Dirt Rag Magazine

Dirt Rag Contributor

Dirt Rag Contributor

Email me

Rider’s Eye: Mountain bike biathlon

2014 Mass Relay

Not what you expect to see from mountain bikers, huh? Photographer Leo Volz III captured the action at the International Intergalactic Global Open Mountain Bike Team Relay Championship of the Multi-Friggin-Verse (yes, that’s the official name) in Marysville, Penn. It was the first race of the Mid-Atlantic Super Series and afterwards there was a special bonus event: mountain bike biathlon. The premise was simple: ride two miles, shoot, ride two miles, shoot, ride two more miles to the finish. See more of Volz’s photos from the event here and send your favorite photographs to riderseye@dirtragmag.com.

 


‘Fabrique au Quebec’ – Inside Xprezo bikes

Words and Photos by Ryan Thibault

xprezo-5

I smile at the customs agent. She’s scrutinizing my passport—one glance down at my mug shot, one up at me…and again. The photo is dated, and my Afro has long since been quaffed.

“An’ why are you tra-ve-ling to Ca-na-da?” she asks in a French accent as cute as her face.

“To visit Cycles Xprezo,” I reply. 

“Ah, a moun-tain bi-ker,” she says with a knowing smile while handing back my documents and nodding me past.

There are a number of universal loves in Quebec and the bicycle tops the list, alongside Celine Dione and poutine. Spend even a few minutes in the province and the fanaticism for man’s most noble invention is apparent. This ingrained affinity for bicycle technology has given birth to one of Canada’s homegrown bicycle manufacturers, Cycles Xprezo.

Read the full story and see more photos.


Ride Like A Girl

rlag3

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!”

rlag4

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.”

rlag2

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.

 

 


Review: Foundry Broadaxe

foundry-broadaxe-1

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.

Read more in our long-term review.


Jay Petervary wins Arrowhead 135

Photos by David Gabrys/45NRTH

arrowhead-race-3

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.

arrowhead-race

Armed with nearly a full fleet of 45NRTH gear, he likely stayed pretty toasty warm, even as temperatures hit -30 degrees overnight.

Check out the amazing photo gallery from David Gabrys of 45NRTH of the action here.

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.

 


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.

wwrays_09m.jpg

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.

wwrays_09p.jpg

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.

wwrays_09b.jpg

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

dr-womens-weekend_09fullpageweb.jpg

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.


Back to Top