have a full report on all the product news…and there was a lot…from Sea Otter on Friday. So be sure to check back. In the meantime…were you there? See anything interesting, or have a story to tell? Leave a reply below to let us hear about it!


They’re Back!!!

Move over guys! The Women of MTB are in the house!

Ray’s warehouse, that is.

This Friday through Sunday (February 19-21), Ray’s MTB Park in Cleveland will host the third annual Women’s Weekend. The Largest Women’s Biking Event of the Year!

Launch off Friday with free admission for women riders of all levels and disciplines, breakfast at 9am provided by Superco and then off to coaching sessions and bike demos form the top women riders in the sport. After a Chipotle lunch, it’s back to riding with the pros until quitting time. Guys: All day stag party in the Troy Lee Rhythm room, just so you don’t feel left out. One day isn’t enough? The fun continues with ½ price admission for ladies on Sat, Feb 20th and Sun, Feb 21st as well.

Up for grabs this year are two bike frames: The DK Sentry BMX and Kona’s Shonky DJ, Slopestyle, so be sure and hang around for the Awards and Sponsor Raffle.

Dirt Rag is excited and proud to be on hand to cover the return of Ray’s Angels Women’s Weekend.  We’ll be roaming the course and picking up tips of our own, so take a moment to say hello and let us know how you enjoy the day!

For details on location and registration go to www.raysmtb.com


Web Extra for Dirt Rag #143: Jeff “Frosty” Frost Interview

If one name is synonymous with the US National Mountain Bike Series, it could be Jeff Frost. “Frosty” was a key factor in the series, making sure the events ran smoothly even under the most trying of weather conditions, as well as taking care of his riders’ most urgent needs on every level. His was an often-thankless position at the helm of the National MTB Series. Yet, after watching him and his staff work tirelessly all weekend at the USA Cycling MTB National Championships to ensure the quality the event deserved, seeing Jeff enthusiastically cheer on the kids and beginner racers reinforced to me his depth of passion for this sport. During his tenure, some of the best races and athletes in the world had emerged from under his start banner. Jeff has seen it all, from the legendary battles of the sport’s beginnings, to nurturing the heroes of tomorrow.

DR: What was your title/job description and tenure at USA Cycling/NORBA?

JF: Jeffery Frost, currently owner, BlueWolf Events. I managed the NORBA National Championship Series/National Mountain Bike Series for five years. In addition, I worked as race director/technical director at NORBA NCS venues from 1993-2008 in association with Mount Snow and Galeforce.

DR: The NORBA National Series was the first and used to be the absolute most prestigious off-road racing series in the world. You were involved since the heyday of the late ‘90s at the height of mountain biking’s popularity. To what do you attribute the success of the series during your tenure at NORBA?

JF: Sponsorship dollars and riding the wave of mountain bike popularity in the United States.

DR: Where has USA Cycling been weak with mountain biking regionally, nationally and internationally? Could they have done more with resources or general attention to slow the decline?

JF: Weak is not the right word—the role of USA Cycling is very different than most understand—they are first and foremost a membership organization. Their support of racing has been tremendous through the years. Every organization has its critics, but by and large USA Cycling has done the best it could with the resources available.

DR: A lot of people have many opinions on what USA Cycling did not do for NORBA/NMBS, particularly the gravity focus (coverage, resources, etc.), to the point where some top riders even boycotted our national series. Care to comment?

JF: Boycott is an interesting choice of words. I prefer stating it that the top riders choose to race on the international level and with new events domestically. The NCS/NMBS has long struggled with the balance between professional and amateur racing, particularly with the gravity discipline.

DR: What lessons has or could have USA Cycling learned from the past regarding this operating model?

JF: It would appear, with the creation of the US Cup Series, that the “national series” is working on a model that may succeed in the the years to come. Energy and passion have never been short on the national series, and the new leadership at USA Cycling, Kelli Lusk and Scott Tedro from SHO-Air, seem to have things well in hand.

DR: The model at the time was very successful in generating interest, breeding U.S.-based competitors and champions on an international level, seeding local and regional riders to national level competition and building a culture. What elements of that model are workable in today’s cycling competition, culture and economic climate?

JF: The same things continue to apply—the national series needs to be the goal of each and every local/regional rider to compete in. Resources always are the key…back in the day the National Series had little or no competition for funds, both from riders and sponsors. Now there are so many events, activities and opportunities for both riders and sponsors to spend their limited dollars with.

DR: Though race participation has somewhat declined on the national level, the riding public has grown and matured, with a lot of diversity in riding styles and cultural identities. What do you see as the possibilities of tapping into the new breeds and how might these diverse interests be corralled for the greater good of the racing public?

JF: I do not know…I think the riders will decide which events work and we need to continue to develop those.

DR: You and I had talked about a slightly different model for events incorporating more urban venues, events and focus. Festival atmosphere, slopestyle events are huge internationally and draw from all aspects of the off-road riding and racing culture. Capturing this and offering events for racers (competition) and riders (seminars, demos, festival atmosphere) at resorts close to urban population centers seems like a win-win situation. Granted, this takes tremendous effort and collaboration from USA Cycling, the local organizing committee and the riding populace, but it is possible (Crankworks for example). An all-inclusive collaborative package held at a suitable venue near a population center with entertainment and promotion could be a great value. Your thoughts?

JF: This certainly is a question that continues to be asked…since I started in this sport. Crankworx is a bad example—it was created and funded for many years by the local government, and subsidized with tourism dollars. Now that it has moved to private ownership we will see how it goes. USA Cycling is not responsible for funding events—we as promoters are, and those dollars are scarce right now. Could an event work under those circumstances you outline above? Absolutely. We have yet to find the perfect convergence of all those things you mention above—we will, just not yet.

DR: Looking down the trail, where do you see USA Cycling’s National Mountain Bike Series in the future?

JF: It has survived for twenty plus years—the brand is strong. It will continue to be the Series that all of us choose to race in when we want to test ourselves against the best of the best, both on the amateur and professional level.


Bicycle Times Reviews the Breezer Villager

breezer villagerThe Breezer Villager was specifically designed for “relaxed rides and errands” or “sprints to the office,” and its components were thought out to provide a bike that would be “truly useful in everyday life.” It comes complete with accessories that every commuter needs right off the bat: fenders, rack, a lock system, kickstand, a plush seat, chainguard, and front and back lights. This allows a person to walk out of the shop, bike in hand, ready to hit the road.

Click here to read the complete review of the Breezer Villager that appears in Bicycle Times #1.


Dirt Rag Women’s Weekend At Ray’s Indoor MTB Park

Well, we’ve wrapped up the second annual Dirt Rag Women’s Weekend and thanks to Nina, Ray and all the fine folks at Ray’s MTB Indoor Park in Cleveland, we had a wonderfully exciting event that more than doubled the number of participants from last year. Nearly a hundred women of various ages joined us this weekend, many arriving on Friday morning for a day to ourselves in Ray’s.We started off by breaking into small groups, depending on levels of experience, and teaming up with one of the professional women riders who had so generously given their time to help our cause. Some of the clinics focused on the bare-bones basic mechanics of riding, practicing simple balancing skills and body positioning, and progressed to more advanced clinics such as conquering the feared rock garden, racing the pump track and catching air on the box jumps.

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Terry and Doc from Superco donated funds to provide healthy snacks to keep our energy up, and when the snacks were gone, Red Bull was on hand to “kick it up a notch.” After a lunch break with food from Chipotle Grill, we practiced our new skills and got some one-on-one time with instructors for a little brush up.

Both Trek and Specialized were there with their respective lineup of women-specific bikes for those of us who like to mix it up and try different rides. We had raffle prizes from SkullCandy, Superco, IMBA, Red Bull, Specialized,Trek, FreeRide Association, DK Bikes, Albe’s BMX, Etnies Girl, and Norco as an added bonus.

The fun continued all weekend. Ray’s saw record numbers of riders as the guys showed up to share the park, and track space was at a premium.

On Saturday night from 10-12p.m., Ray turned the lights off for a night ride around the park, with demo lights from NiteRider Lighting Systems. Karen can attest to the fun of racing around the course in the near dark, but even from the sidelines where I was, the trace of lights weaving through the darkness was somewhat surreal, and very cool.

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Many thanks to the instructors:
Tammy Donahugh
Gale Dahlager
Tamara Peloquin
Darcy Turenne
Nadia Steinbrecher
Terry Seeberg – Superco
Stacey Mulligan
Nina Buitrago
Jackie Baker

Also a big thanks to Subaru and Pabst Blue Ribbon for the party at the Holiday Inn on Friday night. Hopefully, they’ll let us back in next year after the antics in the swimming pool….sorry, no details, you’ll just have to come next year to see what you missed.

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To see more fun pics check out freeridefoundation.blogspot.com and The Dirt Rag Photo Gallery, plus stay tuned for some video to come….


Women’s Weekend at Ray’s: The Sequel

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The date has been set. Plans are being made. Dirt Rag and Ray’s MTB Park are throwing the second annual Women’s Weekend, Friday, February 20th through Sunday, February 22nd.

Spend Friday at Ray’s MTB participating in free clinics with professional women riders. We will have Ray’s MTB—revamped for 2009—to ourselves during the day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Riders of all skill levels are welcome! Chris Garrison from Trek will be on hand with demo bikes. Riding make you hungry? We’ll have lunch provided by Chipolte Mexican Grill, and snacks from Nature’s Bin in Cleveland provided by Superco. We will allow the guys back in after 4 p.m. On Friday at 7 p.m. we’ll have a party at the Holiday Inn with snacks and beer from Subaru and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

On Saturday and Sunday, Ray’s will be open to everyone, but women ride at half price.This is a great chance to practice your new skills and show the guys a thing or two. Last year, with little notice, nearly forty amateur and eight professional women riders participated in the Dirt Rag Women’s Weekend, and we look forward to this year being bigger and better than ever. Check out our Gallery of photos from last year. Come out and have a great time!

If you plan on attending, please RSVP to rays@dirtragmag.com (not necessary, but it will help us be prepared). If you’re traveling to Cleveland, don’t forget to visit www.raysmtb.com for info on special deals at the Holiday Inn – Cleveland Airport! For more info go to www.dirtragmag.com or www.raysmtb.com.If you are a professional women rider and would like to be involved please contact nina@raysmtb.com.


New Featured Artist Gallery Posted

Philip Williamson first began submitting work for Dirt Rag Magazine in 2007. To date he’s illustrated two Table of Content Pages (issues 133 and 137), and a Last Chance for Gas (issue 129), plus submitted dozens of rough sketches for ideas.

Philip’s watercolors are light and vibrant, sometimes quirky, and always treats to enjoy. He really shines with his sculpture-though it’s a little harder to depict the impact in photographs.

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Currently, he lives in McMinnville, Oregon and owns a Rivendell Quickbeam and Bontrager Privateer and likes to ride with his canine friend Chick, a half Lab, 1/4 pit bull, and 1/4 bull mastiff.

We will be featuring Philip’s work in our Artist gallery for the next few months, so click on over and check it out. And don’t forget to browse the archives of Dirt Rag’s past Featured Artists.


Sometimes it hurts…

Ryan Jacque is a pencil artist extraordinaire who contributed work for Trips For Kids DC chapter in 2005 to help raise money. The finished piece “Spring Pair” was featured on the Dirt Rag Table of Contents in Issue 115.
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Recently, Ryan has had in a very serious accident and has been struggling with recovery. His wife and kids have had a tough time and could use any support you can give, be it just a kind word even. Some progress on the path of healing has been made, but there is still a long road ahead and steps forward seem to be small.

You can check on Ryan’s progress at http://www.ryanjacque.com/


That’s A Wrap!

It’s fall outside and right now we’re sewing up the last bits on the next Dirt Rag going off to press. Issue 139 will be the last of this year.  It’s hard to believe that this is about it for 2008.

Looking back, the past summer has been chalk full of adventures, both personal and professional. In June, Justin Steiner and I made a foray into Canada to check out the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice in Bolton, Ontario. It was my first time camping since I was a kid! In July, the entire Dirt Rag office headed out to Kenda Bikefest in Hancock, Massachusetts, our first crack at presenting a major bike festival. It was my second time camping and my first experience huddled in a flimsy tent in a lightening/rain storm. I was certain we would all be struck by lightning or swept away in the flash floods. Luckily the sun returned in the morning and dried out the venue quickly, making for a fantastic three-day festival. I didn’t make it out on the trails nearly as much as I wanted to this season, but enough to see advancement in my skills on a mountain bike. Dare I say, taking a few more risks this year? And as the summer was winding down we all packed up again and headed for Vegas and Interbike where my colleagues introduced me to my first bit of serious city riding-bike messenger style- through construction and traffic in downtown Vegas…at night! This fall, I’ve also had chance to reconnect with family and friends. And for the first time in my life I think I know what I want to do when I grow up! I’m also closing out my second year as Dirt Rag‘s Art Director. Each time I think I’m getting the hang of the job they up the ante on me!

2009 will start a new chapter of the Dirt Rag story with the advent of the first Bicycle Times issue in March. We hope you will enjoy and contribute to this new title as you have with Dirt Rag. All and all, it looks to be a very busy next year for the staff, but we are excited about extending our horizons to include the daily disciplines of the average bicycle rider. Right now I’m going to take a deep breath and enjoy the next two weeks before we start gearing up for the next production schedule!

I’m including a small gallery of photos from places I’ve ridden and things I’ve seen on the trails this year. Hope you enjoy them.

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Unknown rider at the first water crossing at Kenda Bikefest.  -photo Dan Zimmerman

Deer

Doe and fawn check out Dirt Rag Headquarters backyard.  -photo Amanda Zimmerman

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Getting around on Maui,  photo by Dan Zimmerman

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Andrew supervises as Justin, Karen and Eric assemble the Dirt Rag Interbike Booth. -photo by Amanda Zimmerman

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Baby Raccoon on the Pittsburgh Jail Trail. -photo Bill Muldoon

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Manhattan. Any given day of the week. -photo Amanda Zimmerman

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Karen finds a friend. -photo Justin Steiner

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Promontory Point on Herr’s Island. Pittsburgh.-photo by Bill Muldoon

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Fall Ride. Alline (1 of 7) and me (5 of 7). -photo by Bill Muldoon


Project SingleSpeed Racer: Race Report 6, Season Finals

I used the Summer Showdown, the last Mid Atlantic Super Series race of the season, as my goal for recovering from my knee injury. The course at Bear Creek Ski Mountain in Macungie, Pa. is typically one of the most technical of the series, and tends to suit my strengths as a rider well. They also offered double series points for this race to encourage attendance, which was a bonus. With some solid riding under my belt, I felt good going into the event.

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Chuck and the rest of the Bear Creek crew have been hard at work building new trail sections for the race. I didn’t get a chance to pre-ride the final course, but word was that the climbs were more manageable then previous years. I opted to gear down to 32×20 on my Kona 29’er for the climbs and technical sections.

Before the race, I did my warmup on the road bike and rollers, and felt good heading to the start. The Elite field had a solid turnout, and it was good to be back to racing with these guys. As we waited at the start line I looked around and no one else was riding singlespeed. Hmmmm. This was a first. I can usually count on Topher, Yozell, or someone else to be going mono-cog. Maybe they knew something I didn’t?

After a delayed start, we got going in the middle of a fairly hot day. Temperatures were in the 80’s, and with a few short climbs and some technical sections, the field spread out quickly. I fell in line behind Topher, who’s another good technical rider, and the first lap went well. When we hit the start of the second lap, Topher and his gears disappeared ahead of me on the flat sections. After the race he fess’ed up that he had pre-ridden and decided to run gears for this very reason. The remainder of the race I held my position, only getting passed by one rider, and passing a couple. On the last lap I ended up riding with fellow Jim Thorpe’er Jamie Huber (EWR). We both cramped up on the last steep climb, I pushed through it and finished 14th, Jamie 15th. Against this field that felt like a solid finish. Gears would have helped, but not by a huge amount. Harlan Price (IF) picked up the win.

In the end I finished 6 MASS series races. The promoters count 7 results for the series, and I ended up 14th overall. With Topher’s conversion to a geared bike, mine was the top Elite placing for a singlespeed rider.

Looking back on my season riding singlespeed at the regional level in the Elite Open class, I feel good about my results. On a couple courses, Grangue and Bear Creek, my lack of top end gearing was a disadvantage. On others, such as French Creek, riding singlespeed worked very well.


Two to Choose from…

Mahalo, Kona

It was my luck this year to begin and end Interbike Outdoor Demo with test rides on two very sweet women specific bikes. Early Monday morning, I swung by the Kona tent and picked up the first ride of the day, the Kona Lisa 120 Deluxe.  Kona has been busy finessing to perfection this 5” travel deluxe version for it’s premier in 2009.  As a rule, I don’t ride dual suspension bikes since my first experience on one was less than glorious. An error on my part it turns out. I would end up riding two very nice women’s dual suspension bikes and enjoying both immensely. Before I headed out with the Lisa 120 Deluxe, Jeff and Jim from Kona were kind enough to set up my test bike’s sag and give me a run down on the various points to adjust and refine the Kona 4-Bar suspension set up. A nice bit of technology that you can read more about here.

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On the trail, I was pleasantly surprised to find this bike felt instantly familiar and comfortable. Usually one of the trade off with dual suspension bikes is added weight, but Kona uses a light weight scandium alloy and the Lisa was quick on the trail and didn’t drag as I pedaled up the first big climb. This bike was very rewarding to maneuver over the singletrack and I was even feeling confident enough to tackle some of the more challenging parts of the trail right off the bat. The Shimano M575 Hydraulic Disc brakes are a very nice touch and combined with the light frame and ideal 22.5” top tube length made for a smooth ride. Already I was having thoughts of cheating on my Trek. Finishing up the first loop, I was pumped to go back and run through it again. The particular set up I was riding on the test had me sitting at a slightly more upright position over the handlebars which I find to be more comfortable than a lower, more aggressive position. However, this positioning combined with full tires on loose gravel did result in some occasional looseness in the steering but it would have been easy enough to take some spacers out of the headset to drop into a more forward riding mode if needed and add weight on the front tires to minimize those moments. I think Kona has an exceptional women’s specific bike that is fantastic for anyone interested in a multipurpose trail bike and I would have loved to spend even more time on the Kona Lisa sometime down the line.

Giant Anthem

Bookending the days riding, I took an opportunity to stop by Giant and see what they had in their line up for women specific bikes as well. They hooked me up with the Anthem X W. The Anthem with a light aluminum frame, 4” of travel and race forward positioning is ideal for more assertive competition riding but I did find it suitable for the average everyday trail ride as well. Like the Kona Lisa, having the proper sag setup in the suspension is the first step to a pleasant ride, and the tech’s in the Giant tent did a quick efficient adjustment and it was ready to ride.

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The Anthem is set up with it’s Race Face Evolve XC  lowrise handlebar and stem, which brought me a bit more forward over the front wheel and just to the edge of my comfort zone. Dispite that, I still found the Anthem was quiet nimble on the trail, sticking to the corners nicely and steering response was fast. Because of its race competition breeding, the Anthem is geared to a down to business sort of take on the trail and everything Giant speced on this bike is aimed to that end. Specifically, I found the Shimano SLX Rapidfire shifting system is a good match, letting the rider use thumb or forefinger for quick and accurate shifting on the fly. One thing Giant boast of is their bikes ability to handle climbs and when I asked the tech on hand for details he explained Giant’s Maestro Suspension system that utilizing key pivot points to smooth out your pedaling and braking so more of your energy goes into generating forward momentum. Here’s more details.  After a hot long day of riding when my enthusiasm for long climbs was on the wane, I was delighted to find the system really worked. In fact, I purposely rode down a few extra grades just to marvel at the ease of re-climbing them.

In the end, Giant has done a great job of setting up a competitive womens specific bike that can in a pinch be used for the occasional casual spin in the woods.


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