The West Coast Road Trip

IMG_20140628_190158

Just another view on another road trip

I began this past block of races on the road at the China Peaks Ski Resort for the second round of the California Enduro Series. This is one of my favorite courses to race because it challenges physical fitness,  technical skill, and endurance. It also has an awesome atmosphere due to the fact that most racers camp together in the parking lot. This creates plenty of entertainment. On top of that it is among the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains with a handful of fishing and swimming holes just a short walk from the camping area.

IMG_20140623_173638

Catch and release at China Peaks

Practice is always a blast because who doesn’t love riding the chairlift up and shredding down the trails with your buddies.This was the first weekend I got to shred with the Felt crew at a race and what a weekend it was. I wont bore everyone with the details but lets just say these guys know how to have fun at a race. In the end I think all of the fun was a good distraction to help me keep my mind off the race.

The race itself was bitter sweet. I started the day off with a second place on stage one and a win on stage two. At this point I was sitting in first by six seconds with one fifteen minute stage left to race. I went into the stage calm and confident and hit all of my lines until I punctured my tire on a hidden rock about 5 minutes into the stage. I rode it out and ended up finishing the weekend with a 19th. Once again China Peaks got the best of me but I will be back next year to give it another go. Despite my race placing I had an awesome weekend with many friends new and old.

I then drove over to Marin County to hang out for a few days before heading north to Ashland. The first day I was there I went out to ride and took a pretty good spill. In the process of going from 20 mph to 0 mph I managed to sprain my wrist pretty good. I spent the rest of my time in the birthplace of mountain biking being a tourist. This turned out to be quite eventful when I took a trip down to Fisherman’s Wharf. While sitting on a bench eating my delicious crab chowder bread bowl I got dive bombed by a sea gull. The gull unleashed his load (poop) right at my face. I have to give the bird credit. He hit the bulls eye well actually my eye which made for a good laugh.

After getting attacked I continued northward towards Ashland. I made a pit stop at the Formula North America headquarters to check out the latest on the brake market. I then continued on to Redding, California where I found an awesome free campground. I woke up the next morning and drove the final two hours up to Ashland.

IMG_20140630_113622

The best things in life are free

At this point my wrist was still not strong enough to race so I was assigned the duty of shuttle driver for my Felt teammates. The day before the race I went out to the fire road to do a set of intervals. Thinking I wouldn’t be able to race because of my wrist I wanted to maintain my fitness. After the workout I was descending back down the fire road and I noticed my wrist was capable of more than I thought. By the bottom I decided that my wrist was in fact strong enough to race. Unfortunately at this point it was to late to practice any of the courses.

Race day went well. I raced as good as one can on a course they have never seen with a tender wrist. At the end of the day I came down in 9th which all things considered is a very good result for me. The Felt crew once again made the whole weekend more fun than I thought was possible. For that I thank them all.

IMG_20140701_144200

Coming in hot in Ashland Photo by Mike Albright

Up next was the second round of the Oregon Enduro Series in Bend, Oregon. I got to Bend a week before the race so I had plenty of time to pre ride and learn the course. After some kayaking and fishing on the Deschutes I was ready to race. Stage one got me again this year. I clipped my foot on a rock and got ejected from my bike. I quickly got back on a finished the stage in the top 15. From there I know I had some work to do to pull back the time from the crash and make a run at the podium. I kept my runs clean and fast staying inside the top ten on the final four stages. I finished strong with a 3rd on stage 5 just .2 seconds from winning the stage. At the end of the day I managed to claw my way back from 12th place on stage one to 4th place on the podium. I owe a big part of my success to the bike. It was strong enough to take being slammed on the ground one stage one yet light enough to bring back time one the pedaling stages. It also had enough grip to make easy work of the blown out sandy turns.

p5pb11153270

 

Bend race run stage 1 Photo by Mike Albright

It was something special to pop the champagne on my first ever pro enduro podium. I am hoping to take this momentum with me to my final two races at the Enduro World Series and the Downieville Classic. Before I can wrap the season up I am once again heading to Big Bear to coach at the Southern California High School League summer camp.

IMG_20140706_204958

Enduro Racing and The Transylvania Epic Suck!

Enduro sucks and here is why. First of all the races are only held in places with awesome riding. I mean what fun is racing if you are on the trails that are actually fun. Honestly look at the world cup cross country races. They race multiple laps on glorified bike paths and only have to deal with a few brief sections of fun single track. Not to mention those lucky turds get to wear super cool tight uncomfortable spandex kits all the time. Basically I wish I could race unchallenging courses in spandex instead of racing the best trails in the world in comfortable clothes.

41_HR_ENDURO_Stage4 (1 of 1)

Having way too much fun in Oregon Photo by Ryan Boroughs

Two weeks ago my Felt Bicycles Virtue Nine 1 and I took on the infamous Transylvania Epic Mountain Bike Race. This was another one of those super duper lame races that focuses on challenging the racers with amazing trails and making sure everyone has a week full of FUN racing that they will never forget. I mean really…who wants to pay money for a race that is actually fun. Especially one that has an enduro and king of the rocks subclassification within the cross country race. Oh yeah, and they give the young under 25 riders recognition and their own category. How lame is that! These kids need to step up and take on the pros. No excuses kiddos! All that comes from this is more people get publicity and the sport grows as a whole and who really wants that? In the end I did take part in this super lame–quite probably one of the lamest– events in all of America, if not the whole world. Here is my account of the week I spent racing and riding on the (B)east coast.

10373754_10202990432935113_119882622582636879_n

I am getting to know my Felt Virtue very well

It started out with my arrival in boston to Colt McElwaines house where we got in a sweet ride in the rain. After the remainder of our team arrived we departed for State College, Pennsylvania. Upon arrival in PA we got out on course for a pre-ride and following the pre-ride we got the chance to watch a grass roots enduro motorcycle race. Like I said this race is terrible.

10321094_10152474753186285_851706583005846495_o

Stage 1 I rode at an enjoyable pace until the only Enduro section for the day. I had a good run on the stage and placed 1st on the enduro stage in the open mens category. I was not eligible for the solo mens (pro) classification because I was a part of an Epic Team. I also raced the one east coast rocks section of the day which is a flat or uphill segment that is excessively rocky. When I say excessively rocky I mean a section of trail that is so rough it makes a full suspension 29er feel like a 20 inch BMX bike. I managed to tie for first in the East Coast Rocks competition. Also, the team I was a part of (Team Colt) took the early lead in the team overall. The team competition is based on the team’s single fastest rider’s time.

10285838_10152464472411285_8138908423600677640_o

 Always a good hangout session after the stages

Stage 2: Was 42 miles long with 5200 feet of climbing and tons of rocky single tracks. Overall I had a very good day. Once again the team took first in the team competition. I had some mistakes that cost me a few points in the Enduro classification, but hey that’s racing. Since the enduro competition is based on points I tied with another racer for first on the day. Based on combined time I had the fastest overall time on the day! With my win the day before and the tie on day 2 I managed to keep the enduro leaders jersey by a slim margin. My Kenda Nevegal X Pro tires rocked it on stage two…literally. I managed to remain in the lead and actually open up a 40 second lead in the east coast rocks competition as well. The east coast rocks is based off the combined time over the whole week of racing.

1545200_233358473525910_6068202712033347933_n

Team Colt on the podium 7 days in a row

Stage 3: The enduro day was more of a challenge than most people expected. I had the sixth fastest time on the day despite riding out a flat tire on rim for half of the last stage. The last stage was probably the rockiest section of trail I have ever seen so I was amazed that the wheel that I rode on the rim was still perfectly intact, but I guess I should have expected that from a Wheelbuilder.com wheel. I also opened up a good size gap in the enduro leaders jersey competition. It started raining just after we finished which was sure to make the “roadie” stage 4 interesting. 

10264431_10201103667752712_448033842308647321_n

I gave J-Pow a little lesson on mountain bike tire setup.

Stage 4: Was rather uneventful. Mostly gravel roads with a few smooth enduro segments. I rode the whole 40 miles with my buddy Tristan and had a great time cruising the roads and taking in the views. Despite the lack of gnar on today’s stage it was one of my favorites because of the the crazy bridges and tunnels. I managed to win all the stages with a little help from my Sr Suntour forks lock out. I also expand my lead in the the enduro jersey.

10313551_10202994945527925_7528255358392730743_n

The views were terrible…

Stage 5: Was another awesome day racing bikes in beautiful Pennsylvania. I Managed to win three of the four stages in the open men’s enduro category and open up my lead in the enduro GC. I also maintained my lead in the east coast rocks category. Probably the coolest part about today’s stage was the views and the super stoked Amish fans. Between the amazing mountains and rivers we rode along and the cultural experiences today was a day I will never forget.

10354748_10202990382453851_272415494058034010_n

Water balloon relay stage 5 1/2

Stage 6: Once again this was another grueling 40 mile day but I mathematically sealed the win in the enduro category with one day of racing left. Unfortunately I lost some time in the east coast rocks competition so I was now down 13 seconds to Michael Broderick with one segment left to race on the final day. Other than that, to this point single track summer camp was pretty rad and I was a little bummed that there was only one more day of racing left. But then again my legs were stoked for the final day.

10371599_10202977312487110_1372978538550946142_n

Having fun and making funny faces while doing wheelies. My definition of multitasking 

Stage 7: Was awesome! I needed to make up 13 seconds in the east coast rocks competition and after a 14 minute segment of rocks I made up 35 seconds to take the win. I started the segment with Michael Broderick on my wheel and all he had to do to maintain his lead was stick my wheel. I was not sure if I could bring the time back on such a talented veteran rider like Mr. Broderick. I simply put my head down, went cross eyed and never looked back until the end of the segment. When I finished the segment I started counting and after 30 seconds I realized I had taken the lead back and clinched the win. Special shout out to my coach Adam Pulford of Carmichael Training Systems for keeping me in top shape. Knowing I had the win in the bag made the last 20 miles rather easy and enjoyable. I was pumped to take the King of the Rocks title back to the west coast where it belongs! I also sealed my win of the enduro classification which was rad! In addition our team also won the team classification! At the end of the day I had an amazing week. I was extremely tired but before I finished the last stage I was already planning for next year! Thanks again to everyone for the support: sponsors, friends, and family. I am pretty sure I couldn’t have done as well without every one of you.

10250185_10201103667712711_8846066712604912718_n

First ever podium selfie at Transylvania?

Oh and I almost forgot out the infamous unoffical/offical stage 8 which involved an unconventional race circuit with construction cones cardboard boxes and tables placed around the camps pond. It involved interesting costumes and the eating of a hard pretzel, doughnut hole, and whoopie pie. That should give you a pretty good idea of what it entails. If you want to know more well you will just have to come race next year to see for yourself!

10416965_654393827976521_3208424254588108643_n

Team Colt and friends with our loot from the week of racing

Like I said this race is a terrible race and I have absolutely no clue why people would spend seven days and cash money to do a race that is actually fun. I was under the impression that races were supposed to be super serious and having fun was not allowed…at least that’s what USAC makes it seem like. That is why I say this race was terrible. Not a single person at the event had a bad time and even the most serious racers were corrupted into having fun. I guess that is the sad state of racing these days.

10421329_656589961090241_232116660576124179_n

Way too much fun being had by Colt and myself. 

After the fun and games were done we headed back to Colt’s house for a few days to check out the Boston area which was pretty cool. I then flew to Hood River, Oregon for the first big enduro race of the year. This race as well is super lame. We have to ride in the gorgeous Post Canyon area on some of my favorite trails. The race was too much fun. I am pretty sure the “high five/smile” to “cold shoulder/don’t talk to me face” ratio was somewhere around 600 to 1. Again people don’t understand the whole no fun at races rule…it is so weird.

1526765_10201103667672710_2712453226586000431_n

Colt and myself taking the easy ride on skateboards in Boston

The race was a great learning experience on many different levels and a mediocre race performance. I had some brilliant moments of riding that taught me a lot about myself and my abilities. I also had plenty of dumb mistakes that I have learned from. All in all I had more brilliant moments and less mistakes than last year so that is always a good thing. I finished up 23rd just one second behind my fellow Felt teammate Charlie Sponsel. Monday after the race I took the chance to tour Portland and the the hipster capital of America in person. I also got some doughnuts from the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts. I made my way home the next day and I have about a week to get ready for my next bunch of races in China Peaks, Ashland, and Bend. Until then shred on and remember don’t race enduro or Transylvania Epic because races are not supposed to be loads of fun and on actual fun trails.

10353631_10201103667592708_3355669562687150938_n

Shuttling. by Jon Buckle

 

So it Begins

Things have been pretty busy for me as I am finishing up the school year and getting ready for the fast approaching race season so I am going to keep things short and sweet. Two weekends ago I raced a local Super-D and managed to pull of a third place in the Pro/Open category. I started the day with a hard faceplant in practice luckily my Giro feature has a little extra protection because I sure needed it when my bike hit me in the head. This particular races was a best of two runs format so when I flatted half way down on my first run it wasn’t the end of the world. I took a moment to regroup and headed up for my second run and managed to lay down a pretty solid run. being a super pedaly course his was a good sign for my fitness coming into The Transylvania Epic and the rest of the race season.

901805_511014115688377_4766681947438799508_o

Photo By: Timothy James Photography

Despite not winning I still had an amazing time. There is something special about small local races where most people are there to count smiles rather than watts. It is refreshing to see before heading off to the “serious” races. I just want to give props the the promoters for creating a fun positive atmosphere that was more about getting out and doing it rather than being the outright fastest. In the end it is that type of atmosphere that the sport was founded upon and it is that type of atmosphere that will keep it alive.

10275586_511014292355026_8917082518780851800_o

Photo By: Timothy James Photography

With the seven day Transylvania Epic being less than a month out I also took a moment to sit down with the people who run the race to talk about the upcoming race. Click here to view the video of my interview. For those of you who have not be sure to check out my Cody Phillips-Mountain Bike Racers “Fan Page” on facebook which I have created as part of a project I am doing for school over the next few years. Now I am all packed and getting ready to drive back to California before I fly out to Transylvania to kick the summer off right. Until then keep it fun!

1888747_10200846169675421_3090105345137272277_n

 

Playing Politics Part

photo1

Last March I had the privilege of attending the National Bicycle Summit for this first time. This year I had the opportunity to go once again and it was just as fulfilling in a completely different way. This year there was plenty of learning and advocating going on. I was once again inspired by the drive and dedication to bicycle advocacy that everyone at the summit had. Keep in mind most of these people are spending their hard earned money to travel to the National Bicycle Summit in hopes of convincing the hot shots on Capitol Hill just how important bikes really are to our communities and country as a whole. I came to the summit this year with that same goal but left having accomplished something totally different. I left feeling that my classmates and I had taught the attendees and Capitol Hill hot shots a thing or two.

photo3

This school trip is part of the Lees-McRae Colleges cycling minor extracurricular activities.  The group consisted of five cyclists ranging from hard core racers to casual once a month riders. We all came together on this trip with the same goal: to empower ourselves by taking part in the political process and ultimately advocating for our own safety when riding. We did not go to tell everyone that bikes are better and you should get rid of cars because we love our cars too. We instead went there to say that we, as citizens, wish to use the bicycle as a mode of transportation and our country’s infrastructure is not allowing us the freedom to safely pursue this lifestyle. That idea seemed to be the theme of the whole week.

photo4

The Meals were one of the highlights of the trip

The week started with some meetings and classes. These covered everything from general advocacy techniques, to what we would be doing on Capitol Hill. During this time I had plenty of opportunities to meet new people and connect with those I had met in years past. After two days of this we joined our respective delegations and took to Capitol Hill. This is by far my favorite part of the week. This is the time when you get to make a firsthand impression on your respective districts’ representatives. Plus, who doesn’t like dressing up in fancy cloths, walking around Washington D.C. and imagining they are someone important for a day. Hands down my favorite part of the day is the look on the politicians face when you tell them bikes are healthy, environmentally friendly, and way cheaper than cars. When you say this they are thinking in their head is “lower health care cost, less money on road repairs, tree hugger votes, more retail sales A.K.A more tax revenue”. The only thing stopping them is the fact that they would have to go out of the norm and do things the easy logical way.

photo2

Meeting with Barbra Boxers staffer 

Following the day on the hill is the reception where everyone gathers to share their stories from the day. Surprisingly this is where I really felt like I did the most. I got to meet plenty of people and tell them about what we were there for. I was able to show that there are “young people” interested in making a difference, we also see the problems, and with the right support we can make a difference. My fellow classmates and I were able to spread this message and my hope is that people will realize that there is an entire generation that simply needs to be enabled.

This week is one of the highlights of my school year but with racing costs and tuition I would not be able to attend. Thankfully the great folks at Bikes Belong see the value in our participation and have enabled us to be a part of the summit two years in a row. They realize we all want the same thing but we need to work together to accomplish it. We would not be able to attend the National Bicycle Summit without their financial support just the same way they would not be able to connect with the “younger” generation the way we can. Let’s be honest: is a twenty year old really going to listen to someone their parents’ age who tells them they need to work for bicycle safety?  They are much more likely to follow the lead of their peers who are standing up for their rights.

All in all the week was amazing I got to learn, see and experience some awesome things. I came away from the week feeling that I had not really done much advocating to non-cyclists, but had done more advocating within the cycling community than anything else. I felt that my class mates and I had represented our generation. A generation that’s saying we want a part, a seat at the table. Just give us the opportunity to help you help us, and ensure a better future for us all as cyclists.

Just Training

It has been a little over a month since cyclocross nationals and I already feel like mountain bike season is in full swing. My weekdays have been filled with workouts and gym time while my weekends consist of epic trail rides. It has been a pretty rough life!

1545727_10200448201686470_1326017619_n

A few weeks ago I went out to my first race of 2014. I took my Felt Compulsion to the annual Icycle night downhill race. The bike was flawless all night but my light was the exact opposite. This particular night downhill is a bring your own light type of race which I did. Unfortunately I think due to subfreezing temperatures the light failed to work. With less than an hour till race time I had to find another light that was less than sufficient. I was able to make it down for my race run but between glary ice patches and dim light I struggled to ride to my full potential. I finished 5th overall which was disappointing to me but still pretty good with all things considered.

1545805_10200476065103038_1610515126_n

Aside from the Icycle race I have been doing a lot of training which has been going really well for me. Recently I managed to hit some personal records on the road bike and in the gym.  I have also been hitting a lot of new lines I have never hit before and going faster than ever on my favorite trails. The fun level on rides have also been at an all time high which makes days off somewhat of a bummer. About a week ago I got some sick new Kenda Tires which I am very pleased with so far. I am still adjusting to the Nexcavators‘ proper stiff side knobs that allow me to get sideways with with confidence and precision. The next few weeks are going to be the same as the past few with a collegiate road race thrown in there.

Also if you want to keep up with me one a daily basis feel free to find me on Facebook. You can also follow me on Instagram and/or Twitter at @codymphillips.

Get Stoked

1545964_10200379771695763_550124627_n

 Going Big on Telonix

I have finally had a chance to sit down and write about my winter break adventures. It started having the opportunity to do a couple photo shoots with my new bike sponsor Felt bicycles. I got to ride some cool trails with some rad teammates and we all got some sick shots. You can read all about that in the Felt 2014 Enduro Team Announcement. Between the photo shoots I managed to pull of a third place finish at the Southern California District Cyclocross Championship. The last week of my winter break was spent in Boulder, Colorado at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship.

1525052_600651053341104_514145653_n

Photo Shoot Recap

Cross nationals was tons of fun and mostly a success. I say mostly only because I had some bike issues that were out of my control that affected my results. Despite the mechanicals, I rode to the best of my ability and took fourth place in the collegiate team relay. Two days later I battled through some more mechanicals in the Collegiate D1 race to finish 27th and Lees McRae took third overall. While in Boulder I got word that I will have the privilege of riding Kenda tires exclusively this season. If you have never used them be sure to click on the logo on the right and check out what they have to offer.

1531620_785153538178056_1550822086_o

 

CA District Champs Podium

After a very long drive I made it back to school in time to start the spring semester and get out for some trail rides on my Felt Compulsion. Which I must add is way too much fun to ride. It is so much fun that I have already found myself out riding it in subfreezing weather on snow. Luckily I had a Gravity Dropper seatpost for these rides because everyone hates it when their seat dropper fails mid-ride. Since it is completely mechanical and there is no fluid involved in its motions it works just the same in the boiling heat and freezing cold.

Next I will once again be at the iCycle race. This time I am going to race the night downhill instead of the XC which should be fun.

1524639_10200416390131201_651391312_n

 

Snow Ride in NC

Cross and More

1455030_10151977909308680_895715070_n

The last few weeks have been pretty busy which is why this post is a little late but here is everything that has happened since Cross Nationals. Mostly a bunch of cross racing and some new sponsors. After Nationals I wanted to do some cyclocross racing to help get myself ready for the 2014 enduro season. As far as the workout you get cross is simply a super long enduro. It is a bunch of accelerations across straights and out of corners. I started my season with a double header at the Louisville UCI weekend.

1450821_10152022356288680_659661017_n

Overall the weekend was tons of fun despite getting some lack luster results. Both days I had some decent races with a few mistakes that cost me a couple places and left me finishing in the back third of the race. Regardless of the result I learned a lot and got a very good workout. Following that I headed out to some local races and claimed a Top Ten at King College and an 11th in the Pro 1/2 race the day after. Both of these were solid results for me, but by no means were they my best, they are still something to be proud of. After that I took a weekend or two off to get some longer rides in and came back for the Collegiate Conference Championships. On a very hilly course I was able to pull off 8th place, which was again pretty solid for me. I also was the lead out rider for the team relay. I was able get an early lead and drop the hammer to get a gap and I held if for the remainder of the 6-minute lap. I was pretty pleased with this result this is almost an identical effort to an Enduro stage. I could tell that my five-minute power was looking pretty good. I recently flew back home and I have begun preparing for Cross Nationals, which will be taking place during the second weekend of January.

In the past few weeks I have also signed on with a new sponsor. This season I had a great time and some good results while riding for Team Santa Cruz/X-Fusion. I have no complaints and wish them all the best of luck in the upcoming season. For the 2014 season I have the great opportunity to ride and represent Felt Bicycles. I have known some of the guys there for a couple of years and I am extremely excited to be working with them. At the moment Felt is my only sponsor and I am looking for other companies to work with. Please feel free to email me with any suggestions of companies to talk to or sponsorship offers, (cody.m.phillips@gmail.com). In the next few weeks I will be doing plenty of riding in preparation for Cross Nationals and hopefully getting a new Felt Compulsion put together!

COMPULSION_3_1

#CollNats

999694_10151675795556851_943508839_n

Collegiate Nationals Championships is always a good race. The level of competition is easily underrated by those who haven’t raced it. Those who have raced it understand how high the level of competition really is. When you take the best U-23 racers in the nation, put them on separate teams, and pit them against each other, the final result is some of the most passionate, intense, and competitive racing anywhere. This year’s nationals were held just up the hill from my school (Lees-McRae College) at Beech Mountain Resort. Being my home courses I wanted to have a good showing.

The first event of the weekend was the short track race. Unfortunately due to the way the call ups work I started in roughly 70th position. After about five minutes of hectic passes I managed to work my way up into the top 25 before I slid out on and off camber grass turn. I lost about ten positions because of this crash and then got pulled.

That afternoon was downhill qualifying. For downhill we raced the Pro course from the 2012 Gravity National Championships. I had a pretty solid qualifying run. Despite sliding out on a wet root I came down and qualified in 11th position. The next morning was the Cross Country race. I once again started with 70 or more riders ahead, but managed to move up into the mid-20s by the end of the first lap. After a few slip ups and mistakes I finished in 29th position.

1410713_598279490228352_1056753452_o

Going into the Downhill Finals I was feeling very confident but I was also feeling the pressure. In the end the pressure got the best of me and I found myself sliding out and slamming into a tree in the middle of my race run. In the process of head butting the tree I managed to break my visor. I finished up my run in 19th place.

Sunday was the 52 rider dual slalom competition. Qualifying went well and after two average runs I was the number 5 seed. After watching the first ever team relay it was time for the slalom finals. My Blur Trc was just agile enough to bounce from berm to berm while the X-Fusion Shox kept my tires firmly planted trough the flat grass turns. I made my way through the first three rounds without any issues. In the Semi-Finals I faced the number one qualifier and multi time National Champion JD Swanguen. In the first race he beat me by .04 seconds and in the second race I was just off on my line choice and he narrowly beat me again. This put me into the small final. In the first race of the small final I snapped my chain losing by the maximum time of 1.2 seconds. Luckily my teammates had a chain breaker and I had a quick link on my brake lever. I let it all hang out knowing that I had to make up 1.2 seconds but it wasn’t going to happen and I had to settle for fourth place.

1403440_597935920262709_593477428_o
After every race was tallied up I managed to pull off a third place overall in the individual omnium which is a combination of all the events. Some of my Lees McRae Cycling teammates put in strong performances, including Gunnar Bergey in 5th, and Kerry Werner taking the overall Omnium National Championship. This put Lees McRae on the third place podium for the Team Omnium.

Overall the weekend was not quite what I was looking for but in the end I can’t complain about being on the podium twice. My bikes and gear held up great. I am more motivated and focused than ever for the return of mountain bike season. For now it is time to hop on the drop bar bike and drift some mud turns.

1400321_599171006805867_70805486_o

 

 

Collegiate Racing Season Kickoff

Dual Slalom Run

Dual Slalom Run

The first collegiate race was of the season for me was the race at Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU). This race was set to be the first omnium test of the year. I raced downhill, Short Track, and Four Cross on Saturday and Cross Country on Sunday.

After a few solid practice runs I was able to throw down a solid race time and take 4th place just a bit off the pace of the national champ. Up next was the Short Track in which I managed to get a good start. That good start propelled me to another 4th place finish among some very fast company.

Then it was time for the four cross race which never fails to be sketchy. I managed a solid mid-pack qualifying time but with a bad gate start I was knocked out in the first round. Ten hours later the first day of racing was done and dusted.

We returned the next day for one of my least favorite XC courses. Right out of the gate I could tell that my legs were fried from the day before. There was no way I could ride at the front so I had to adjust my goals and just get to the finish line. I rode to a mid-pack finish. This was a good reminder that I had some work to do before collegiate nationals in October.

The next weekend we made the trip down to Georgia to race at the Athens Olympic Venue. Saturday started out with a brutal short track. The short track was a roadie style course. Very quickly out of the start a lead pack developed. I was able to latch on to the back of it but I quickly began to yo-yo off the back. I ultimately got popped off the back of the pain train and rode it in for a top ten finish.

The Dual Slalom was a much different story. I threw down the fastest qualifying time and was able to cruise my way to the final. Unfortunately by the time the final arrived I was getting pretty fatigued and a few mistakes left me with a second place finish.

The next weekend we went down to South Carolina for the race at Clemson. The day started out with the downhill in which I was able to place second. A few minor mistakes bumped me off the top spot. It was then time to switch bikes and race some short track. I started in the back for the short track but made some good passes and moved up into the top ten. After some good battles I managed to pull off a 6th place finish which, considering my start, I was quite pleased with.

After a quick sandwich break it was time for slalom. This slalom course was fast, big and technical. One section was a 30 ft step down followed by a 30ft table that rocketed you in to a very tight 180 deg berm. I had a solid qualifying time seeding into third. I raced my way to the semifinal in which I faced the defending division two slalom national champ. I was able to get a solid lead on the fist half of the track and make it stick. I then found myself in the final facing my teammate who was the top qualifier. I was once again able to get a solid lead out of the gate but just before the rhythm section I grabbed a fist full of brake when I can into the berm wrong. Then left me with very little speed coming into the rhythm section. As I went through I could tell he was gaining on me. Just before the finish line we were equal. I threw my front wheel and was able to snag the win by just a few inches in a thrilling photo finish.

The next day was the 2.5 hour long cross country race which I once again started in the very back of the pack. I made a few sneaky passes and was able to get with the front group. My legs still weren’t quite ready to ride at the front but they were good enough for a 6th place finish. Although 6th isn’t stellar it is a good sign that I am starting to get on form with just a month to go before Nationals. This past Wednesday I threw my cross tires on my XC bike and went out to the weeknight cross race in Boone. I felt pretty good and was able to power my way to a third place among some fast company. This was yet another good sign.

This coming weekend we will be heading over to Asheville for another weekend of racing.

 

That’s Just How It Goes

1147766_10151512621716097_450043892_oThe last month or so has been quite the whirlwind of events. It started with the Downieville Classic. This was my first time going to Downieville and I was quite eager to see what all the hype was about. At the same time I was equally nervous since I was still nursing a nasty wrist injury. I had good reason to be nervous about the wrist since the course is known for how rough it is on riders and on bikes. I started the racing with part one of the All Mountain World Championships, the cross country. The race started with a 45 min vertical climb which then moved into rolling terrain which consisted of rocky and rough downhills. Not what you typically find on a cross country course. Luckily my TRc was up for the challenge weighing in for the weekends challenge at 26 LBS.

1102427_10151512626881097_1197889822_o

I had a descent start to the XC race and moved up as the climb went on. I went over the top in 21st place but lost a few places over the rolling section of the course. Just as I started to get into a grove on the downhill I came over a rock pile and stuffed my front wheel into one of the Downieville tire-slashing rock gardens. When I tried to fix my flat the tube I had with be had a flat and I had used all of my CO2. After about 20 minutes I managed to find another tube and a pump and get rolling again. At this point I was way at the back and the goal was to simply get down in one piece. Once I finished I got to enjoy the river jump event and other festivities which were much more fun for me than the race itself, but that’s just how it goes.

1146175_10151521297601540_1634927732_o (1)

Sunday was the Downhill leg of the race which is where I was glad to be on X-Fusion Suspension since you have to run the same bike and parts for XC and DH. The Slant fork I ran walked the very fine line between performance, stiffness and weight that is necessary for such a demanding weekend. It showed when despite riding with a compromised wrist I was able to place 21st in the 40+ minute long event.

1102705_393876657402124_1322373039_o

Following Downieville my roommate from college flew out to visit L.A. for a few days before we hopped in my car a drove across the country to school. The road trip to North Carolina was tons of fun filled with plenty of memorable stops. The day after we arrived back at school we decided to do a Downhill race up at Beech Mountain Ski Resort. Mother earth decided to dump rain on the course and turn it into a slip n slide. I had a fast run for the most part but I had one major mistake. This mistake definitely cost me a spot on the podium which really annoyed me, but that’s just how it goes. I was pleased to know that I have the downhill speed to do well now and I just have to prove it. This coming weekend is the first collegiate mountain bike race of the year. The race is at the all too familiar Eastern Tennessee State University. I am hoping to use my knowledge of the courses to my advantage and hopefully pull off some good finishes.