Today I met Gangju Jo from South Korea at 7-11 in Cardiff as I was walking in to get something to drink, since it was like 83 degrees. I noticed his bike first, loaded with riding, camping and travel gear… but not as much as you’d think. It was packed up pretty nice and neat. Then I saw Gangju who was wearing a long sleeve Race Face lycra shirt- and I realized he was on a long ride. Little did I know how far he’d come.
He flew over from South Korea on a 30 day visa to ride his bike from Montreal Canada, all the way down the east coast to Florida. Then from Florida he rode through the south, down through Texas, up into Las Vegas and over to San Diego… in two months! His Visa is up in 2 weeks, so he wanted to get going up to San Clemente as he is ending his trip in San Francisco. Camping the whole way for the most part.
I bet he had some awesome stories to tell, but he spoke limited English, and I don’t speak a lick of Korean, but I wish I did.
I was not only impressed and stoked about his journey, but his attitude was so positive and happy. He was having a blast. His motto for the trip was: “ I gotta do what I wanna’ do”. He could’ve flown anywhere in the world and he chose to fly to America and see our country on a bike. That’s pretty damn cool.
I wish I’d had some Zoic gear to give him, but I didn’t have anything. I told him I was a mountain biker- he nodded and approved. But I bet he was tired of sitting on his bike seat.
Here at Keystone Colorado for the 3rd stop of the Big Mountain Enduro Series, and also part of the North American Enduro Tour. Its been a fun but rough month of training and racing. I found myself over trained and in a hole for the first two stops of the Big Mountain Enduro Series. Riding with no power and tired. My last couple of races I felt like I was holding on for dear life, never in control. Never good signs for any athlete. So I took 4 days off the bike to recharge the batteries. I later found out after a Chiropractor visit that my back and body are severely out of alignment. So I have been working with a chiropractor to get that resolved. The first round I ended up 21st with a crash and a mechanical. The second round of the series I ended up 9th with 9 hours of sleep for the whole weekend (lack of sleep is the main sign of overtraining and not enough rest). That's when I pulled the plug and decided to take some time off the bike.
June was a really busy month for me. I started out the month getting back to some racing after a nasty rib injury kept me on the race sidelines. One of my favorite races is the Massanutten HooHa Enduro and XC races in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Its one of those long standing rocky east coast races that added an Enduro to the mix last year. I was stoked to see some young female riders in attendance and even more tickled to fend off the youngsters for another year taking the win both days! The next weekend was another double doing the Cooper's Rock Enduro on Saturday placing first and the Cooper's Rock XC Classic on Sunday and taking second place. It's a really great trend that is happening on the East Coast right now with all these double weekends. Some events are even doing downhill races one day and Enduros the next. It really hones in on skills and fitness to do both.
It was a pleasure to once again be in Slatyfork, West Virginia to be an instructor for the Elk River Touring Center Women's Singletrack Weekend. Its a special weekend because the riding is really tough and rugged, but then we come back to a beautiful lodge that serves amazing food. It was great to have ZOIC National Sales Manager, Abbie Newell, in attendance. Abbie is always fun to be around and she really gained some confidence in her mountain biking.
Cascadia Dirt Cup Rd 1 was this past weekend. I couldn't have been a more different experience than round one of the Oregon Enduro Series the previous week.
OES #1 was located in wonderful Hood River, OR. You've got breweries breakfast spots, coffee and great bike shops and all of it's located within 15 minutes of the trailhead. Hood River is an epic outdoor adventure destination location! CDC #1 was located in the middle of nowhere southwest, WA. You've got… a correctional facility nearby. Seriously. And if you drive 30 minutes or so you can get all the prototypical restaurants and amenities.
Advantage = OES
OES #1 = sun.
CDC #1 = rain.
Advantage = OES
OES #1 was dry but not too dusty. If you're from California, I imagine you felt right at home. If you're from Washington state, the dry marbles are mostly foreign. I'd estimate we get somewhere between 8-10 weeks of dry conditions in an entire year and they are between the months of June and September. That means I hadn't ridden in these conditions in almost a year. On the other hand, CDC #1 was the complete and absolute opposite. It was a mudfest. The sort of conditions that you'd stay home on an average weekend instead of take months of life off your drivetrain. These are conditions that result in replacing bottom brackets and chains every couple months. The pre-ride on Friday greeted us with puddles galore and by the time Saturday morning rolled around, it was deep, sloppy, mud. Energy sapping mud.
Advantage = Neither
Just one weekend ago, I competed at the first round of the Oregon Enduro Series in Hood River, Oregon.
It was an Enduro. In case you've been sleeping under a rock, it's the latest and greatest form of mountain bike racing.
If you listen closely throughout the event, the words of these riders, riders with both incredible fitness and superb bike handling skills, you begin to appreciate why enduro has taken off. The insights you can gather from these riders is profound.
Without further ado, let the riders speak for themselves...
- Fanny packs. Seriously, DaKine has a fanny pack and all the cool kids were wearing them.
- Water bottles. They're back! Okay, for some, they never went away, but for Enduro, they're almost as cool as fanny packs.
- Water bottle holding spandex. Seriously, there's a spandex bib that holds a water bottle so you can ditch your pack. Definitely cool, but seriously, does it get any more enduro!? And if anyone wears these without baggies they need to be punched.
- 6 inches is the way to go. Guys and gals all seem to agree.
- "I'm the Sam Hill of Enduro". I'm. Not. Kidding. Two 'kids' not quite of legal drinking age had a conversation between stages 7 and 8 that included this quote because he was riding with flat pedals.
- "You know that one corner with the [enter trail feature here]." For instance, "You know that one corner with the super dry dirt" or "You know that one corner that has a berm". For crying out loud, we've ridden 20 miles today, no, I don't know that completely nondescript part of the trail!
In the past 5 years, enduro racing has taken off. Alas, it's not surprising. The convergence of technology and trail building has created an opportunity. Suspension alone has come a long way in the last decade. Add the incredible effort of passionate cyclists working tirelessly with land owners/managers. The two together are a powerful combination and voila, enduro. (At least that's my story today. Happy to hear your theories on why now and not 10 years ago though!?)
And there's also the natural tendency of the mountain bike industry as a whole to segment and fragment into niche upon niche. And while that's no different than the motorcycle or automotive industries, the relative size of the mountain bike market makes for some comparatively small segments. And the upside of small segments is the formation of another relatively tight knit cycling community, the enduro crowd. And a bunch of likeminded people sharing in the thing they love to do makes for some epic times.
Headed up to Big Bear on Sunday June, 1st with a crew of friends to shred some brown powder, and we
were greeted with perfect weather and riding temps. I was having some mechanical issues with my
Yeti 575 and left it at home and opted to rent a full DH bike to see what that was like… holy crap it’s
a different world of riding.
I rented Trek Session 88… that thing was so plush and absorbed every hit, bump, rock and turn... it was
insane! However, I forgot that riding park is a whole different deal than a normal XC or Enduro ride.
And when you have a full DH bike you aren’t used to riding, you’re body is getting a full workout that by
the time you get to the bottom you can’t wait to sit on the lift and collect yourself.
Luckily, we didn’t have any accidents or bad crashes (a couple spills though) with our crew. My boy Marco was shredding on
his Santa Cruz Bronson. My new friend Alex was making me feel like I just started biking as he
boosted off of every jump and was pinning it with exceptional speed…. guess that’s what happens when
you spend time getting trained in the Whistler bike park learning sweet skills. HIs girlfriend Marie
had her first day on the mountain of the year on her DH bike and she was cruising and having a blast.
Needless to say, we were all wiped out after our 8 or 9 runs and ready to crush some Mexican food
on the way home and pass out that night with big grins on our faces from a rad day of bombing
Snow Summit. Also, I was born in Big Bear, so there is a special spot in my heart for that town.
Can’t wait for the next trip…
Recently I was in Colorado and I had two revelations ... Why I love the dirt and why I am not a fan of spandex. My adventure began in Fruita, where I attended a Better Ride skills camp. My goal was to obtain knowledge to improve my skills on the trail, goal reached, but I also rode away with a deeper understanding of life. It was then that I realized my love of dirt was fueled by my passion for mountain biking. The bike has been in every chapter of my life, from the moment the training wheels came off as a child, to that awesome feeling of freedom riding to school, the excitement of BMX, and then finally graduating to the road bike which lead me to racing. Then one day a 'good friend' introduced me to the dirt. I fell in love almost immediately and at that point of the trail of life I knew I had found my community and my identity.
This brings me to the second revelation, spandex ... A very needed part of the cyclist
It seems like summer biking season is in full swing on the East Coast! Dirt Rag's Dirt Fest is one of the best events of the year. Its is a mountain bike festival with over 2,000 people coming out to ride demo bikes, visit sponsor booths, camp with friends, swim in the lake and ride trails. The location is Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania on the Allegrippis Trails. These trails are like a giant pump track. They are all flow and so fun! Everyone comes back to the venue smiling and feeling like a superstar.
This year, my role was to lead women's skills clinics and the Sunday women's ride both of which ZOIC sponsored. There was a great skills area where we worked on body position, log overs, steep climbing, pumping roller and drop offs. All the ladies enjoyed learning new things and pushing their comfort zones in company of supportive women. We went back to the ZOIC booth and ZOIC rep, Abbie Newell, had give away socks for the ladies. Then some lucky ladies who had made huge improvements over the course of the clinic received some sweet ZOIC clothing.
It was such a fun, positive weekend! I would say we lived up to the motto of Ride More and Dress Well!
-Brand Ambassador, Sue Haywood