Cross Country

Solstice Season

Paris Gore

Endurance and Adventure Team rider Spencer Paxson prompts us to scheme up and get the most out of big days on the bike during the longest day(s) of the year.

Since I’ve begun to keep the racing shoes in the closet more regularly over the last two years, the several-week period around the northern summer solstice (typically around June 21-22) has become my new favorite season. I call it “Solstice Season” for the span of time it affords in terms of daylight and open terrain in the high country – a chance to scamper out beyond the edge of the Shire and put to action some of the harebrained ideas that crop up during the dark winter months.

Three years is hardly a tradition, but for so many solstice seasons I have made a game out of doing something “big” (and yes, in many ways pointless) on the longest day of the year, or checking off a bucket list of long days during the three-or-so weeks on either end of the summer equinox. Each of these experiences has been wildly difficult yet hugely rewarding for me, and have helped re-calibrate and boost my attitude on riding, life, appreciation of snacks, etc. Based on these results, I would wish for anyone to achieve their own version of a big day fulfillment. So with that, a few prompts and ideas for coming up with your own outing this Solstice Season:

  1. Something fun (fun to you…okay, “Type 2” fun) that you haven’t done before – Whether it’s a new place, a new route on familiar trails, or some feat that hitherto you have not achieved.
  2. The right amount of challenge and uncertainty for your experience – If you are new to pushing your physical and mental limits, I recommend a very non-scientific prediction that falls within at least 60% (but less than 80%) confidence that you can pull it off. If you are experienced at pushing your limits, then it’s okay to play around with ~50% likelihood of success.
  3. Get weird, go long – Whatever the objective, at least make it a goal of being out all day. It doesn’t all have to be on the bike, either. If possible, start at sun up and finish at sundown (with as many breaks as you need!). Enjoy the entire day! Get the day off if you can, or wait for the next closest weekend day (after all, “Solstice Season is a season). Plan for child care. Make an extra sandwich.
  4. Have a clear concept – It can be pointless (those are usually the most fun), but should still have some kind of theme or essential mission. Numbers can help to start, but ultimately it’s not about the numbers… It doesn’t hurt to get a little philosophical, either. You’ll be going deep into the mental tank, so some forethought might help. Make a Venn diagram of reasons why you are doing it…that way it forces you to find a common center to come back to when it gets hard, and you can lean in one of several directions as you navigate the day.
  5. Plan your logistics and break the day into units – If it’s going to be a very long day (let’s say “very long” = >10hrs), think in terms of what you can accomplish per hour, and break the day into phases. This is key so that you can imagine the entire effort in advance, but in the moment, take it one chunk at a time and that’s it.
  6. Invite friends – Happiness in this sort of hubris is most real when shared. That said, solo vision quests are pretty good, too, but it does add to the experience to include some company for at least a portion of the experience.
Spencer Paxson | KONA COG Get weird.
Spencer Paxson | KONA COG A few other ideas/tips on what to carry on the bike for a long day…

Kona Dream Builds: Ben’s Hei Hei CR DL Looks Fast Standing Still

I really didn’t want to bust out that cliché up their in the title, but I think you have to agree that Ben’s fricken rad Hei Hei CR DL does indeed look fast standing still… I mean I don’t race XC, but this bike kinda makes me want to. Ben swapped a bunch of the parts of his much loved 2017 Hei Hei as he just fell in love with the graphics and gloss finish on this new 2019 model. He really wanted to combine a cross-country race bike with a capable short travel trail 29er. Well I’d say with this Dream Build he’s well and truly hit the mark.

Ben has kept the suspension setup on the Hei Hei CR DL stock, but as switched up almost every other aspect.

For the drivetrain, he’s running Rotor’s Rex 2 cranks with an Absolute Black oval chainring up front and a bulletproof 11spd Shimano XT rear mech out the back.

The Kona bar and stem have been swapped out for a Thomson bar and stem combo.

DAMN

Shimano XT stoppers don’t really need anything else said about them. Solid and Reliable.

Ben has a love love relationship with Hope Wheels. Hope Pro 4’s are the heart of these bad boys.

It wouldn’t be an XC bike without ESI silicon grips. If you know, you know.

And he’s swapped out the lighter plunger style Reverb lever for the 1X Remote.

And the whole package is wrapped up in some sexy skin wall Maxxis Ikons.

Cory Wallace’s Double Header

Last weekend Adventure Team Rider Cory Wallace spent his time in British Columbia competing in the Vedder Mountain Classic and the Salty Dog 6 Hour race. With a second place the first day and a new course record the second day it’s safe to say Wallace had a pretty excellent weekend!

Check out the full recap on his blog. 

 

PC: Candace Mihalcheon

Spencer Paxson Wins Inaugural XC-Enduro Combined at the Vedder MTB Festival

 

‘Enduro! It has what XC racers crave!’ my buddies and I joked as we rolled in to Day 2 of our “Vedder Doubleheader” weekend up in the Fraser Valley. The Idiocracy reference was a double entendre of sorts; the easy, no-pressure climbing and ripping downhill in enduro, along with questioning our own sensibility for racing two hard days in a row.

Why two days in a row? The true prize of the weekend, for me at least, was the newly minted King/Queen of the Mountain Trophy devised by the organizers of the Vedder Mountain Classic. It would go to the man and woman with the fastest combined time in the XC and enduro. Day 1 was the Vedder Mountain Classic, a 30km marathon-format cross country race. Day 2 was the opening round of the Canadian National Enduro Series. Combined, the days would tally around 11,000 feet of vert up and down. Imagine some of the best dirt conditions you’ve ever had (and that is not hyperbole!), and any sensible MTB-er would have taken up the challenge.

 

Well…I’m not sure if sensible is the correct word, but how about eager? You could say that Saturday’s XC was an aggressive practice day. The course was challenging, but the immaculate conditions took the edge off of the effort. Teammate Cory Wallace and I battled out on the start loop and up the first huge climb to the top of The Den with Canadian cyclocross National Champ Micheal Van Den Ham in the mix. My Hei Hei (size Large) equipped with MRP Ribbon fork and WTB Trail Boss tires was feeling spry, and I sneaked around Mr. Wallace on the long descent back down to the lake, beginning lap two with a comfortable gap, and pressing on up the second half of the race to take the win. Cory rolled in 2nd, we traded some high fives, went to the beer garden, jumped in the lake, and even collected some Canadian cash. Day 1 done!

Phillip Jones

Sunday’s enduro is captured well-enough in the images. It was a ripping good time! I raced three out of five stages blind (good prep for TransCascadia coming up later this summer) and executed a quick-but-conservative day to get through cleanly. My result on Sunday was lackluster compared to Saturday’s XC, but it was good enough to claim the first-ever Vedder KOM Trophy! Truth be told, there weren’t many who went for the double header, so it had a bit of a tree-fell-in-the-woods level of accomplishment, but given the caliber of this event, I’m hopeful to see this “omnium” format more hotly contested in the future. It has to start somewhere! So with that, the weekend was wrapped up, and it was time to get back home to finish celebrating Mother’s Day.

James Lissimore

As I said of last year’s experience racing the Vedder Mountain Classic, there is no pretense to riding or racing mountain bikes in this part of the world, no matter your skill level, because in BC, mountain biking and racing just is. It’s a f*@#% good time!

Uli Brucker vom Kona Factory/Bike Ranch Team siegt beim Schwarzwälder Tälercup in Haussach Teamkollege Markus Ziegler wird Zweiter

Markus u. Uli nach dem Rennen

Markus Ziegler und Uli Brucker die für das Kona Factory/Bike Ranch Team aus Schonach starten hatten am Wochenende ihre Feuertaufe. Die beiden Mountainbiker starteten beim Schwarzwälder Tälercup in Haussach in die neue Rennsaison. Die Herren-Fahrer gingen zusammen mit den Senioren auf die Strecke, die vier Mal umrundet werden musste. Entgegen bisheriger Erfahrungen auf dieser Strecke konnte sich Ziegler am Start gut behaupten. Die erste Runde hielt er sich zurück, um nicht in der hektischen Startrunde in einen Sturz hineingezogen zu werden. Danach begann er mit der Aufholjagd und arbeitete sich Position um Position nach vorne. Bald waren alle besser aufgestellten Seniorenfahrer eingeholt und es entwickelte sich eine “Herrenspitze”. Allerdings war der Führende bereits in weiter Ferne. Markus schob sich auf Position zwei und gab alles, um diese zu halten. Die Strecke forderte sowohl technisch als auch konditionell alles ab. Ziegler verteidigte seine Platzierung souverän und beende das Rennen nach 43:29 Minuten auf dem zweiten Platz. Uli Brucker der dreifache dt. Meister fuhr ebenfalls ein super Rennen. Er nutzte seinen Heimvorteil und konnte seine Stärken ausspielen. Er kam kurz hinter seinem Teamkollegen Markus Ziegler ins Ziel und dies bedeutete für ihn den Sieg bei den Senioren. “Das war ein tolles Wochenende für unser Team, gleich zweimal Podium. Wir bereiten uns auf die Marathonsaison vor und da nutzen wir solche kurze härteren Rennen um Tempohärte zu entwickeln, außerdem sind wir, wie die meisten Profis im World Cup, auf leichte vollgefederte Rennbikes aus Carbon umgestiegen. Aufwendige Tests des internationalen Teams unseres Sponsors ergaben bessere Werte im Bereich Ermüdung und Lactatbildung auf langen Strecken, sowie Traktion Berg auf und Geschwindigkeit und Sicherheit Berg ab. Die Erfolge am Wochenende bestärken uns in unserer Entscheidung und ich bin gespannt auf die Saison.“ Team Chef Schnürle

 

 

Im Anhang zwei Bilder

  1. Uli Brucker bei der Siegerehrung