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

Profile

LT Tahoe Trail 100k bike course map 2016

Course

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

Shredding

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

Podium

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

Chillin’

 

Cannondale FSI Mountain Bike Crusher in the Tushar Renegade 1.8 tire

The race machine