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Wiens vs. Lance

The Straight Dope from Leadville’s Six-Time Winner

The Tour Divide

The Greatest, Longest and Loneliest Race number 14 $6.95 93

Be Prepared

Can You Survive With What's in Your Pack?

Returning Home 7

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October 1 through December 1

Finding Fresh Dirt in Ruidoso, N.M.

Fat Tire Amber Ale inspired our philanthropic folly, The Tour de Fat, which travels the western land celebrating The Bicycle, a two-wheeled wonder that inspired Fat Tire Amber Ale. TWIN







Photographer: Devon Balet Rider: Linden Carlson Location: San Juan Mountains, Colo., Red Mountain #3, 12,890 feet



Photographer: Devon Balet Rider: Dylan Brown Location: Dotsero, Colo.



Photographer: Mike Tittel Rider: Kyle Coxon Location: Wasatch Foothills, I-Street, Salt Lake City



editor/publisher brian riepe publisher steve mabry managing editor caroline spaeth art director chris hanna creative editor james e. rickman roving artist gloria sharp copy editor trina ortega writers

Jordan Carr Eddie Clark Ken Davey Erin English Chris Hanna Yuri Hauswald

Nathan Hebenstreit Kevin Kane Erinn Morgan Clay Moseley

Trina Ortega James E. Rickman Lizzy Scully David Wiens Jim Williams

Nathan Hebenstreit Kevin Kane Brian Long Rob O’Dea

James E. Rickman Caroline Spaeth Mike Tittel Mark Woolcott Jim Williams

photographers Devon Balet Mathew Barlow Eddie Clark Mitchell Clinton Alex Fenlon

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mountain flyer p.o. box 272 gunnison, co  81230 970.641.1804 send your letters to: cover photo:

2009 © James E. Rickman Rider: Alec Toney Location: Red Bull Burner Downhill, Angel Fire, N.M.

subscribe online at or mail subscription card to: mountain flyer magazine, p.o. box 272 gunnison, co  81230 Mountain Flyer magazine is published quarterly and is available nationwide through select Barnes & Noble, Borders and REI locations, as well as fine bike shops and coffee stores throughout the Rocky Mountain region. When you’re finished reading, pass it on! Nothing in this publication can be copied or reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. All material and images are compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but published without responsibility for errors or omissions. Secret Agent Publishing assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or images. But we’ll sure consider them.

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twenty-two Green Guru

twenty-seven Riders Journal

eighty-seven Paraphernalia

one hundred eleven Community Pages

Mountain Flyer Magazine (ISSN 1944-6101) October 2009 is published quarterly by Secret Agent Publishing, LLC, 309 South Main Street, Gunnison, Colo. Periodicals postage paid in Gunnison CO and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Mountain Flyer, PO Box 272, Gunnison, CO 81230

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number fourteen Photo Gallery Editor’s Note Colorado’s Green Guru by Lizzy Scully Breck Epic Tour of Utah The Tour Divide by Eddie Clark Mountain Bike National Championships Colorado State Championships Leadville Trail 100 Frazer Mountain Madness Laramie Enduro Crankworx Colorado Tour de Los Alamos CT Jamboree The Swiss Diaries, Part 2 by Kevin Kane Are You Prepared? by Lizzy Scully Paraphernalia Returning Home to Ruidoso by Clay Moseley Community Pages Tailwind by Yuri Hauswald NAM E AME D ONE OF R BIC ICAS T NORTH YCL O E SH P 100 OPS !


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Praise the Novice Occasionally I like to venture onto the lesser-known trails in the rolling brown hills east of Gunnison, Colo. The routes are predominantly narrow, aimlessly meandering cow paths; not what you would call purpose-built trails but great riding in expansive country dappled with sage and aspen groves that fade into the distant Fossil Ridge Wilderness. Some would call it the middle of BFE*. On one of these recent ventures, while delicately descending an overgrown drainage—trying to minimize the damage to my shins caused by the grabbing sage limbs—I rounded a corner and there it was, perched indiscriminately in the middle of the trail: a small red reflector. It was the kind of reflector fixed to the spokes of new bikes, usually removed by the buyer and discarded with revulsion at the litigious bloodsuckers who placed it there. The reflector flashed in the sun with a lustrous sparkle as I rode over it. I considered ignoring it, but my conscience compels me to stop and pick up trash on the trail, so I hit the brakes and walked back to get it. When I reached to pick it up, it occurred to me that this little reflector wasn’t trash at all. It was an artifact, evidence of a misunderstood class of mountain biker we call the novice. Who else would leave a reflector attached to his spokes? But what was it doing way out here in BFE? Clearly, the novice who lost it had ventured out far beyond the barren safety of the bike path—proof that the person had a more advanced, unquenchable thirst for pedal-powered adventure than one


would expect. I poked at the reflector with my foot, as if that would reveal more about its origin. I’m no archaeologist, but I couldn’t help hypothesize that if this novice had any friends who were experienced bikers, they would have guided him toward more accessible trails for his first ventures and suggested that he remove the reflectors so as not to look like a nerd. This novice was acting independently, and whoever it was exhibits the very drive and desire that spawns champions and heroes. As I studied the reflector, it occurred to me that many of the riders who are winning, or even competing in, events like the 2,745-mile Tour Divide, Breck Epic, Leadville Trail 100 or Crankworx Colorado possess endurance or skill, but more importantly—like the mysterious novice—inner strength and a yearning for adventure not found in the average human being. The champions and bold competitors of these events at one point—maybe not very long ago—were in all probability just like whoever it was who lost this reflector: a dreamy-eyed novice who got hold of a bike and just started riding. Nobody told that person there were limits. I hesitated and then pulled my hand back, deciding to leave the sparkly little plastic artifact in the trail for future archaeologists to find and ponder the society that created it. *BFE: an acronym for Butt or Bum-F*&@ Egypt, defined by the Online Slang Dictionary as any location inconveniently far away; the middle of nowhere.

Continental bicycle tire production plant, Korbach, Germany. Continental employee: Ulf G端nzel. Team Ergon members f.l.t.r.: David Keith Wiens (USA: 1st, 2006 World Championship Adventure Racing, 1st, 2008 Leadville Trail 100); Irina Kalentieva (Russia: 1st, 2007 World Championship Cross Country); Sally Bigham (UK: 1st, 2008 British Marathon Championship); Wolfram Kurschat (Germany: 1st, 2007 German Cross Country Championship)

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Extended Race Coverage and images from races covered in this issue plus: • Fall Mountain States Cup Races • Slope Sistair – Women’s Freeride • Single Speed World Championships Durango, Lock up your daughters • 24 Hours of Moab – What’s it gonna be this year, locusts? • Crested Butte Classic – 100 miles of agony in paradise, or is it purgatory? Purchase stylish Mountain Flyer wares at the Swag Store: • Quality jerseys by Craft • Really nice socks by Swiftwick • Select hats by Jett


Read about Gear before buying it: • Gore freeride shorts • Deuter EXP pack • Vaude Cluster Air 12 backpack • Answer’s fall cross-country gloves • Smith Redline Max glasses • Tifosi Dolomite sunglasses *Plus, get a first glimpse of what Gary Fisher has for 2010 Like Handmade bikes? has an extensive listing of what’s out there.

We apologize to Sports Optical. The RX sunglass review published in Issue 13 should have been attributed to Sports Optical. The correct website is


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by Lizzy Scully As a pre-teen, a lanky, towheaded Davidson Lewis rode his bike around his Virginia Beach neighborhood, gathering old bikes, lawnmowers and stereo system cabinets. He dragged them home to his family’s one-car garage and proceeded to create working lawnmowers, “walls of sound” and new bikes, which he sold or gave away. “I was a pack rat,” says Lewis with a laugh. “My parents rolled their eyes when I’d bring something else back.” But as artists, his parents also understood. Lewis was actively exploring his creative side and learning about basic resourcing—using an easily available supply of materials to create things people needed. Now a 31-year-old business owner, an energetic Lewis has expanded his efforts exponentially. He and his five full-time and 20 contract workers repurpose bicycle inner tubes, climbing ropes and billboards into highly functional outdoor gear, such as wallets, messenger and tote bags, and various sizes of zip pouches, at his company Ecologic Designs, Inc. Early Dumpster Diving Days “It’s coffee and chocolate this morning,” Lewis says, chuckling. He multitasks constantly, chatting with a fellow designer, checking his constantly ringing phone and answering questions faster than a speeding mountain biker. As he has since his early teen years, he’s got a lot going on. 22

Lewis started out tinkering with old bikes and lawn mowers and soon transitioned to other repurposing efforts. He became the summer “tube boy” for a bike shop at Virginia Beach, where he fixed beach cruiser flat tires. But instead of throwing the tubes away, he grabbed as many as he could. “Those were my early days of dumpster diving,” he says. “I’d use inner tubes to help tie down tarps and bags and wrap surfboards onto roofs.” Plus, he gleaned repurposing ideas from the shop where he worked, which had Rubbermaid bins full of old bike parts that could be reassembled into working bikes. His interest in remaking old items coincided with his highspeed need to tear over urban landscapes on his mountain and BMX bikes. “I actually grew up riding a BMX bike on top of an old landfill,” Lewis says. A sort of “Mount Trashmore,” it was the size of a football field and a half, covered with tarps, layers of earth and a few miles worth of singletrack. Bordered by the Elizabeth River on one side, the old landfill was lined with riprap—old concrete roads broken up and used to decrease the swells caused by giant tankers coming in and out of the Chesapeake Bay onto the river. “It had really short trails,” Lewis says, “but it was the world to us.” His love of hurtling down the short, steep trails soon led to his stint as a mountain bike racer. He raced all over Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and other East Coast venues. By his senior year he was ranked No. 1 in the Junior class for the MidAtlantic region. Still, despite spending weekends exploring his racing passion, Lewis continued to develop new ideas for old materials. He cut up old tires to make new soles for the dozens of pairs of running shoes he had worn as a long-distance racer in school. “I didn’t want to throw anything away,” he says. By the time he graduated from high school, he knew which direction he wanted to go in life. Attending Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, he started mountain biking in the nearby hills and

Eddie Clark

Green Guru’s founder Davidson Lewis stands in his shop in Boulder, Colo., (above) where he produces messenger bags (left) and many other accessories made from recycled inner tubes, climbing ropes and whatever else he can scrounge.

exploring product design in the Architecture Department’s industrial design program. “That program is where I started getting into really thinking about development of products and how to make them better,” he says. “I had an interest in and was excited about innovation. I started getting more interested in materials, such as inner tubes.” He cites his senior thesis as a milestone in his life. “I had to design a project that was environmentally friendly either through design or materials,” he says. “At that point I started looking at how to make products out of reclaimed materials. Right off the bat I knew there were so many inner tubes out there that that was the perfect thing to start with.” Using a girlfriend’s sewing machine and skills he learned from his mother at age 12, Lewis started making bags out of inner tubes.

To learn how to send Green Guru your old tubes or set up a reclamation center at your shop, call 303.258.1611 or email

Eddie Clark

Greening the Industry In 2000, Lewis moved to Boulder, Colo., for the outdoor and cycling opportunities and because he wanted to design products for outdoor companies, many of which were located on the Front Range. He ended up doing design consulting contract work for Case Logic, creating pool toys and other products. But those products were made out of PVC. “They were fun to play with in the pool, but not cool for the earth,” he says. And after growing up with an ecoconscious, earth-loving family that “instilled a sense of responsibility for the environment,” he knew he had to do something else. 23

So in 2005, he established Ecologic Designs, Inc., a company he had thought about creating since 1999 and had planned for since 2003. Still, he needed more experience and so worked part time as a design contract worker and part time fixing outdoor equipment and helping design and pattern new backpacks for Ripstop Repairs. “I didn’t apply for a job just fixing backpacks,” Lewis says of his stint at Ripstop. “I was trying to get design experience.” The job gave him the opportunity to “plug into some really good places” in the industry, and he found a mentor in owner Jim Clements, who still offers input on Lewis’ new designs. Finally, after a year and a half at Ripstop, Lewis dove fully into Ecologic Designs, Inc.—which makes Green Guru and Green Goddess products—with the goal of “greening the industry.” “The outdoor lifestyle is very contradictory,” Lewis explains. “People want to go out and enjoy the environment, but we are buying all this gear and then getting rid of it because of newer technology. I don’t want to change that lifestyle. It’s important that we are out there riding, climbing and surfing.” But he does want to increase the level of consciousness and human impacts on the environment. The solution is not going to be just recycling inner tubes or climbing ropes, he says, but that type of recycling is a first and very easy step consumers can take toward reducing landfill waste and halting the depletion of the world’s natural resources. In addition to creating bags of all sizes out of highway billboards and inner tubes, Ecologic Designs, Inc., now works more closely with outdoor industry businesses. Among other things, his company repurposes sleeping pads for Big Agnes and works with Patagonia’s Common Threads program. “People are excited because they play a part in the life cycle of the products,” Lewis says. “They can see their impact firsthand when they buy things made out of reused or recycled materials, and their footprint is much smaller.” It’s really a win-win situation, he adds. “You are supporting your lifestyle and making your environment better at the same time.” 24

©2009 FOX Factory Inc. All rights reserved.



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[the breck epic] With 7,300 feet of climbing in just 40 miles of racing, the Wheeler Loop stage of the 2009 Breck Epic just about killed all of the participants. But isn’t the sky sure a nice blue up at 12,000 feet? Jeff Kerkove (Topeak/Ergon) takes in the view along with as much oxygen as he can get.


[the breck epic]

If Your Ass is Hard Enough

Eddie Clark

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—The architects of the first Breck Epic—a six-day, off-road stage race held July 5–10—seemed as if they were trying to discourage people from entering. “This race is for hard asses or aspiring hard asses only,” states the event’s website. “If you’re a weekend warrior, this race isn’t for you.” How hard was it? “It was way harder than the BC Bike Race,” said a wide-eyed Scott Penzarella, who traveled from Mill Valley, Calif., to participate in the Epic. “I did BC last year. It was tough but had a ton of dirt road miles, and it was at low elevation. The climbs we did here were insane.” The nature of Breckenridge’s trail network—a system of flumes (old mining aqueducts), rugged mining roads and singletrack—are ideal for running such an event. Over the six days of racing, the Breck Epic covered 200 miles and had more than 40,000 feet of climbing, all of it at over 10,000 feet above sea level. Of all the stages, Day 5 on the Wheeler Loop seemed to stand out as the most epic for the riders. The 40-mile stage climbed 7,300 feet and culminated with what could only be described as a goat trail. “That trail was hard,” said stage winner Jeremiah Bishop. “It was a neverending stair step that was filled with rocks and roots. Bishop also won the overall Pro Men’s title due in part to his efforts on the Wheeler Loop. “Every time I would walk a steep section, Jeremiah would ride it, and I would lose a few more seconds,” said second place overall finisher Travis Brown. Bishop won five of the six stages and clinched the overall title with a nine-minute gap over Brown. Boulder’s Brandon Dwight rode to an impressive third place overall and Jen Gersbach commandingly won the Pro Women’s title over singlespeeder Christina Begy and Jen Hanks. The 2010 Breck Epic is scheduled to kick off Aug. 22. If your ass is hard enough, register at –B. Riepe 29

[the breck epic]

This part of the Breck Epic is even steeper than it looks. Jorge Espinoza (Horizon Organic Cycling) inches up onto the nose of his saddle to eek out as much power as he can on the fourth day of racing during the six-day mountain bike stage race. Espinoza placed seventh overall at the epic and won the final stage after powering away from the lead group while climbing Boreas Pass, just one hour into that day’s stage. Devon Balet


[the breck epic] The Breck Epic’s sixth and final stage was no parade lap. Travis Brown (left), Jeremiah Bishop (center) and Colby Pierce—just dangling off the back— hammer out the final meters of the final climb after challenging one another for more than 200 miles and 40,000 feet of climbing in six days of racing.

Devon Balet


[the breck epic] David Wilson fights off the fatigue and pain associated with climbing the Pennsylvania Creek stage and its 6,100 feet of vertical. Wilson fought a hard battle against Dan Durland for first but finally closed the deal with a six-minute gap on the Wheeler Loop— the fifth and toughest stage—to win the overall singlespeed title at the 2009 Breck Epic.

Eddie Clark


[the breck epic]

» » » » » » »

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[tour of utah] With attacker Aaron Olsen up the road after taking the points, the main chase pack reaches the top of the first king of the mountain (KOM) climb during stage 1 of the Tour of Utah. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Rock Racing) won the stage and moved into the overall leader’s jersey, which he held for the remainder of the event.

Mitchell Clinton


[tour of utah]

Mitchell Clinton

Christopher Baldwin (OUCH/Maxxis) leans into a corner during the Tour of Utah’s stage 3 twilight time trial. Always a contender, Baldwin flew to a seventh-place finish on the stage, enough to set him into fourth place in the overall standing after the stage. But nothing is safe in bike racing; Baldwin narrowly survived a stage 4 crash but lost significant time, falling back to 27th overall when the game was over.


[tour of utah]

Mitchell Clinton

The Wiener Schnitzel sneak: Alex Howes (above right) rides comfortably in a seven-man breakaway in the final miles of the fourth stage in the Tour of Utah. Howes stayed with the break until the beginning of the final climb toward the stage’s mountaintop finish, where he broke away with a sneak attack (left). “I put in a teaser attack; this guy was handing out hot dogs, I took a bite of one and jumped and kept going,” said Howes. “I think they thought I was joking around. Once I got a gap, I kept going.” Burke Swindlehurst—who was a favorite for the day—and the rest of the group were caught off guard by the attack. Mitchell Clinton

“When he did that and then he attacked, I thought, ‘All right, well, that’s pretty funny.’ And I started laughing, and I thought, ‘Well, that means he’s going to be done with his race and going to sit up.’ And then he kept going and I realized, ‘Wow, the kid’s going.’” Howes won the stage with a 37-second advantage over Swindlehurst.


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2/9/09 11:25 AM

Chris Sheppard loving winter aboard the Santa Cruz Stigmata. Easton EA6X tubing, made in the USA, 1300 grams of sweet masochism, for a mere $850.

There is no easy way to describe the attraction of ‘cross to the uninitiated. To the outsider’s eye, it is a cold, messy, brutal, masochistic sport, played out at the thug-ugly dark end of the calendar year, rewarding dumb luck and animal toughness. Kind of like rugby on wheels. But from the inside, ‘cross is the most beautiful racing in the world - a dance of power and savvy, grace and fast twitch snap, timing and anaerobic clarity. It demands sharp focus and huge doses of gag reflex tolerance, and rewards the faithful with the sort of joy that can only be felt plowing through wet grass in a narrowing red haze of tunnel vision filled with the clamoring chaos of bell-lap madness.

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It may be summer now, with all those barbecues and warm evenings and sundresses and swimming holes. But it’ll be winter soon enough. We can hardly wait.


Words and images by Eddie Clark


Head down and arms across the bars was one way for Steve Wilkinson to pass time across the vast stretch of the Great Divide Basin. This 140-mile section offered no resupply options on the Tour Divide Race, which rigorously tested racers’ logistical planning.

To call it the greatest race

is one thing, but to finish the Tour Divide Race is an achievement few can boast. Racers challenge themselves and the elements for 2,745 miles of blood, sweat, tears and worn-out gears. As U.K. racer Steve Wilkinson noted on a desolate section in the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming: “I love it. I rode the race two years ago. A lot of people hate it, but I love it.” Love it or hate it, the Tour Divide Race is the longest mountain bike race in the world.


Kurt Refsnider pushes on through buckets of rain and hail on the ascent up Cochetopa Pass. The lightning was so bad it forced the photographer to hide in his truck, but Kurt rode on.



and trekkers alike have followed the Continental Divide for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1998 that the Adventure Cycling Association first mapped out the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. In 1999, multi-time Iditabike and Iditasport Extreme winner and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member John Stamstad rode the first individual time trial along the Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada in 18 days, 5 hours. This accomplishment lit the imagination of many a racer, and in 2004 the first mass start of the Great Divide Bike Race from Canada to Mexico was held. By adding a newly mapped section of 252 miles from Banff, Canada, to the U.S. border, the newly dubbed Tour Divide Race was first held in 2008 and is the new benchmark for longdistance mountain bike racing. Unlike most races that have exorbitant entry fees, the Tour Divide Race is free. There is no prize money either, only the glory and satisfaction of knowing you’ve accomplished something truly great. There’s also no sag wagon, the route is lonesome, and on-route support is prohibited. Instead, a strong constitution, resourcefulness and a survivor’s spirit are key requirements to finish. The Tour Divide treats a weary racer to almost 200,000 feet of climbing from start to finish; that’s about seven Mount Everests. Completing the course in its entirety under your own power, resupplying along the way and being self-reliant comprise the code of ethics, which must be followed at the risk of disqualification. For roughly half of this year’s 42 racers, this code and the climbing proved to be too much. At 10 a.m. on June 12, riders blasted off from Banff into the wild and beautiful Canadian Rockies. This year, to follow the racers, all riders started with a Spot GPS tracking device that relayed their current positions and could serve as a rescue beacon should an emergency occur. Racers also called in to the MTBCast hotline to leave voicemail updates, which were then uploaded to the race website ( With the combination of GPS tracking and voicemail updates, the general public followed the racers’ day-to-day tribulations and left supportive comments on the Tour Divide website. At the end of the first day, eventual race winner Matthew Lee of Chapel Hill, N.C., opted to keep riding into the night and immediately gained a 25-mile advantage over his competitors. All would agree the Canadian stretch had some very difficult climbing through vast wilderness. Canadian racer Blaine Nester estimated they climbed about 20,000 feet in the first two days before crossing the U.S. border. Once into Montana, the race really started to take shape. Many racers reported incidents with bears and even some whacked-out hippies on the trail. Montana was downright hard on everyone, with chilling, cold nights, pouring rain, pulverizing hail and snow. Outdoorsmen Cyclery in Butte was a welcome first bike overhaul stop for many racers. While pushing through a mile of snow over Richmond Peak, Eric Lobeck of Steamboat Springs, Colo., strained a calf muscle and showed his grit by pushing on, recovering on the bike. For some, the weather was worse. After spending a few wet nights freezing in his tent, Jeff Kerby of Belen, N.M., pulled out

Steve Wilkinson makes a brief roadside stop in the Great Divide Basin for a dinner of gas station junk food.

after eight days with pneumonia. Keeping bike and body going forward and pushing through new aches and pains that accompany riding a bike for 100 to 180 miles a day is a significant part of finishing. Race winner Lee said it best: “There’s a point at which the return is just not there, so you stop, rest and ride harder the next day.” Route finding is another key to finishing the race, as well as abiding by the rules. With many racers pedaling onward after sunset, a few wrong turns were made. The 2007 Great Divide Bike Race record holder Jay Petervary and his wife Tracey, a.k.a. T-Race, aboard their Vicious tandem dubbed “The Love Shack,” missed a turn onto Whitefish Divide and ended up 30 miles off course. Their only option was to backtrack until they were on course again, adding an extra 60 miles to their race. However, the always-positive couple from Jackson Hole, Wyo., was still stoked about the awesome lake views they had as a result of their wrong turn. In a more drastic mistake of navigation, rigid fixed-gear racer Deanna Adams and fellow racer Brad Mattingly, both from Arizona, got off course mid-race, but they failed to backtrack their mistake and resume the race. In Wyoming, Brooks Lake Road was so muddy that racers had to carry their bikes when the wheels jammed up with mud. Second-place finisher Kurt Refsnider of Boulder, Colo., had his lower jockey pulley seize up on the road, leaving him 25 miles away from replacement parts in Pinedale. Refsnider did what he could and turned his bike into a 2-speed to coax it into Pinedale where he was lucky enough to find a replacement jockey pulley.

“I had a couple of quite dreary days in northern Wyoming,” said international racer John Fettis of the U.K., echoing the sentiment of many Tour Divide racers. “Conditions were really rough with some really heavy rain and mud.” Wyoming also tormented racers with mutant mosquitoes that attacked by the hordes until Atlantic City. The next leg from Atlantic City to Rawlins crossed the Great Divide Basin and took racers across the longest barren stretch with no resupply options for 140 miles. Wild sage, yellow flowers, antelope, wild horses and a sky with a million different colors at sunset were the simple rewards for those who maintained their sanity and love of nature in the Great Basin. A strong tailwind helped across this stretch. Rolling out of Rawlins meant one last push uphill into the Medicine Bow Mountains and then into Colorado along Slate Creek Road. To sweeten it up, racers looked forward to a rest and refuel at Brush Mountain Lodge just outside of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Racers had much praise and thanks for Kirsten and the Brush Mountain Lodge. “Kirsten really looked after us. There were five of us there, so it was a good night. I had my hot tub and sat in there with Blaine and a beer,” said U.K. racer Alan Goldsmith. “Then she got up real early and made us breakfast. Set us off at six.” Trail magic doesn’t get much better than that. After the merciless mud of Idaho and northern Wyoming, bikes were in shambles by Steamboat Springs, with nonexistent brake pads, fried headsets, gritty bottom brackets and worn-out drive trains. 43

After the day’s riding is done, Matthew Lee wastes no time in getting bedded down, having a last snack and sleeping for four to six hours. Lee rose promptly every day at 4:40 a.m., a schedule that helped him win the event.

Luckily, rules allow for racers to mail supply packages ahead to shops and post offices. Orange Peel Bicycle Service in Steamboat became a bike shop oasis with packages of parts waiting for racers. The Petervarys coaxed their Love Shack into the bike shop on a wing and a prayer. “We just got a full rebuild on The Love Shack…ah, really excited for that. It’s running great, new brakes, new drive train, full of grease,” said Jay Petervary from the trail. “Brock really took care of us over here.” In a rare flap, race leader Lee beat his mailed care package to Absolute Bikes in Salida, Colo., which meant his pit stop would just be a clean and tune. Later, after running out of chain lube on course, due to what Lee called “weather like none other,” he resorted to buying canola oil from restaurants along the way to use as chain lube. Sleeping, or lack thereof, is another part of life racers must adapt to. Typically, racers ride 12 to 18 hours a day depending on conditions and sleep on the ground with a pad and bivy bag for four to six hours. If the rain or mosquitoes are bad, sleep time is usually cut in half. The Petervarys preferred sleeping close to 24-hour gas stations since they would have a nearby bathroom, coffee and food to load up on before hitting the road, whereas Lee enjoyed his solitude and dryness under random fir trees right on the side of the course. For his daily schedule, Lee woke to his alarm at 4:40 a.m. and got pedaling by 5 a.m., rain or shine, every day. For coffee, Lee chewed on whole coffee beans, preferably organic Costa Rican, as he rode. Tour Divide on-route accommodations can also be less 44

glamorous. Racers this year holed up in places like rooms over noisy bars, over-booked campgrounds, dog-poop-laden hills in Montana, roadside bathroom floors and even under a bridge with a homeless drunk guy. Everyone has their limits, and many are found in a muddy ditch or deluge of hail straight from hell. This race throws everything at you and then some. Refsnider was even charged by a riled-up porcupine that came flying out of a bush at him early in the morning in northern New Mexico. “It was strange. Porcupines are out to get me, I think,” he said. In addition to plentiful wildlife experienced on route, racers also became very familiar with the dirt. “That dirt just gets in you, it becomes you, and you’re eating it all day long,” said Eric Bruntjen of Yakima, Wash. “You’re just absorbing this amazing geological and sociological feature of our country.” Five racers found their limits this year when they descended Boreas Pass into Como, Colo., about the same time. Severe lightning, a heinous thunderstorm, muddy roads and a wide-open, high mountain prairie welcomed them. At that point Cannon Shockley of Leadville, Colo., Nester, Wilkinson, Lobeck and Goldsmith called a truce in the name of safety and had an early night at the Como Bed and Breakfast. They, henceforth, dubbed themselves as the peloton and made the best of some spare time in Como cleaning clothes, eating, drinking beer and sleeping. For the duration of the race, this peloton grew in size. Lobeck succumbed to giardia two days before finishing and withdrew from the race.

Tour Divide riders (l-to-r) Cannon Shockley, Blaine Nester and Alan Goldsmith have a pre-ride chat after getting their bikes worked over and their bellies filled at Absolute Bikes and Bongo Billy’s in Salida, Colo.

From Salida to the finish in Antelope Wells, N.M., racers had to contend with more high mountain passes, muddy roads, long days with no resupply options, headwinds and general bad weather. Some racers crashed out, got sick or developed raceending physical ailments along the way. In the Carson National Forest of New Mexico, racers found themselves riding through the middle of the annual Rainbow Family Gathering. Hippies by the thousands were camped along the route. Lee rode on to win the race in 17 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes, short of the 15:01:26 record set in 2008 by John Nobile of Fairfield, Conn. But plenty of records were made this year. The Petervarys pedaled their Love Shack to the Antelope Wells border crossing for a first-ever tandem finish in 18 days, 13 hours and 50 minutes for third overall. Chris Plesko of Westminster, Colo., set a Tour Divide singlespeed record riding his fully rigid Vassago 29er (using a 32x17 gear) and finishing in 19 days and 21 minutes. The last record broken was by solo female finisher Jill Homer of Juneau, Alaska, in 24 days, 7 hours and 24 minutes, beating Jenn Hopkins’ 2008 record of 28:16:40. Out of 42 starters, only 16 received an official Tour Divide Race finish time. Five either disqualified themselves or were relegated for course deviations or support, and 21 never made it to Antelope Wells. The Tour Divide Race treats every racer equally with a severity that pushes riders to their breaking points and beyond. Its reward is the simplicity and focus of in-your-face living along the Continental Divide, and undeniably Mother Nature in her very finest glory. One thing is certain: anyone who attempts the Tour Divide will forever remember it. 45

[sol vista - nationals]

Lisa Myklak leaves the trail smoking as she lights up the Sol Vista downhill for a third-place finish at the 2009 National Championships. Notably, the pro women and many pro men wouldn’t hit the course’s three massive 40-plus-foot gap jumps until Myklak stepped up and consecutively cleared them all. For more about the National Championships, read a race report and check out even more cool photos at Eddie Clark


[sol vista - nationals]

Devon Balet

Jill Kinter floats through a berm during her winning four-cross run at the 2009 National Championships in Sol Vista, Colo.


[sol vista - nationals]

Devon Balet

After a disastrous start to the 2009 Elite Women’s National Championship crosscounty race, Georgia Gould (Luna) drops back to the valley floor. Gould finished fourth in the race after having mechanical problems on the first climb, forced to spend time in the tech pit at the start of lap two. “Something was wrong with my chain, and I couldn’t shift the whole way up the climb on the first lap,” Gould said. “The guys were calm and replaced my chain super fast, so I could get back to racing and make up as many places as possible. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t be up there and see how I’d do. I felt good.” Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Gary Fisher) won the event, collecting her second national title in just two weeks. Her first title came in the National Marathon Championship title she took in Breckenridge on the Fourth of July.



[blast the mass]

A racer glides through an aspen grove in Snowmass, Colo., during the 2009 Colorado State Championships. These are special places buried deep in a mountain biker’s cerebrum, like a dream; sometimes the subject is insignificant within its surroundings. If we were Vikings, Rocky Mountain aspen stands would be our Valhalla and its singletrack our bounty. For more about the Colorado State Championships, read an extensive race report and find bonus photos at 50

Eddie Clark

[blast the mass] Shawn Neer steps fully on the gas at the Colorado State Championships in Snowmass, Colo. Neer had no time for brakes and instead just boosted over anything in his way for a very respectable fourth place in the Pro Men’s Downhill race.

Eddie Clark


[blast the mass]


Yeti Fox Factory rider Sam Blenkinsop goes a little wide through a corner during the Pro Men’s Downhill at the Colorado State Championships in Snowmass, Colo. The mistake may have cost him the win; he finished only five seconds out of first place behind teammate Aaron Gwin.









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[leadville trail 100] Fort Lewis College Cycling Coach Matt Shriver sets the pace—much as he did for the first 40 miles of the race—up Sugarloaf Pass in the early hours of the 2009 Leadville Trail 100. Shriver broke a pedal cleat near the 50-mile mark but hung on for an impressive third-place finish, just 10 minutes behind secondplace finisher Dave Wiens.

Eddie Clark


[leadville trail 100] Racers dealt with rapidly changing weather conditions throughout the Leadville Trail 100 race and also a little sunshine here on the Twin Lakes dam.

Eddie Clark

Leadville 2009 Records and Innuendos LEADVILLE, Colo.— Ever since placing second to Dave Wiens in 2008, Lance Armstrong has made it clear he would come back to challenge Wiens in the Leadville Trail 100. Lance Armstrong not only won the 100-mile mountain bike race, beating six-time champion Wiens by 29 minutes, but he also broke the course record set by Wiens in 2008 by more than 15 minutes. Armstrong stopped the clock in six hours, 28 minutes and 50 second, ahead of Wiens’ 2008 record of 6:45:45. Rebecca Rusch, 24 Hour Solo World Champion, was the fastest female at Leadville, finishing in 8 hours, 14 minutes. For Armstrong, 29 minutes is a big margin, but it didn’t come easily. Armstrong broke away from the lead group at the 40-mile mark and had to decide then if he should wait for other riders as he started Columbine—the biggest climb of the day. “I looked back, and there was no one there but [Matt] Shriver,” Armstrong said. “I kind of had to decide if I wanted to continue alone or wait for the other guys. I knew it was risky to go alone.” Armstrong committed decisively and went on his own for what turned into a 60-mile individual time trial, riding the rest of the race like a fox at a dog track. When he finished, he had clearly put in a huge effort.

“I was worked,” said Armstrong. “I sat down and asked my buddy to get me as many Cokes and Snickers bars as he could find.” Armstrong wasn’t the only rider to go it alone. After Armstrong attacked, the remainder of the lead group became disorganized, and the top 10 riders reached the 50-mile turnaround point with gaps between them ranging from five to 10 minutes. On the climb up Columbine, Wiens moved into second and held the position for the remainder of the race. Shriver, who is credited with pace setting for the first 40 miles of the race, held on to third place even after suffering a mechanical problem on the Columbine climb. “Matt broke a cleat or something on Columbine,” said fifth-place finisher Len Zanni. “Armstrong may have won, but Shriver definitely had the ride of the day.” Unfortunately, Armstrong’s win came with a trace of controversy. Some cycling fans and media personalities questioned the rumored tactics Armstrong used—padding the lead group with late entry quasi-domestiques, presumably brought in to help Armstrong break the course record—but most racers agree the rumors are overblown. For more, read the view from Wiens’ saddle starting on page 57. –B. Riepe 55

[leadville trail 100] A thin track in the mud is the only evidence Lance Armstrong left behind for his chasers to follow as he broke away up the Columbine climb, nearing the 50-mile turnaround at the 2009 Leadville Trail 100. Armstrong built a 12-minute advantage on the nine-mile climb and never looked back.

Rob O’Dea


[leadville trail 100]

Omelet Chefs and Executioners– The Legend of Leadville by Dave Wiens The 2009 Leadville 100 was a special experience for me in many ways. Certainly, a big part of this year’s race was the Lance Factor, as it was last year, but this Lance was much different. The ’09 Lance was the well-prepared comeback Lance; the fresh off of a third place at the Tour de France Lance; the Leadville can be ridden in less than six hours Lance. And rather than throwing his hat into the ring 10 days out like last year, he’d been talking about his return to Leadville periodically throughout the year as he raced his way back into tour form in Australia, California and Italy. Much has been made of various aspects of the race, beginning with both of us lining up again in 2009. Right after the 2008 race, Lance said he would be back. Of course, that was before he announced his plans to return to professional road racing and the Tour de France. But even after making this comeback public, there didn’t seem to be any question that he would be lining up in Leadville on the third Saturday of August. I have to admit, however, I wasn’t so sure in fall 2008 about my seventh Leadville quest. Had Lance not been keen to race in Leadville again, I might have been content to call it a career there, at least as far as trying to win the race. And that’s a very cool aspect of the event: riders can participate regardless of goals or preparation. You couldn’t just ride the Tour de France for fun one year, even though you may have been a tour veteran or a past champion. Indeed, Lance mentioned the possibility of riding the Leadville at age 50, shooting for a big belt buckle. But once it was clear to me that Lance would be back, I knew that I needed to be there, too, and to prepare for it with just as much effort and zeal as I had the past two years. Did I think I could straight-up beat him again? I recall an email exchange with race director Ken Chlouber in which I mentioned feeling “like I had a date with the executioner!” But truly, the thought of not being there at all was way more unsavory to me than the thought of getting schooled in the race, and not just by him but by who knows who else who might be lining up for a shot at either of us. Being able to “go out on top” only meant one thing to me: that it would increase the chances of me being the crazy old man in the nursing home, wearing a faded and threadbare team kit around, repeatedly asking residents and nurses alike, “Have I told you about the time I beat Lance Armstrong? Have you seen my belt buckle?” Scary! Much to-do has also been made of Lance bringing a team of riders to the race and how that affected the outcome. It’s no secret that this happened and while the credit goes to Trek for stacking the front row of the race with late entry strong guys, it was in response to Lance’s desire to ride a fast time by having these guys drive the pace from the start. I actually can think of only two riders who were there for this purpose, Matt Shriver and Travis Brown. Len Zanni was a late entry, too, but he was

Eddie Clark

Minutes after finishing the 2009 Leadville Trail 100, Dave Wiens spent a little time joking with a television crew.

racing for himself and made it clear to all, including Lance, that he would not be part of the early pace setting. As it turned out, only Shriver was a factor as Brown wasn’t ever part of the lead group once we hit the dirt. Some people made it sound like Trek had dropped five or six hammers into the race. If they did, I don’t know who the others were, never saw them, and they were not factors in the race. Part of the plan was for Lance to just sit in initially and not work, saving himself for an all-out effort later in the race. No one expected anything different from me, and there wasn’t an effort to attack and drop me. Anyone who was strong enough was welcome to get on the Trek train, a ride that lasted for 40 miles and was engineered solely by Shriver. I didn’t mind this in the least, and while it was way different for me to be hammering up the very first climb and clawing my way up to the front of the race, it was what it was. At the front, it’s not the same Leadville as it was a few years ago. Had I asked Ken for similar starts for riders to help me, I know that he would have said absolutely. However, there was nothing they could have done to 57

[leadville trail 100] Moments after reaching the 50-mile turnaround at Columbine, Dave Wiens focuses on the return trip to Leadville.

change the outcome of this race. Had the pace been slower at the beginning, more like last year, the winner would have been no different. Lance was far and away the strongest guy in the race and was going to win, regardless of how it went down. My only thought was that not a single person with the knowledge of the sport of cycling was surprised about the outcome of the race. Once we hit the Twin Lakes aid station at mile 40, it was every man for himself: time for the 60-mile time trial. Lance was able to carry on at an amazing pace and, even being slowed by tire issues, he was able to crush the record he helped me set last year. I’m pretty sure the rest of us out there were crippled 58

by the fast start; I know I was. But that’s not saying my finish time would have been much different with a more pedestrian beginning to the race. Five or 10 minutes, perhaps, but maybe not. The same can be said for Shriver, Alex Grant and Zanni, the riders who ultimately filled out the top five. In fact, without spending himself in the beginning, I’m pretty certain that Shriver was the second strongest guy out there. He rode at the front for nearly half the race, had some technical issues that slowed him down and was just 10 minutes behind me at the finish. A very good ride, indeed! Next year? I guess you never want to say never, but with lots of athletes oscillating on being done or not and getting plenty of heat for it, you’ve at least got to be a little careful with what you say. Higher priority goals for me now will be working to promote healthy, trail-based exercise and fitness through the nonprofit I founded in 2006, Gunnison Trails. One of our most ambitious goals is to build an epic singletrack connecting Crested Butte and Gunnison. We have tons of citizen support but gaining approval for a trail like this makes winning the Leadville 100 look like a kiddy car ride. With that in mind, I’ll say that my days of trying to win the Leadville 100 are behind me. Conjuring up the kind of fitness it takes to be competitive, especially at 45 years of age, is really difficult, and this says nothing of the time it takes away from my family and other pursuits. Right now, and this could certainly change, I see myself picking up my No. 2 plate next August and taking my position on the front row. I’ll race the 2010 Leadville 100 with whatever fitness I happen to have, but I won’t be “training” for it. I’ll be camping with the family, hopefully bagging some fourteeners, not planning or tracking what I’m doing on the bike, not worrying about even riding my bike if it doesn’t fit into our plans. With all that being said, I still love riding my bike and while I wouldn’t be going out and doing intervals, Brian Riepe structured training or the TransAlp Stage Race like I did this year, I will hopefully still be logging plenty of saddle time, doing epic rides, morning rides, evening rides, family rides. Some things just won’t change. If I’m in good shape and feeling confident, this might mean a fairly serious race, perhaps gunning for a top 10. A fairly serious race means going as hard as my fitness will allow the whole way; racing with whoever happens to be close, likely a few notches below what I have been doing. If I’m not in great shape, I’ll be looking to just finish the race. That’ll mean taking my time, looking around and riding within myself. And I’ll finally be able to answer this nagging question that I’ve had all these years: is there really an omelet chef at the Twin Lakes aid station?

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[frazer mountain madness]

Albuquerque, N.M., racing powerhouse Damian Calvert (Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling) is the first cyclist to crest the summit of Frazer Mountain on the home stretch to the finish line during the 2009 Frazer Mountain Madness hill climb at Taos Ski Valley, N.M. Calvert’s journey from the starting line at the Taos Ski Valley parking lot, visible at lower left, took him five and a half miles with a 2,800-foot elevation gain to the summit of Frazer Mountain, situated 12,163 feet above sea level. 60

[frazer mountain madness]

James E. Rickman


[frazer mountain madness]

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Frazer Mountain Madness is a Road Less Traveled TAOS, N.M.—Standing at the base of Taos Ski Valley and staring up to where the mountains meet the sky can be a humbling experience. The summit rises so steeply out of the valley floor and so high that it pains the neck to take it all in. But at this year’s Frazer Mountain Madness hill climb, one woman humbled the mountain. Nina Baum (Cannondale Factory Racing) turned in a new women’s world record, smashing the record she set a year earlier by 2 minutes and 41 seconds. Baum finished in style in 1:06:03, riding across the checkered flags of the finish line looking at ease. From the ski area parking lot, where the race starts at 9,300 feet above sea level, it might seem simple enough, exhilarating even, to hop on a bike and slog five and a half miles to the 12,163foot summit of Frazer Mountain, which isn’t even visible from the starting line unless you really know where to look. But that’s crazy talk. The climb to the top of Frazer Mountain is a hellacious ride on rarely used doubletrack through some of the thickest forest in northern New Mexico. The tortuous labyrinth maintains an average 9 percent grade—with a disheartening stretch of 23 percent grade thrown in for good measure— over wheel-jarring stretches of baby head and jagged rocks that will toss people off their bikes if they don’t keep their momentum high enough. Even in late July the temperatures at this elevation are cool, and the unmolested wildflowers grow bright and strong out of the rocky terrain. The route to the summit of Frazer Mountain truly is the proverbial Road Less Traveled. About 12 minutes before Baum’s finish, Albuquerque’s Damian Calvert (Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling) stopped the clock in 48:44 as the first rider of 60. Calvert finished 49 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Cameron Brenneman (Santa Fe Bike and Sport) but a minute and a half behind the previous men’s record. –J. Rickman

[frazer mountain madness] On pace to smash the women’s course record by more than two and a half minutes, Nina Baum (Cannondale Factory Racing) of Albuquerque, N.M., approaches the finish line of the 2009 Frazer Mountain Madness hill climb with a certain aplomb that was missing from many of the other riders who suffered through the grotesque climb. While many took to walking their bikes the last 500 yards over the line, Baum gracefully navigated the rocks and the incline in the saddle to snag first place for the second year in a row.

James E. Rickman


[laramie enduro]

Beatle kill and blue sky: A rider at the 2009 Laramie Enduro in Wyoming looks for the finish line. The finish line at this race comes after 111 kilometers and a total elevation gain of more than 8,600 vertical feet, all at elevations over 7,500 feet in the Laramie Range of southeastern Wyoming. Mark Woolcott


[laramie enduro]

Scott Gearte of Castle Rock, Colo., sails through the trees and open space of southeastern Wyoming. Gearte finished the 111 kilometers of the 2009 Laramie Enduro in 8 hours and 54 minutes. Mark Woolcott


[laramie enduro]

Mark Woolcott

Laramie local and official 50-yearold-fast-dude Jeff Hostetler rips to a first-place finish in his class. Hostetler notably earned an impressive third overall, riding the epic Laramie Enduro course in 6 hours and 16 minutes.


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[crankworx colorado]


[crankworx colorado]

Commencal team rider Brendan Howey navigates his way down the corkscrew and sets up for a mandatory 25-foot drop-in at the third annual Crankworx Colorado freeride mountain bike festival this year. Eddie Clark


[crankworx colorado] [crankworks]

Devon Balet

Kurt Sorge gets fully crossed up for the sky cam over the Winter Park ski area during the 2009 Crankworx competition.


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[tour de los alamos] Everything seems bright blue, fast and happy in the bottom of Ancho Canyon for Men’s Category 1/2/3 riders in the 37th Annual Tour de Los Alamos, but in a few seconds the racers will face the first big climbing test of the day to help sort out the men from the boys and create, for some, a blacker, slower and more miserable time. Italian rider Fortunato Ferrara, second from right, stayed on the bright side to become the overall winner of the tour, which is one of the oldest bicycle races in the Southwest.

James E. Rickman


[tour de los alamos]

Tour de Los Alamos Lights a Fire Los Alamos, N.M.—As one of the oldest bicycle races in the Southwest, the Tour de Los Alamos still has the ability to ignite a competitive spirit. And in the tour’s 37th year, smoke was clearly visible to race participants, as a small forest fire smoldered in view of the racecourse on land belonging to nearby Bandelier National Monument. Tour participants ride up to three circuits on a challenging 28-mile loop that connects the sister communities of Los Alamos and White Rock, N.M. Because the loop combines beautiful scenery with a schizophrenic mix of steep climbs and exhilarating descents, it’s a favorite training ride among locals. But overall winner Fortunato Ferrara didn’t come from a local peloton. His pedigree is from Italy. He recently moved to Los Alamos to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher. He bested many of the locals on the 84-mile course with a time of 3 hours, 41 minutes, 26 seconds—beating back previous year winner Michael McCalla of nearby Santa Fe, N.M., at the finish line in a closely fought race. McCalla and teammate Cameron Brenneman finished less than a second behind the scrappy Italian in the Men’s Category 1/2/3 race. As the race progressed on this hot July 12 morning, heat began shimmering off the asphalt even as a gauzy curtain of forest fire smoke was drawn across the morning sky, which a few hours earlier was a spectacular canopy of cloudless cobalt

blue. By the second and third laps around the course, racers could begin to taste the campfire flavor of thickening air. But none faltered. The race’s youngest competitor, 15-year-old Gabriel Intrator of Los Alamos, added a little of his own smoke to the race, finishing first in the Citizens’ Race in just 1 hour, 18 minutes and 41 seconds for a single 28-mile loop. Alisabeth Thurston-Hicks from Canon City, Colo., drove down to the Atomic City to win the Women’s Cat 1/2/3 race. She finished two laps in 2 hours, 46 minutes and 18 seconds, racing in honor of her brother, David Thurston, a popular Los Alamos schoolteacher who is fighting a rare type of cancer. More than 200 riders registered for the race, making participation among the highest in the history of the race. Nearly half of the entrants battled it out in the Citizens’ Race, trying to earn local bragging rights among the after-work, club-ride crowd. Some of the locals who rarely ride—save for six weeks a year of training before race day—showed up with vintage chromoly steeds with loose headsets and well-worn leather saddles, badly aged toe straps and polystyrene helmets dating back to the days of Skylab. For these cyclists, completing the single Citizens’ lap and grimacing up the final agonizing hill and across the finish line is a bragging right in itself. –J. Rickman


[ct jamboree]

Nathan Hebenstreit

Early morning sun over the San Juan Mountains greets a rider at the 2009 CT Jamboree, a two-day supported fundraiser ride. The CT Classic is an accompanying race along the same 74 miles of the Colorado Trail.


[ct jamboree]

Nathan Hebenstreit

Two riders soak in the experience at the 2009 CT Jamboree. The event is organized to raise awareness and funding for the fight against multiple sclerosis and brought in more than $40,000 this year.


[ct jamboree] Big mountains, big views and big fundraising are what the CT Jamboree is all about. The two-day CT Jamboree ride is in its fourth year, and the one-day CT Classic race is in its second year. Riders and racers each cover 74 miles of spectacular trail during the events.

Nathan Hebenstreit

Ride for a Cause DURANGO, Colo.—On July 25, more than 50 riders met at the top of Molas Pass to begin a two-day journey of suffering and bliss along the last 74 miles of the Colorado Trail. The following morning, 11 racers set out on the same path, for the same cause, only to complete their suffering in a single day. They were all riding and racing to raise awareness and funding for the fight against multiple sclerosis. The fourth annual CT Jamboree and second annual CT Classic, hosted by Durango resident Ian Altman and close friend Chris Fickel, had another successful year. The weather was good, despite a few short-lived mountain storms that delivered rain and hail on unsuspecting riders. Thanks to consistent early summer rains, the trail conditions were excellent and the wildflowers in full bloom. On Sunday evening, after the ride and race, at the new Ska Brewing world headquarters in Durango, participants celebrated over pints and steaming plates of Mexican food provided by Zia Taqueria. After riding in the Classic, event organizer Altman arrived at Ska just in time to raise a glass and acknowledge participants for stepping it up in the realm of alpine riding and fundraising. Altman was diagnosed with MS in 1997. The CT Jamboree is a two-day supported fundraiser ride 76

along the last four sections of the Colorado Trail, and the CT Classic is a one-day, self-supported endurance race along the same sections. Michael Andres took first place in the CT Classic race, finishing in 9 hours and 21 minutes. Nick Gould and Ross Delaplane were both a mere eight minutes behind and finished together for a second-place tie. Miles Venzara took a solo third place in 9:47. Altman came in 10th place at 13:19. Despite the grim economy, the event managed to raise more than $40,000. Top fundraisers and racers had many great prizes to choose from, thanks to the overwhelming support and sponsorship from many Colorado companies. Durango Cyclery, Nature’s Oasis, Mountain Flyer magazine and Osprey were among the companies that donated products and services for the cause. Since the events’ inception in 2006, they have raised nearly $130,000. Riders are asked to raise at least $500 in pledges for the Vail-based Jimmie Heuga Center, which helps individuals diagnosed with MS and their families learn how to manage the disease through exercise and lifestyle changes. Additional funds are donated to the Colorado Trail Foundation and Trails 2000. For more information, race results and next year’s event info, go to –N. Hebenstreit


d art, an ace st story: r p u orld C , milar irst W ell you a si lleled field f r i e e h t a t r t y a T l u ce. h unp bab abo ll pro sion, the ive audien ing, so i w y ten lm the ass rvous the m erwhe , one the ne tal course, art is so ov s, for most reer. i t u ca s t the br nce of the ling, that i ofessional r e b i p s only exper g, so hum ents of a Cup i will m in o y d f l i r m r o r at ng te W of wh defini ting a ning of the wever, star beginning , the begin of r e o e g H inning‌th essful care ginnin n. e b e g c h e c the b lly be a su ason and t ompeted i The u se ever c nths ago. nd hopef g healthy have o a u n o o y l two m t mattered s ace of a r a t w s , e a e d I h r t m , a y g r r h the brua rt, fo ythin he sta ed, of ever atter. In Fe departed ages T m I d d s an it seem ould m h school an olo., Word Kevin Kane start, ing that w g C i om h th unty, by every ed early fr ummit Co raining in t t S a . gradu y home in living and onal Team i t g e m a v n i a N r m h , sp ss fro d my th the Swi tirnemann ntain n e p s i w to ou yS Famil t erland rt of m Switz hosts, the in the spo of the mos d in y an n e M ide renow ann is on itzerland 2007 w m w e S e world Beat Stirn oaches in n, 19, is th , 17, . c i s r g g i bikin ful cyclin hter, Kath n, Matth a ps [Editor’s Note: This article is the i o g s s s u s e s a hi ion h sd succ second of a two-part series about ld. Hi pion, and rld Champ been r o w o am ve the s I ha the W one Colorado teenager’s chance of an Ch urope e top 10 at two month emanns, E a lifetime to train with the Swiss th tirn t ast broke . For the l with the S nt: my firs Junior National Team last spring. 8 e g 0 n m 0 i o c 2 in d ra is m You can find Part 1 in Issue No. 13 ng an for th traini ng myself of Mountain Flyer.] ri prepa up. C World 78

[the swiss diaries:2] More than 20,000 spectators fill the start/finish area at the World Cup in Offenburg, Germany.

25 April 2009 World Cup Offenburg, Germany The claustrophobic interior of the start-box does nothing to calm my nerves. A suppressing wave of applause rains down from the bleachers on either side of the start/finish chute as each rider is called to the line. After 20 minutes of perfecting my tan lines on this cloudless German afternoon, I finally get my only recognition of the day. “From the United States of America, number twohundred-and-seventeen, Kevin Kane.” As I roll into my start position, I can barely see the flaming red start banner. The view is blocked by the 216 competitors starting ahead of me. Muddled German words from the announcer’s booth reverberate over the 20,000 fans packed into the expo area, but what he says does not hold any importance. The only sound I pay any attention to is the arresting clap of the starting gun. The first lap in Offenburg is comparable to unclogging a sink. The sound of the gun serves as a flow of Drano rushing from the rear of the field, accelerating the chaotic mess of carbon fiber frames, tubular wheels and Spandex-clad cyclists through the narrowing plumbing of this infamous crosscountry course. For the first several kilometers of the race, I can barely recognize the flowing trail that I spent so long familiarizing

myself with over the previous two days. All I see is the stream of riders before me surging up and down, left and right, over the rich German soil. All of these images are further clouded by the sheer mental concentration of body and mind. My lungs dilate and contract, seemingly taking in more dust than oxygen, and my heart pounds against my ribs with a force beyond explanation, but somehow my legs maintain a composed pedal stroke as I accelerate with the rest of the field into the cover of the Black Forest. With so many riders on course, it is not long into the singletrack that those of us at the back of the pack are forced to fight for position by foot. I maintain my position on the bike for as long as possible until, finally, reaching the first technical section about 2 kilometers into the race, a sudden standstill persuades me from the comfort of my own saddle. The race has quickly turned to all-out war. Desperate racers use their bikes and their bodies to push their way through any gap that appears in the torrents of riders ahead of them. I catch glimpses of blatant elbows and fists flying, a new perspective for me on the idea of “fighting for position.” Some riders use their bikes, seemingly more effective than bare flesh, to prove their enthusiasm. It is overwhelming and exciting to me, but I keep my elbows in and my hands on the bike. It would be most 79

[the swiss diaries:2]

A Swiss National Team rider conquers the technical Wolfs Drop section of the Offenburg World Cup race in front of thousands of fans.

unwise for this 150-pound American to start any sort of confrontation here. The race continues like this for the better part of the first 6-kilometer loop. After that, the flood of riders finally organizes into a steady stream, a single-file, passing nightmare for us at the back. After what seems like only minutes of being on the bike, I find myself back through the start/finish area and out onto my second lap. Now that the field has effectively spread out, I am able to concentrate on what, to me, is one of the most beautiful cross-country courses in the world. Offenburg is a small village settled into the Black Forest of southern Germany. Like many of the small towns here, it is widely unremarkable. However, Offenburg has in recent years become the famous (or infamous) venue of Europe’s most progressive cross-country track. This 6-kilometer, man-made loop boasts a huge number of advantages for both riders and fans. The course is designed as a spectatorfriendly World Cup race, complete with five unique technical areas all within a five-minute walk of the start/ finish area. Continuing on my second lap, I approach the first of these sections with great trepidation. Appropriately named Dual Speed, this section of trail splits into two separate 80

lines, each consisting of several drops. The right line is easier, but slower than the left, so I opt for the left line on every lap. A kilometer later, I reach the North Shore, a section of steep, tight switchbacks leading into the ever-popular “Euro-chute,” characterized by an awkward left-hander at the bottom. Immediately after the North Shore comes the World Class Drop, a rooty, rocky chute—in my opinion the hardest section on course—that tests the ability of both rider and bicycle. Following this section, I enter the tech zone, where the team wrench, Joey, stands cheering us on and, more importantly, waiting expectedly for one of the team riders to run in with a mechanical or puncture. After another winding singletrack climb, we approach the Wolfs Drop, another steep chute descent that requires me to brake almost to a complete standstill to avoid launching over it onto the flat below. Finally, after another protracted climb, comes the Snake Pit, a section of roots and stumps about 100 meters in length. Because it is not a downhill section, maintaining speed through the Snake Pit is exceptionally hard without a flawless line. As mentioned, the 20,000 or so spectators in Offenburg can access all of these technical areas without difficulty. Not only is this good for the fans, but it also serves as a simple, localized track for the racers while pre-riding and racing, so if there is any difficulty out on course, the start/finish expo is never too far away. Through these technical sections, I am slowly able to work my way through the field and finally find my rhythm toward the end of the second lap. Flashes of red occasionally splash into my peripheral vision, friends from the Swiss National Team cheering. I motor into my third lap, taking a new bottle from USA Cycling’s Mountain Bike Manager Marc Gullickson in the feed zone. He shouts words of encouragement after me as I jump on the singletrack for the last time. 27 April 2009 Gränichen, Switzerland Every start must have an end. For me in Offenburg, that end came much earlier than I had ever imagined. Initially, the Pro Men had been designated to a seven-lap race. However, I was only able to compete for a short three laps. When I heard the lead motorcycle approaching toward the end of my third lap, I could not believe it. Sure, I had known going into the race that the initial struggle at the back of the field would make it quite easy for the leaders to lap me before the end of the race, but I had never expected it to happen only three laps, 18 kilometers, into the race. The officials pulled me from the race, and I got to watch the rest of the race from the sidelines, along with the 20,000 bratwurst-laden spectators. The image of the overweight UCI official saturates my

[the swiss diaries:2] The lead end of the Pro Men’s field ascends the most infamous climb in the third round of the World Cup series in Houffalize, Belgium.

thoughts for several days after the race: his lack of emotion, no empathy for my suffering, impassive black eyes hidden beneath the brim of his maroon UCI cap. From there, my mind moves to darker places, the fleeting look of disappointment on Marc’s face as I confronted him in the feed zone after I had been pulled. The unsaid conversation that my mind assures me is real; maybe I was not cut out for this racing thing. Visions of failure, prominent features of a defeated, exhausted mind. Any weathered racer knows that mountain bike racing is more mental than physical. Now I am back in Switzerland, in the small village of Gränichen, where I have been living for the past two months. It is Tuesday, which means for the Family Stirnemann and me another hard training day to prepare for yet another World Cup weekend. Here in Switzerland, spring is upon us, and after living at 9,300 feet in Colorado for as long as I can remember, spring here is a wonderfully joyous and unexpected event in my temporary home. As the rainy days slowly drift away, I am greeted on my rides by splendid displays of Mother Nature’s true colors, quite literally, green. Even the abandoned brick walls lining the edges of my favorite road ride to Luzern flaunt a fresh layer of bright green lianas. With the green also comes the realization that the mountain bike season is fully under way. I imagine that, back in Colorado, I would just now be ending my base training season, when here in Europe, I am preparing for my second World Cup in two weeks. This time around, my initial excitement has left, and I am fully confronted by the anxiety of yet another race of a lifetime. 3 May 2009 World Cup Houffalize, Belgium I have to hold my brakes to keep my bike from rolling backwards. Above the array of multi-colored helmets lies the starting climb that haunted the slumbers of 250 racers last night and continues, even now, to startle me with its sheer magnitude. At more than 20 percent in grade, this kilometer-long nightmare of a start seems to hold nothing against World Cup and Olympic Champion Julien 81

[the swiss diaries:2] Absalon. With the blast of the starting gun, Absalon seems to defy gravity in his quest for a 19th World Cup victory. I catch a short glimpse of him several hundred meters ahead of me, the blue, white and red of his French National Champion jersey flashing up the ascent, just seconds before I lunge my bike into the starting chaos. The bobbing mass of riders stretches out before me in a blurred haze of frantic concentration as I attempt to make up as many positions as possible before we are thrown unceremoniously onto the singletrack that makes this small Ardennes village notorious. The combat from the first lap at Offenburg immediately resumes as the course narrows into a trail built for one rider. Foreign obscenities are thrown about nonchalantly, and as riders become more and more distressed, they start to cut the tape. We are all off our bikes by now. Only the top 30 or so riders at the front are able to find a clear course through the first descent. With no discretion for the course boundaries, riders duck under Shimano tape in an attempt to better their advantage on the field. I catch a glimpse of my teammate Ethan Gilmour of the U23 National Team attempt to grab a rider’s bike and pull it back onto the course to make a statement, but to no avail. At several tight points, the riders at the back are forced to wait for several minutes while the way thins enough for everyone to get through. It is an infuriatingly slow and unorganized mess of a start until, finally, I am able to jump back on my bike toward the end of the descent. However, I only make it as far as my first pedal stroke before I am forced to jump off again. My chain is in knots. My derailleur is lodged in my cassette. I do not waste any time thinking as I sprint my bike into the first tech zone, conveniently placed at the end of the first descent. Joey, the national team mechanic, works feverishly to diagnose my problem, and within 90 seconds, I am back out on course with Joey yelling incomprehensibly after me. Anger and frustration surge through me as I exit the tech zone. I am committed to chasing down the tail end of the group and getting some laps in before I get pulled, but my bike seems to have other ideas. Despite Joey’s best efforts, my derailleur hanger and chain are both bent beyond shifting capabilities, and as I quickly learn, any amount of power transferred into my cranks yields a sickening crunch of a flawed drive train. I fervently fumble with the cable adjustments on my rear shifter, but nothing seems to counteract the effects of the initial damage. With my bike in its current condition, there will be no martyrdom waiting for me at the finish line. I will never make it to that point. The dust is still settling as I reach the most famous climb in Houffalize. The grinding of my gears is easily drowned in the tumultuous noise coming from the spectators lining the course five deep. A newfound energy enters my legs as the crowds lift me up the climb with their unwavering enthusiasm. Toward the top of the first switchback, a group of Swiss riders catches my eye, and one yells at my passing, “Hopp, Kevin!” (German for “Go, Kevin!”) To my amazement, the thousands of fans seem to ripple with energy as they all start to shout my name. The deafening chorus temporarily robs me of 82

Michelle Hediger Kevin Kane sports the U.S. National Team stars and stripes during his World Cup debut.

all frustration, and I cannot help but break into a huge smile of relief. And then my World Cup at Houffalize is over. When I reach the second tech zone and pull out, I am still overcome with happiness. My race here, short as it may be, helps me to understand one thing that I probably would not have understood had I not been so unfortunate. This sport, mountain biking, is so beautiful in its simplicity. The 35,000 fans at Houffalize, the 250 male and 150 female competitors here, the coaches, the mechanics, the officials, the rotund Belgian guys with their pommes frites and bratwurst…they are all here because of one reason: They love to ride mountain bikes. What is it that entices us to show off our favorite clashing Lycra kits? What madness drives us to drive through the rain, sleet and snow just to finish our favorite epic? What reason do we have for riding on trails barely wide enough for 1.9 inch tires, down descents more stupid than reality TV, up climbs steeper than rising gas prices? Just thinking about it makes me want to jump up from my desk and get out on the trails. The possibilities are endless, my friends…Ride On.


by Lizzy Scully Devon Balet


ave you ever considered what would happen if you got hurt, stranded or lost in the backcountry with what you normally take on a mountain bike ride? Anvil Bikeworks, Inc., owner and longtime cyclist Don Ferris had that question in the back of his mind for years. Then one day, while exploring miles of old logging trails and fire roads in Douglas County’s forested Indian Creek area, not far from his house, he and friend Josh Baden got lost. “Fourteen hours later we were still out there trying to figure out how to get back to where we started from,” he says. “We had a choice. We could either stop and spend the night with what we had, or we could go back exactly the way we came.” They opted to backtrack. “That’s when we started thinking about what it would take to spend the night in the backcountry,” he adds. “What’s the bare minimum of weight that’s reasonable to carry in our CamelBaks that we wouldn’t notice?” To find out, Ferris and Baden purposefully spent a night in the backcountry using only the bare essentials that they would normally take on a ride. They learned a lot. “The biggest thing about being out overnight, if the weather is inclement, is staying warm,” Ferris explains. “Hypothermia is a real issue, but there are some basic things you can do to remediate that.” He suggests bringing a lighter to build a fire, food, water and a heavyweight garbage bag or bivy sack and to stay far away from emergency blankets. “Never trust anything larger than a hamster to be kept warm by a Mylar blanket,” says Baden, who now carries a 9 oz. bivy sack. 


Few are Prepared Unfortunately, says Wilderness MedVentures owner and avid mountain biker Dr. Drew Watters, few cyclists are as prepared as Ferris and Baden. “I think almost all mountain bikers ignore the possibility of overnighting,” he explains. “Much more so than hikers and climbers, they have the capacity to get extremely far from help extremely quickly.” In fact, trails are often impassable for rescue vehicles, cell phone coverage is typically spotty and even easy rides can lead far into the backcountry. Often, he adds, the more experienced riders are the bigger risk group. “After months and years of riding without problem, a laxity of preparation sets in,” Watters explains. “It is the stronger, faster riders who find themselves on the hardest, most remote trails in dire straits.” Mountain bikers, however, rarely get lost like hikers, says Don Davis of Larimer County Search and Rescue, located west of Fort Collins, Colo. Rather, they generally get hurt. “The crashes these guys have are horrendous,” he says. “I’m amazed some of them survive.” But those injuries really aren’t preventable most of the time. “The big thing is they have no survival equipment with them,” he says. “What if they get stuck overnight, and they don’t have rain or wind gear. And I’ve seen people in shorts and T-shirts. They think they are in a city park somewhere. And then it starts to snow on them in July, and they wonder why they are cold.” According to Spencer Powlison, coordinator for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) National

Get Geared Up So what can mountain bikers do to prepare for an accidental night out in the backcountry or prevent an injury or death? First and foremost, says Nice, if something dire does happen, stay calm. “If you’re in a bad spot, ether hurt or lost, it’s best to stop and assess the situation, eat a Clif bar, pause and think it though before blindly pushing on.” Nice also suggests taking CPR, wilderness first responder or wilderness first aid classes, where you can learn emergency preparedness and basic medical care. But, he stresses, “the biggest thing to do is keep a buddy system going, especially if you are new to mountain biking.”  Davis and Watters agree. “Often riders go off alone without telling anyone where they are going to be,” says Davis. “That is a typical search for us. But, if you don’t tell somebody where you are going and when you will be back, we can’t search for or rescue you.” “Whenever possible, do not go alone,” Watters stresses. “Whether it is mechanical failure, injury, illness or an attack by a rabid squirrel, every disaster is easier with help.” Watters suggests getting involved in the local riding community, joining riding groups and, in general, following the rules of backcountry preparation that hikers, climbers and mountaineers follow: leave a detailed plan with friends, including a return time. Additionally, Powlison says, all riders should do their homework. “You need to understand what to expect from the route and the topography of the area.” Biking trails are often deliberately built to be circuitous and meandering. Knowing the topography can make finding a more direct exit easier, and it will make finding drinking water easier. Mountain bikers should also consider all the materials and supplies necessary for the length and topography of the trip. Nice carries 15 to 20 pounds of food, water and gear, depending on the weather, while Dave Chase, owner of Redstone Cyclery in Lyons, takes 20 pounds.  “I bring a lot on my rides,” Chase says. “I’ve had to walk out from the middle of nowhere a few times.” He doesn’t mind carrying extra items if it means staying warm or saving him from long hikes. “Be prepared, Boy Scout style. It’s a cliché but totally true. You’ve got to be prepared for anything.” Chase suggests bringing a map of the area, something waterproof to wear, fire, food and water for personal

preparedness, as well as tools, spare bits and other mechanical necessities for bike maintenance and repair. (See a complete list of suggested items in sidebar.) But really, Ferris recommends, the most important thing bikers can do to avoid problems is to plan any and all rides into the backcountry. “I think a lot of mountain bikers forget just how fast and far we can get out on a bike, where even a simple mechanical problem can mean a long day’s or night’s hike to get out,” he says. “I’ve talked to a lot of cyclists who say, I would never spend the night out. But you might not have a choice. “It’s like swimming lessons,” he adds. “The skills you learn keep you from drowning. It’s the same thing with preparing for backcountry mountain biking. If faced with a difficult situation, you’re not going to panic. You’ll be able to do the right thing and keep your wits about you. And, most important, you won’t put others at risk.”

Recommended Stuff for Your Pack

Mountain Bike Patrol, about half of all mountain bikers are not fully prepared when they go out riding. “I often see people on the trail who I can tell are ill prepared,” he says. On the other hand, says professional mountain biker Dave Nice, sometimes even the most well-prepared trips can still end badly. “CPR practice on a dummy is nothing like the real thing,” he says. Despite being prepared with CPR training, cell phones, water, food and all the extra gear he needed, Nice lost a friend on a desert mountain biking trip. His friend got separated from the group and fell victim to the elements; the cause was likely dehydration.

Are You Prepared?


e compiled this list of backcountry necessities from mountain bikers interviewed for this article. Not all of these items are absolutely necessary for every trip. But when planning a long trip or ride, cyclists should always bring sufficient clothing, food, water, tools, repair equipment and some sort of shelter. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

100 ounces of water, minimum Food appropriate for length of journey Blinky light Headlamp Ear warmers Light windbreaker Light rain jacket Arm warmers Knee warmers Bivy sack or large, heavyweight garbage bag Bike-specific multi-tool with chain tool Extra chain links Lots of zip ties (you can fix anything with zip ties) Spare derailleur hanger Three or four spare tubes Shock pump Tire pump CO2 cartridges and inflator Swiss army knife Lighter GPS, if going somewhere new or unfamiliar Medical kit (bandages, wipes, tape, drugs, etc.) Iodine tablets Patch kit Tire boot Random suspension pivot hardware Random bolts and nuts Bailing wire Cell phone 85



lia a n r e h arap


Test-racing the Ibis Tranny at the “Thursday night world championships” in Crested Butte, Colo., the Tranny handled corners like a slot car and climbed with nitrous-powered efficiency. Couldn’t blame the bike for the third-place finish.



Price (Frame only): $1,399 Weight (Medium - frame only) : 3 lbs. Kits available from $2,859 to $5,399

Transforming the Hardtail This review may be viewed as having the potential for bias. To fully disclose any latent prejudice, I’ll admit that—prior to riding the Tranny—the last Ibis bike I owned came with a hand job. Such impudence could influence the opinion of any fine bicycle enthusiast. However, the statute of limitations for bias should have expired by now. That was way back in 1997—the last year I raced for Ibis—when every handmade steel Ibis Mojo frame came with Scot Nicol’s trademark Ibis detail: a clenched, fistshaped rear brake cable hanger, dubbed the Handjob. Nicol’s creative ideas made Ibis stand out above other custom framebuilders of the day, and I’m still smitten with the memories of my racing days on Team Ibis. But Ibis is different 88

now. Despite a long successful run, the brand was sold and then sadly disappeared after the new millennium. In the last few years, however, the brand has been boldly resurrected. And with Nicol, Ibis’ original founder, back in the cockpit and the introduction of the new Mojo—a carbon fullsuspension frame—Ibis has been winning design awards ever since. Ibis first showed the Tranny at Interbike 2007. It has taken some time to perfect the production, but the Tranny is now available, and frames are being shipped. At a glance, the Tranny is simply a nice carbon-fiber hardtail, but take a closer look. Following in the footsteps of the Mojo, the Tranny’s smooth, flowing shape rivals the daring

The Tranny’s bold, flowing lines and metallic finish are super sharp.

Brian Riepe

lines of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air; well, maybe the 1952 model year would make a better comparison. The early ’50s were subtler. From the sturdy, integrated head tube, the substantial collar reinforcements flow boldly into the sharply angled tubes of the front triangle. The top and down tubes taper nicely to the seat tube, and the form continues down the boldly flared and twisting seatstays and chainstays, finishing with sculpted, finlike dropouts. It’s a beautiful frame, and the available finishes— Granny Smith apple metallic, copper metallic or the more subdued matte clear (raw carbon)—are super sharp. If that’s all there was to it, the Tranny would still be a standout hardtail frame, but Ibis strayed far from convention by adding two distinctly imaginative and functional features. Take a look behind the bottom bracket. That overbuilt-looking joint has a stealthy, slip-jointed feature Ibis calls the Slot Machine. The frame also has a sleek little joint in the wishbone seatstays. These two simple joints make the Tranny a uniquely versatile frame. Simple Travel Bike First, by disengaging both the wishbone and the Slot Machine joint, the rear triangle of the frame can be removed, making the bike fit nicely into a small travel case. These days, that can save you hundreds of dollars per flight if you like to take your own sweet ride with you on your air travels. It’s much simpler, lighter and more affordable than couplers and requires no custom modifications.

Clean Singlespeed Conversion The Slot Machine joint has a second purpose. The connection is built with a slotted, internal carbon slip-joint that allows the rear triangle to slide back and forth a few centimeters, allowing the owner to swiftly convert the bike to a singlespeed. To adjust chain tension, simply release the single main bolt on the Slot Machine, put a little weight on the seat to gain the desired chain tension and crank the bolt back down (careful with the torque). This is the coolest chain-tensioning device yet. It’s lighter and cleaner than an eccentric bottom bracket and beats the hell out of horizontal or sliding dropouts. It’s just a cool idea and it works. To keep the singlespeed frame looking nice and neat, the Tranny’s aluminum cable stops are attached with 3 mm Allen bolts, so unnecessary derailleur cable stops can be removed, leaving only four simple guides for the rear brake line. For the finishing touch—respecting the singlespeed mantra: less gears, more beers—the derailleur hanger is replaced with a machined bottle opener. Transforming it to a singlespeed took less than an hour, including my trip to the bike shop to pick up a spacer kit for the rear cog. If the cables, shifters and derailleurs are left intact, a mediocre mechanic like myself could conceivably get it back to a working geared bike in less than half an hour. Torque Ibis’ Slot Machine is an unconventional design, and I’m sure a 89

A view inside the Slot Machine shows its burly I-beam, reinforced cross-section.

After that, the frame was silent—even after being subjected to a helping of wet and gritty mud—and the Slot Machine never slipped. Keeping in mind that adjusting the chain tension on the trail is difficult without a long-handled hex tool, there is a short break-in period and you may need to check the torque on the bolt after the first few rides. To be safe, you’ll need a good, recently calibrated torque wrench and some mechanical aptitude to keep up with cleaning and maintenance of the Slot Machine. Ibis also recommends using FSA or Tacx carbon assembly compound on the Slot Machine’s vertical surfaces. This handy stuff looks like lube but actually contains microscopic plastic spheres that give it a gritty feel and create friction, keeping carbon fiber components from slipping without degrading the surface.

This overbuilt-looking joint behind the bottom bracket has a hidden slip-jointed feature Ibis calls the Slot Machine. Add in a sleek little joint in the wishbone seatstay, and these two simple joints make the Tranny a uniquely versatile frame.

lot of people will look at it with some skepticism regarding its integrity at such a high-stress area of the frame. Looking at the burly, reinforced, internal cross-section of the Slot Machine will give you confidence, and what really makes it work is a very tight bolt. That’s a scary prospect when dealing with carbon fiber but it’s built for it. Ibis recommends a torque setting of 12 ft-lbs for a geared setup and 15 ft-lbs for a singlespeed. When I first adjusted the Slot Machine, I used an older torque wrench, not the best one out there. Cranking down 15 ft-lbs feels unnatural, like you’re going to crush the frame into a splintered mess. Not trusting my torque wrench, I erred on the cautious side and during my first rides I got some creaky noises from the joint. I tried to tighten it on the trail with my multi-tool and couldn’t get enough leverage to make it any tighter. Later, I borrowed a good torque wrench from a local shop and got an additional half turn before reaching the true torque setting. 90

The Ride Ibis built the Tranny for speed, and it’s everything you’d expect from a carbon hardtail: quick, responsive and balanced. I’m not even sure why anyone makes 80 mm forks anymore so I was happy to see they designed the frame geometry around a 100 mm fork. Our test bike came with a new Fox F-Series 15QR thru-axle fork. With the frame’s inherent lateral stiffness and the 15QR fork, the Tranny handled corners like a slot car and climbed with nitrous-powered efficiency. Even with the extra hardware for the Slot Machine, the frame weighs only 3 lbs. Our test bike weighed just less than 23 lbs with a Deore XT drive train, heavy tires and tubes and heavy-duty Easton Havoc rims. Switching to tubeless Stan’s Olympic rims and light tires dropped it to 21.5 lbs and converting to a singlespeed took it to 18.8 lbs. Even though it’s a stiff carbon frame, the rear end does have some tuning and consequential compliance on the trail, giving the Tranny a surprisingly smooth ride. I rode it with tubeless wheels; running 28 psi really helps on that front as well. Considering my past affairs with Ibis, I admit feeling nostalgic about the brand, but I can honestly say the Tranny is one of the most innovative hardtail designs available. The ingenuity of the Slot Machine makes it a one-of-kind, ultraclean singlespeed, and it’s a rippin’ light race-worthy bike that can pack into a suitcase. Cool. –B. Riepe


2:46 PM

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Aaron Teasdale




The Mother of Comfort !


Thanks to the end of a noncompete agreement with Litespeed, the Lynskey family resumed building high-performance titanium bicycles in 2007. This year’s Houseblend PRO29 mountain bike puts the idea of owning a high-quality handbuilt racing bike within reach of many enthusiasts by merging affordability with a range of standard frame sizes.

Caroline Spaeth


2009 houseblend pro29

Price (natural brushed frame only): $2,545 Complete Bike Price (as built): $4,250 Weight (Large - with pedals) : 23.9 lbs.

Each According to its Nature As a young student of philosophy nearly three decades ago, I learned that the philosophical godfather Socrates advised each person to “know thyself,” while Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome, urged each to “act according to our natures.” In those days I found such sage wisdom useful for justifying a proclivity for whoring and hedonism. But as I aged and grew wiser, I began to realize, true to my own nature, that an unexamined life is, indeed, nasty, brutish and short. The same might at times be said for trends in mountain 92

bikes. One year a company will create “a plush all-mountain rig with characteristics of a race bike” only to rejigger the following year with “a race bike with characteristics of a plush allmountain rig.” The result often is a bike that does neither well. The 2009 Lynskey Houseblend PRO29 is a titanium masterpiece that does not suffer the ambiguities of an unexamined nature. The folks at Lynskey built the PRO29 with a single purpose in mind: to be a true high-performance, raceoriented hardtail 29er specifically built to go fast. Throughout an extended four-month test period, I found that the PRO29

At first glance, Lynskey’s proprietary Helix down tube design may give riders the mistaken impression that something went wrong in the manufacturing process, but the Helix provides superb lateral and torsional rigidity in an extremely thin tube. The gently curved top tube offers excellent standover height. James E. Rickman

truly did act according to its nature. The design of the PRO29 was born out of early prototypes that strived to adopt a classic NORBA 26 inch race bike geometry: a 71 degree head tube angle and a 73 degree seat tube design reputed for quick steering in tight, twisty conditions and stability and speed in the straight-aways. The PRO29 nearly exactly mimics this basic geometry, though the head tube angle steepens by a half a degree as the bike increases in size. Where the PRO29 departs from the geometry of similar 29er frames on the market is in chainstay length. Lynskey went with a relatively shorter chainstay, which I worried would conflict with the aesthetic bigness of my heels. Not so. Thanks to a gentle bend in the stays, pedaling was conflict-free, even though I tend to turn my heels inward on difficult climbs. What the shorter stays did do was create a shorter wheelbase that—when coupled with the head tube angle and the 46 mm offset of the Rock Shox Reba fork set to 100 mm of travel—provided some of the most comfortable, intuitive and quick steering I’ve ever experienced on a 29er. The bike steered like a 26 inch bike, and that’s not hyperbole. This is exactly what Lynskey was trying to achieve with its design, according to company personnel. Each PRO29 is built by hand at the Lynskey factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., using aerospace-grade titanium. The metal can be cold formed into a variety of shapes, including Lynskey’s distinctive, proprietary “helix” down tube. The peculiar-looking helix structure gives the down tube properties of both a square

beam and a round tube. In other words, the helix design adds incredible lateral and torsional stiffness to the frame using what seems like an eggshell-thin wall of titanium. The stiffness creates stability and confidence while bombing downhill at high speed, while the thinness of the tube keeps the weight down. Because of Lynskey’s weight consciousness in building the bike, some riders of the 2008 model had reported undesirable flex in the rear triangle of the bike. Lynskey addressed these comments in 2009 by using beefier-diameter tubes in the curved seatstays and chainstays. I did not experience unacceptable flex in any riding conditions or at any speeds, despite weighing 10 times more than the bike—real-world proof that the remedy was successful. It probably goes without saying, but a titanium frame in combination with bigger wheels gave the bike a very comfortable ride, even after long days in the saddle. I was leery of going back to a hardtail after abandoning them in the wake of one-too-many beatings on an aluminum frame while facing the impending creakiness of middle-aged maturity. My reservations quickly subsided. Truth be told, the PRO29 was my hands-down favorite choice for every ride throughout the test period due to its forgiving titanium-and-big-wheels ride, its light weight, its handling ability and its speed. Particularly its speed. Sometimes it’s damned satisfying not to be at the back of the pack on group rides. Lynskey’s Houseblend option provides an “off-the-rack” 93

The PRO29 comes with Lynskey’s titanium seat post, while gently curved seatstays and chainstays allow for good heel clearance in the compact rear triangle.

James E. Rickman

Horizontal sliders mean the drive-side derailleur hanger can be swapped for a dropout to convert the PRO29 from geared to singlespeed with relative ease.

bike suitable for most riders, but the PRO29, like other Lynskey models, can be fully customized, from size and geometry to finishing and paint colors. What is fun about the Houseblend option is the ability to have the PRO29 outfitted in probably any component build you can imagine. For my test bike, I selected a simpleton’s within-reason, weight-weenie race build. It included Race Face Next carbon cranks and bottom bracket; SRAM X-9 and X-0 front and rear derailleurs with X-0 twist shifters; Avid Elixir disc brakes; Industry Nine hubs and spokes built onto Stan’s ZTR Arch 29er rims; a Chris King headset; the Reba fork; Ritchey carbon handlebars; a Thompson stem; and a WTB Rocket V titanium (what else?) saddle. Each component did its job flawlessly and added to the worry-free, speedy ride routine that I became accustomed to during the test period. Of note: If I get tired of riding the bike geared, the PRO29 easily can be converted to a singlespeed, thanks to horizontal slider derailleur hangers and dropouts (which can also be manipulated if riders wish to increase the effective chainstay length—something I didn’t try). 94

James E. Rickman

After riding the Lynskey Houseblend PRO29 in varied conditions on smooth and technical trails for an appreciable portion of my ride season, I have a newfound appreciation for a bike that is created for a single, bold purpose—and actually lives up to that purpose. The Lynskey Houseblend PRO29 may corrupt the way you think about bikes, but don’t condemn it to a hemlock milkshake; just ride it like hell and remain true to your nature. –J. Rickman

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nice parts since 1989 made in USA 530.345.4371 95

The Moots Gristle has a 29 inch front wheel and a 26 inch rear wheel, giving it uniquely agile but stable handling characteristics.

Brian Riepe



Wetting your appetite for a 69er If you watched “The Great Outdoors” on the big screen, you’ll never delete the scene from your memory where Chet (John Candy) takes a restaurant menu challenge and rapaciously devours “the ol’ 96er”—a 96-ounce steak—gristle, fat and all. Cleaning his plate meant the rest of his family dined for free. Allegedly the ol’ 96er is where Moots got the bike’s namesake, presumably in loose reference to the bike’s 96er wheel format; more commonly called a 69er, or a bike with a 29 96

Price (Frame only): $3,350 Weight (Frame only) : 6 lbs.

inch front wheel and a 26 inch rear wheel. The concept of the 69er is no longer new but its popularity still dangles in some sort of netherworld, stuck between the hardheaded opinions of evangelical niner thumpers and the dedicated 26er traditionalists. Twenty-niners are believed to offer an improved ability to roll over bumps, increased stability when descending and also—since more of the tire’s surface area is in contact with the dirt—increased traction when cornering. Advocates of 69ers believe the benefits gained from a 29 inch wheel are primarily felt in the front wheel. This makes good sense to me but I’m

The Gristle excels on classic Rocky Mountain terrain from rough, twisting singletrack to all-day adventures.

Brian Riepe

admittedly a recovering 29er skeptic. Using the smaller 26 inch wheel in the rear can save some critical weight, providing faster acceleration (less rotational mass) and solves some potential frame geometry problems— especially with full-suspension designs—by allowing for shorter chainstays than a 29er. In theory, a 69er should handle better in tight corners and climb better when you’re standing compared with a full 29er but still retain the 29er’s positive handling traits. My riding time on the Gristle was pure enjoyment, and it made me want to just keep riding. It excelled on our local, high alpine singletrack and on the rockier and technical trails at Hartman Rocks just south of Gunnison, Colo. The Gristle’s 29er front end has an uncanny stability I can’t quite describe. When tearing down steep and rocky terrain with small- to medium-size drop-offs, the bike gave me a cool sense of confidence. The front end just doesn’t dive at all. The agility of the 69er was similar to what I’d expect from a 26er but at first I found myself overshooting switchbacks or tight, sweeping turns. Once I recalibrated to adjust for the larger wheel I found its cornering prowess to be surprising. Similar to the stability I felt when descending, the front end seemed to stick to the ground through the corners because I could confidently put more weight on the front end without feeling like my weight was too far forward.

I’ve ridden hardtail 69ers and was more than impressed so I had high expectations for the Gristle, which uses Moots’ Marc (matched-arc) aluminum rear triangle—same as its 26 inch Zirkel model and the full 29 inch Mooto XZ (but with 1.4 inch shorter chainstays)—to provide 4 inches of plush rear travel. When coupled with a titanium front triangle and the 29 inch front wheel, it promises one silky smooth ride. The Marc rear end is a nice and simple low-maintenance design with no rear pivot and sturdy, sealed bearing pivots at the bottom bracket and seat tube. Our test bike came with a standard Fox RP23, and the pairing is just right. The Pro-Pedal platform of the RP23 has been perfected and eliminates any bob when engaged, making the Gristle an efficient pedaler when climbing or powering across the flats. With the Pro-Pedal off, the Marc rear end is fully active and feels like it has 5 inches of travel. Its simplicity does have a drawback compared with more advanced pivot designs like the four-bar Horst Link, DW Link or VPP. Essentially, the travel becomes inactive when braking hard through bumps because locking up the brakes keeps the rear wheel from rotating as the rear triangle moves through the travel. It’s a bit of a compromise for simplicity’s sake, but it has good lateral stability, and it still provides for a fun ride. Moots’ titanium production quality is well documented so there is no question there. You can count on perfect welds, high 97

area is undesirable. But I’m not convinced the tall baseplate caused any additional flex in the front end. Mostly, I just thought it looked hokey, which is objectionable for such a highend frame. I talked to another custom framebuilder about the issue and his solution was to order extra control knobs from Fox and then mill them down to allow for more clearance. That’s above and beyond but you could do this on your own if you desire a more perfect fix. Whether you choose a 69er over a full 29er primarily depends on personal preference and riding style. Both have merit but I appreciate the quickness of the 69er and don’t see any advantages of a 29 inch rear wheel. For the riding I do in the Gunnison area, I’d choose the 69er. Without a doubt, the Gristle rides beautifully. Its overall handling is shockingly stable, and the bike is incredibly comfortable to ride on anything from a twisting technical descent to an off-road century. Aside from the voracious appetite you could work up riding the Moots Gristle, there’s no correlation to John Candy or “The Great Outdoors,” but at $3,350 for just the frame, you may be finding yourself looking for free family meals just like Chet. –O. Mattox When running the Fox F29 RLC fork, the frame does not have ample clearance between the Gristle’s down tube and the lockout control knob on the fork’s right leg. Moots solved the problem with this Chris King Tall Baseplate spacer.

Brian Riepe

Moots’ Marc (matched-arc) suspension design is low maintenance and functions well with the Fox RP23 shock. But performance when braking is compromised compared with more advanced pivot designs.

quality material and workmanship, and Moots will back it up. But I did have one gripe with the frame. When running the Fox F29 RLC fork, the frame does not have ample clearance between the down tube and the lockout control knob on the fork’s right leg. If you turn the bars too far (like when you crash and the bars spin around), the knob will hit the frame, possibly scoring the metal, which could lead to failure. It’s important to note this isn’t really Moots’ fault, and it’s not a mistake. It’s a problem with the fork design and the control knobs have been getting taller over the years. Moots chose not to wreck the frame geometry to work around the fork, which is good. It’s not an issue with every brand of fork, but all 29ers have this problem. With carbon or aluminum, shaping or putting a bend in the down tube to allow more clearance can solve this problem. That’s not possible with titanium. To solve the problem, Moots shipped our test bike with a Chris King Tall Baseplate, a 5 mm spacer replacing the standard fork race. Raising the front end 5 mm only changes the head tube angle by about a quarter of a degree, so that’s not a major concern. The lower bearing of the headset takes the brunt of stress on the front end and compromising the strength of that 98

Brian Riepe


schwalbe:racing ralph $87.45 |

Racing Ralphs’ name largely clarifies their intended purpose: the tires are light for carrying efficient speed and aggressive enough to rip any descent you’ll find on a crosscountry course. A continuous row of serrated “shark’s tooth” side knobs gives better-than-expected grip on corners and in loose conditions, and the arrangement of the center knobs keep the rolling resistance low and mud build-up to a minimum. This design makes Ralph a great choice for the tire-eating, cross-country or marathon racecourses we get in the Rockies. Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph has been proven time and again on the race circuit, but what really made our test tires stand out was the optional Double Defense technology. The Double Defense rating—which refers to the addition of a heavy-duty ceramic guard under the tread and reinforced sidewalls—dramatically improves the tire’s durability for rough conditions in which sidewall tears or punctures are a concern. The Double Defense option increases the weight from 460 grams to 575 grams, but in many cases it’s well worth it. The feature also has the unintended side effect of making these tires an excellent choice for those of us who like to contrive tubeless tire systems using sealant. The extra sidewall adds stability and won’t bleed sealant like paper-thin race tires can. Yet the Racing Ralph Double Defense is still 75 grams lighter than the UST tubeless model. Ralph is available in sizes 26x2.1, 2.25 or 2.4 and 29x2.25 or 2.4. Double Defense is not available on the 2.4 size for 26ers or all 29er sizes. –B. Riepe


jett:raptor short $120 |

I’ve been riding bikes and buying bike gear long enough to know that I like the good stuff. I’m not afraid to pay a little more for quality because I want quality. I want my bikes to perform, and I want my riding clothes to last. The newest addition to my closet is the Jett Raptor short, quite possibly the best riding shorts I have worn. The quality of the Raptor is evident out of the gate; it’s clear the folks at Jett have put some thought into this design. The first thing I noticed was the sizing. The Raptor is sized by waist instead of the standard small, medium, large and extra large. I’m always right in between sizes and regularly settle for something close. Needless to say, the fit of the Raptor is the best I have ever had. The shorts stay put and spare the people behind me the images of my perfectly tanned backside while I perpetually change from standing to sitting on my singlespeed. Jett also has provided adjustable Velcro tabs on the sides and belt loops to

fine-tune your fit. The Raptor excels in other areas besides sizing. Most importantly, they are crazy comfortable. The shorts are designed with seamless quad panels to eliminate uncomfortable rubbing and feature zippered intake and exhaust vents, which allow the rider to control airflow, kind of like a pilot. I appreciate the clip-out chamois, which makes it easy in the wash. But here lies the only issue I have. The inner Spandex short is not quite tight enough. It makes the chamois feel slightly large and bulky compared with other shorts I have worn. Not a deal breaker but something Jett should consider. The Raptor short is sweet. It has become my go-to short for the one-hour evening races as well as the long days out with friends. They fit great. And most importantly, the quality is topnotch. If you’re in the market for something new, you have to give these baggies a try. –C. Hanna


ergon:gx2 leichtbau carbon $110 |

Certain descents out there—Crested Butte’s Teocalli Ridge comes to mind— have forced me to stop halfway down to shake out my numb hands before I could continue riding. During a race, stopping isn’t a good option. Ergon aims to solve this problem with its line of ergonomic grips designed to give your palms a little more support. The GX2 Leichtbau Carbon is Ergon’s lightest and sleekest grip/bar end combo. (There’s no direct translation for Leichtbau, but it’s basically German for full-on-weight-freak-racer-jockey.) The bar end and grip are one piece, but the bar end can be adjusted independently to get your preferred angle. Riding on the Ergon grips takes a bit of getting used to. They felt awkward at first, but after two or three rides I started to forget the grips were there and just

appreciated the absence of numbness in my fingers. No numbness means more control. The GX2’s bar end is minimalist. You basically get two good fingers on the bar end and the other two wrap under the grip. The design provides plenty of space to move your hand around and get a good grip. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden with bar ends—primarily a fashion thing—and I have to admit I may now be willing to trade bike vanity for the extra climbing power. The gain was surprisingly noticeable to me. If you’re not into bar ends, Ergon offers the GX1, the same grip as the GX2 sans bar ends. For any serious rider who likes to cover some ground in rough terrain, Ergon’s GX2 will reduce fatigue and give you more control on long descents. –B. Riepe

syntace:vector 31.8 carbon $152 |

Flashback: 1992 National Championships, Durango, Colo. I was an expert racer running a practice lap before the event. The final descent was fast and rough as hell. Halfway down, my handlebar snapped clean at the stem. I don’t remember anything after that other than regaining consciousness in a cloud of dust. I was sore all over but luckily nothing was broken. Ever since then, when I look at handlebars, strength and quality are what I consider first. Weight is a distant third. With that in mind, I’d choose the Syntace Vector Carbon bars over any other. They are not the lightest bars available, but based on their production and, even more important, Syntace’s testing standards, they’re one of the strongest. At 189 grams, the Vector Carbon handlebars are plenty light for your cross-country bike; they are built to pass Syntace’s VR-3 DH 2002.4, the toughest downhill testing standards in the industry.


It’s a rigorous test protocol that most accurately reflects real riding stresses using Syntace’s Virtual Reality Triple Loop test machine. The bar’s extra strength comes from a complex arrangement of individual fiber layers, with reinforcement in critical loadbearing areas and a central titanium lattice at the stem clamp that protects it from crushing loads and keeps it from wearing or slipping. The Vector bar is available with 9 degree or 12 degree sweep and a token 10 mm of rise, making it a great choice for 29ers (no more negative rise stem) or bikes with ample top tube length. Most cross-country bars have 6 degrees of sweep or less so this bar will change your riding position a bit. I find the extra sweep provides a more comfortable, ergonomic hand position but nothing compares to the comforting feeling of high strength standards. –B. Riepe


uvex:crow pro glasses

For many years, Lupine has been making adventureoriented headlamps that continue to gain recognition in the United States. The German company’s cycling lights are known as some of the best on the market for their bright, durable and interchangeable designs. In Mountain Flyer Issue 12, we reviewed Lupine’s 17-watt Wilma, which we found to be a fantastic handlebar-mounted light. The Tesla is a perfect helmet-mount complement. Weighing in at only 100 grams (lamphead only) and producing up to 700 lumens, this light sits nicely atop a helmet and is barely noticeable after numerous hours in the saddle. The Tesla has three power settings: 12 watts, 4 watts and 1.5 watts. Using Lupine’s 4.5-ampere-hour, lithium ion battery, the Tesla offers full trail illumination for 2.5 hours at 12 watts and 8.5 hours on its 4-watt setting. Its lowest 1.5-watt setting is great for lighting up jeep roads or pavement and holds a charge for up to 24 hours of light. A “reserve tank” and low battery indicator ensures you won’t suddenly be caught in the dark. At the 2009 24 Hours in the Sage, I ran with the Wilma on my bars and the Tesla on my helmet. The Wilma is super bright and illuminates the trail well, but in the curvy singletrack it was key to have a helmet-mount light for spotting ahead in the corners. Even on the medium power setting, the Tesla provided ample light, and I never had to recharge it during the event. All Lupine lights are fully interchangeable, and Lupine offers batteries ranging from 0.7 to 14.5 ampere-hours so you can customize your run-time-to-weight ratio. With long burn times and a lightweight design, the Tesla is a great pick for any 24-hour or ultra distance racer or for cyclists looking to stretch the daily ride into the darkness. –J. Carr

It’s a fact that cavemen never rode their mountain bikes wearing sunglasses. How could they with that crazy CroMagnon head shape? Their eyes are set back deep in their heads, and they have those protruding monkey-like brows. Unluckily for me, I have the same head shape as our prehistoric brothers from other mothers and have found it really difficult to ride with glasses because of sweat on my lenses and in my eyes. The problem I have is that when I ride I sweat like a 300-pound traffic cop on a hot July day in Mississippi. The sweat pools on my eyebrows then drips down my glasses and in my eyes, which burns like hell, by the way. I know this happens to everyone to some degree, but with me it’s so frequent and I spend so much time dealing with it that I prefer to go sans glasses. Enter the Uvex Crow Pro glasses. I did agree to try these with the same skepticism as the preceding models I’ve tried. Fortunately, with the Crow Pro glasses my pre-existing genetic condition is downplayed by Uvex’s streamlined design, which keeps the frame and the lenses away from my face, limiting contact with my sweaty brow. This design also features Uvex’s Climazone venting, which helps keep my lenses dry and fog-free when I have to stop and wait for my Mountain Flyer buddies. The best feature of the Crow Pros are the interchangeable lenses, which are crisp and distortion-free. They come with three options: A Supravision gray lens, great for bright sunny days but a bit dark for the shady, heavily forested rides; a visionenhancing yellow lens for low or flat light; and a clear lens with a slight tint for basic protection. Bottom line: I’m impressed with these glasses. They work for me. They are very light and comfortable, but most importantly they don’t get in the way. Coming from a guy who never rides wearing glasses, I would give the Crow Pros 3.5 out of 4 caveman spears. –C. Hanna

$420 and up (complete kits) |

$80 |


2010 sram:x.9

| trigger shifters $117 | rear der. $102 Earlier this year, SRAM raised the bar in bicycle drive train design—and surely raised the eyebrows of their main competitor—by introducing the XX group. The over-the-topend group immediately found a place on every elite racer’s wish list. But for many, it will be way too expensive and race-specific to make sense. For those reality-based buyers, SRAM’s workhorse X.9 group has undergone major changes for 2010, applying some technology from the higher-end X.0 and XX groups. It’s worth taking a closer look at if you’re replacing components or looking at an uppermiddle class race or trail bike. The biggest changes for the 2010 X.9 are in the rear derailleur, which underwent a complete chassis redesign; it’s slimmer and cleaner than before. And now at 204 grams (medium cage), it’s the lightest in its class. The rear derailleur is available with an optional composite cage in two lengths. SRAM’s X.9 drive train has many similar design features to SRAM’s X.0 and XX components including the 1:1 shifting ratio and Zero Loss Travel trigger shifters. The 1:1 shift ratio simply means when you push the shift lever, the cable travels exactly the same distance as the lever. Shimano uses a 2:1 shift ratio. SRAM claims 1:1 is better, and I’d have to agree. The initial setup and adjustments are easier, and the shifting accuracy is more resilient to mud and abuse. To me, the 1:1 shifting feels more intuitive. The Zero Loss Travel triggers also improve adjustability and shifting accuracy. Zero refers to the degree of lost travel, or play, in the shifting before the cable engages the pawls in the trigger. Zero means instant engagement and accurate shifting. It’s immediately noticeable when you push the lever. In a word, the new X.9 is a great value. The shifting is precise, it’s well made and the price is right. –B. Riepe


2010 truvativ:stylo 3.3 cranks $225 |

Truvativ’s Stylo cranks are usually found as original equipment on many mid-pricerange bikes. These cranks are typically viewed as nice enough, although nothing too special. In a change for 2010, however, the cranks borrow technology from much more expensive cranks and bump the rating from nice enough to really damn nice, especially for the money. Most notably, the new Stylo 3.3 cranks now use Truvativ’s Open Core Technology. The crank arms are forged with a hollow center, dropping the weight to a willowy 820 grams while increasing stiffness and strength. Hollow forging technology dramatically improves the performance of a crank. That’s a fact. It’s not exclusive to Truvativ but typically comes at twice the price. Like the purple and green? The ’80s flashback color scheme is only available as a media sample but if you scream loud enough on the online forums, Truvativ may start producing select color options. Or not. –B. Riepe 105

An old local returns to his hometown of Ruidoso, N.M., and finds some good changes

Returning Home to the Land of



The White Mountains

of New Mexico are so named because they tower like a white giant in winter out of the deserts of south-central New Mexico, only about 150 miles north of El Paso, Texas, and the border with Mexico. It’s arguably the most legendary region of New Mexico, and mountain biking has the potential to match that legendary status but has not been on the radar of the mountain bike community outside of the local area. Earlier this summer, I was headed there to attend my 20year high school reunion, and since I hadn’t been back in a while, I wanted to check out the biking scene. I heard rumors that some new folks in town were organized and working hard to mitigate problems with old trails, develop new trails and hook up all of the old bandit trails into a real mountain bike network. There was even a new bike shop in town that actually sold some really cool bikes—something Ruidoso hadn’t really ever seen. I grew up in Ruidoso and had explored every nook and cranny I could on bikes, both road and mountain. In the early days, it was on a BMX bike with my friends, then a road bike after I got a little older, having seen the Tour de France on TV and idolizing Greg LeMond. It wasn’t until one of my buddies got an actual mountain bike, at that time something of a novelty, that we ever explored the wild and vast mountainous area by bike. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was incredible. Back then, living in such a remote area of the world, we didn’t know much about mountain biking as a sport, so my interest remained focused on the road, but I never lost my love of exploring those mountain trails by bike. I would return home from time to time and go out on those trails for epic rides. I wouldn’t see another soul for days; the trails were rugged, and the wild nature of the area was intoxicating. Hardly anyone in the area knew anything about biking, especially mountain biking. My family’s trip to Ruidoso was primarily intended for my high school reunion. That meant loading up the car with gear for my wife, our baby and me for a whirlwind weekend that would include the reunion activities and, hopefully, a couple of good rides. I wasn’t quite sure which trails I would get to ride, but I kept an open mind and a more family-oriented and domestic sense of adventure, which is required nowadays. We got off to a late start and pulled into Ruidoso Friday evening. I was expected at the reunion “meet and greet,” where my old buddies would ridicule me for not showing up to the pre-reunion golf game and I would probably down too many mixed cocktails. I gave that a second thought and decided it would put a damper on my ride the next day, plus I had been wrangled into giving the opening speech, so I had some memorizing and practicing to do. What was really on my mind was the big ride I was planning the next day. The south-central mountains of New Mexico include the two communities of Ruidoso and Cloudcroft, and much of the area has hardly been explored. The area sits in the Sacramento and White mountains, with the Lincoln National Forest blanketing a large portion, and includes the large White Mountain Wilderness and the highest terrain of the range. In the heart of the mountains is the Mescalero Apache

Reservation. The Mescaleros are tough people, their name derived from the Mescal plant, which the women would harvest and prepare the hearts for meals. The Mexicans (recall that New Mexico had been under the Spanish, then later the Mexican flag) observed this and gave them that name. After the massive and violent effort of the United States to subjugate the Apache tribes, they were consolidated into groups onto reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. The tallest peak in the area is Sierra Blanca, a lofty 12,003 feet towering over the local ski area, Ski Apache, owned by the Mescaleros. On a clear day, a person standing on the summit can easily make out land features more than 200 miles away. The area is home to Billy the Kid; Smokey Bear; the world’s highest-paying quarter horse race, All American Futurity; and the Mescaleros, some of whom are the direct descendants of the great Apache war chiefs Geronimo, Victorio and Mangus Coloradas. The entire area is steeped in colorful Old West history too involved for more than a passing mention here. It also contains all of the elements of a great mountain bike riding destination: land access, few people, tons of free camping, reasonably priced lodging, a variety of great food and libations, a couple of good coffee shops, interesting après-bike ride activities, and the list goes on. For those in my position, with a family, you’ll find it’s a perfect place to expand into the great outdoors with little to no overhead. My plan on this trip was to work in two rides closer to town between scheduled reunion activities on Saturday and then do a modified bike/hike with the family on Sunday on the trails around Ski Apache. On Saturday, I settled on a ride in the locally famous Cedar Creek area. A long time ago, I connected the Cedar Creek area trails with another popular trail that ends up at the Upper Canyon end of town in Perk Canyon. I was probably the first person ever to accomplish that on a bike—without suspension or anything. Now it’s being put together as one of the primary development areas for mountain biking near town, which will eventually see the existing trail network expand from 17 to more than 30 miles. The nonprofit White Mountain Outdoor Club (WMOC) is taking on trail development. Spearheaded by Cody Thurston and Gerardo Garcia, both transplants from El Paso, Texas, and co-owners of the White Mountain Outdoor Store in Ruidoso, the WMOC is working with IMBA and the U.S. Forest Service to use the 20,000 acres of local Forest Service land for mountain bike trails. IMBA has entered the picture to help develop the trails, and the two groups now have a memorandum of understanding with the Forest Service for a trails development master plan. The master plan’s phases cover three main areas around Ruidoso: the Cedar Creek to Perk Canyon area, the Grindstone Canyon and Lake area, and the vast Forest Service lands around Bonito Lake, north of town. Before my ride, though, I had my somewhat nervously delivered opening speech and kick-off activities at our old high school gym. My family and I went to the park for more reunion activities, where I caught up with my high school buddies and talked about old times. I realized a lot has changed and we don’t have all that much in common anymore. I think that comes with the territory as a cyclist. Unless you grow up in Durango 107

or someplace agro-active like that, it’s likely you’ll be a lot different than your old classmates if you’re a cyclist. It made me think of what it would be like to be Ned Overend at his 40-year class reunion, but I digress…. Luckily for me, our daughter gets sleepy quickly, and my wife was ready to get her to our rental cabin and down for a nap. That meant I was on my bike less than 30 minutes later. I specifically rented our little cabin right near Cedar Creek Canyon and the Smokey Bear Ranger Station because that’s where my ride would begin. I followed my plan to ride the trails on the south side of the Cedar Creek road and explore all of the new singletrack development there. I hit the trail and right away my impression was that this is a very special place. There’s an intangible quality to the White Mountains that’s hard to describe but includes the special nature of the flora and fauna, the geology, the clean high mountain air and the sense of remoteness. Also, it’s hard to imagine a mountain environment this far south. I was having a blast on the trails while enjoying the qualities of this special place. The trails themselves are unique in many ways. The set of trails on the south side of Cedar Creek Canyon is somewhat new and you get the impression they don’t see a lot of traffic, a feeling about all trails around Ruidoso. They’re not bobsled smooth and they twist this way and that, down and up abrupt drainages, all the while threading through a series of curiously changing micro-ecosystems dependent on exposure to sunlight, humidity or moisture. One minute I would see a small patch of sun-exposed mountain cactus and alligator juniper trees, the next I would see shaded wet moss, mountain wildflowers and spruce and fir trees. I eventually made my way up onto the Fuelwood Trail, which is presently more like a logging road because of ongoing fuel wood mitigation efforts. I rode up this mostly doubletrack trail and was treated to numerous vistas of the highest mountains of the White Mountain Range, including Sierra Blanca. On Buck Mountain, I could visibly make out the serpentine shape of NM Highway 532, a steep 12-mile road to the base of Ski Apache. It is an Alpe d’Huez-like route that is the crown jewel of road climbs in the area and boasts switchbacks that have names like Texas Turn, Axle-Bend and Cathouse Corner. In the other direction, I caught views of the Capitan Mountains to the north. These are notable for being one of only about five North American mountain ranges that run east-west. Eventually, the Fuelwood Trail doubletrack petered out into a wide singletrack for a short distance before intersecting trail No. 92. I took a left and started the arduous part of the climb onto the ridge. I soon hit loose scree on a steep slope and could no longer stay on my bike. I pushed it to the top and called my wife to let her know I was okay and on schedule. I took a couple of sips of water before heading down the other side. The steep and rocky descent tested my downhill abilities to their limit. I had forgotten that the ridge top is two-headed and soon found myself grinding up another uphill section, but this time I was in the forest and in a different drainage system. At this second ridge top, a meadow of green grass smelled sweet in the dry June air. 108

I must have been paying too much attention to the natural setting because I carelessly missed the right turn that would take me around the ridge and put me on the descent into Perk Canyon on the highly popular Perk Canyon Trail. I pedaled onto a high arm of the ridge and soon found myself descending some very fun but clearly off-course singletrack that had recently seen a lot of fuel mitigation work. I was often riding solely on gnarled pieces of fresh piñon and juniper trees. It was a blast, but I was bummed that I missed the turn and didn’t have time to go back to find where I’d gone wrong. I continued down the steep slope until I hit a dirt road with a red fire hydrant at its terminus. I didn’t recognize this old rocky, washed-out road, but continued down until I realized I was at the end of the developed roads in this part of town and also at the bottom of the Perk Canyon Trail. I had a few minutes before I needed to head back to town, so I decided to take a “quick” side trip up Perk Canyon to explore. It wasn’t long before I had gone past my time schedule, but I was interested to see the damage that the previous summer’s flood had inflicted. It was pretty bad in places, but the local folks had put in some cool log crossings and other features that actually added to the trail’s already fun riding. After running out of time, I turned around and hurried down into town and met up with my family to visit the White Mountain Outdoor Store. There I met Thurston, and he gave me the full scoop on the local bike scene and the trails. He seemed to know everything that a mountain biker would need to know about the area, including details on all the best rides (he is a local guide, after all), good food, good coffee and places to camp. At the reunion dinner party that night, my wife and I danced the night away and she ended up catching a bit of a cold, so our plans to do a hike and bike at the ski area were scrapped. With achy legs and back, I took off on another short ride in the Cedar Creek Canyon area. It was a perfect setting for an early morning ride. The mountain air was brisk and light dew had settled. This time I decided to descend some of the interesting trails I had only climbed the day before, and I’m glad I did. This time, I went straight for climbing the Fuelwood Trail from the ranger station, intersected the singletrack and descended all of it back to the road. I crossed over and also hit some of the older Spaghetti Bowl trails on the north side of Cedar Creek and found all sorts of new and improved developments. I even found a nicely constructed jump line. I’m too much of a chicken to really go for it on that stuff, so I rode around them like an old guy and found it to be a lot of fun. Afterward, my wife and I hit the newly opened Global Grill for breakfast and great coffee. Owners Rick and Elizabeth Moreno have developed an unexpectedly mixed international menu with fresh ingredients and new twists on old favorites. Being from the conservative Ruidoso of the ’70s and ’80s, I have to say I like new developments like this. After this trip, I was so excited about the riding around Ruidoso again. Things in town may be different from when I lived there, but the mountain biking has definitely improved, and it won’t be long before it’s one of the hot spots in the region.

Rides: •

• • • • • •

The Lowdown on Ruidoso

Try riding up the service road at Ski Apache and take FS trail #78 over to Sierra Blanca, then ride trail #25 down to the parking lot or continue on trail #25 out to the gate at the Buck Mountain radio towers. Classic high-altitude mountain biking. Make the short trip to Bonito Lake and ride the Kraut/Littleton Canyons Loop, and venture up Philadelphia Canyon, too. Fort Stanton, 25 miles away, has 60 miles of trails ( Cloudcroft (Sacramento Ranger District) has a tremendous amount of forest trails, including the famous Rim Trail along the Sacramento Mountain Rim. Don’t forget: the Ruidoso area has many world-class road riding options too. For more info, go to and, or contact the White Mountain Outdoor Store, Ride up Cedar Creek Canyon Road to Spring Canyon, then take FS trail #13 up and over the ridge to N.M. 532 (Ski Run Road); go down to Forest Road 117 (Monjeau Lookout Road) and climb up to Skyline Campground; find the Sawmill Canyon trail and descend back down to N.M. 532; retrace your path back over trail #13 to Cedar Creek.

Getting there: •

Major airline service to Albuquerque, N.M. (180 miles) and El Paso, Texas (145 miles)

Things to see and do: • •

• • • • •

Smokey the Bear Museum in Capitan, N.M. ( Historic Lincoln District, Lincoln, N.M.: Billy the Kid, Lincoln County War, etc. ( Museum of the Horse, Ruidoso Downs, N.M. ( Gondola rides at Ski Apache, Alto, N.M. ( White Sands National Monument ( Take in a Broadway show at the Spencer Theater, Alto, N.M. ( Flying J Ranch Chuckwagon supper and Old West Show (

Food and drink: • • • • • • • • • •

Global Grill: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, uptown Ruidoso Casa Blanca: New Mexican/Mexican lunch and dinner, bar, patio Farley’s: Fun food and drinks Chef Lupe’s: Real Mexican food, awesome breakfast burritos! Circle J BBQ Cafe Rio Alto Café: A popular locals restaurant in Alto, N.M. Lincoln County Grill ( Cornerstone Bakery Cafe ( Cattle Baron: Texas-style steaks and HUGE salad bar

Coffee and tea: • • • • • • •

Sacred Grounds Coffee and Tea Zocca Coffee and Tea Atticus Books and Tea House Books and Beans Cafe Rio Dreamcatcher Cafe Starbucks


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carbondale Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association founding member Charlie Eckart rides the Mansfield Ditch Trail in New Castle, Colo., a trail that would become wilderness under the proposed Hidden Gems wilderness campaign.

by Trina Ortega Brian Long

Five Roaring Fork Valley mountain bikers have been volunteering their spare time poring over pages of lengthy government documents, learning about the federal nonprofit system, meeting with land managers and mapping thousands of miles of public land. For these dedicated riding enthusiasts, the payoff for this tedious work comes down to one thing: access. In their journey to safeguard quality singletrack, comrades Mike Pritchard, Charlie Eckart, Al Beyer, Len Zanni and Kirk Hinderberger formed Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA) in February 2008 with a mission to create and sustain the best possible mountain bike trail system and experience in the western Colorado valley. As racers, they have been involved with the Aspen Cycling Club, which holds a seasonal point series in and around the resort town 30 miles east 112

of Carbondale. But they felt it was imperative to take their passion for cycling beyond the racing arena. Hikers have good trails, and Forest Service roads have served mountain bikers, “but everyone wants quality singletrack; there’s no debate about that,” Pritchard said. With so many bicycling enthusiasts in the area, it’s an association that should have been formed years ago. But it wasn’t until access issues in the Roaring Fork River Valley came to a head that these five started worrying about trail closures. In 2007, the Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop launched the aggressive Hidden Gems campaign to add several hundred thousand acres of new wilderness, permanently banning recreational bicycling in identified areas within central and western Colorado. Simultaneously, federal land managers were updating the travel [communitypages]

management plan for the 2.3-millionacre White River National Forest, which stretches across much of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. As part of that plan, the Forest Service identified 270 miles of trail to decommission. RFMBA members didn’t want to sit back while existing and future opportunities were closed to mountain biking. “We figured we needed to get organized if we were going to have any say in this,” said Pritchard, who serves as RFMBA’s chairperson. “It’s imperative that we do this work now or these opportunities will start slipping away.” RFMBA kicked into high gear and has petitioned to save 36 potentially decommissioned trails, totaling approximately 70 miles, in the surrounding White River National Forest. The Forest Service is expected to release its new White River travel management plan this summer.

“If we hadn’t made those comments, there is no new plan for 15 years,” Pritchard explained. For some, it’s a storyline they don’t want to see replayed. RFMBA’s Eckart has a history of racing both mountain and road. Prior to making his home in Aspen, he lived in the San Francisco Bay area. In the 1980s, he pedaled the hills of Marin County, Calif., where controversial trailuse issues were ongoing. Groups like the Audubon Society and hikers started “claiming the trails,” he said, and over the course of just a couple of years, once-open trails were getting closed to mountain bikers. “I moved [to Colorado] in 1993, and little by little I started to see the same potential user conflicts.” A thoughtful approach has been part of these guys’ mentality for a long time. They participate in trail maintenance and plan to host trail workdays as the group increases its membership. Hinderberger and Eckart both volunteer as crew leaders with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, a local nonprofit that builds and maintains trails on public lands. “The more you get involved with it the more vested you become,” Eckart explained. “The more you work on a trail the more you feel—not that it’s yours—but you oversee it, there’s a sense of ownership and you become responsible for that path, more than the next person. You want to see it work as well as it possibly can, not only networking between other paths but also its actual quality.” RFMBA’s proactive planning is

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heading off potential conflict, and, as a result, the group is gaining respect from partnering agencies. With more than 300 people on its mailing list and plans for a member drive on the way, RFMBA only stands to gain more ground. The group already has chalked up success working with the Wilderness Workshop to save routes, such as the classic cross-country Arbaney-Kittle and popular lines on Smuggler Mountain. Armed with extensive research, RFMBA also has submitted a plea to Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and county officials to consider alternatives for land protection, such as National Conservation Areas or National Recreation Areas that allow mountain biking. Burning the midnight oil to study federal documents is also helping RFMBA form a trails management plan, which it hopes will be adopted by all stakeholders. With grant funding from the Aspen Skiing Company’s Environment Foundation, they’ve been charging ahead, taking inventory of thousands of miles of trails that cross jurisdictions; it’s a project that no other entity has been willing to tackle. The Roaring Fork Valley encompasses so much public acreage— three counties, at least five towns and cities, two federal government agencies and a host of private and nonprofit organizations—that public land managers also are benefitting by hearing from a cohesive mountain biking voice. Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Director Dale Will said RFMBA has made

a huge impact in very little time. “Having RFMBA is very useful. In fact, I’d say they’ve gone beyond any hiking association by creating a database of all the routes in the Roaring Fork watershed whether they’re for mountain biking, hiking or whatever,” said Will, whose department oversees 15,500 acres and 40 miles of recreational trails. “I really admire their ambition to get all that information on one map.” Will says the holistic view is helping agencies and user groups weigh in on what’s worth preserving even if it brings to light some of the tension that exists between different user groups. “It’s a double-edge sword. Knowledge is power. Hopefully that extra knowledge can be used to negotiate a happy medium between different groups,” Will said. “Typically, mountain bikers have had a more anarchist attitude. But you can’t plan unless people come to an agreement,” he continued. “We all want to think we’re in the Frontier and it doesn’t matter, but it does matter.” For more information about the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, visit

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crested butte Cold Springs Ranch makes a beautiful backdrop as a rider cranks up Strand Hill Road. The road, which accesses the Strand Hill Trail, a Crested Butte, Colo., classic, is temporarily closed due to a dispute between the ranch’s owner and the U.S. Forest Service.


Strand Hill


Trail in Crested Butte by Erin English

Disagreements over land ownership, you could say, are as old as the hills. In Crested Butte, Colo., one mountain biking hill in particular has become the focal point of a debate over property lines, and the dispute has thrust rancher Michele Veltri—an unassuming fellow whose livelihood lies in quietly tending to land that has been in his family’s possession for more than a century—into the local spotlight. A long-standing dispute with the U.S. Forest Service over property boundaries has resulted in Veltri’s closure of Farris Creek Road, which is the main access point to Strand Hill, a favorite bike loop just east of town. The closure was instated nearly a year ago and remained in effect through the summer, causing one major race cancellation—the Crested Butte Bank XTERRA Triathlon—and countless recreational riders to turn around upon finding a locked gate and an apologetic handmade sign from Veltri at the road entrance. Strand Hill is a classic Crested Butte ride featuring a challenging climb and stunning 360-degree mountain views, with a great payoff on the way down: long and fast singletrack through a broad stand of brilliant green aspen trees. The loop is popular with novice and experienced bikers alike, and many locals deem it their after-work ride of choice. Farris Creek Road is a mining road built by Veltri’s late brother in the 1950s. The dispute comes down to a contradiction between what Veltri has always understood to be his family’s property and what the Forest Service is now saying is rightfully public land. The story dates back to the 19th century, 114

Brian Riepe




222 North Main Street Gunnison, Colorado 970.641.0285

when native Utes were driven out of the Crested Butte area and land was opened up by the government for homesteading. At that time, the government performed surveys that established boundary lines for Veltri’s property, called Cold Springs Ranch. “For over 100 years, that was the boundary. Between 1986 and 1988, the Forest Service and the BLM performed a new land survey,” Veltri explained. “At the end of that survey, whoa, guess what? There’s a triangular piece of land on your western boundary that really doesn’t belong to you after all.” The land the Forest Service would like Veltri to give up is a small meadow pasture next to the East River where his calving process takes place every spring. It also contains the road he uses to access his hay meadow on the west side of the river. Veltri says he is willing to trade the Forest Service access up Farris Creek Road through his property in exchange for adjusting the boundaries on the west side of his property. Veltri says that he and the Forest Service maintained an “uneasy status quo” for years over the disputed property

read it

on the potty




crested butte lines, until special use fees for cattle that graze on the Strand Hill parcel skyrocketed. At that time Veltri said he began vocalizing his belief that he was being pushed out so that developers could build trophy homes on his property’s prime location. Veltri’s total acreage is very valuable for development purposes and over the years he says he has been approached by realtors and developers to sell off his property. The Forest Service says it is taking steps to work with Cold Springs Ranch on a resolution to what has become a more than 20-year dispute. “Fences were built years ago from common understanding,” said Roy Mask, acting district ranger for the Gunnison National Forest. “The surveyor went in and said here is the true boundary. I don’t think there was any error in the survey. But the boundaries don’t line up with the fences and that’s basically the bottom line. We are in contact with Veltri’s legal representative, and we are trying to negotiate with him.” As a way of gaining attention and support and putting pressure on the Forest Service, Veltri has indefinitely blocked public access to Strand Hill from Farris Creek Road. His enforcement was lax at the beginning but now is firm. “I said to a lot of people, I want the onus on the Forest Service. Yes, I am closing the road and I am doing it with great reluctance,” Veltri said. “I think I may have let my generous impulses get in the way. In the past I have said, ‘I don’t see well and I don’t hear well; if you want to lift your bike up over the fence, go ahead.’ But I’m not saying that now.” This move has had its intended effect on getting noticed by the Forest Service. “Where we are at is trying to secure access to Strand Hill Trail,” said Mask. “And under the current situation Mr. Veltri has blocked it on his property, which he has every right to do. As a private landowner he doesn’t need to grant access to the public, but we would like to secure it in the future because of its popularity.” In mid-summer, Veltri requested that a fresh set of eyes take a look at the dispute, at which time Gunnison County Attorney David Baumgarten stepped in to conduct a fact-finding mission. When this issue went to press, no new information had been brought forward


as a result of Baumgarten’s investigation, and Farris Creek Road remained closed. In the meantime, Veltri has rallied a great deal of support from the community, including the mountain biking community, in his fight to preserve his land. He has been lauded by many a local for not selling out. “I love the guy, personally,” said local mountain bike racer David Ochs. “He embodies a lot of what people in Crested Butte feel in terms of preserving open space and believes that the land is all of ours to share. I’ve heard his struggles, and I think the guy is just fantastic.” Jim Starr, one of the Gunnison County commissioners who approved Baumgarten’s investigation into matters related to Strand Hill, weighed in on Veltri’s struggles. “I’ve ridden that trail myself, and it’s a beautiful trail, so I would like to see it maintained as a trail for the recreational community. I’m also very concerned about the ability of the Veltris to continue ranching in that area and want to see them succeed.” Even those who have been directly affected by the closure, such as Tina Kempin, co-director of the Crested Butte Bank XTERRA Triathlon, are keeping things in perspective. “I greatly appreciate him allowing the public to access Strand through his property as long as he did,” said Kempin. “Whenever I personally used to ride Strand [before the closure] I would ride up the road the traditional way. It’s kind of fun to be doing it the other way now, up Strand Bonus. I’ve heard rumblings of people saying they are bummed, but at least there is still a way to get to it.” In the end, Veltri has one simple wish—that his efforts to save Cold Springs Ranch pay off, for his family’s benefit and the benefit of others. “In my lifetime, we are hearing about the disappearance around the world of amphibians, the decline in honey bees. My mother and I have noticed the plummeting numbers of butterflies,” Veltri said. “So many things are in decline. You can pretty well guess the intense pressure we have been under from realtors to sell. Yet we have proven to be impervious to the blandishments of money. And I think that proves our commitment not only to our little bit of the valley but to everything along with it.” [communitypages]

Bob Brazell

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by Erinn Morgan It’s a Tuesday morning and Mary Monroe and I are sawing off a fallen tree in Durango’s Horse Gulch with the help of her husband, Travis Brown. We were supposed to ride elsewhere on this crisp mountain morning, but at 8 a.m., I got a garbled message: something about a “fallen tree…gotta go…meet at Sale Barn Trail.” Who am I to turn down trail work when sweat equity is precisely what keeps this southwestern Colorado town’s growing cache of trails in such prime riding shape? Monroe is the executive director of Trails 2000, the Durango-based advocacy group that builds new trails and habitually tidies up the old ones. She grabbed the reins of this nonprofit in 2006, inheriting a 20-year-old trail legacy that was founded in 1989 with the concept of building 200 miles of trails by the year 2000. That goal has far been exceeded, yet the moniker remains. Trails 2000 has built the lion’s share 118

Courtesy Trails 2000

of local trails in D-Town and has won accolades across the country for its efforts. Monroe estimates that Trails 2000 volunteers contribute more than 3,000 hours of trail work every year to various land agencies to build and maintain the local trails. “All these trails are hand built by the community,” she says. Beyond the free pizza and camaraderie, why do they do it? “People who live in Durango just love the trails,” Monroe explains. “A recent city survey found that, time after time, people listed the most valued thing in the community as our trails.” Organizing and leading this behemoth cadre of trail workers is no easy feat, but Monroe has the cycling cred to handle the job. Originally from Wisconsin, she spent 10 years as the public relations and sports marketing director for Trek before working as chief marketing officer for U.S. Cycling [communitypages]

Members of Trails 2000—Durango’s proactive trail advocacy group—work on an alpine trail near Durango, Colo.

and subsequently serving on the board of the International Mountain Biking Association. Over the years, Trails 2000 has taken on myriad trail-related jobs, including negotiating easements and raising money to purchase trail-laced land that was threatened with development. Today, however, Monroe says the “new vision” relates to connectivity, both on and off the dirt. The group has been working on numerous off-road trail connections as well as paved community bike path options and extensions. “We aim to gain a level of connectivity to encourage people to improve their health and get out of their cars,” Monroe says. This cycling-centric ideal is exactly why Durango was recently awarded the League of American Cyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community Silver Level. “They come and do an audit of town and you are judged on the trails network, enforcement, education, etc.,” Monroe says. “The town has a real desire to go for the gold in 2012.” Another feather in the Trails 2000

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durango A group of proud trail workers pose after a hard day’s work near Durango, Colo.

Courtesy Trails 2000

Stephanie and Rob Trudeaux take a break from Pulaski duty.

Courtesy Trails 2000

cap is the recent opening of a longawaited off-road trail extension that ultimately connects some of Durango’s primo trails for a lengthy, technical singletrack-heavy loop. Towering just above the town’s Fort Lewis College, Raider Ridge has been home to one of Durango’s more technical trails but remained as an out-and-back ride because of trail closure on private land. “After two years of meetings and help from the city and a myriad of attorneys, we have negotiated the use of a trail section on private land that’s about two miles long,” Monroe says. The new Raider Ridge Trail now links into Horse Gulch, Durango’s extensive in-town trail network, for a lengthy loop with some 120

incredibly technical riding. “You might want to think about bringing a sandwich out there,” says Monroe, smiling. Still, there is no rest for the Pulaskiladen, and Trails 2000 has more ambitious plans for the future, including a jump park and skills area and maybe even some freeride trails. “You have to look at the terrain you have and what is best to create a sustainable trail system,” Monroe says. “But we might have the ability to add one or two things to our trail network. We are thinking about the things kids are asking for, and we want to make sure we’re getting them outside and doing the things they like to do.” [communitypages]

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Elliott Leonard of Aurora, Colo., hammers a section of crosscountry trail during the 2009 Pajarito Punishment cross-country mountain bike race. Pajarito Mountain Ski Area became host and manager of the popular racing event three years ago as part of the ski area’s emphasis to offer summer recreational opportunities on the mountain.

by James E. Rickman A ski area, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste. So Tom Long, the softspoken general manager of Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, has been thinking a lot in the past five years about how to increase usage of the mountain beyond the winter season. Capitalizing on an increasingly successful national trend, the 62-yearold added mountain biking to Pajarito Mountain’s recreational activities shortly after he began managing the mountain in 2004. “When I got here, mountain biking was below the surface,” he said. “People were doing it but not officially. There

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James E. Rickman

were some ‘trails’ that had been scratched into the mountain in a couple of places, but mountain biking was not a regular part of the mountain.” Sensing an opportunity to promote not only the ski area, but also the nearby community of Los Alamos, N.M., Long began the process of making Pajarito a mountain bike mecca in the summer. “Biking is a great use of the asset,” Long said. “It’s compatible with the ski area and it hits the right demographic, both in terms of age and athletic ability, and it fits with our mission. “When I first got here, there wasn’t a sense that this ski area was part and [communitypages]

parcel of Los Alamos County,” he said with a hint of a smile creeping over his slightly ruddy face. “I’ve really made an effort to build that sense. Pajarito Mountain is such a terrific venue, so close to downtown Los Alamos. When I got here and saw that the community was having the Main Street Concert Series each Friday night, I said, ‘We need to have one here!’” Concert organizer Russ Gordon was so excited after the first concert on the mountain, he wanted to hold them all at Pajarito. But Long felt the town also needed the concerts, and so he now hosts about one each year. 121

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los alamos Pajarito Mountain Ski Area General Manager Tom Long

James E. Rickman

During Long’s relatively short tenure at Pajarito, the community has embraced the concept of a year-round Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and mountain personnel regularly work with the local Chamber of Commerce and community leaders on a smorgasbord of projects that are mutually beneficial to the community and the ski area. During the summer on every other weekend, the ski area hosts lift-served biking—where freeride enthusiasts can gorge themselves all day on all the gravity they care to eat for just 20 bucks. Cross-country enthusiasts with a slightly masochistic side can also ride the steep trails up 1,200 vertical feet from the base of the mountain to the top if they choose not to use the lifts, providing a potential “no-cost” option to the user who may not want to buy a lift ticket. Since Long’s arrival, the mountain has completed more than a dozen freeride/downhill trails and nearly a half dozen cross-county trails. An enthusiastic 122

coterie of volunteers has cut most of the trails into the dark, dense rocky dirt. The wide selection of trails attracts a regular and growing list of riders, and Pajarito Mountain is becoming known in some circles as the freeride center of New Mexico. “We have a lot of regulars coming up on lift days from Albuquerque,” Long said. “But we also get a whole contingent from Durango, Colo. It’s the mountain biking capitol of the world and they’re here. They say we have the best freeriding that’s accessible to them.” One of the unique characteristics of Pajarito Mountain is that the trails require riders to pack their skills and their A-Game in addition to a helmet and gloves. The majority of the trails are black or double-black diamond skill level with a few blue square intermediate trails thrown in to pay homage to the less experienced. “It’s like the skiing up here,” Long says with a subtle twinkle in his eyes. “It’s [communitypages]

Downhill racing returned to the Pajarito Punishment this year, providing downhill racing another much-needed venue in New Mexico, giving guys like Zak Cocker, a beginner junior racer, the opportunity to race on the same course as professionals.

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a manly sport.” He quickly recovers his composure and in all seriousness acknowledges the need to address the issue. “My hope over the next couple of years is to lay out and build that green boulevard component that we’re missing right now,” he said. For the moment, Long said, the mountain is content to grow its expanded recreation focus slowly. In addition to recently taking charge of the popular Pajarito Punishment mountain bike race—part of the New Mexico OffRoad Series—mountain personnel are working on an ambitious plan to create a snowmaking capability to hedge bets for earlier opening days during an era of warmer and later winter weather. But it’s apparent Long is thinking ahead to expanding the mountain biking success that has been built at the mountain. “Sometime soon we really would like to do a festival,” he said. “I’d like to see mountain biking and the Pajarito Punishment becoming a two- or threeday event. Think what that would do for this community, the ski area and the biking community!”


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moab Two riders enjoy some new singletrack near Moab, Utah. Moab’s Trail Mix advocacy group has been busy adding new trails to Moab’s network.

by Ken Davey, City of Moab A local group in Moab is blazing new trail in the Mountain Bike Capital of the World, working to reassert the Southwestern town’s leadership in the mountain bike domain. A group of local residents, with the active support of Moab and Grand County government leaders, has created the Trail Mix Committee that has built seven new singletrack trails in the last four years, with more on the way. During the 1980s and 1990s, the famous Slickrock Trail brought mountain bikers from around the world to Moab. Once there, mountain bikers discovered the area’s array of former mining roads snaking across the desert and through scenic cliffs and canyons. Mountain biking and a resurgence in interest in nearby national parks led to a boom in tourism that helped offset Moab’s economic decline after a uranium mill and regional uranium mines closed. New motels and restaurants opened, and tour companies and bike shops flourished. Since that time, other communities noted the Moab experience and have been 126

Mathew Barlow

successful in building and promoting their own singletrack trails. As a result, Moab mountain bike aficionados, bike shop operators and local business owners saw the need for the city to reassert its leadership in the field. The Trail Mix Committee was first suggested by Bureau of Land Management recreation staff and was started by Moab Community Development Director David Olsen with the help of County Councilor Kim Schappert. Schappert became the first Trail Mix Committee chairwoman in 2000 and Olsen has been the committee vice chairman (except one year serving as chairman) ever since. Moab resident and volunteer Sandy Freethey is the current chairwoman. “Trail Mix’s vision is to develop a fully integrated network of environmentally sustainable trails for non-motorized use, linking the Moab Valley to other areas of Grand County,” Olsen said. “Its mission is to preserve and develop the individual trails and grow them into a viable system for enjoyable recreation and transportation use.” [communitypages]

The committee developed a Grand County Non-Motorized Trails Master Plan. Grand County and Moab have adopted the plan as a blueprint for trail development. Trail Mix meets every month and actively solicits comments and representation from hikers, bikers, equestrians and cross-country skiers. Land management agencies, including the BLM, National Park Service, Utah State Parks and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, have joined the effort, leading to collaboration that could only happen with this multi-jurisdictional partnership. “Without Trail Mix, we never could have partnered as successfully with government agencies or recruited the volunteers to improve and develop trails,” Olsen said. “It’s amazing how successful Trail Mix has become at getting things done.” Completed trails include Baby Steps at Klondike Bluffs, Moab Brands Trails (Bar M, Circle O, Rockin’ A, Bar B and Killer B trails), Intrepid Trail at Deadhorse Point, Hazzard County Trail

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in the La Sal Mountains, The Whole Enchilada (UPS and LPS of Porcupine Rim Trail), Rock Stacker Trail and Pot Hole Arch branching from the Amasa Back and Jackson’s trails. Trail Mix also took the lead in extending trails leading to the in-town Mill Creek Parkway and improvements to the Fisher Towers hiking trail 20 miles north of town. Current projects include working on two new trails: the Scenic Snake Singletrack (linking Moab to the Slickrock Trail east of town), if approved by the BLM, and Pipe Dream Trail (from Moab to the Hidden Valley hiking trailhead southwest of town). Trail Mix hopes to get permission to build more singletrack in the Moab Brands and Klondike Bluffs area and is helping create a triangle trail system that connects Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky District. Working with a few trail specialists and volunteers, Trail Mix has set goals for the future, including a trail system that will connect most of the major trails north of Moab and encircle Spanish Valley to the south. In addition to planning more singletrack, Trail Mix is also working with local government agencies to increase the number of bike trails through town to create a non-motorized transportation system. The Moab City Council and the Grand County Council have both endorsed bike commuting as a healthy, energy-efficient and sustainable practice and have pledged to expand bicycle access through populated areas. Future plans include a transit hub and State Route 128 (River Road) underpass at Lions Park, a bike lane, a path and trail system along Mill Creek Drive and a bike and pedestrian trail system along 500 West, a main thoroughfare along Moab’s west side. In addition, Trail Mix and the Moab Trails Alliance (a nonprofit group that raises money to construct trails) are collaborating with Grand County to pave a trail from Lions Park at the entrance to Moab, north along the Colorado River for 2 miles to the Goose Island campground, and another paved trail from Lions Park, north along Highway 191 for 8 miles to the Highway 313 turnoff to Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. [communitypages]

salida colorado

Are You Bi, or Even Tri, Maybe Quad? by Jim Williams Some folks go only one way. They grasp tradition firmly, often with the closed fist of the puritan missionary. Their grip is slipping. The tape is unraveling. Their focus blurred. It can be quite disturbing for those confused, righteous souls. Recently, ’round our high valley town of Salida, Colo., I’ve noticed a change in the culture where going two or three or, dare I say it, four ways is acceptable, even encouraged. The puritans aren’t so pure anymore. It’s all gotten a bit kinky, ya know? Time was when riders knew what they rode, why they rode and often showed little to no understanding or empathy for those who rode a “different” mode. Lately, it seems, at least here in Chaffee County, being bi or tri is cool. Sitting on the patio at Café Dawn, watching the town wake and hoping to clear my head, I casually gazed at the bike racks full of human-powered machines. It was a virtual cornucopia of transportation, recreation and fitnessfocused wheels. Townies mingled comfortably with hardtails, softtails and “how can you ride that thing on the trails” singlespeeds with 29 inch knobby tires. Road bikes, amazingly clean and dramatically angular with hard, thin tires seemed at home next to a recumbent and the couple of tiny, amazingly high-tech kids’ bikes. It was cute, I thought cynically. Even my own old Myata crossbike was welcome, ripped-up seat and all. Inside, the buzz was caffeinated, full of smiles and a variety of apparel appropriate here. We are a functional bunch. Black bike shorts snuggled the big and the buttless next to Carhartt shorts and hairy legs. Colors ran from the gaudy attention-getting jerseys to naturally

A multitude of bikes fills a rack in Salida, Colo., where many cyclists are bi, or even tri.

muted tones. Trail talk, road talk and daily chores floated in a delightful din. Fortunately, my mind was clearing taking in the diversity. I grinned. Salida’s cycle culture evolution has progressed, not with the exclusive nature of a single focus but with an acceptance of all modes cyclic. From the days when Don and Mike (bless his rowdy, red-faced, still-


missing soul) built Ordinary bikes and road bikes were chopped into what we now call mountain bikes to our current acceptance of all wheels human-powered, most folks will admit to being bi or tri. This isn’t good for the puritans. They’ve lost their missionary-like grip. I don’t know about you, but I like a little variety in my passions. Try a new position. Trust me, it won’t hurt.



by Yuri Hauswald

A shotgun blast signaled the beginning of the Dirt, Sweat and Gears 12-hour race in Fayetteville, Tenn., sending hundreds of eager racers dashing across an open field like a stampede of kids on an Easter egg hunt. I skittered across the grassy gap, frantically grabbed my bike, navigated through a few stragglers trying to find theirs and furiously pedaled to be sure I was in the top 15 before entering the woods. I had only ridden the course once, the day before, and it had been in perfect condition, but that was before the skies had opened up and dumped biblical amounts of water on the landscape, turning perfectly tacky trail dirt into peanut buttery slop that stuck to everything and brought wheels to a standstill. I entered the first singletrack section in about sixth place, thinking to myself that today was going to be my day, but my rear derailleur had other ideas. In a primal fight or flight moment, I shouldered my broken bike and began running, not realizing that since I was only two miles in on a 10-mile lap, the smart thing would have been to return to the pits and get my other bike. But like the hard-headed caveman who stuck his hand in the fire one too many times before he realized he’d get burned, I began clomping my way through the woods, pushing and coasting my bike, stopping periodically to clear both brake bosses so my wheels would roll. I was determined to salvage my lap by finishing the remaining eight miles and getting my spare bike. Demoralized, sweating profusely from the humidity and completely covered in mud, I hobbled across the finish line, hampered by the quarter-size sores that had worn into both of my heels from all the running and hounded by the daunting thought of heading back out for 10 more hours of racing. I hesitantly took my spare bike, grabbed a CamelBak and sputtered back out onto course to see if I could somehow claw 130

my way back into the race. During the ensuing laps, I reeled in many riders, working my way up from dead last in the Pro Solo field to seventh. The first lap mishap, however, had taken its toll and was Yuri Hauswald beginning to manifest itself in twitching leg cramps and a bodily disassociation closely resembling drunkenness, minus any feelings of joy. Not feeling right and with less than an hour’s worth of racing left, I stumbled into my pit for what I thought was the end of my race; my mechanic had other ideas. Before I could drop my “I’m dehydrated and I don’t think I can make the time cut” excuse on him, he rolled out a clean bike, told me that I was three minutes down on sixth—later found to be false—and gave me a firm push back out onto course. I knew I was in trouble when I started daydreaming. The flickering lights in the woods became fireflies ahead of me, dancing in the trees. It was around that time that my vomiting forced me to get off my bike and walk, my entire body rebelling until I crossed the finish line and found myself in the saving grace of The Rev. I can’t tell you where The Rev’s nickname came from, but it sure seemed fitting considering my current situation forced me to have complete and utter faith in this Dallas paramedic. I was at church confessional, but instead of talking through a screen in a cramped cubicle about my sins and road to redemption, I was mainlining saline salvation and contemplating why I would push myself so far. As I was slumped over trying to rehydrate my hollow body, I realized that the sense of accomplishment I felt was certainly not due to my results, but rather to the fact that I hadn’t quit when all odds were against me. The Rev’s sermon—the fluids he had saved me with—coursed through my body and brought me new life. Not everyone needs to see a Reverend to have an epiphany, but on this day I certainly did.


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Mountain Flyer Number 14  

Mountain Flyer Magazine Issue Number 14 - Sept. 2009