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THE DIRT | DECEMBER 2011 | ISSUE 246

HOW & WHY 29-INCH WHEELS CONQUERED AMERICA

GOING RETRO MAKES YOU BETTER:

WHAT YOU NEED IS SINGLE-SPEED


The Chilcotin Mountains, British Columbia Fly in on a float plane and explore these vast, remote mountain bike trails

Our guides promised life would get easier after lunch— and for a while, it looked like they were right. We’d spent the morning crunching through swaths of snow as we pushed our bikes up Lorna Pass. Now, all that stood between us and our destination were a few hours of rollicking trails along Tyaughton Creek. We peeled off our arm warmers and clicked in as the crisp air warmed in the afternoon sun. Pedaling through meadows of tall grass, we felt as if nothing could sap our momentum. Nothing except the grizzly bear someone spotted crossing the trail up ahead. Chris Winter, our guide, stopped us to strategize. “If the shit hits the fan, I’ll use the bear banger,” he said as he twirled a noisemaker cartridge in his hand. “If the shit really hits the fan, use your bike as a shield.”

...GIVES YOU WIIIIINGS

Here in the wild Chilcotin Mountains of Canada’s British Columbia, these are the sorts of things you expect. Still, over beers that evening, we gave Chris props for the

cool composure he’d displayed as we tempo-rode out of harm’s way. Indeed, there were many reasons our guides would be tipped well at the end of our trip: They led us along the best trails, ferried our gear to a different campsite each night, fed us well, and kept the libations flowing. The pampering had begun the previous afternoon, moments after touching down on the turquoise water of Lorna Lake in a 1947 De Havilland Beaver. We stepped out of the floatplane to find happyhour Coronas chilling beside the dock. Then there was the backcountry feast Chris and another guide, Claire Kendrick, prepared that evening: gemelli alfredo, spicy Greek salad, peppery crackers with hummus and artisan cheeses, washed down with mugs of red wine. But isn’t the point of mountain biking to be self-sufficient? To get dirt-spattered and a little less civilized? Dropping in by air almost seemed like cheating. Yet, in a world where vacation time is

limited, I’d rather spend my free hours riding the best trails a place has to offer than poring over topo maps and hauling a 50-pound pack stuffed with enough freeze-dried chili for a week in the wild. So I signed up for a three-day trip in the Chilcotins, home to one of the most impressive trail networks on the planet. A 2.5-hour drive (or 35-minute flight) north of Whistler, the arid region is less technical than many other parts of British Columbia. Instead of rooty fall-line trails, you’ll find sinuous single

That’s not to say the riding is easy. The trails were built by nomadic Tsilhqot’in First Nation hunters and fishermen, and were later traversed by fur traders and gold prospectors. Many of our days included portages of knee-high streams and long hike-a-bikes. But for every hardship there was a glorious payoff, like the time we ripped through a field of Queen Anne’s lace for what seemed like an hour. Many of our days included was a glorious payoff. hours riding the best trails a place has to offer than poring over topo maps and hauling a 50-pound pack.

Photo: Sterling Lorence


LET’S RIDE

A Journey to the Edge

The mountains surrounding the Sun Valley resort in Ketchum, Idaho, are so free of rocks and roots that riding here leaves many mountain bikers pondering whether the most apt description is “butter” or “velvet.” More than 700 miles of trails wind through dark subalpine forests and high desert pocked with sage and Indian paintbrush. Locals prefer Chocolate Gulch, Oregon Gulch, and Fox Creek. The sweet-sounding Chocolate-Fox loop may be the most popular ride here, but many first-timers are bewildered by the abundance of choices—or they simply get lost trying to navigate this maze of trails. Western Spirit offers two trips that sample the best rides. The Backcountry Hot Springs trip travels relatively mild trails and finishes each day at a natural soaking spot. Its Sawtooth Singletrack tour, on the other hand, explores more

daunting trails. The climbs are steep and the high-speed descents will challenge even seasoned riders. You’ll need advanced skills and prodigious lungs—much of the riding takes place between 6,000 and 9,000 feet But on trails like Fisher Creek, one of America’s best, hours of hard climbing lead to a 7-mile descent that screams through aspen groves and across fields bursting with purple lupine. There’s even one scenic apex in Sawtooth National Forest where a sign reads, “Mountain Bikers: Long Descent Ahead.” That’s a new one: the federal government warning you of a good time.t’s no surprise that a nation with 70 peaks above 18,000 feet would rank among the world’s premier mountain biking destinations. Once the epicenter of the Incan Empire, Peru’s vertical landscape is crisscrossed by thousands of ancient trails that are ideal for twowheeled exploration. Still, Peru’s mountain biking scene is in its

he 5,000-foot descent from Kennebec Pass to Durango on the final day of this singletrack smorgasbord lasts three glorious hours. But for riders on a five-day Rim Tours trip, that’s only one of the mindbending moments on a 95-mile adventure along some of the state’s best high-altitude trails. “It’s the most challenging supported ride most people will ever do,” says Rim Tours co-owner Matt Hebberd. But you don’t have to fend for yourself up there; the company’s support vehicle meets riders each afternoon to deliver creature comforts at backcountry campsites. (And it will rent you everything from sleeping pads to Yeti 575 full-suspension trail bikes, so if you don’t own it, ask.) What’s a typical day like on the Colorado Trail? Tear into plates of French toast, breakfast burritos, and fresh fruit. Sip cowboy coffee and follow three expert guides out on six hours of remote alpine singletrack. Stop to take in highaltitude landscape festooned with wildflowers and questionyour-significance views of the San Juan Mountains. Arrive at next campsite.

cott may be best known for its top-shelf carbon bikes, but the company has quietly added to its apparel and accessory line. The Vanish, which likely won’t be available in the United States until next spring, is one of the company’s newest items and represents its commitment to building high-tech helmets. Designed for members of the Scott-Swisspower World Cup cross-country team, the $160 Vanish is light, comfortable and stocked with enough vents to keep you cool when summer winds swirl like a convection oven. At only 210 grams (230 with visor), it’s one of the lightest XC helmets available, yet still features a fully adjustable (and comfortable) dialoperated retention system. While many “all-mountain” helmets have incorporated larger skate-style profiles for more protection, the minimalist Vanish feels small and breezy. Even though it lacks a large coverage area, it still offers plenty of crash protection, courtesy of Scott’s “Conehead” structure. The design uses dual-density EPS foam molded together in a wave like pattern that increases surface area between the two materials to better distribute impact forces. (Part of the delay in bringing the helmet

into the U.S. is that it still needs to pass CPSC tests, which Scott expects will happen early next year). Although the Vanish’s chinstraps aren’t integrated into the shell—a design that can makes it easier to put on a helmet but adds weight— they are comfortable and not prone to twisting. To save grams, Scott abandoned the adjustment clips found on most helmets and instead sews the y-strap and chin strap together. After several weeks of use, which included an endurance race, 8-hour trail rides and several shorter laps on our local trails, we found the Vanish to be one of the more comfortable helmets we’ve tested. Like the name implies, it feels like the helmet is not even there. Yes, you sacrifice some protection compared to more all-mountain-style lids, but XC racers and anyone else who enjoys long rides will appreciate the lightweight and well-ventilated Vanish. Can’t wait for the top-shelf Vanish to make its arrival here? Check out the XC-oriented Wit or any of Scott’s other promising models, which are available now. And stay tuned for a full review on the Wit.

he 5,000-foot descent from Kennebec Pass to Durango on the final day of this singletrack smorgasbord lasts three glorious hours. But for riders on a five-day Rim Tours trip, that’s only one of the mindbending moments on a 95-mile adventure along some of the state’s best high-altitude trails. “It’s the most challenging supported ride most people will ever do,” says Rim Tours co-owner Matt Hebberd. But you don’t have to fend for yourself up there; the company’s support vehicle meets riders each afternoon to deliver creature comforts at backcountry campsites. (And it will rent you everything from sleeping pads to Yeti 575 full-suspension trail bikes, so if you don’t own it, ask.) What’s a typical day like on the Colorado Trail? Tear into plates of French toast, breakfast burritos, and fresh fruit. Sip cowboy coffee and follow three expert guides out on six hours of remote alpine singletrack. Stop to take in highaltitude landscape festooned with wildflowers and questionyour-significance views of the San Juan Mountains. Arrive at next campsite.


3 DAY RIDE IN THE DESERT

By: Dean Simmons

DAY 1: Trek Hardtail. Shimo Shocks, 29in Wheels, Disk Brakes

DAY 2: Trek Hardtail. Shimo Shocks, 29in Wheels, Disk Brakes

DAY 3: Trek Hardtail. Fox Shocks, 26in Wheels.

Over the last few years, I’ve been hearing more and more rumblings about a place called Bend, Oregon. A few friends have uprooted their lives and moved there. And I kept hearing about some good trails and good scene there. But it was hard to put my finger on it and commit to the 10 hour trip to get there from SF, CA. I kept hearing about sandy and flattish trails that were ‘kid-friendly’, ‘dh ready’. Some friends had a grand time and some others gave me a lukewarm review. Well Melanie at Cog Wild Tours gave me a trip offer that was impossible to refuse so I dragged myself and few loyal mtbr friends to experience the enigma that is Bend, Oregon. We set up a trip at the end of October to try and get some fall riding conditions. Cog Wild is a tour company comprised of former California residents. Melanie Fisher came by way of Redwood City, California and Lev Stryker came from Santa Cruz, CA. They run Cog Wild which a premium Tour company that runs guided tours throughout the Bend, OR c

We went for a three day trip with 2 days of driving to get there and back home. Melanie set up a detailed but flexible itinerary for us. She sets up a tour much like a custom frame builder. She interviews the riders to understand their preferences and abilities. A plan is built but it is kept flexible as they keep talking to the riders and observing how they are enjoying the trails. At any point, Melanie and Lev are able to customize the ride by adding or subtracting miles, jumps, rocks and sights.tomize the ride by adding or subtracting miles, jumps, rocks and sights. rides in three days:

Day 1: Started at Big Meadow, rode Metolios/Windigo (high country beauty) to Happy Valley. Ended at Paul’s, GS, DS, KGB, Marvin’s Garden and COD (rocky tech, at the end). Total was 35 miles Day 2: Started at Dutchman Trail Head. Rode Flagline trail (more high country radness, some stunts and features) …….Lower Storm King to the Deschutes River trail, back to Condo – Total was 30 miles Day 3: Jump and Flow session: 2 laps on Whoops, Phil’s Trail Head pump track, dirt jumps and slalom track. Then to The lair, beginner,

Photo by Frank Deaken. DeakenArt.com Copyright 2011


AMBER T. AGE:27 LOCATION: Lake Stray, WI LOOP: 8.9 Miles

WHERE

Litscher came into the race as the favorite, after racing to multiple top-15 placings among the Elite field at the World Cup. He broke away on the start loop, and was not seriously challenged for the rest of the six lap race, setting the fastest splits in all but one lap. Under 23 World Cup champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy) attempted to stay with Litscher through the start loop and first lap, which may have been a mistake - when other riders bridged up to him in the middle of the race, he had nothing left to follow when they attacked on the climbs.

DO YOU

WOMEN

they ride their own machine, are motorcycle passengers or enthusiasts, or future motorcyclists. WOW members are located throughout By: Blake White the United States, Canada, and several other countries. WOW has Women On Wheels® was founded nearly 3000 members and is growing strong! in California by an avid woman WOW members are riders in their motorcyclist in 1982. Its purpose was, and still is, to unite all women teens, in their eighties, and every age in between! WOW’s focus is motorcycle enthusiasts, whether

ON WHEELS

on the members and the lifestyle of motorcycling, rather than on the make of machine. WOW members enjoy every make and model of motorcycle imaginable -- it’s not what we ride that’s important, but rather the fact that we enjoy riding to begin with!

Women On Wheels® is a familyoriented organization and encourages family members to become involved through our support membership for spouses/significant others and our child membership for future riders.

We’re for beginners and veterans; we’re for people from all walks of life; we’re for motorcycle commut

Often we feel like one big family ourselves. And when one of us is called back home, “we all” feel it.

DAWN R.

AGE:39 LOCATION: Madison Hills, CO LOOP: 18.2 Miles

Litscher came into the race as the favorite, after racing to multiple top-15 placings among the Elite field at the World Cup. He broke away on the start loop, and was not seriously challenged for the rest of the six lap race, setting the fastest splits in all but one lap. Under 23 World Cup champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy) attempted to stay with Litscher through the start loop and first lap, which may have been a mistake - when other riders bridged up to him in the middle of the race, he had nothing left to follow when they attacked on the climbs.

BILL F.

AGE:46 LOCATION: Wallad Hieghts, TX LOOP: 22.4 Miles

RIDE?

Litscher came into the race as the favorite, after racing to multiple top-15 placings among the Elite field at the World Cup. He broke away on the start loop, and was not seriously challenged for the rest of the six lap race, setting the fastest splits in all but one lap. Under 23 World Cup champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy) attempted to stay with Litscher through the start loop and first lap, which may have been a mistake - when other riders bridged up to him in the middle of the race, he had nothing left to follow when they attacked on the climbs.

Photo by: Alex Nyugis


Frank Buhl UCI 4-X WORLD CHAMPION US DS NATIONAL CHAMPION US DH NATIONAL CHAMPION US 4-X NATIONAL CHAMPION

PREFORMANCE GEAR | www.AZONIC.com


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