Tahoe Trail 100k MTB 2017

Tahoe Trail 2017 Giant XTC Pro

Even with a fifth place this year Tahoe Trail 100 still feels like a disappointment. I thought I had talked multiple friends into coming along, only to end up driving and lodging by myself. Two weekends in a row of long road trips had me feeling a bit burned out. Since I already got a spot this year I figured I’d nab a Leadville coin for next year and not worry about the stress of trying to get in last minute, plus, Tahoe is beautiful and the course is good prep for Colorado in a few weeks.

I left early Friday morning and took the back way, hoping to avoid any rush hour traffic in Sacramento. The drive through the Eastern Sierras is beautiful, however, long sections of roadwork wreaked havoc on the drive time. When I rolled into Northstar around 4pm I was pretty burned out and just wanted to eat a pizza alone on the couch and watch TV. It was glorious.

Tahoe Trail 100 mtb course map

Morning came quickly and a 7am start is not a pro time. There was a chill in the air but with the forecast calling for mid 80s it was an ideal temp. No call up this year, which is a bummer. Also, the event seemed to be under new management with Youphoria Productions. Interesting. Everything felt the same on the surface but I missed the gracious and enthusiastic Abby Long. I lined up next to Ted King and we chatted until the National Anthem kicked off.

The start was quick. Last year Eric and I were coming off Nationals at Mammoth the day before so the legs felt much better. Ted, Peter Stetina, Ryan Petry, and Jamey Watson-Yanik and I all made our way off the front pretty quickly for the first climb. We were hauling. It’s about 880 feet and we did it in about fifteen minutes, which was over a minute and a half faster than last year and good for a KOM over Levi Leipheimer (until Stetina came through on his second lap and crushed it with a 14:32). Wow.

Tahoe Trail 100k Leadville 2017 climb Northstar Giant Ryan Steers

The first lap was quick. Jamey went off the front with Peter chasing and Ted, Ryan and I followed in pursuit. We kept catching glimpses of Peter after the descents but he’d turn around on the climbs and put the hammer down. We lost sight of him toward the end of the first lap as he crept closer to Jamey, who was about 6 minutes ahead. Somewhere on the first lap I lost my spare bottle and had to get through thirty miles on about 18oz of water. It was terrible and I started to feel a bonk and dehydration creep in. I stopped at the start of the second lap to pickup the bottles I’d planted and Ted and Ryan slipped ahead. I caught back up for a bit but my legs were getting wobbly. Uh oh. This was going to be a long lap. They slipped farther out of view and by the top of the climb I was on my own, running out of steam, and hoping to hold my position.

Tahoe Trail 100 MTB course profile 2017

The course seemed rougher this year. I think all the snow and rain tore up the trails a bit and the descents were littered with baseball size rocks and ruts. It got pretty sketchy at times, especially on the gravel roads, because you can easily hit 40-50mph only to have ruts hiding in the shadows waiting to swallow your wheel. I tried to hold it together for the last fifteen miles but I was dying out there. The heat was taking it’s tole. By the time I hit the last climb which is another 900 feet and about 20 minutes, I could barely hang on.  I lost over three minutes off my previous lap’s time. An eternity. By the time I hit the top I didn’t see anyone behind me and I just eased off the gas and coasted the singletrack back to the finish, so grateful to be done. I grabbed some Gu recovery and then Ryan and I went and sat in the creek, it was glorious. Ice cold water flooded over my legs and numbed them back to life, pulling me out of my stupor. Imagine my surprise when I checked the results and I was listed as sixth. After some investigation and hand wringing it turns out that they didn’t have the first timing checkpoint set up when we rolled through so if someone DNF and went through the line, it clocked their first lap time as their finish time. Seriously? This messed up everyone’s results until I was able to convince them something went wrong.

Tahoe Trail 100 bike race finish MTB Giant Ryan Steers

Will I come back again? No. The awards sealed the deal. After waiting five hours in hopes of getting a Leadville spot, the coins for the pro field went two deep. Two deep! Sure there weren’t many in the Pro class but these were the overall leaders! Ted didn’t get a spot. They didn’t even separate the overall winners from the categories like they have in the past. The 30-39 field went 11 deep for coins, the same category I raced in  Austin two years ago before they unveiled this whole new “pro” versus age group dynamic. I keep hearing how Leadville is trying to attract more pro racers and fill all the spots as the cache dwindles and other more fun races are springing up, however, they’re not doing much to entice them. Were there bottle hand offs? No. The aid stations were some of the least stocked and staffed I’ve ever experienced. This was especially apparent after coming from the Crusher last weekend where basically the entire population of Southern Utah showed up to cheer and hand out food, ice, bottles, beer, and encouragement. Tahoe Trail? Expensive lodging, lack of parking, and costly race fees? Yes. A Leadville coin? No. Last year finishing a minute slower and in fourth place there were plenty of coins to go around. Overall the corporate atmosphere of the series and qualifiers has won and the racers have lost. This will be my last year at the LT100. I’m not even really thrilled about going this year but all the pieces of the puzzle are in place. On to more fun races and adventures. Goodbye Lifetime.


Crusher in the Tushar 2017

Desert Sunset

Can anyone really say they’re happy to be back at this race? The suffering, the altitude, the heat, you name it and there’s an excuse to never come back to Beaver, however, somehow the allure of flying along gravel roads in one of the most beautiful off the beaten path corners of the country with some really fast dudes sucks you back in. One promise I did make to myself after last year was never again use a mountain bike. While the advantages on the descents and washboards were nice, the gearing (32×11-42) and tires (1.75 Renegades) just weren’t fast enough for the pavement and flat out speed sections. This year with Giant I had the opportunity to be on the new 2018 TCX….wow what a difference. Grant at HQ set it up with a 44x 10-42 and Schwalbe G One 40s, however, after a few KOM hunting sessions in the Santa Monica Mountains I realized that 44t was just more that I could push on steep ascents when my legs were screaming, exactly the conditions I’d face on Col du Crush. We popped the 40t back on and after a day of blasting fireroad climbs I knew it would be perfect.

Crusher in the Tushar course profile elevation climbing

I rolled into Beaver on Friday afternoon just in time for a warmup spin in the 100+ degree temps and 40+ mph winds. It was brutal. I ran into my friend Al and we cruised up the road for an hour and picked up Janelle along the way. This event always brings out so many awesome people.  I was crossing my fingers the weather would calm down a bit for Saturday. It did…and didn’t.

Crusher in the Tushar course map Beaver Utah

We lined up around 7:45 and there were the usual call ups. Jeepers this was a stacked field. About a dozen guys went to the front. The pace from the start was fast. Instantly we strung out single file as we blasted down the road. Popowski and Blaugrund of Juwi attacked immediately and shortly thereafter Menso followed suit. The peloton sped and slowed along the pavement and when Al went up front to snap some photos I hopped on his wheel just to keep a steady pace. We hit the dirt about three minutes behind the leaders and a minute or two in front of the peloton. Al fell back and I finally got passed by Todd, Ben and crew just past the lakes. My legs still felt good but it was nice just to have a little head start. Driscoll and Ishay and a few other guys flew by shortly after and I hopped on their wheel. By the time we hit the top of the first climb we added Menso to our group and off we went.

I was having trouble hanging onto wheels during the descents. Forty mph on loose washboard gravel was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I fell off the back down the Col du Crush, which was extra bumpy this year, but was able to grab Menso’s wheel and Blaugrund clawed back from behind. The three of us pace lined all the way to the fireroad when Menso detached. From there it was pavement and back up the Col du Crush. Don’t look up. Never look up. No matter how good your legs feel the moment you look up and see the road winding into aspens 4k feet above you’re heart sinks.  The staff and volunteers this year were amazing as usual, especially on the climb.  There were water backpack sprayers, Coke handoffs, ice packs placed down the back of the jersey and plenty of bottles and perfect handoffs. I can’t say enough good things about the support, it’s really some of the best I’ve ever experienced. But I digress…

Crusher in Tushar 2017 col du crush Giant bicycles

By the top of the climb the temps were in the 90s and I was baking. Even when you hit the top it’s still not over, there’s still about 2k left to climb as you roll along the meadows and forest, finally a little descent, and then back up the final one mile near 1k foot climb. What a mind F*. I could see Blaugrund dangling in front of me but there was nothing I could do. I kept turning around in panic to make sure there wasn’t anyone sneaking up on me as a crawled up the final few hundred meters. The rain drops were starting to fall and the air had grown chilly. I pushed through the finish in 9th.

Ryan Steers Tushar Crusher 2017 Giant Co-Factory Off-Road

Top 10 had been my goal and I’d just nabbed it. What an honer to be in the mix at such a high caliber event.

2017 Crusher in the Tushar Podium Todd Wells Robbie Squire

Things got ugly very quickly. The wind howled and thick drops began to splat the pavement. We took cover under the tent. The announcement for the podium was made but a giant lightning bolt less than a mile away sent us scurrying under the tents. Hail. Bigger rain drops. The finishers were really starting to look miserable as the weather deteriorated. Foil space blankets were handed out as riders shivered, their bodies in shock from fighting near heat stroke and then suddenly fending off hypothermia. What an adventure.

2017 Tushar Crusher Finish Hail storm finish rain cold

2017 Rockwell Vision Relay

2017 Rockwell Relay Ryan Steers Dave Zabriskie Eric Bostrom Jack Nosco

This post will be a work in progress as there are so many stories and memories but I just wanted to begin to write down how much fun I had racing for 26 hours across the desert with some of the raddest guys I know. A few months ago Jack Nosco emailed myself, Dave Zabriskie and Eric Bostrom and asked if we wanted to participate in this event. He’d done it several times before and had never fully convinced us it was worth a few days away from the family and several thousand miles in the car, but this time something stuck. He had dreams of a podium and Jack has done so much for the local cycling community we wanted nothing more than to see him happy, so we agreed. I had no idea what I was getting in to. Didn’t check the website, photos, route, or even the race location until the day before we left. I should have checked earlier. Once I started to read about the race legs and scenery I was tingling with anticipation. I’d pictured 527 boring miles plowing through sagebrush on windswept rolling wastelands, much like the drive to Vegas. I was way wrong. The scenery was some of the most magical I’ve encountered ever, let alone racing a bike.

Ryan Steers Giant 2017 Vision Rockwell Relay Utah

The mass start was awesome. It allowed for some pace lining for the first 50+ mile leg. The temps were pushing 90 and the 40mph headwind made a break nearly impossible, although it didn’t stop a few guys from trying. A race like this is a battle of attrition and every time someone jumped off the front we let them dangle, wasting precious watts they’d need at four or five in the morning when they were on their last leg at 9000 feet above Cedar City. No this was a race to focus and be smart. The longer you could draft the better. The shorter the pulls the better. And oh dear God don’t fall off the wheel of the leaders or you will never ever see them again.

2017 Start Rockwell Vision Relay Moab Utah Ryan Steers Giant Danny Lupold2017 Vision Relay Moab hot windy pace line Giant bicycles TCR Disc

2017 Rockwell Vision Relay winners Ryan Steers Dave Zabriskie Jack Nosco Eric Bostrom St. George Utah

2017 Belgian Waffle Ride

One hundred and thirty-two miles instead of one hundred and fifty? Cake walk, pshh… I probably don’t even need to train for BWR this year. Right?

2017 Belgian Waffle ride finish Ryan Steers Giant Ride 100

So very wrong.

Ryan Steers Belgian Waffle Ride start call up 2017 Giant bicycles

This year I was lucky enough to catch a ride down with Jeff Byers from Topical Edge and Jesse Anthony. The traffic on the way down was murder. Word to the wise- never take the 405 South after noon on a Saturday.


The race had a completely different feel this year. Pro cycling teams like Jelly Belly and current and former Pro Tour riders made the start feel more like a stage of the Tour of California rather than an unsanctioned, sweaty, dusty, beer swigging suffer fest.  It was awesome to get a call up and I tried not to let it go to my head as I couldn’t exactly coast on my laurels for 130 miles. I just wanted to finish. I was also thrilled to be on the new Giant TCR Advanced Disc, which, with 28s ended up being the perfect tool for the job.

2017 Belgian Waffle Ride dirt road bike gravel descent Ryan Steers

The start was controlled and smart. Too controlled and smart. These guys knew what they were doing. No one was going to break. We hit the first dirt section and the bottles began to fly. Word of wisdom- ditch the flimsy, superlight bottle cage and get something that grips. I was right behind Jesse when he went down. He immediately popped back up and began to straighten his bars. No keeping that guy down.


By mile eighty we hit Black Canyon and the temperatures pushed toward 100 degrees and by the peloton began to separate. Halfway up the climb the lead group of about ten pulled away. Scott Lundy and I fell off the back, pushing our watts to the red with hours to go. It wasn’t worth it. We were caught by a chase group as we neared the top and settled in. No podium today but it became a fight to finish. The legs just weren’t there. Something felt off. We all have those days and unfortunately I pick a long one to be slogging through.

2017 Belgian Waffle ride sand road bike beach

Bottle after bottle came and went and still I couldn’t hydrate. Somewhere near Julian the road became terrifying as jacked up pickup trucks passed within inches, middle fingers out the window and horns blaring. Classy.

Double Peak Belgian Waffle Ride 2017 hot

Endless heat and suffering crept in around mile 100. Double vision. Nausea.

By Double Peak the bike was wobbly. I passed Lundy somewhere around the Oasis as he grabbed his legs and rolled around on the ground screaming from cramps. Brandon Baker and Jon Hornbeck crept into sight ahead. They actually looked like they were enjoying themselves, chatting and smiling. I would have hung out and ridden with them but I was so ready for the ride to be over I pushed through. More pain and suffering. The finish line. Vomiting. Aches and fever. Full blown flu.

2017 Belgian Waffle Ride Finish Ryan Steers Giant

2017 Kenda Cup West #4 Santa Ynez

2017 Kenda Cup West Santa Ynez Endurance Rain Mud Dirt Club

The Dirt Club in Santa Ynez has to be one of the most fun courses and locations of the entire series. Sure, Big Bear is in the mountains and the views and singletrack are amazing but after the second or third trip up there it starts to get repetitive. Being a wine nerd, the Los Olivos area holds a special place in my heart. I have many fond memories of endless wine tasting, racing the road bike up and down Foxen Canyon, and hammering away on the mountain bike in rolling green fields of the Dirt Club (all on separate occasions of course). It’s basically a sunny and warm paradise…or so I’d thought.

The alarm went off at 5:15am and the dawn was just breaking. Plenty of time to load the car and hit the road for the hour and half drive and make the 9am start. It was overcast and freezing for this time of year. Forty eight degrees. I threw in an extra jacket and arm warmers and put on an initial application of Topical Edge before hopping in the car. I picked up Tydeman in Agoura at 6:15 and we started the journey.

By 7am we were in Ventura and the sky grew darker and darker ahead. Mist started to coat the windshield. The wipers flicked on. The outside temp read forty-seven. Not ideal. The mist turned to rain as we approached Summerland and by the time we hit Santa Barbara it was steady. The mountains were shrouded in clouds. Maybe they’re holding back the rain and the valley will be sunny and blue? No such luck. The rain grew harder and by the time we hit Santa Ynez it was pouring. The ground was saturated and there were large puddles in the road. It had been raining for a while. Temecula holds water well, Big Bear is sandy and just fine in the rain, Bonelli wasn’t too bad a few years back, but Santa Ynez? All clay. The trails turn into sticky peanut butter at the slightest hint of moisture. By the time we skidded and slid the car down the muddy farm road and into the Dirt Ranch parking field I wasn’t sure there was going to be a race. I threw on a jacket and ran through the rain to the rain to the registration tent. The organizers had just decided to push the start to 11am and shorten the course to a four mile loop instead of the original seven and a half miles. This cut out a very steep and muddy climb, which was now unrideable, and took advantage of the double track and less saturated trails. Now we’d be doing eight laps instead of six. Mike from the Dirt Club was zipping around on his quad remarking the course. Nap time.

2017 Kenda Cup West Santa Ynez Ryan Steers Giant Co-Factory Off-Road Giant XTC Dirt Club

Ten o’clock came quickly and it was time to kit up. I pounded some water, had a little more food and put on another application of Topical Edge. Lots of Edge. Quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes; I rubbed them all. It was going the be a long damp race and I wanted to make sure I was covered. There wasn’t much point in warming up on the bike. The temp hovered at forty-six degrees and the rain had tapered to a mist and looked like it was about to stop. Riders sped around the course splashing through mud puddles but still looking fairly clean. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad? A few minutes before the start I did a brief circuit around the first mile of the course. The precipitation had stopped and the course, while slick in spots, was starting to pack down. The legs felt awesome.

We lined up and started quickly. With all categories now starting only a few minutes apart the laps were going to get congested.  I immediately jumped on Stephane Roch’s wheel. We’ve duked it out on more than several occasions. I wanted him to set the pace so I could draft for a bit, but all I got was a full facial of mud and cow pies from his rear wheel. I immediately regretted my decision. I sprinted around and took the lead after a few hundred yards and immediately blew a sharp turn and fell back into second wheel. On the first singletrack climb I made my move again and came around on the right. My legs felt amazing. I put in a little extra effort to see if I could open a gap and it worked. By the top of the short climb I’d opened up about fifty yards. We hit a little twisty descent that dropped us down to a half mile fire road climb and  I decided to try and open up a little bit more of a lead. Again, the legs felt incredible. My heart rate was high and I was breathing heavily but the acceleration felt effortless. No burn in the quads. I watched the field slip away behind me. As I hit the top of the climb I glanced over my shoulder and I was all alone, which is my favorite way to race. The course descended down some slippery double track and then wrapped back on a flat section and through the start again.

Ryan Steers Giant Kenda Cup West Santa Ynez EnduranceBy the time we doubled back again on the second lap I clocked my lead at over a minute and by the second lap it had grown to over two. I relaxed little but kept pushing and my body responded. By now the XC fields had started and the dozens of riders had begun to pack down the trails. The mud was becoming tacky and the trail was getting quicker. The laps got faster. I felt fresh.

A few bottles and bars later and it was already lap six. Two to go. I kept waiting to hit the wall and I never did- I felt better on lap seven than I did on lap two. I’d clocked just over an hour on the first four laps, which was on pace for just over fifteen minutes a lap. I started lap eight at an hour forty-five and change. I felt stronger than ever. My goal became to finish under two hours, which meant my last lap would have to be my fastest. I accelerated and my legs responded. Sprinting the singeltrack, I was floating up the fire road and then suddenly in a blur I was back pounding the flat and headed to the home stretch. Nineteen, twenty, twenty two miles an hour. I kept accelerating, sprinting against the clock and finally crossed the line first; a hair under one hour and fifty-eight minutes. I’d pushed the last lap, made it my fastest, and I still felt great and had gas in the tank. Tydeman wasn’t far behind, winning his field and coming in fourth overall, as a fifteen  year old! As a side note he’s an avid Edge user as well.

Overall it was an amazing race and I had such a fun time. It’s not often we get to race in “weather” in SoCal so it was quite a treat. The organizers did an incredible job of adapting and pulling off a race that could easily have been a disaster. Their diligence and hard work made the entire day possible. Thanks guys!

Kenda Cup West Santa Ynez 2017 Endurance winner Giant XTC

2017 Pedalfest #1

I was able to hit the last race of the series in August so I thought it would be a good idea to make it out to the first one of 2017. This crew does such an amazing job putting together a family friendly, fun race/community vibe. There are fast riders, kids, first time racers and everyone in-between. I found out a couple of the other Giant Co-Factory guys were going so it sounded like fun. My mom’s in town and Ali was working late so we left Reese with a sitter and mom and I took off with Rex and his bike.

Ryan Steers Giant bikes Pedalfest Andrew Doody

Giant crew

The course and location are new this year. It’s at Central Park in Santa Clarita and from the looks of it the crowds were bigger than I remember. We pulled up a little late and the registration line was huge! Shortly after getting the number plate the kids race started and unfortunately Rex was just a little two young. These kids did 2 laps on most of the actual course! Gnarly.


I was able to pre-ride a bit with Andrew Doody and a lot of the trails are newly made and dusty with lots of sharp turns and little drops. The dirt hasn’t had time to pack down yet so it was hard carry speed. Very CX feeling! There’s one good 300ft climb at the end, whew! Short, sharp, loose courses are not my strong suit. Grueling climbs, yes please! Each lap was 3 miles and we had 4 laps total


We lined up in the small elite field and set off as the first group. The pace was pretty quick but conversational. I took the lead early and blew one of the turns sending everyone into the sagebrush following behind. Sorry guys! By the time we got to the top of the climb I’d opened a little lead and was feeling good. On the second lap traffic was really heavy and it’s not a very easy course to pass on. I tried to be polite as possible while still maintaining momentum. Sorry if I cut you off! Everyone was super cool and we were able to share the trail. Overall a fun course, great vibe and it was fun to make the top step of the podium and have such a great showing from the other Giant guys! Collarbone felt great. Good to be back. Off to Santa Ynez on Sunday for hours of pain!



2017 Sea Otter Classic

First race back! Let’s just say I didn’t have high hopes in the results department. Pep talk yourself all you want but any time you line up against Nino you know it’s going to be trouble. Oh well, honored to have the chance. Here’s a summary in pictures. Always a fun a bike event and so awesome to get to hang out with the Giant Team!

2017 Sea Otter Classic Pro XC Course view infield

Sea Otter

2017 Sea Otter Men Pro XC UCI HC Start Cross country

And We’re Off

Mckay Giant Factory Sea Otter

Mckay signing posters

High five sea otter

Rex found the otter

Ryan Steers Men pro XC Sea Otter Classic 2017 Giant Co-Factory Factory Cross Country

Towing the line

Eric Bostrom Sea Otter 2017 Zubick Crank Benders cross country

Bike Family