By Joh Rathbun, photos by Inga Beck.
Don’t take out the disco ball and the pumps—high heels—because this is Ladies Night at Northstar California. Bring a bike pump instead, as NorCal’s favorite mountain is notorious for it’s rocky and dusty conditions. And with the drought that California is experiencing, the mountain is living up to its reputation
On August 22 MTB4HER and Shine Riders Company hosted Pumps on Pedals, Northstar California’s ladies night. Craig Shaffer, of the Northstar Bike Academy, and I coordinated to bring on board Lindsay Beth Currier (LBC) of Shine as coach and host, with Teresa Edgar of MTB4HER donating primo swag for the ladies.Tweet Print
The stuff. All the things that I’m carrying. When it’s all laid out, it doesn’t look like much for a few weeks of living off the bike. But when I’m pushing it up a mountain road, it feels like a ton.
I’ve never cared about how much my race bike weighed. I’ve always felt that the main difference between a 20 pound mountain bike and a 27 pound mountain bike is about $2,000, and the fact that a heavier bike won’t break when you hit a rock the wrong way.
But this is different. When the dry weight (no food or water) of the whole setup is pushing 50 pounds, I’ve been doing everything I can to save weight. I even bought a kitchen scale to weigh crap. And I’ve been debating the little things: do I need a wool hat if I have a jacket with a hood? Probably not. Saved 150 grams.
Editor’s note: Montana is a former intern at Dirt Rag and longtime friend-of-the-mag, so we were especially proud when he completed the 2,700-mile Tour Divide this summer in his first attempt. Read his epic account of the trip here. You can also follow along with all his adventures on his blog, The Skrumble.Tweet Print
Editor’s note: We love hearing from readers. This is, of course, The Mountain Bike Forum. Gary sent us this great story of how he saved his hide from a looooong walk with a little bit of MacGyver ingenuity. Have a story you’d like to share? Send it to email@example.com.
By Gary Bolton
Last Sunday we were riding one of the most remote cross country trails, off the map at Monte Sano State Park and Land Trust in Huntsville, Alabama. Monte Sano and the surrounding Land Trust offer miles and miles of technical, rocky single track. At pretty much the furthest point from civilization, I snap my rear derailleur cable.
This is not good. Hiking out is not a good option as we are at the bottom of the mountain and it would be an incredibly challenging bushwhacking climb without a bike, let alone lugging a mountain bike. The only option is to attempt to ride out the remaining 10 miles on a challenging cross country single track with the rear derailleur stuck in the smallest (i.e. hardest) gear.Tweet Print
By Joh Rathbun. Photos by Clay Ryon.
I’m usually the only woman at the pump track, so I’ve decided that if I have to be the only woman to get more women out there, I will be that woman. I also lead rides in Santa Cruz for my team, Shine Riders. The Shine Santa Cruz rides are designed for women to work on their bike-handling skills, regardless of their skill and fitness level. So, it seemed like a no-brainer to host a Shine ride at a pump track. I would get the women out there via my team outreach.Tweet Print
By Heidi Shilling
My journey to Costa Rica started in early July when I realized I had a chance to win a free entry to La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a three-day mountain bike stage race considered to be one the toughest in the world.
I had been texting with my good friend Annie about the race. She had recently moved back to Ohio and we became fast friends cut from the same cloth. She was a hell of a mountain biker—we would ride for hours talk about everything and nothing at all. She was wise beyond her years, never judgmental and always found a way to make me laugh.
The last text I ever got from her was about La Ruta. The very next day she was killed by a drunk driver. My beautiful, smart, silly, wild Annie was gone. The only thing that made me feel better after her death was riding my bike. Fast forward a few months and had won the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship series for expert women. The next thing I knew I was stepping on a plane headed to Costa Rica.Tweet Print
Think those videos you see of amazing mountain adventures just come easy? Think again. Some aspiring filmmakers from Slovakia got in touch with their story of their adventure in the West Tatras mountains and how their new film “Get High” came to be.
By Zuzana Triebusnikova
One and a half year ago I did not know almost anything about mountain biking. Now I can say that I know more about it and have seen more videos than a regular rider. Peter Lengyel has infected me with his passion and showed me that it is possible to do what you like.
He had this video in mind for a long time. Thus, when he was ready to make it I wanted to take part. Even though it is a short movie, it took a lot of work, effort and planning. It is almost no budget movie. No budget, because we had only family support (borrowed cars and some equipment) and a borrowed bike for 2 weeks which Peter have not ridden before. However, without the priceless help of our friends, the video would be impossible. The biggest thanks goes to Juraj Lovás and Michal (Sakso) Stiksa who filmed the entire video.
So we had two weeks to film it. As you will see from the pictures, the weather was not always pleasing us. Rain, snow, fog, drizzle, wind, sun, we had all kinds of weather…Tweet Print
By Vicki Barclay
Approaching a big race like the Trans-Sylvania Epic, people always ask, “How you are feeling?” and “Are you ready?” I always find it a funny question to answer! The same way as when someone asks how a job interview went, men tend to answer with confidence, I have noticed, whereas females tend to be more coy and careful. I prefer the coy and careful approach.
The truth is, mountain bike stage racing is like no other racing. As Heidi Klum from Project Runway would say (yes, I know, I love crap TV!): “One day your in, the next you’re out” (with a very abrupt tone for out). You can be having the ride of your life, only to be taken out by a mechanical, illness, etc. In other words, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
This spring, with the incredible support from the Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team, I have been able to participate in a whole range of races on my journey towards TSE, including the Maryland State Champs at Greenbriar; the Whiskey Off-Road; the Wildcat 100; Mike Kuhn’s universal relay race; a 4 hour endurance race; and a cross country race in the Mid-Atlantic super series. It has been the most enjoyable spring racing to date, mostly because I have loved racing my Cannondale Scalpel 29er! The bike climbs like a cross-country hard tail, but floats over the rocks like an amazing full suspension bike.
But do all those races mean I am ready for TSE? Thoughts start creeping across my mind, like “Should I have done more back-to-back hard days of training instead of racing?” “Why didn’t I make the effort to pre-ride some of the stages that I don’t ride too often?” “Should I be more anal about my bike set-up, positioning etc?”
What I am learning more and more with stage racing, and indeed all other types of racing however, is that you have to quietly accept and be at peace with your preparations, turn up to the start line rested, and not get caught up in what other people are doing in training, eating, drinking, etc. At least that’s how it works for me.
The prologue starts Sunday and I am excited about what the week will bring. Are you ready?
By Stephan Kincaid,
The Tour of the Battenkill is a road race spread over an entire weekend and catering to the beginner to the Pro. Littered with a bunch of dirt road sections it’s becoming a legendary event. This year had over 3,500 racers in attendance on Saturday alone.
So what does this have to do with getting ready for Trans-Sylvania Epic?
First, the Tour of the Battenkill is backed by one of my best sponsors. I’m blessed to have a wonderful company in Stan’s NoTubes, and an excellent team in Stan’s NoTubes p/b Proferrin behind me for a variety of events for 2013. One of these is TSE.
Who in their right mind would support a 40 year old semi-retired dude with product and incredible amounts of enthusiasm? Stan’s NoTubes, that’s who! I was happy to see Cindy, Bob and Richie working hard for their company and taking care of their riders and their prospective customers. They are truly one of the best in the biz.
Stan’s treats you like family!
How cool is this? Personalized frame stickers!
Second, my teammates are like my brothers and I want to take care of them. During the race I did my best to shepherd Jake, John, Mike and Jacob around the field. It’s especially important to be at the entrance of the dirt sections. Not doing so can put you immediately on the brakes, this then forces you to re-accelerate in order to stay in the field. Those of you not familiar with road racing can relate to a mountain bike race surging to enter the single track. Too far back and you may never see the front again. In addition, once you get dropped in a road race, it’s rare that you get back and there’s fear of being time cut (not being classified as a finisher).
Thankfully, even with my lack of consistent riding (thanks to my full time job, recently moving and yada yada yada), I was able to dutifully perform my domestique role. I was eventually dropped at mile 55. I’d rather be dropped busting my butt for my team than to sit in and be invisible. I finished the race with others in my position to finish the 82 mile day in under four hours. Here’s the Strava info.
Some of the best parts of race/travel is meeting new people, seeing new places and sampling good restaurant fare. Of particular fun was meeting a host family and their dog Copper! Thank you for taking care of us!
How can one not love this face!
Get in my belly! A post race refuel stop at the Gilded Otter in New Paltz, NY.
Keep on Keeping On!
By Michael Wissell
So you decided to do a week- long bike race.
I can’t tell you what you have to do to win the race. I imagine that it involves a lot of “training” and “hard work”. I can, however, tell you about a couple of things that can make your week at the Trans-Sylvania Epic even more awesome (and perhaps take away a bit of the sting of losing 30 minutes a day to Jeremiah Bishop).
First things first: bring a fan. Preferably two fans. It gets hot at night in the bunks, and the last thing you want after a four hour hoof across the soggy wilderness is your thighs sticking together when you are trying to sleep. The second fan is for your gear. The race is hard enough. You can at least start every day with a dry helmet and shoes.
It is important to note that you should not use one fan for both purposes. Wafting the smell of your swampwater-filled foot-terrariums around the cabin will make you significantly less popular.
Your cabin-mates will let you know.
Treats. Last year, my wife secretly packed homemade cookies for me. I also brought some Trader Joes peanut butter cups. You will find that the provided food is no substitute for the morale-repairing experience of sharing candy with other constantly-hungry bike racers. It also works wonders as an icebreaker in a room full of people from different backgrounds and countries. If love is the universal language, cookies are its Rosetta Stone. Bring something good, and good stuff will happen to you all week.
They also make you train harder.
Bring two of everything. You may not need it, but in the back of your mind, you will be thankful that you have it. Crashes, fatigue-induced absent-mindedness, and old-fashioned bad luck can conspire to pull the rug out from under all that hard training and careful planning. I am not suggesting you go out and buy a second bike, but maybe ask a friend or teammate if they can loan you theirs for the week.
Bring that goofy commuter helmet you use for riding around town. That old pair of shoes, those ratty gloves, maybe even those kinda-worn tires from last season. You will likely not need any of it, but I promise—just swapping out a part or replacing a lost item is infinitely easier than running frantically around camp looking for someone that happens to have the same size shoes as you.
Especially if these are your shoes.
Books. Make sure you have something to read that isn’t bike related. You may not believe it, but your brain might actually want a few minutes off from BIKES BIKES BIKES sometime during the week. I don’t suggest any particularly heavy reading (maybe leave Being and Time at home) but a few magazines, an easy-ish novel, or that fancy new e-reader you got last Christmas should do the trick.
Related: Fishing gear.
Because I need something else to feel bad about.
Rope. I cannot overstate the importance of a nice coil of rope. It can be a laundry line, a bike stand, a shelf—pretty much whatever you need. Every year, I have brought some rope down, and every year Rimmey Cabin used almost all of it.
Like sailing flags on the HMS Bedraggled.
A headlamp. Your feet will be sad enough without slamming them into every obstacle between your bed and the toilet. You will also accumulate a fair amount of goodwill by not being the guy who wakes everyone up by turning on the bathroom light (which is wired to a fan that sounds like a small-engine plane trying to take off into the wind). Keep the light on a hook above your head when you sleep.
Also useful if, say, the bottom of your car falls off on Christmas Eve.
See you all in a few weeks!
Check out more dispatches as racers and regular riders alike prepare for the 2013 Trans-Sylvania Epic stage race in central Pennsylvania.
By Stephan "Geronimo" Kincaid.
Over two recent weekends I rode in two different events, the Hell of Hunterdon and the Monkey Knife Fight.
Neither of these are "races", but there are some people that will "race." It’s no bother to me. What matters most is we all are safe and have a great ride. Both of these rides accomplish this handily.
Hell of Hunterdon
The HoH traverses the beautiful roads of Hunterdon County New Jersey. The HoH is a good ride to prepare for the Tour of Battenkill and touted as such. The ride covers 79 miles with 18 sections of gravel/dirt and 5,900 feet of climbing. Here is the Strava map/info.
Photo Credit: Pat Engleman
I traveled to the ride Saturday morning with someone beautiful and whom I recently serendipitously met. She simply wanted to do the ride because she heard it was fun. Her name is Sandie. Sandie is smart.
During HoH I encountered multiple mechanical issues, which cost me approximately 40 minutes of stopped time. I was initially frustrated and these mechanicals brought me down for a bit. It’s tough to have so many people ride by and know I’m not in the "lead" group but the real question was: Why does it bother me at all?
+ Monkey Knife Fight
The Monkey Knife Fight (MKF) is a fundraising ride for the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer.
The MKF is a tough ride. Riddled with punch climbs at 20 percent, gravel and dirt roads, and it always seems to be windy. I decided to ride up with my good friend Shane Kline. We both know the roads well and knew that this would be a long day. I was worried. My fitness is well below what it usually is AND I’m riding with Shane. He’s uber strong and talented. Here’s the Strava ride data.
Photo Cred: Jimmy Cavalieri
All day I struggled. I struggled to the start. I struggled on the ride. I struggled on the way home. It was like being hollow. Nothing inside. I even skipped a beer stop. Too tired to stay too long.
So two weekends, two less-than-ideal rides and I’m really worried. How am I going to be ready for Trans-Sylvania Epic? How does this equate to fun?
1. I got to see way more of my friends when I slowed down.
2. I thought about my TSE team. Joel, David, their lost Army brother Chris, Chris’s young son Benjamin and the real reason why I’m riding with them. They were a smiling motivation to keep my pedals turning.
3. I’m in a transition. Moving away from bike racer Geronimo to bike rider Geronimo. Cycling is much more about where and who I’m riding with than just being fit. I’m getting older, life is evolving and I am evolving. Cycling has always been important to me but I’m finding new meaning and new purpose with many things. I’m now living with a renewed vitality.
This is bliss.Tweet Print