BT Epic 2016

Ryan Steers Pedalers Fork Missouri
The BT Epic has quickly become one of my favorite mountain bike races as it encompasses every element that a great mountain bike event should contain. The location is beautiful and rural, the trails are amazing and well maintained, the course is well marked, the organizers are some of the funniest and most down to earth bike dudes you’ll ever meet, the turnout is exceptional (all 475 spots sell out almost instantly and next year they’re bumping the number to 600) and run the gammet from pros to first time racers, the start is a great fire road climb separator before the 50 miles of singletrack begins, there, the support is top knotch with great aid stations every 10 mile, there are spectators everywhere and they’re super friendly, there is a post race BBQ and all you can drink beer, there’s a raffle with great prizes and over 30 bikes given away, and the awards payout is more than generous. In summary you really can’t ask for a better event. 

Christian Hon
My buddy Chris Hon lives in St Louis and introduced me to this race last year and I had such a good time I had to come back. Once again I borrowed his bike and once again we set off into the Mark Twain National Forest to tackle the Berryman Trail. After years of petitions Chris finally got a Clydesdale category added and at just barely over 200lbs he was ready to win it. We registered at Bass River Resort and got the keys to our cabin. Oh, did I mention you can camp or get a cabin right by the starting line? That’s another huge plus. We had a smaller cabin this year with Chris, myself and fellow racer Brian Roggeveen. 

BT Epic Start 2016
When we woke up it was freezing by LA standard. It was in the low 30s and the sun was just starting to rise. The cow pastures were frosty and we sat inside rather than ride around to warm up. We got to the line right before the 8:30 start and jumped on the front. The shotgun went off and we were moving. 

BT Epic bass river resort 2016
The start was a little slower this year. Maybe it was the cold. From the campground you roll out on a bit of pavement, across a bridge and then the climb begins. It’s about 3 miles and 400 feet of climbing and my bread and butter in LA. There’s a KOM prize for the first rider to the singletrack and I saw my chance. There was one rider alone up ahead and I knew I could reel him in. I hit the pedals and pulled in front and be sucked my wheel for 2 miles while we sprinted uphill to the trail. I made it to the dirt first but was worried about how my legs would hold up for the next 47 miles. Spoiler alert they felt great. I had a lead of about a minute on the trail, which I knew I’d need as the top riders are all way more skilled on these rocks and roots. After about 30 seconds I dropped the chain and front endoed in the the middle of the trail. Amateur hour. Still I was alone so I popped back on and kept pushing. It took another 2-3 miles before Garet Steinmetz, and Bryan Fawley passed me around the Bikini Wax descent with Brian Roggeveen was close on their heels. I was now in thirds but still happy and hoping to hold a top five. I chased Bryan and Garet around through the first aid station and back around the new trail that had been cut. Bryan started to pull away and Garet and I began trading places as he’d smoke the descents and I’d catch him on the climbs. He’s won the race in years past but was looking winded. Bryan won last year and knew what he was doing. Every descent I could hear Brian hot on my heels. I was glad it was him. Nothing like friendly competition.  We bobbed and weaved around, Brian putting time on the descents while I kept putting a few seconds on the climbs. A few chain drops later and he would get close and then disappear. By the second aid station at mile 21 I was solid 2nd place, grabbed bottles, hit the descent, wrecked again and was a little more cautions. No bike damage. Whew. Sorry Chris. At one section with a fan with an airhorn around mile 28 I clicked Brian about a minute behind and shortly after heard someone yell that Bryan was 2:30 ahead. 

We hit the dirt road again around mile 35 and I didn’t have much in the tank. After 2.5 miles we were back on the trail and when I turned around Brian was on my heels. We traded spots a few times and I chased him up the First Sister climb but he washed out on the descent and layed the bike down. I made sure he was ok and he told me to keep going so off I went. Crashes will crush your power and rhythm and he slipped behind me again. When we hit the last aid station and mile 42 I could see him clawing back on the pavement a few hundred yards behind. Bryan was 3:30 ahead and I turned on the gas. The last 8 miles flew by and I pushed the pavement climb and gravel as hard as I could. When we hit the trail again I couldn’t see Brian but knew he wasn’t far behind. I took some risks on the trail and kept the rubber down and crossed the line in 4:06:52, about a minute and a half behind Bryan and about a minute ahead of Brian. It felt amazing. BBQ and beer time.

 Chris had an amazing ride and came in about 40 minutes later and grabbed 2nd in the Clydesdale category- in the money! 

BT Epic BBQ 2016 post race
One of my favorite parts or the race is hanging out with everyone afterwards. The finish line is at the beer tent, people are cheering, everyone is happy and there are so many friendly faces. We hung out for a while and caught he bmx/trials stunt show, which was new for this year. They were super talented riders and had even done the race earlier in the day.  It made my legs hurt just watching them.

 The awards started around dark and the raffle was in full swing. Beer was flowing and there were smiles all around. See you next year Missouri!

There was even a list award beard contest and the winner got a bike. Only in Missouri. 

Mammoth Kamikaze Pro XC 2016


Ryan Steers Alé Cannondale FSI ESI grips Early Rider push bike

High Five!

I travel quite a bit for races and the worst part is being away from the family, so it’s always great when they can tag along…especially when the race is in such a spectacular setting as Mammoth.

Mammoth Panorama Dome hike

Panorama Dome

The focus of the race changes a bit when kids are involved. Naps trump warmups¬†and family hikes take precedent over pre-rides but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Panorama Dome Mammoth hike

Family Time!

I snuck out of the hotel after a quick breakfast on Saturday morning and got in a long warmup. Due to the large volume of races the XC course was closed until 7:30 Saturday morning for pre-rides. I tried to hit the course on Friday evening but was kindly told to keep out as there were overlapping sections of endure and Kamikaze.

The start was organized into two groups- the pro field lined up in the front and everyone else was a few minutes later. We were a small group and the feel was very different then nationals. There would be no jockeying for position or sprints to the singletrack. Very low key. I pulled up next to Nic Beechan had a feeling I would be trying to chase him down. He’s fast. Really fast. UCI qualified fast. He was the clear favorite after winning last year but I’d try to put up a fight.

The start was slow and chill. Tate Meintjes took the lead and Nic, Brian Gordon and I hit the singletrack right behind. No one really wanted to set the pace but we settled in. When we got the the long steep fireroad climb at mile two I attacked and Nic jumped with me. We opened up a gap and Brian and Tate fell off the pace.

The rest of the race was pretty much me trying to hold Nic’s wheel for the first two laps and then falling farther and farther back. Did I mention he’s fast?

Ryan Steers Mammoth Kamikaze Brian Gordon Podium

Podium Kids!

Bottom line- the course is amazing. Similar to nationals but more single track and a little longer laps (four 5 mile laps instead of 6 four mile laps). Lots of rocks, dust, climbs and flowing descents.

Shimano Kids race Mammoth Kamikaze

Call ups!

I love this race but the highlight was watching Rex race the Shimano Kids race right after the awards ceremony. He lined up with about 8 other two and three year olds on push bikes. They were called to the line and then it was feet to the ground. Dust flew, elbows might have been thrown, there was a crash or two…it was pure excitement. I wasn’t sure how Rex would handle it but after an hour of warmup laps he was committed. He pushed hard and finished, got his medal and proclaimed that he wanted to do it again. Next year!

Mammoth Kamikaze Kids race



Floyd's of Leadville UCI stripe kit jersey Dave Zabriskie Cannondale Scalpel SI Sugarloaf mountain

Leadville Trail 100 MTB 2016

Ryan Steers Leadville Trail 100 MTB Pedalers Fork Cannondale FSI

I’m so excited that I got¬†to get back to Leadville again this year. It’s such a cool town and amazing vibe watching a city come to life around a bike race. I don’t even know where to begin…

I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to come back after the multi-flat debacle and race abandonment of last year but after qualifying in Tahoe and Dave deciding to go and having a lodging offer at Floyd’s I just couldn’t resist.

Floyd's of Leadville

Unboxing and building at Casa Floyd

The past two years this race has been close to a one week ordeal. The thinking being that if I get in Sunday or Monday then I’d be acclimated and better off for the following Saturday, however, I don’t think that’s the case. Seems like it’s about a month to acclimate and the longer you’re at 10k feet the more your body breaks down. A Thursday arrival was perfect and I had no side effects this year other than a little trouble sleeping. Maybe it was the 4 races over 7k feet in July that got me prepped (Crusher, Mammoth, Tahoe, and Big Bear) or maybe it was just all the water I kept pounding. Either way I think Thursday is the best arrival day.

Floyd's of Leadville Dave Zabriskie Leadville 100

Floyd’s of Leadville International HQ

Dave and I got in on Thursday afternoon and after taking a shuttle to the wrong Enterprise car rental location we had to cram DZ’s bike in the back of an Uber Black and find the hotel where the car was waiting. After that it was more waiting as we had to stalk the UPS truck in Aurora for the shipment of Floyd’s of Leadville Castelli kits that we had to pick up and deliver to Leadville. Totally worth it. They look amazing. By the time we rolled into Leadville it was close to 8 and we hit La Resistance for dinner and trivia night with Landis and the Floyd’s of Leadville entourage.

Friday brought the usual routine of registration and pre-ride. We headed out toward Turquoise lake and did the Sugarloaf climb and power line descent to check on the conditions. Really it’s the only part of the course that needs a preview just so you can gauge the line down power line and not lose time getting stuck in the ruts on race day. The rest of the day went fast. Too fast. There was a nap, bottle prep, food prep, and some logistics and then it was time for bed.

Floyd's of Leadville UCI stripe kit jersey Dave Zabriskie Cannondale Scalpel SI Sugarloaf mountain

Looking like a world champ.

4:50 am came quickly. The best part of the gold corral is not needing to line up at 4am to get a good spot. It’s freezing, dark, and the race is long enough that you don’t want to spend hours standing around beforehand. We hit the line about 6:10 for the 6:30 start and stripped our outer layers and waited for the gun….I peed my pants a little. Could’t help it.

The gun went off and Wells, Bishop and Dombrowski and Morton took off from the start. By the time we hit the descent at mile 2 they were disappearing up the road. The peloton charged along covering the first 3 miles in just over 6 minutes. We were moving. I love the first climb up St Kevins but you’ve got to start to position right before. Riders start to blow up here and you don’t want to get stuck behind someone. I hit the gas and found myself with Ted King, Alex Howes, Ben Sonntag and a few other guys. It’s important to get over the top and hit the pavement with a group or you’ll find yourself going backwards on the pavement. We hit the pavement and pace lined to the bottom of Sugarloaf getting caught by DZ and a few other guys and Mortan came charging along after fixing a flat. Someone’s wheel blew up. Bummer.

Leadville singletrack Ryan Steers Pedalers Fork


Sugarloaf felt great. We cruised up and hit the power line descent. It was hilarious. I’m not a descender but being behind the GC road guys made me feel pretty quick and it was probably the first time I haven’t gotten dropped on a fast descent, which meant we were all together hitting the pavement on the way to pipeline. The pace was relaxed, too relaxed. DZ, Whitman and a few other guys caught back on and we rolled along the road. “Those guys up there will pop, we can get them” Howes said. I shook my head. They were gone. Wells and Bishop don’t pop at Leadville. They were gone. Bryan Dillon of Topeak/Ergon did most the work at the front not seeming to mind everyone hitching a free ride. I was sitting behind his wheel in 5th when we rolled through pipeline. It was an incredible feeling. We kept charging and things got a little strung out on the single track but regrouped on the dirt roads to Twin Lakes. Morton threw in a big attack and we chased but in a horrible twist of fate someone was having an open house and had put up red arrows right before the turn to Twin Lakes. Morton and two other guys followed the wrong signs and ended up a few hundred yards in the wrong direction before we were able to shout them back on track.

power line climb Leadville 100 Ryan Steers Cannondale FSI

Powerline will crush your soul

Columbine was a blur. It’s an hour of gravel switchbacks in the aspens that is a dead ringer for the first climb in the Crusher that then turn into a narrow, rocky, riverbed of kickers at the top. Guys were falling off quickly. Whitman popped, then King. We kept climbing. I lost touch with Howes’ group at the top, right about the time the three leaders came screaming down back at us. They were about 10 minutes ahead. The descent is one of the scariest moments of the race as you travel at 40mph on loose rocks only inches from a thousand riders climbing at you in the opposite direction. It’s amazing anyone survives. T

The nutrition was dialed. Hydration was spot on. Legs felt great. Ryan Petri and I worked together a bit but he started to pull away before pipeline. Timmothy Beardall came charging by and linked us back together for the road, taking long pulls at front and yelling encouragement in a crazed Australian accent. He popped on power line but Ryan took off and I lost touch of him down Sugarloaf. By that point I was 8th and only 17 miles to the finish. On top of the world. Nate Whitman came sailing by on the pavement climb back to St Kevins and disappeared as we hit the forest. 9th. Still top 10.

I made it through the checkpoint and though the flats and hit the descent on the backside of Kevins. Mile 90. Pshhhhhhh. The rear tire went flat immediately. I pulled over. After last year I’ve been running Specialized Controls for a year without a single flat. The Renegade just couldn’t keep the knife point of the rock at bay and it punched right through. Staying calm I hit it with CO2. The leak sealed for a second and then pshhhhhhht, an fountain of Orange Seal shot into the dirt. Stay calm. I took out the tube, mounted the tire and hit it again with CO2. Pshhhhhh. Air escaped around the valve stem. This wasn’t happening. Riders were starting to fly by. I took the tube back out and there was a small defective spot. I got out the patch kit but the tube was so slimy that nothing would stick. Blindly I tried the hand pump. Nothing but a flaccid tube dangling in my hand. More riders flew by. “Help, help. Please. Tube? CO2?” Nothing. Finally someone heard my please. It was Ten Dam. “Thanks so much man, I hope this doesn’t slow you down.” “Oh this isn’t slowing me down, my legs are slowing me down. I’m dead. I’ve got nothing left” he groaned. He tossed me a tube and disappeared. Saved! I started to inflate it in preparation for the install but right away air began to leak from pin holes. Another bum tube. Now I was panicking. “Help, please!” Bryan Dillon stopped and tossed me his tube and CO2. What a nice dude. He disappeared. I installed it and started to hit it with CO2. It cross threaded and exploded icy vapor on my hands. I started to pump. It was a road tube. This was going to take a lot of pressure. After 5 minutes of pumping it felt like a hard garden hose inside the tire. This wasn’t working. Cameron Piper rode by and tossed a CO2. Finally. Inflation. Rock hard but safe.


I packed up my trailside mess and started to pedal. When I flatted my Garmin was at 6:12. It now read 6:47. 35 minutes had passed and almost two dozen riders had sped passed. I was just happy to be rolling again. There was a moment when I thought I’d be stuck on the mountain for the rest of the day. To say it was disappointing is an understatement but that’s the allure of Leadville. It’s a long race and there’s a lot that can go wrong. In the end my time was identical to two years ago but instead of the elation I felt last time I was filled with disappointment. All that work to shave 30 minutes off the race only to lose it standing on the side of the trail. Next year. Maybe DH tires?

Leadville trail 100 MTB belt buckle

Tastes like gold

Floyd's of Leadville party PB Brewing Floyd Landis jersey


Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE podium Men's Open Pro 100k 2016 Tinker Juarez

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE 2016

Cannondale FSI Team

Plate’s on, ready to race.

This is one of my favorite races of the year and one of the best course¬†you can ride in SoCal. To race here you have to be able to do everything well. Long, scorching, brutal fireroad climb? Radford. Check. Elevation? Most of the race is at 6500-8k feet. Check. Technical single track?About 40 miles of it: Cabin Trail, Skyline, Santa Anna River Trail, Plumbers Trail. Check. Ridiculous loose descent with massive exposure? Seven Oaks. Check. Pavement?¬†A few miles but still a check. To win this race you’ve got to be able to climb, descend, flow, spin, climb some more, shred it, and hammer….and ride a singlespeed?

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE Course route

The Course

We lined up at 6:45 for a 7am start. It was already getting warm in the sun, which was worrisome. The start was quick- you have a few hundred yards of gradual uphill pavement on Pineknot and then you hit 2N08 and the race is on. It’s only a few miles long and¬†just shy of 1000 feet of climbing so it¬†gets the heart pumping. The peloton blew apart quickly. I was in the front with Tinker, Steven Mills, Taylor Lideen, Stefano Barberi, Cameron Brenneman and Alfred Pacheco. I noticed Steven was on a single speed and thought to myself, “wow this guys is going to blow up.” Boy was I wrong. After the climb¬†you roll on the fire road a bit and the hit the¬†singletrack and it’s right on to the Seven Oaks Descent: 2 miles and 1600 feet of descending a¬†super narrow, exposed, sandy rut. No room for error. Every year I’ve been behind someone that’s taken a tumble- nothing serious but it’s easy to do some barrel rolling. Last year Munoz took a few spills and this year Barberi went toppled over. I always play it a little too safe and it costs me a minute or two. Most the guys were out of sight by the time we were halfway down but Barberi and I were together and Alan Laframboise caught us so¬†I let him by. Barberi and I hit the fire road at the bottom and played chase with poor single speed Alan spinning out on the rollers. I pulled ahead and caught sight of the leaders (after watching Tinker add some air to his tire and then speed away again). SART trail is always a blast and seems longer every year. They’ve done some work to it so there are no more walking sections and it’s all ridable. It’s a hard trail to rail because there are so many sweeping turns with exposure but you can get some speed. Lots of sharp rocks (I flatted here twice 2 years ago) so I don’t run Schwalbes any more.

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE course profile

After the Santa Anna River Trail the real work begins. You roll along Seven Oaks road¬†for a bit and then start to head up up up. Bit of advice- make sure you get aid here. Don’t hit Radford without full bottles. Sure there’s an aid station 3/4 of the way up but if you stop there you’ll have a really hard time moving again. My plan all along was to chill the first 30 miles and then give Radford a good push. I saved the segment in my Garmin and judged¬†my effort against my time last year. On the way up I was able to pass¬†Pacheco and Brenneman and catch sight of Tinker, and Tayler ahead. I also saw Steven throw the hammer down and take the lead. On a single speed! At the top of Radford! What a beast. This guy was not going to pop. I shaved over two minutes off my climb from last year but it wasn’t enough to catch the leaders.

The joy of Plumbers is immense. After a hot and brutal fire road you are rewarded with two miles of blissful single track….until you hit 2N10 and have to climb all the way back up to Skyline. Ouch. From there it’s about seven miles of rolling skyline but you’ve got to stay on top of your nutrition or it’s super easy to bonk or cramp here. You’re flowing and rolling along and suddenly you forget to drink and you’re out of water with 20 miles left to race. Miles of single track roll by. I caught a glimpse of Barberi about two minutes behind me and kept the speed up. I kept getting time checks that Tinker was two minutes up but I was never able to spot him. Cabin trail is a blast but the climb back out to the fire road is brutal. Punchy and steep and your legs will be screaming. However, once you get back to 2N08 it’s easy street. The race ends with 4 miles of rollers and descending. Don’t crash. The descent into town (the same as the starting climb) is steep, fast, and loose. You probably won’t catch anyone but you can end your day in sight of the finish.

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE podium Men's Open Pro 100k 2016 Tinker Juarez

Men’s Open 100k Podium (left to right): Alfred Pacheco, Myself, Taylor Lideen, Steven Mills, Tinker Juarez and Stefano Barberi

Derek does an amazing job with this race. Big Bear is so much fun this time of year and every year we’ve been treated to a thunderstorm at the finish. The course is amazing and the talent is exceptional. I’m 3 for 3 on this race and I’ll be back again next year. So excited to finish 4th this year and win a little cash. Shooting for top 3 next year!

Tinker Juarez Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE

Hanging out post race

Open Air Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE

Rocking Out


LT Race Series Tahoe Trail 100k 2016

2016 Tahoe Trail 100 Dave Wiens Levi Leipheimer Ted King Jesse Anthony Ryan Steers Eric Bostrom

And we’re off…

Jesse, Eric and I departed Mammoth around 6pm Friday night and after a quick burrito stop we were on our way to Tahoe. The drive was incredible. I’d never been past June lake but the green pastures, snow capped mountains, rivers and sunset were spectacular.

Tahoe Trail 100 2016 start Levi Leiphiemer

Lining up

We were able to get a room at Northstar Resort just a few hundred yards from the starting line, a huge plus when you need to register at 6am. I’d highly recommend it. Not a pro start time though. We woke up to temps in the upper 40s and things were chilly so make sure to bring some warm clothes. Shivering uncontrollably at the¬†starting line¬†brought back some serious Leadville memories. The shotgun went off and the pace was quick as we shot up the road for about a mile before looping through Northstar Village. From there we hit the first serious climb. More course data here:¬†Tahoe Trail 100 Course

2016 LT Tahoe Trail 100k Course Profile


LT Tahoe Trail 100k bike course map 2016


At 880 feet in 2.5 miles it hurt. The legs aren’t warm yet and the field started to blow apart. Levi, Dave, and Ted disappeared ahead while Jesse, Eric, Aaron and I played chase. We regrouped at the top of the climb and pace-lined the single track but the leaders were too far gone.

2016 Tahoe Trail 100k Ryan Steers Cannondale FSI hardtail


The course is beautiful- there are fire road and road sections interspersed with flowing single track through fields and pine forest. I wish I had more time to take in the scenery. There are a few super fast paved and gravel descents where you can hit 40+ mph and really get yourself in trouble. The whole course is pretty flowy with some single track punches about miles 12, 14 and 17. From there is a long descent and then another crushing 900 foot 2.5 mile climb¬†then a mile of banked switchbacks back to the start. Super fun. It’s exactly my kind of course and I was really excited to finish 4th right behind Levi, Dave and Ted.

Finish 2016 Tahoe Trail 100 Ryan Steers

Red Carpet

Overall the LT Tahoe Trail 100k is¬†an amazing event, even once the race is over. There’s a fully catered finishers buffet, beer, bar, and festivities. Exactly what you’d expect from a LT Series Event. Eric and I had a hard time getting back in the car even though we had a 500 mile drive home. We wanted to hang out all day.

Ryan Steers Eric Bostrom Levi Leipheimer Tahoe Trail 100 2016

Making new friends

2016 USAC Cross Country Nationals: Mammoth

Ryan Steers Pedalers fork Eric Bostrom Boz Bros Ride Biker

Warming up

A few weeks back, Eboz had the crazy idea that if we were heading up to Tahoe for the LT Series Tahoe Trail 100k, we should also stop by his place in Mammoth the day before and race nationals. This is how he thinks. Sure, why not? We piled in the car on Thursday afternoon and pace lined up to Mammoth with Jesse Anthony who somehow closed a 45min departure gap and beat us to the house.

USAC Nationals Mammoth 2016 Course

Sunset Pre Ride

We unloaded and hit the course for a pre-ride with Ettinger, which was pretty cool. He and Eric smoked the technical downhill section and I was nervous knowing that I’d automatically loose 15-20 seconds a lap on the last mile of the course. We worked on finding the lines in the loose moon dust and I hoped for the best.

Cannondale FSI Mammoth USAC National Cross Country MTB Championships

Who works for #2?

I love pro start times. I don’t love pro XC I love pro start times. I don’t love pro XCraces. They are short (usually), furiously fast, and I always have a terrible start position in the very back (deservedly so). Mammoth was a bit different. The race was run through USAC and left much to be desired. When you pay¬†$100 for an XC race you expect at least a shirt, maybe a pair of socks, at least a free pack of Gu? Nope. Nothing. A Benjamin buys a flimsy plastic number plate, which I cracked in approximately 12 seconds. Oh well.

Alé kit Pedalers Fork Cannondale FSI Ryan Steers Mammoth 2016

Views Galore

The line up was chaotic. There were two corrals but the volunteers didn’t know which way to face us or how how we’d enter to the line. Eventually we figured it out and again I was just about dead last. I was called up about about third from last. The field was larger than I expected and close to 50 riders. I’d heard that the day before only about 20-30 were signed up so there must have been a bunch of last minute additions. The altitude was a huge factor. At 8000+ feet the starting line is a lot higher than many racers are used to unless you live and train in Colorado.

Boz Bros Eric Bostrom Ride Biker Team Ryan Steers Oakley Jawbreaker blue Pedalers Fork Alé jersey flowers

Rock on

The gun went off and it was immediately apparent who was used to the thin air. The first half of the course is basically one long two mile climb and guys were gassed right off the gun. Of course Grotts went out flying. When I finally saw him again I was on my 5th lap and he was on his 6th with a huge lead. I knew I had to go out hard on the start and pass as many people as possible before the singletrack started. The start was the same as Mammoth Kamikaze XC a few years ago so I knew what to do.

Mammoth MTB lakes S Works Cannondale FSI Eric Bostrom Ryan Steers

Top 20 and top of the world!

When the dust settled I made all six laps without getting pulled. Eric was 13th and came in 17th, just shy of 2 hours. It was a long day for XC and I knew the next day at Tahoe would be even more brutal. So much for a short leg opener day. Thanks Eboz.

Crusher in the Tushar 7/9/16

bear slingshot G wagon Pedalers Fork Robbie Schaeffer

Shoot to Kill

The Crusher has been on my radar for a few years. I’ve head whisperings. Legends tell of poor bike choices and massive suffering. Huge climbs. Loose gravel. No perfect bike. Mystery and intrigue…

DZ asked me a month ago if I wanted to join on a trip to Beaver to tackle the race. He’s childhood friends and a former cycling training partner of founder T. Burke Swindlehurst. Dave¬†has wanted to do the race for a while and T-Bird convinced him to come out.¬†I was a little more hesitant because it meant not finishing the Kenda Cup Endurance Series and forfeiting a possible series win, but you can always race in Big Bear. Utah is the real deal and this trip was too good to pass up.

FSI 3T Explore Bike Dave Zabriskie

Desert Bike Check

The two of us¬†hit the road¬†at 5am Friday morning and put pedal to metal. We blew through LA before rush hour traffic accumulated and were in Vegas by 9am for breakfast. After a quick stop in St George we pulled into Beaver around 2pm and hit the populated registration line and met up with Robbie “Bear Cub” Schaeffer who was joining us on his way home from vacationing in Park City. Cub has done Leadville twice but is known for dropping explosive power grenades on our weekly Ride and Pint group ride from his restaurant/bike shop/coffee shop Pedalers Fork…not slogging for hours on fire roads. He wasn’t quite sure what he was getting himself into but oh man he’s a trooper. He re-geared his Moots Psychlo X RSL once he saw the course profile. Wise.

Robbie Schaeffer Moots Dave Zabriskie DZ Nuts ESI Grips Beaver Utah Mountain Bike Crusher 2016

After checking in we hit the hotel and changed for a short leg opener on the road and fire roads right out of the hotel. Beaver is in a spectacular area. Right at the base of the mountains with endless rolling hills and dirt roads that go nowhere but meander for miles. There’s not much else to do in Beaver; except buy souvenir hats, shirts and shot glasses…which we did.

Dave Zabriskie 3T Explore bike DZ Nuts Beaver Utah

Captain America

After suffering and sliding around the Belgian Waffle Ride¬†a few months ago I knew I didn’t want to tackle the Crusher on a road bike. I’m not Danny Pate. That left the FSI as the next logical choice. It weighs as much as a gravel bike and with some Renegade 1.8’s front and rear it should be just as fast, right? Wrong.

Robbie Schaeffer Moots Psychlo X Rsl DZ Nuts

Endless dirt

When I chose the MTB I was hoping for a loose, gnarly, sandy fireroad course along the lines of Cedar City 100k to give me an advantage, but that wasn’t the case. Apparently there have been rainy years where the course¬†was in terrible shape but, duh, we’re in a drought so the course was as smooth as glass in a lot of sections. Should have thought of that. Also my 1x 32front and 11-42 rear was not ideal, even with the Absolute Black oval ring up front. You just find yourself too spun out on the pavement and spinning too fast on the climbs. Live and learn.

Crusher Tushar 2016 Dave Zabriskie Pedalers Fork Ryan Steers DZ Nuts

We Crush You

We lined up at 7:45 on Saturday. The weather was spectacular; warm, sunny…but windy. The pro field went off at 8am sharp with one minute waves after that. The pace was relaxed. Very relaxed. Popowski went off the front early and no one seemed to care.¬†¬†Neil Shirley and I were chatting and he seemed to think the strategy could work to put a little time on the field before the dirt. At his ‘go’ we took off the front but this time the field took noticed and they bridged. Oh well. Jay Petervary went right ¬†to the front and stayed there, doing all the work for the first ten miles. He didn’t even seem to notice that he was pulling ¬†fifty dudes- but then again he’s the kind of guy to ride the course 5 times, camp at the top, and do it again the next day.

The real race started when we hit the gravel. Squire, Wells, Burleigh, and Driscoll burst off the front setting the pace. I held for as long as I could but Neil and I began to fall back a bit. By mile fourteen I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my ears and I was seriously doubting my ability to finish. Right then DZ blasted by and told me to push a bigger gear and get the heart rate down. Good advice. Saved me. Berry popped hard and disappeared behind us and Neil took off and began to disappear up the road with a few other guys. I yo-yoed for a bit but settled into my own pace, getting caught by a few riders from behind. We blasted along the rollers together until we hit the big descent and dropped ¬†a few thousand feet. It was so chattery that I lost all the contents of my awesome strap (spare tube, 2 CO2s, tire lever) but didn’t have the time to spare to pick them up. I knew when we hit the pavement at the bottom I’d need to be in a group and my gearing was a huge disadvantage. I’d have to put some time on these guys down the hill. We hit the bottom and I was immediately spun out. Jake Orness, Josh Berry and a few other guys¬†flew by like I was standing still. It was a long and and painful push to catch them but we eventually regrouped and worked together through the 20mph headwind on the pavement.

Crusher Tusher 2016 finish line

By the time we looped around Jake had fallen off the back, Berry was disappearing ahead and Weiss was slowly catching and then passing me. The next 10 miles were a painful, sweltering blur as we chugged up the Col du Crusher. I don’t remember much other than thinking of turning the pedals over. Watching my speed hover around 6-7mph and a guy handing out pickles and Bud Light. By the time you get to the KOM you are so ready to be done but you’re still 15 miles away- 15 very rolling, hilly miles. Thoughts turn from triumph to anger as you feel cheated out of a mountain top descent finish. You constantly check over your shoulder and gauge your speed. On the climb you can see for miles, now you have no concept of distance. Miles tick away. I caught Dave with about 7 miles to go and I could see Weiss and a few guys in the distance. “Think we can get these guys?” I asked him. “I cannot.” “How many miles left?” “6” “ugh” he was going backwards. I charged ahead on the rollers and flew down the loose gravel. By the time we could got to the last mile, which happened to be the hardest last mile of any race ever, I could see Weiss dangling in front of me. I stood up and closed the gap, passing just before the line. So glad to be done.

Crusher in the Tushar 2016 podium Todd Wells Robbie Squire Joshua Berry Eagle Point Beaver Utah


Awards went quickly. There was beer, food, and hanging with my MTB hero Todd Wells. Very cool. What a day. Oh, and don’t let the ride back to town fool you. Sure it’s 19 miles downhill but if there’s a headwind you’ll be pedaling the whole time.

Crusher Tusher 2016 Todd Wells Joshua Berry Dave Zabriskie Beaver Utah



Cannondale FSI Mountain Bike Crusher in the Tushar Renegade 1.8 tire

The race machine